This Week

November 24 – Dec. 1

PRC Domestic  Beijing moves to set up “social credit” system to grade 22 million inhabitants and guide their social behavior.  Middle class Americans will be repelled, but questions of the relationship of the state to the behavior of the citizens are not confined to China.  More on the Fujian environmental mishap.  Reminds us: no word of the tanker carrying petroleum distillate that went down in the East China sea months ago.  An incredible account of a sandstorm “swallowing” a city in Gansu.  Illustrations are breathtaking.  This is a powerfully moving article, with multiple ambiguous overtones indicative of the complexity of Sino-American relations today.  Your editor believes that it can be read “straight,” for its content and the light it sheds on the reality of social tragedy and redemption in a China that many Westerners seldom see.

This article makes no bones about portraying a single Chinese company, Alibaba, in a positive light for its efforts at social betterment.  Is this free “advertising” for Ali?  We recommend just taking the article at face value.

Then there’s the questions of whether Americans cling to the vision of China as a charity case, and “love China” because they can sympathize with China’s misfortunes or try to “help” the needy Chinese.  Most of that historic baggage has been lost with China’s rise.  Again, we feel that the article should be taken “straight,” and that it’s o.k. to feel sympathy, and empathy, with the people it describes, even if the prevailing American discourse these days is one of fear and even repulsion.  Another reminder that there are those in China who are producing, in English for foreign readers, very well done and often powerful stories about life in China and the complexities and hardships that many people face there.  As the headline stories deteriorate in both countries, Your Editor hopes that readers will continue to search, and read, more widely about contemporary China.

SPECIAL THIS WEEK  Journalist and author Richard McGregor on the recent Taiwan local elections, in which the DPP did miserably and the KMT rose from the dead. Analyses Beijing’s grass-roots “influence operations” on Taiwan.

US-PRC  In the day-to-day, breathless and largely engineered media feast leading to the Trump-Xi Episode in Buenos Aires, today’s report, from the very reputable WSJ team, hints at the possibility of a “deal” involving postponement of more US tariffs in return for talks on modifications of the “architecture” of US-China economic relations.  The heavy breathing of the past ten days (every think tank, every major media outlet with a new analysis) mirrors the run-up to, for example, the Trump-Kim Jung Un meeting in Singapore earlier in the year.  This story is, in fact, a miserable indictment of the process of American policy making on China.  No two ways about it. A massive new report on PRC “influence operations” in the United States, just released by the Hoover Institution and the Asia Society’s China Center, with a long list of distinguished “Working Group” members (only one of whom is of Chinese extraction) from the academic and policy communities.  Will cause many ripples, especially when taken with arguments like Ely Ratners (below) that dealing with China threat now represents a good way of achieving bipartisan cooperation in US domestic politics.  (This comment is NOT about the content of the new report itself.) A restrained and relatively well-balanced news item regarding the Report discussed in the preceding item.  A long and continuing dialogue between Ely Ratner of the U.S. and Hugh White of Australia about the growing US-China strategic confrontation in the Pacific region.  This site shows all segments to date, so one might start with the most recent, Hugh White’s piece on what the US would have to do to “deter” China from its present course in the Pacific. Sober and blunt analysis of the emerging decline of U.S. naval dominance in the Pacific, by a respected U.S. scholar of Sino-American strategic relations, Robert Ross.  Ely Ratner, formerly Biden’s top foreign policy advisor, concluded in a memorable Foreign Affairs article a year or so ago (with Kurt Campbell) that the American “China establishment” had fundamentally mis-read China from the 1970s on, and accepted his own culpability for that mistake.  Now in this new Foreign Affairs piece he argues bluntly that the US and China have such different aims in Asia that no Trump-Xi “deal” or other “meet halfway” alternatives are feasible, and certainly not in Buenos Aires this week.  MUST READ.  A genuine, unscripted phone call between Trump and WSJ’s Bob Davis, one of the best US journalists on China and US-China relations.  Most of the transcript focused on China, but read the whole thing; the ending is delightful. Ambassador Cui Tiankai’s blunt-spoken interview with WSJ on the eve of the Xi-Trump meeting in Buenos Aires.  GM in China. Brookings’s Ryan Hass on the larger problems in the relationship, trade deal or no.  Down and down.  Prominent PRC econ. advisor predicts long grinding geo-economic conflict with US, regardless of Trump-Xi meeting, argues China will ultimately triumph.   As US-China troubles filter out into the general, non-specialist journalism sector, this piece by a WaPo columnist who writes on a lot of things is, actually, quite good.  PRC floundering around, trying to figure out how to connect with right-wing US think tanks now that the political atmosphere and the list of “influential” thinkers is in flux in Washington.

November 15 – 23

PRC Domestic  Another sweeping crackdown on social media.  Great essay by Ian Johnson on Islam’s place in China, past and present.  Winds up discussing the “education camps” in Xinjiang to which, according to reliable reports, more than a million Xinjiang Uighurs have been sent to wean them from “terrorist” inclinations.  Chongqing and Chengdu growing well, but barriers inhibit more rapid investment by foreign firms.  Good piece on two terrific cities.  Interesting and informative Sinica podcast with Lucy Hornby, the clear-eyed veteran journalist now with the Financial Times in Beijing, mainly on “shadow banking” and the whole phenomenon of alternative financing in China’s economy – and in the economy of some of China’s neighbors. Signs of cooling of hyperactive energy in China’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) world. (Paywall) At a Caixin conference, 88 year-old economist and architect of “Reform and Opening” Wu Jinglian calls for vigorous implementation of economic “reform,” against a background of slower reform, reassertion of state power in the economy, and endless resistance by “vested interests,” the same anti-reform crowd that led to Xi Jinping’s reformist accession in 2012. A sensible commentary arguing that the kind of massive government protections and subsidies exemplified by the now-infamous “Made in China 2025” program may ultimately do China more harm than good, and that China would be better off making some modifications of its statist-market economic framework now than later.  Ian Johnson’s useful essay on the long historical interplay, usually unpleasant, between China and Islam.

PRC Global Spread of the swine fever epidemic in China.  See also for deeper detail and analysis of potential global impacts.  Daniel Blumenthal, no friend of the PRC, writing for the American Enterprise Institute, also no friend of the PRC but a good friend of Israel, expresses dismay at Israel’s increasingly close relationship with China, and warns Israel to mend its ways (and align with the Trump Administration on China) while there is still time.  Washington Post’s Josh Rogin, whose gloomy, sometimes fiery, appraisals of the PRC and its leadership have accompanied his rise to prominence in the Washington commentariat, scorches the PRC in this report from the scene at the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea.  Hard to tell where the line lies between news rapportage and opinion writing.  A critique of Chinese regulatory treatment of genomic data, i.e., as a national property, to be segregated from the global sharing processes going on elsewhere. An Opinion article.

US-PRC Beginning of serious haggling or just more media fizz before expected Trump-Xi meeting at G-20? Pre-Summit fizz?  Lighthizer claims PRC has not done what it must do on US objections itemized in last spring’s Section 301 report.  When you think about it, ten days before an increasingly “buzzed” meeting between Xi and Trump, one could hardly expect any US figure to claim that the PRC was doing a great job.  The 53-page USTR “Update” of the 301 Report is at  . US-China ugliness at APEC in Papua New Guinea.  Pence as US Designated Hitter in intensifying war of words with China. At an unlikely outlet (The National Interest), the first of two articles arguing that, as the US under Trump walks away from the stable international systems whose creation it had fostered, those who are perceiving the PRC waltzing into the resulting vacuum are mistaken. The United States Department of Commerce announces a thirty-day period for receiving public comments as it prepares to write new export control regulations covering “certain emerging technologies” deemed relevant to U.S. national security.  While China is not mentioned in this announcement, concern over defense- and security-related transfers and exports of U.S. technology to the PRC is unquestionably the major driver of this move to write new export control rules.  South China Morning Post take, and further commentary, on the impending issuance of new US export control regs, covering transfers of knowledge and technology in areas deemed to be national security-sensitive.  A useful work-through. Related (unfortunately, paywalled) story:  PRC manufacturers of ultra-sophisticated facial recognition equipment used in pervasive government surveillance (e.g. against Uighurs in Xinjiang) heavily reliant on U.S.-made microchips.  U.S. may take measures against their export. Important, and portentous.  Chinese more optimistic than Americans about bettering their station in the future, thanks to decades of rapid growth in PRC.  Good graphics. Almost unheard of.  The courageous Long Yongtu, chief Chinese negotiator of China’s WTO accession, allows himself to be publicly quoted criticizing PRC moves against agricultural imports from the U.S.  Relevant to the preceding item; another veteran Chinese Commerce Ministry official with U.S. relations pedigree comments unexpectedly on the current trade imbroglio.  AEI’s Claude Barfield sums up the enhanced – and sure to be further enhanced – US effort to combat PRC theft of high-end intellectual property, through a concerted Justice Department China Initiative.  The Initiative, announced November 1, may be read at . Early signs of cancellation of extant 10-yr. US visas for certain Chinese travelers (e.g., research scholars in Sino-American relations), on top of tougher visa treatment for Chinese in advanced technology sectors.

October 27 – November 8

PRC Domestic  Very useful direct translation of report on Politburo session dealing with Artificial Intelligence.  Fascinating podcast on civil society developments in the aftermath of the catastrophic 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan.  Another important podcast from CSIS:  “Self-censorship Among China Hands:  Myth and Reality.” A matter of extreme sensitivity now, amid allegations that American “China experts” are guilty of self-censorship, or craven submissiveness to PRC political pressures, or worse.  New report from Rhodium Group on Governance in China’s state sector.   Wrinkles emerge in Foxconn’s $10b investment project in the state of Wisconsin, part of Trump Administration effort to bring IT jobs back to the US (from China).  New Wis. Governor critical of predecessor’s deal; shortage of U.S. trained personnel.

PRC Global  One cool-eyed report (from a Japanese media source) on the big Import Expo in Shanghai, which opened with an address by President Xi Jinping.  European Chamber of Commerce Shanghai review of Xi Jinping’s address at opening of Import Expo.  German industry uneasy about over-dependence on China.  Vietnam the big winner from US-China trade conflict. Growing frigidity of US-China trade relations impels China toward rapid development of advanced microchip design and manufacture, to replace US imports. A skeptical view of the PRC-led effort to build a rail link from China to Europe, emphasizing the unchanging economic benefits of maritime transportation.  Nice little 3.5-minute video by WSJ’s James Areddy on interpreting PRC’s trade intentions, on the occasion of the opening of the big Shanghai Import Expo.  A useful review of PRC policy and law regarding outward direct investment, with both an historical and a present-day analysis.  Includes discussion of downsides experienced in past and current regulatory efforts to mitigate negative side effects of outbound investment.

US-PRC  MUST READ.  Henry Paulson’s dramatic speech on US-China relations, in Singapore.  Chinese translation available at    For those with the time, this would be a worthwhile viewing.  A session with the author of a new book claiming that China’s entry into the WTO was a disaster for the US and that the US should “decouple” economically from China.  Discussant comments are a mirror of the entire US policy debate these days on what to do, economically, with or about China.  Another debate among “pro” and “con” debaters on the question of whether US and China interests are “fundamentally incompatible.”  David M.  Lampton, Evan Medeiros, Susan Thornton, and Brookings’s Tom Wright.  Moderated by Evan Osnos.  Mid-term elections likely to have little effect on Trump China trade positions.  Detailed analysis.  The “trade war” comes home to roost in Moses Lake, Washington.  Quite a story.  Financial Times Guru Martin Wolf on the need to avoid a US-China “Cold War.”  Perhaps China’s most articulate deliverer of Chinese government messages to Anglophone audiences, former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Mme. Fu Ying, on US-China interdependence and the necessity of avoiding “decoupling.” Trump musings worry Chinese “birth tourism” industry.  AEI veteran trade specialist Claude Barfield analyzes recent Trump Administration moves to prosecute alleged PRC intellectual property thefts, and proposes follow-on actions by the Administration.  Rising US-China security competition leads to complex issues in the field of Artificial Intelligence, as China pushes the “fusion” of military and civilian industrial sectors and US ponders tighter controls on access to US technology.

October 18-26

PRC Domestic China issues first public acknowledgment and description of “anti-terrorist education” facilities in Xinjiang, where some reports indicate that as many as a million young men, primarily Uighur Muslims, are held in the name of “stabilization” of Xinjiang. An elaborate, technically sophisticated BBC report on the situation in Xinjiang. A bit breathless, but the central subject – the development of a vast system of internment camps – is dramatically described. Chill winds in China’s private sector, and signs of growing pessimism over economic prospects, particularly as US tariffs bite harder. A collection of papers by reputable specialists, in an annual “Party Watch” report.  The papers deal with many of the major elements of Chinese Communist Party operation.  See especially the Shambaugh paper: The Party bears down on “patriotism” and love of the Party. The authors see dangers of reversion to ancient and once-discarded extremes. Ideological intimidation and repression in classrooms.  Journalists’ challenges in attempting to report from Xinjiang as news of mass Uighur incarcerations and hyperactive surveillance technology seep out.  A CGTN (China Global Television Network) feature program on the “Vocational skills educational training centers” established in Xinjiang to rid susceptible terrorism candidates of the poisons of religious extremism.  With useful paraphrase and commentary from this valuable web site, .

PRC Global  In the phase of Trump’s chaos, China and Japan move toward more stable and improved relations, with the current visit by Prime Minister Abe to China. “Porcelain-bumping.” Recent histrionic events in Europe point to an intentional strategy for confronting criticism by deflecting attention to manufactured insults. A lengthy study of Chinese influence, economic and political, in four EU countries, with observations on how to cope with the increased direction of Chinese resources into such efforts in Europe.  “What we found in Portugal, Greece, the Czech Republic, and Serbia is shifting perceptions, usually in China’s favor. “  China and Japan open the spigots on joint financing of development projects in third countries and joint listings on Chinese and Japanese exchanges.  Moreover, Nomura is setting up a fund with China Investment Corp.   Side effects of US-China economic decoupling.  Face-in-your-face.  If this author is right, i.e., that wealth and strength have utterly eliminated the concept of shame, China and the world are both in trouble.  The critique, however, may have applications elsewhere in addition to China.  An important “Book Launch” meeting with Stewart Patterson, author of “China, Trade and Power.”  Speech begins after preliminaries at 20:10.

US-PRC  This is an extremely important article that should be required reading in both the United States and China.  Following the full-on denunciation of China’s many sins by US Vice President Pence, here is a useful interview with Yan Xuetong, one of China’s best-known specialists on Sino-American relations. A wide ranging, largely orthodox essay by a Chinese policy scholar on what China and the US must do to prevent further degradation of relations.  USN sends two warships up the Taiwan Strait to show the flag, Trump pulls US out of 144 year-old International Postal Union, as a slap against Chinese export of small packages to the US at low international postage rates.  A wrenching message from Wang Chi, a US citizen for seven decades and a former senior figure in the Library of Congress Orientalia Division, on the increasingly chilling American reception for anyone of Chinese extraction.  Deeply disturbing.  A long, discursive interview with Wang Jisi, the “dean” of China’s “America specialists” and a senior figure in PRC foreign policy circles, on trends in the world in general and the China-America relationship more particularly.  Read from end to end. Political Scientists David Zweig, Hong Kong-based throughout his distinguished career, suggests that China’s veer toward brusque assertiveness has revealed an ill-founded over-confidence that is now bringing upon itself not only American “pushback” but “rollback,” aimed perhaps at the Chinese Communist Party itself.  Anatomy of a collapse.  China unable to figure out whom to talk to in the American administration.  Blow by blow.

October 9-17

PRC Domestic  MUST READ.  A unique essay by the talented New Yorker writer Jiayang Fan, as she accompanies and interviews writer Yan Lianke in his home town of Luoyang, Henan Province.   A short piece built around a recent S&P Global report (click on the hyperlink in this item) declaring that enormous Local Government Financing Vehicle debt looms over the Chinese economy, to its peril.  This article indicates that very serious debates over economic policy, particularly over the apparent Xi Jinping preference for further strengthening of giant state-owned enterprises and for diminished policy support for the private sector economy, are underway.  A useful reminder that linear projections of Chinese domestic policies are likely to be in error.  A vigorous and significant article from Caixin, a publication that dependably supports the health of the private sector economy in China, regarding persistent private sector anxieties and what should be done to alleviate them. With some spectacular disappearances, or apologetic reappearances, in recent headlines, here is a video with a description of the expanded police powers embodied in the new National Supervisory Commission. 3-minute watching with concise voice-over by WSJ’s Josh China.  Dismal news about the life sentences of leading Uighur education figures in Xinjiang.

PRC Global Common sense from former USTR Robert Zoellick to the China Development Forum in Beijing last spring: gently offered advice to China.  Few signs that those in command are listening, even if others, quietly in the ranks, very likely do.  How dealing with today’s China can cause serious divergences of opinion and political animosity within a single nation and among nations that share other far-reaching commitments.  This is about the current Italian government’s embrace of maximum cooperation with China on all fronts, and fears that a unified EU policy on China is drifting out of reach.

US-PRC  Where we are.  A portrait of a US Administration prepped for an all-fronts confrontation with China.  Like many such articles, this one is largely a catalogue of items already reported, massaged into a single piece. But for that reason it is a useful summation of where the US administration is going on China.  Are Americans over- or under-reacting to reports of Chinese “influence operations” in the U.S.  A Chinafile “conversation,” involving brief analysis comments by invited Chinafile writers.  Something to ponder.  Generational change and the loss of institutional memory in the ranks of those assuming responsibility for US government China policies today.  Veteran analyst Kerry Brown is onto something with this opinion piece about what he (and Your Editor) both see as a particular Chinese popular ambivalence about the United States (read the piece to see what that means) and the role of the confrontational Trump in scratching that chronic itch.  Good technical analysis of the issues raised in two Bloomberg reports last week, indicating that Chinese entities had managed to corrupt hardware (servers) made by contract plants for a US company by installing a “back door” tiny chip on the motherboards of those servers.  Technical article but readily readable by non-technical readers. China’s Ambassador to Washington Cui Tiankai goes on Fox TV. Main message: on trade issues, no one knows whom to talk to in the White House.  Others have said the same. Perception of a threat from China finally brings Trump and Congressional ultra-conservatives to an understanding of the importance of U.S. development finance assistance, after two years of trying to kill it.

October 1-8

PRC Domestic Delightful granular vignettes from the gigantic movement of people during “Golden Week” following China’s October 1 National Day holiday.  Marvelous long FT article on Shakespeare in today’s China.  A fine read, especially for weary American news junkies.  China’s utterly famous, fantastically rich film and TV star Fan Bingbing emerges from “Residential Surveillance at an Undisclosed Place,” wherein the tax authorities had held her, blubs a patriotic mea culpa/affirmation of loyalty, and faces fines and taxes equivalent to US$ 129 million, but no jail time if she pays up on time.  In spite of the lurid subject matter, this is a very informative article.  A major downward development in HK: Financial Times senior journalist denied visa by Hong Kong authorities after chairing an open Foreign Correspondents Club forum with a HK political figure anathemized by Beijing.  Further signs of the fraying of “One Country Two Systems.”  Deeply entrenched traditions at stake: trying to regulate “bride prices” in rural China at a time when males significantly outnumber females.

PRC Global A Western journalist formally employed at Global Times offer this gimlet-eyed view of the world of CGTN, China Global Television Network, one of whose reporters became the center of an ugly (and now international) incident in Birmingham, England a few days ago.  The incident is briefly described in this piece.  Needless to say, PRC perceptions of all this differ from the author’s. Blunt talk on why China’s lifting of equity restrictions on foreign investments in PRC financial institutions has been met with such a tepid response.  Complex security relations among the PRC, Russia, and the United States.  Short and lucid.  Meng Hongwei, the head of the global crime-hunter organization Interpol and Vice Minister of Public Security in China, lands in Beijing, disappears, and sends his wife an ominous chat message with the image of a dagger.  Then the PRC authorities announce that he is in custody for bribery.

U.S.-PRC Vice President Pence’s much-ballyooed China speech to the Administration’s favorite think tank on China, reciting every recent charge and revelation of Chinese malign behavior, but at a level of generality that precluded any identification of sources.  Widely viewed in the US as announcing a fundamental turn to a more comprehensive adversarial approach to China.  Background to Pence’s full-spectrum denunciation of the PRC.  Public snarling between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US SecState Mike Pompeo, after a week of rising animosities. A valiant attempt at calling for the ending of the tit-for-tat tariff war now raging between China and the U.S., on grounds of national interest for both sides. An astounding report on a debate at the apex of American political power as to whether to ban ALL PRC students from studying in the U.S.  One well-placed American’s account of ominously shabby treatment at a conference to which he was invited as a respected guest speaker.  The cascade of ill will appears to be strengthening, though perhaps it is partly a matter of more frequent reporting of incidents like this.  One of many reports on an extremely close encounter between Chinese and American warships in the South China Sea, with a photo showing how close the two vessels had come.  Another dimension of the rapidly spreading US alarm over China: Trump’s China attack dog Peter Navarrao points to U.S. military supply chain vulnerabilities.  An article with something of a mixed message, on the continuation of profitable business engagement with China at the sub-national (i.e., state and local) level.  With a new US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement in hand, this report suggests that the Trump administration will turn its attention to a fundamental assault on China, with the aim of ending the international “supply chain” system in which the PRC for the past three decades has played a crucial part.  A giant Bloomberg report on an alleged super-high-tech Chinese assault on the integrity of servers used by all manner of US customers, including such corporate giants as Apple and Amazon.  Great techno-narrative, no identification of sources.  NOTE: BE SURE TO READ FOLLOW-UP REPORT AT A comprehensible technical analysis of the Bloomberg bombshell, with alarming conclusions, is at  .  From Brookings, an article on whether, and how, the PRC attempts to influence U.S. politics.  Again from Brookings, a soberly-crafted piece on Chinese “influence operations” in the U.S., which are now at the center of a raging firestorm.  Acknowledges and identifies some of the ways in which the PRC attempts to affect American opinion about China and China-related issues.  Notes recent Congressional measures to combat those attempts.  Cautions against going to excess.  Extraordinary, almost unbelievable.  The Chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisors advises US businesses to “stay away from China.”  A lonely American voice, publishing in a British newspaper, calls for America not to lose its head over China.

Sept. 21-30

PRC Domestic  Stories of life in a county-town  in Sichuan.  Nicely translated and worth the time.   On China’s National Day (October 1), Kaiser Kuo’s Kuora presentation looks at Deng Xiaoping’s historical role, and how Deng is viewed now.c Another big corruption takedown.  Unlike numerous foreign media reports, this report in the relatively free-wheeling magazine Caixin makes no mention of the alleged perp’s Uighur ethnic identity.  After the “provisional agreement” with The Vatican, journalist and writer Ian Johnson describes the broader environment for Christianity in China now. One commentator’s thought-provoking commentary regarding the dangers of political leadership isolated from external realities.  Minxin Pei is highly articulate, very well informed, and dependably critical of anything in the PRC that he chooses to write about, but the first two qualities sometimes outweigh the implicit bias of the last one.  This is a case in point, in which he points to ominous hints that the PRC regime is going to move farther in the direction of a state-dominated economy, at the expense of the private sector which nowadays generates the bulk of the jobs and the bulk of the economic vitality of the country, in contrast to the remaining giant state-run enterprises that, in his opinion, the Xi Jinping operation seems to like more and more.

PRC Global  The NYT’s indomitable Jane Perlez on Chinese reactions to the precipitous deterioration of Sino-American relations. The kind of development that gives credence to allegations of PRC “influence operations” in other countries. This one the burglary of the home of a noted New Zealand academic who has published studies of such “influence operations.”  The Vatican-Beijing breakthrough agreement, as announced by a Vatican site.  Not the end of controversy, but viewed by many as a hopeful step forward. China’s continuing expansion of medium-high-tech exports (capital goods like machinery, etc.). Actually, a very informative look at the transformation of China’s industrial economy and the PRC’s growing export capacity in industrial products. As The dimensions of the metastasizing trade conflict between Washington and Beijing grow, third countries – in this case, Australia – worry about how to save the global trade regime and how to deal with China’s increasingly bumpy arrival.

U.S.-PRC  Must Read. China policymaking veteran Jeffrey Bader finally offers a concise argument against the “disengagement” trend now gathering force in the United States.  ON THE OTHER HAND, longtime China journalist John Pomfret argues that, as US-China relations implode, China has only itself to blame, and things could have turned out otherwise. Good piece on the ins and outs of PRC acquisition of technology – willingly or otherwise – from US firms.  The Congressional Research Service’s latest update of its two-page “Focus” summary on US-China relations, for the busy Member of Congress who only has a minute and a half to think about that. State Council Information Office White Paper on growing trade conflict with the United States.  A significant statement of PRC positions in this conflict.   MUST READ.  Robert Zoellick interview with Caixin.  Edward Truman, a very experienced US international finance official, with an important message about the perils facing the International Monetary Fund, the potential problems arising from sovereign debt incurred by countries taking Chinese BRI loans, and the necessity of changes in U.S. policy to deal with these potential crises.  He is not optimistic. The tariff war comes to the Port of Baltimore.  Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute of International Economics offers this solid and graphically useful backgrounder on Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports.  Another very gloomy prognosis on the future between America and China, from Andrew Browne, a thoughtful journalist who until recently was head of the Wall Street Journal Bureau in Shanghai.

Sept. 11 – 20

PRC Domestic  A vast, but highly readable “tour d’horizon” of the Chinese propaganda system – recent institutional changes, personnel changes, programs and products.  For those with the time, much to work through and learn here. Another report on regime action to curb religious activity, in this case online.  Unofficial translation of the new regulations at   .  A Chinese official from the State Council Information Office responds to international criticism of Chinese detention camps for Muslims in Xinjiang. Nice reflective article about Jack Ma, who will step down as Executive Chairman of Alibaba.  Updated and complex listing of “State Council Institutional Reforms,” i.e., reorganization of government administrative structures.  Name changes, amalgamations and mergers, eliminations, etc. For the closely engaged.  Great article on succession challenges in Chinese firms, with a focus on two titans, Jack Ma and Richard Liu of Alibaba and JD.Com respectively.  Never forget China’s “market liberals,” even when the news suggests relentless reversion to Leninist economic practices.  Uighurs from neighboring countries, e.g. Kazakhstan, disappearing into the Xinjiang black hole.

PRC Global  China’s push for higher-value-added products accelerates under U.S. tariff pressure.  Not the intent of the tariffs.  Focus on export powerhouse Guangdong Province.  From a U.S. Christian organization long focused on Christianity in China, this site offers several pieces on the Chinese Bible, 29 years in preparation.  Whether one supports foreign proselytization in China or not, the immensity of the task of translating the Bible into Chinese, from whatever original language, is worthy of study and reflection.  A research paper assessing the social effects of PRC development projects across a wide range of countries. Growing move globally, esp. Europe, to scrutinize PRC merger and acquisition cases, following US lead in expanding CFIUS scope and powers.  PRC investment in US tanks in 2018.  As news of an apparent agreement between Beijing and the Vatican emerges, this podcast with Ian Johnson is à propos and informative.  Part 1 of a four-part podcast series on the Belt and Road Initiative.  An interesting review of the Belt and Road Initiative, stressing unanswered questions, the limits of definition, the ambiguities of central-local roles and PRC-recipient country roles, etc.  Nothing definitive, but a useful look at a sometimes confusing but endlessly discussed global program.  Download the new European Chamber of Commerce in China Position Paper from this press-release web page.

U.S.-PRC  Global Times, known for its bluntness, even its inflammatory word choices, with a serious editorial about the meaning for China of the onrushing tariff conflict.  Must Read.  Indications of growing coordination between US and its major trading partners to resolve their trade issues and then form united front to confront PRC global and domestic economic practices.  Very well constructive, inclusive article.  CSIS’s Scott Kennedy gets his critical hands around the cascading down-swoon in US-China relations after the latest round of Trump tariffs and Chinese responses.  As of Sept. 19.  Kennedy is right in his blunt assessments.  Big change of US policy:  Justice Department will now require key PRC media organizations in the US to register as alien agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  Will China retaliate with similar requirements on, e.g., VOA?  Mnuchin invites China to new talks.  Edward Alden thinks something big and time-consuming may be beginning.  Trump’s new $200b-in-imports’ worth of tariffs a day or two later (and immediate Chinese tariff response) may have killed this baby in the cradle.  US companies in China hurting as tariff war deepens.  See  .  Yet more on Trump and more on tariffs, as of Sept. 14.  Despite some familiar content, this is a useful short-term piece.  An article on the ways in which the interests and practices of Chinese online companies do, and more importantly don’t, always line up with government goals and requirements.  Can Trump take the US out of WTO?  PIIE economists discuss, with legal analysts. The swamp deepens.  PRC “1000 Talents” program recruiting talented Chinese trained in the US and elsewhere to return to China and serve PRC development goals leads to growing suspicion in US and elsewhere over technology thefts and security dangers.

Sept. 1-10

PRC Domestic Unforeseen side effects of China’s ban on importation of waste products: shortage of raw materials results.  Arrest and immediate return to China of Richard Liu, founder of e-commerce behemoth, galvanizes online attention in PRC. A nicely translated, half-funny/half-serious, reflection on life in China then and now by famed author Yu Hua. Melding the civilian and the military economies in Mianyang, Sichuan, a hugely military town.  Producer Price Index up 4.1% year on year in August. Thickening government pressure on religion and places of worship. At this web site, one can download a paper that lies near the core of the current heated discussion of alleged PRCG practices aimed at Uyghurs in Xinjiang.  The subject, under urgent discussion among academics and think tankers in the West for many months, has become front-page news in recent days, as at  Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma to step back.  Succession plans at the online giant.  This site offers lots of interesting, related hyperlinks.  Must Read.  Where agriculture reform began – the story of one village and one man.  Online trials of IP cases at this Internet Court.  Derided by one American long suspicious of PRC motives, at  .

PRC Global A valuable academic paper on the frequency with which international social science researchers have encountered various forms of interference, intimidation, or prohibitions as they have attempted to conduct research in China. This subject is very “current,” as it relates to the raging conflict over “self censorship” alleged to be widespread among academics fearful of damage to their careers and personal lives if they offend Chinese authorities.  A critical analysis of the Belt and Road Initiative so far.  Malaysia under Mahathir cancels major infrastructure projects financed by China, out of concern over potential for Chinese “neocolonial” influence.

PRC-U.S.  Trump dumps APEC meeting, at which there had been some speculation of a Trump-Xi meeting to break the US-China stalemate. An experienced lawyer writes on whether to move production out of China in the face of the growing trade conflict between the US and China.  FULL DISCLOSURE:  THIS ITEM SHOULD BE CONSIDERED PROMOTIONAL LITERATURE.  Two survey reports by the Purdue University Center for Religion and Society, on Chinese students and scholars in the U.S. Professor Aaron Friedberg of Princeton, who has long argue that China represents a massive geo-strategic challenge to the United States, here expresses that view in detail and lays out recommendations for how the U.S. should meet the Chinese challenge. Emphasis on the political and ideological essence of the Chinese threat.  The U.S. corporate groan at likely effects of Trump’s vast tariff increases.  Supply chain demolition, competitiveness damage, consumer burdens, etc.  The frantic search for “exemption.”

August 24-31

PRC Domestic A heart-stopping, eloquent essay by a young Chinese writer living in the U.S., occasioned by her mother’s medical crisis in their hometown of Shanghai.  Raging battle between two boffo TV drama series, both set in the court of Qing Dynasty’s Qianlong Emperor.  Literally billions of viewers.  “Tales of the Yanxi Palace” seems to be on top. (For US readers:  The Qianlong Reign, (1735-1796) represented the apogee of power and prosperity of China’s final imperial dynasty, just before the decay and repeated catastrophes of the 19th century). Why do so many Chinese students seek to study abroad, especially in the U.S., when Chinese universities now are so highly developed?  Unending uncertainty about Chinese economic statistics.  An illuminating article.  A brief, comprehensible account of the “Catch-22” dilemma facing PRC leadership as the economy slows and US trade war rises: continue to “de-leverage” in order to reduce the spectre of bad debt throughout the economy, or reopen the infrastructure spigot to keep the economy humming, at the risk of reversing the “deleveraging” trend and sinking the country in vast amounts of new bad debt.  Crisis hits online ride-hailing giant Didi after a second murder of a passenger by a driver.  Implications broader, though, as social downsides of booming online businesses gain greater recognition.

PRC Global  PRC proceeds with promised market-opening moves in the banking sector even as US-PRC tariff volleys worsen. This article discusses PRC energy projects along the Belt and Road, many of them for coal powered generating plants, but it argues that it is China’s massive effort at power transmission infrastructure development that will ultimately make possible the development of renewable power along the BRI routes, while establishing China as the core of a vast multi-regional power grid.  Washington Post editorial reveals a lot about where the US and China are heading.  Here the WaPo focuses on perceived international “pushback” against Xi Jinping’s globally ambitious policies and China’s conduct toward BRI partners and others.  NYT on Chinese massively increased seapower in the East and South China Seas, where the US Navy has cruised confidently since World War II.

U.S.-PRC  Robert Sutter, one of the longest-serving China specialists in the Washington, D.C. academic/think tank/government circuit, on the alignment of the current U.S. Congress with Trump in strong positions of distrust or hostility toward the PRC.  An important read for those not concerned daily with these matters. A modest, constructive, but somewhat wistful article offering suggestions on how the US and China might begin to “manage” their currently degraded relations.  More tariff tit-for-tat.  A very interesting interview with Finance Minister Liu Kun. UCSD Economist Barry Naughton on Chinese economic policy responses to the Trump assault, starting with the observation that “tit for tat” policy has been a failure already.  A Chinese website offers examples of U.S. small business testimony opposing pending US “Section 301” tariffs.  Full coverage of the massive USTR hearings, involving more than 350 testimony submissions, still has not been made available by USTR: cameras were barred and recording devices were prohibited. Congressional Research Service backgrounder for Members of Congress on major US trade disputes since Smoot-Hawley (1930).  Very handy guide. A handy introduction, produced for Members of Congress not well in formed on the subject, to newly-enacted changes affecting the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the agency that reviews – and can block – proposed foreign acquisitions of U.S. properties or firms.  Much of the Congressional excitement has focused on PRC mergers and acquisitions. A colorful portrait of Trump’s top China whisperer, Peter Navarro, in Time Magazine.  A long and highly informative, critical interview with Amb. Chas Freeman, whose ability to express himself, without notes, on complex historical and current China policy issues is unique and valuable.  Do not listen while driving; listen in the quiet of a late evening. A detailed argument that, by misreading Chinese economic condition (assuming weakness), Washington’s prosecution of a tariff war will fail.  Interesting analysis with useful hyperlinks. Chinese experts’ views that the US-China conflict has become more than economic and is now geostrategic.  This is, in your editor’s view, a huge tragedy for which responsibility resides in both nations.  Autos.  Trump tariffs lead Ford to cancel plans to import a vehicle from China. This coverage, from the Detroit News, is useful for its informed discussion of issues facing Ford and the U.S. auto sector.  Baying hounds.  A longtime, formerly fringe but lately less so, crusading “journalist” alleges a vast CCP plot to influence major U.S. think tanks, colleges and universities, etc.

August 14 – 23

PRC Domestic  Interesting tea-leaf readings following the annual secretive leadership retreat to the beach at Beidaihe.  From Nikkei, whose reporting on China tends toward negative or insinuating hinting.  This piece is relatively free of that, however. A NYT article suggesting that Chinese leadership may have misjudged prospects for trade conflict with the US and now confront serious policy dilemmas.  Xi Jinping issues a new anti-corruption/anti-laxity warning and mandate to the military. A rising young American China specialist writes on the profound challenges to the Chinese political system arising from the very characteristics of that system today, i.e., the intellectual and political supremacy of a single Leader. The Economist often uses better-than-average writing style to express commonplace ideas, but this essay, on the swirl of rumors accompanying this year’s leadership retreat at Beidaihe, is worth the reader’s time.  Bottom line: don’t get too worked up about rumors of intense leadership conflict and rising antagonism toward Xi Jinping. Marvelous piece on the finances of China’s gigantic High Speed Rail system: built on debt, still run on loans.  What lies ahead?  A debt crisis or, over the longer term, a system that pays off its debts and justifies the regime’s enormous bet?  Michael Pettis on the ways in which a “trade war” could create more favorable conditions for deep-reaching and needed structural reforms in the Chinese economy.  China’s new Ministry of Emergency Management and overhaul of the entire disaster-management system. A granary fire, and another discussion of declining self-sufficiency in food grains.  Wall Street Journal on internment “re-education” camps in Xinjiang.  A vast report on what is apparently happening in Xinjiang.  Brings together in one place much of the recent widespread reporting on “Re-education” camps incarcerating hundreds of thousands, if not a million, Uyghur residents of Xinjiang in the ostensible interests of anti-terrorism and “stability maintenance.”  The boom in online P2P (peer-to-peer) lending hits the wall. In their struggle to gain “World Class” designation, Chinese universities aim to “internationalize,” but face very serious unintended consequences.  An important glimpse into a broader and deeper phenomenon at work in modern China.

PRC Global  A fascinating Caixin interview with Prime Minister Mahatir of Malaysia, as he proceeds to postpone or cancel very large PRC-invested development projects because of the huge debts his nation incurred in signing on to those deals.  A long, thoughtful, and ultimately pessimistic article by Adam Segal, the Council on Foreign Relations cyber expert, on what China’s vision and program for management of cyberspace portends. Tsinghua University computer allegedly connected to hacking of Daimler, Tibetans in India, etc.   More worries about US cutting its funding for diplomacy and overseas development aid while China ramps up big-time. Focus on Africa and Latin America.  Valedictory observations by a young Chinese person who worked for seven years as an employee of foreign news organizations in China and is now leaving journalism for study abroad.

PRC-U.S.  First US-PRC meetings in months, on trade/tariff disputes, open at relatively low levels (Under Secretary of Treasury/Vice Minister of Commerce) in D.C.  Good background/context article. For trade addicts.  The official USTR announcement of hearings to be held Aug. 20-27 on proposed new US tariffs on Chinese products, including the gigantic, complete list of the proposed targets.  More than 350 companies requested opportunities to testify.  SR will post additional links as useful material becomes available. In the absence of meaningful American coverage of these extremely important USTR hearings on pending tariff increases, China Global Television Network posts this piece on witnesses’ testimonies as to the damage such tariff’s cause to complex supply chains serving American companies. Timothy Stratford, now heading a major US law firm’s China operations but formerly top USTR China official, with an oracular, relatively gloomy, but thought-provoking interview on why the US and China are likely to be locked into the current trade conflict for a long time.  A detailed and highly critical commentary from a CCP organ, of the just-passed US Defense Authorization Act, which contains significant China-focused content. Peterson Institute of International Economics analysis of China’s announced tariffs on imports from the US, in response to US imposition of tariffs on Chinese imports.  As of August 15.  Useful, simple graphs also.  The vaccine scandal grows.  A very useful podcast on economic issues, with an extended discussion of major China matters starting at 7 minutes 20 seconds.   The guest is Jason Furman, one of the principal architects of economic policy in the Obama Administration.  USTR Lighthizer testimony at Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on USTR, July 26.  From the horse’s mouth, much of it on China. Internal unrest at Google as company explores possibility of a China search engine adherent to PRC cyber controls. A sobering report about the evolution of the unconstrained U.S. presidency, less and less affected by Congressional power or by the judgments of the expertise in the federal bureaucracy.  Asks the question, in conclusion, whether the “rising threat that China poses to U.S. interests” might shake the Congress and the bureaucracy out of their torpor.  A popular online publication, and an author who writes regularly on China, produce another in the unending array of moral challenges to normal Sino-American relations these days:  why is the National Basketball Association running a  youth training camp in Xinjiang, where up to a million local residents – Uighurs, of Islamic faith – are currently held in re-education camps?

August 4-10

PRC Domestic  An extremely helpful survey of the new legal and regulatory environment for NGOs in China, and a balanced assessment of the improvements and deteriorations in their operating environment.  RELATED, and of equal interest, this piece on overseas NGOs operating in the “new environment.”  and this look at why small domestic start-up NGOs struggle to thrive:  David Kelly’s excellent “Seven Chinas” report, proposing seven interrelated identities that define contemporary China and its current narrative.  A subtle discussion of the dividing line separating “fact” from “myth.” From February.  Download the report from this site. “Patriotism education” for “intellectuals.” A grim account by a Der Spiegel reporter on an extended trip through Xinjiang.  A report testifying to the apparent effectiveness of China’s attempt to insulate (isolate?) its population from online tools deemed off limits by the authorities.  Sobering in its implications, though one might find similar conclusions, in reverse, in the U.S. or Western Europe. A small note on a big topic: what happens when the anti-corruption enforcers act illegally?  A problem in every country, but potentially a significant one in China, where the Party state pursues a huge anti-corruption campaign and an ideology campaign as well.  The national “deleveraging campaign,” Xi’s response to huge debt loads throughout society, causes liquidity problems, especially for smaller companies.  This article discusses an attempt to lighten those problems in order to save smaller firms, but cautions against using it simply to keep “zombie companies” going forever.  A short essay on the current professed project to bring expand 24-hour/360-degree video surveillance to all of China (pilot projects target all streets and roads, not interior of dwellings), by 2020.  In the name of social stability, crime prevention, etc.  Kerry Brown’s ruminations on the recent powerful essay by Xu Zhangrun of Tsinghua University Law School, in which the author listed a long series of social and intellectual and political ailments in contemporary China.  That essay, mentioned in last week’s Suggested Readings, may be read in a quickly-done but subtle translation, at   . Growing concerns over the apparent situation in Xinjiang now completely in the public eye, with this report on a finding of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  China claims policies aim to deter religious extremism.  U.S. joins the chorus of criticism.  A brisk official rejoinder, with a powerful message of hostility to influences from “the west,” may be seen at  .

PRC Global  A significant article.  A Taiwan manufacturing mogul (“world’s biggest IT manufacturing company”) sees the end of the era of production in PRC for US market, and the beginning of a new era of production inside the U.S. (May be paywalled.) A useful summary of the content of the “Made in China 2025” program, the US and other international concerns over the program (especially re national security), and responses to it in the US and elsewhere.  A very informative interview on the current vaccine scandal and its ramifications in China.

U.S.-PRC  An “America Expert” tries to make sense of American strategic policy under Trump and comes up short.  Some attempt at analysis of domestic US drivers of American foreign policy, especially vis à vis Asia.  Distinguished Beijing University Scholar Wang Yong, who has studied US-China economic relations for decades, writes a message for American readers on Chinese views of the current US-PRC tangle.   Economics Dean at Fudan argues that China is many years behind US in the high-tech innovation space.  A very useful article by Adam Segal, recognized expert on China cyber issues, on the whole panoply of issues surrounding the “Made in China 2025” program. (May require free sign-up).  On the likelihood that Google will be able to operate a search engine again – even a censored one – in China; this analyst is dubious.  Coincidentally, a New York Times story tends to corroborate the author’s point.  Using content analysis of press releases from U.S. Members of Congress in districts heavily affected by the “China Shock” of the 2000s, the authors seek to explain why Republicans, long the champions of unrestricted trade, have turned so bitterly hostile toward China (and don’t protest against Trump’s China tariffs), while still speaking a broader pro-trade language. English-language People’s Daily hints that Apple may be in for some difficult times if US-China trade conflict continues and worsens.  A PRC investment in solar farms in the US fails for lack of CFIUS action.  Tensions over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea make major-media headlines in the US.

July 28 – August 3

PRC Domestic MUST READ, in a quiet room with ample time.  A well known Tsinghua University law professor writes a complex essay, in the manner of a Remonstrance to the Emperor, about errors in China’s current direction, and calls for specific policy changes including re-evaluation of the official judgment on the June 4, 1989 tragedy and reversal of the recently-approved elimination of term limits on the presidency and premiership.  Although Western critics of China may become over-excited by this, the document itself, and the commentary and translation shown here, are elegant and significant. An interesting blog post from Williams College China guru Sam Crane, about the “feel” of Beijing this summer as he makes his annual visit.  Quite sensitive, in both senses of the term. What makes this Caixin editorial about the challenges facing China’s economy and the measures needed to meet those challenges is the frankness with which it acknowledges that most of the points it makes have been made for years, without definite resolution.  Still stuck on many of the perennial issues, as “Reform” stumbles.  More signs of economic slowing.  Manufacturing PMI down, though still above the dividing line between expansion and contraction.  Controversy arises over allegedly over-confident assessments, by one of the PRC’s most renowned economists and “public intellectuals,” of China’s overall national strength as compared to that of the US.   Xi orders the military to clean up its act and get out of profit-making schemes and activities.  This is not a new theme, to put it mildly.

PRC Global  Editor Nathan Gardels’s thoughtful intro to a series of hyperlinked essays in this week’s Worldpost, all dealing with the new global order that may emerge under China’s influence.  Click on the links.  Economist Jeffrey Sachs has long been famous, though not always right: his advocacy of “big bang” reform of the former Soviet Union and the color-revolution countries has by now been largely dismissed.  But his essay here on the future of global innovation and the folly of U.S. attempts to smother Chinese innovation in the cradle may have greater credibility.  The Western media obsession with the BRI continues, as slavishly responsive to PRC PR as the American media is to the White House’s every emission.  Here the Guardian on “What is the Belt and Road Initiative?”  Further on recent defective medicine scares.

U.S.-China Analysis of the “Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act,” incorporated in the National Defense Authorization Act August 1.  The FIRRMA expands the scope of foreign investment review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), and is unquestionably focused on concerns over Chinese investments in the US, especially in areas of sensitive technology or military security.  The full text of the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act, which contains the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act discussed in the preceding item.  Go to Title XVII for the provisions relating to CFIUS.  US Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security names 44 additional Chinese entities as security threats to the US, imposes new export restrictions. This article may be overcome by events by the time of posting:  US contemplating 25% tariffs on $200b of Chinese imports instead of 10%, Trump reported angry, hyper-hardliners in White House calling the shots.  US dips its toes ($113m) into development assistance in the “Indo-Pacific,” with inflated rhetoric.  This, after walking out on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and shredding US reputation in the region.  Amid the rising tide of concern over PRC cyber-espionage, a useful refinement of what is under discussion. A comprehensive and highly critical analysis of the ill effects for the United States arising from Trump Administration tariff moves against China over the past year.  Covers many elements and for that reason merits a MUST READ.

July 23 – 27

PRC Domestic  Sixthtone’s report on the vaccine scandal.  The kind of situation that no head of state and head of government, and especially no father-figure, wants to get into:  Xi blasts evildoers in the vaccine scandal. “..resolutely improve the supervision of vaccines…” South China Morning Post story about the miraculous career recoveries of officials connected to earlier public safety crises (tainted foods and medicines, e.g.). State Drug Administration official goes on Central Television, but does not fare well.  Thanks to for the tip. Major shifts underway in China’s vast – and over-expanded – solar panel industry, after US throws tariffs on PRC panel imports. Thirteen year sentence for democracy champion Qin Yongmin, 64, who has already spent 22 years of his life in prison for similar activities.  The charge?  “Subversion of state power.” He had published a book on “China’s Peaceful Transition” in Hong Kong five years ago. Remarkable official statistics in the rise of arrests and criminal convictions in Xinjiang in 2017 over 2016, both I absolute terms and in terms of percentage of all-PRC national totals.

PRC Global  Full text of Xi Jinping’s speech in South Africa. 26 July, In early response following US-EU trade détente, Commerce Ministry spokesperson indicates without going into detail that PRC is favorably inclined toward WTO “reform.”  Practical implications unclear.  Official Xinhua report.  China Eastern – JAL alliance suggests that Sino-Japanese relations may be evening out after years of bitter tension over Diaoyu/Senkaku islands.  Result of larger regional shifts and shifting relations with the US? Document submitted to WTO by US delegation, detailing US view of Chinese economic policy vis a vis WTO principles and requirements. Interesting opinion article arguing that, with trade conflict with US rising and economy slowing, China will abandon “de-leveraging” and start increasing credit availability domestically, while agreeing to less demanding terms in order to keep its lending programs to “Belt and Road” countries robust.  Denouement of the nasty argument over what name the world’s airlines apply to Taiwan (Beijing insisting Taiwan not be listed as a “country.” Airlines act to honor PRC insistences.  China’s growing presence in global clean energy markets, both as producer of energy-generating equipment (e.g. solar panels) and as investor in energy companies in Europe, Africa, and elsewhere.  Implications. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who has worked on China for a long time, offers a sobering exegesis of Xi Jinping’s recent address to PRC foreign policy elite regarding world conditions and China’s current and future approach to global structure and governance.  As Rudd puts it, the West had better “buckle up.”  Short but important.  China stops buying the world’s plastic trash.  Vast problems worldwide. GREAT feature article on a line of entrepreneurship – unmanned food-item shelves in offices – that fizzled, and why.

PRC-US  The evaporation of the school of American “moderate” China specialists from the policy-making arena.  Part I of II.  Part II (see above).  Very fine reporting on the constraints blinkering the thought processes of Chinese responsible for understanding American government behavior.  A flagship deal falls through.  Qualcomm cancels plan to acquire Dutch chip maker as no response from Chinese antimonopoly authorities ever appears.  China says “nothing to do with current trade frictions.” Further fallout from the collapse of Qualcomm’s attempt to acquire NXP because of non-response from Chinese regulators.  Other pending deals at risk?  A veteran Chinese America-watcher with an interesting, multi-layered analysis of American perceptions of China and the future of Sino-American relations.  A somewhat anodyne ending, however.  PRC becomes net seller of US real estate for first time since 2008.  Giant US toy maker Hasbro announces plan to move all production out of China, to avoid tariff consequences of ongoing US-China “trade war.”  Artificial Intelligence.  Western professor at Tsinghua points to PRC strengths in competition with US for dominance in the sector. (May be paywalled.)  The head of the European Council on Foreign Relations summarizes his recent China interviews with respect to how China perceives Trump.  New Trump – EU trade détente: implications for US-China trade conflict?  Different interpretations. What we are descending to.  This young “journalist” is not doing herself any professional favors with pieces like this, but she will find a ready audience in “heat the boiling oil” circles.  Orthodoxy shift.  WSJ’s distinguished Bob Davis reviews the decision to grant China “Permanent MFN” status as it entered the WTO in 2000, and comes down largely on the side of the current massed legions who claim it was a mistake.

July 14-22

PRC Global  MUST READ.  An important reflection on traditional Chinese concepts of cosmology and governance and their application, under  Xi’s CCP, to the world as a whole.  PRC and Europe moving ahead on big deals while US digs its hole deeper.  (Note:  this Newsletter is wholly sponsored by one firm.)  Frictions between Siberians and both Moscow and Beijing as Chinese businesses clear-cut their way into Siberia.  THIS REPORT BEARS FURTHER VERIFICATION.  Global Times commentator (posted on PLA Daily web site) discusses current Xi Jinping Africa visit.  Worth a careful read.  One person’s blunt assessment that scholarly engagement with China is primordially a moral challenge, in which fear of visa denial too often results in willful self-censorship and willful disregard of appalling human rights violations. This item is included because it represents a stream of thinking that is shared by a rising number of foreign observers, particularly academics.  The author concludes, “Yet most importantly, simply by talking about these matters openly, and attempting to give a voice to those who are unable to speak, the suffocating cycle of silence, to which far too many of us have been accomplices at the nexus of censorship and self-censorship, will ever so slowly be broken.”

PRC-U.S. The eternal quest to figure out Trump’s America and Trump’s likely policies toward China.  Apple moves encrypted Big Data data to China Telecom servers inside China.  But the encryption keys are also inside China.  The terms of debate in the China field these days: does researching on China pose intrinsic questions of personal moral culpability and complicity?  Economist Yu Yongding with a forceful article on China’s adherence to WTO requirements and US offenses against them.  China’s monetary policy alternatives against the background of economic slowing and rising US-China “trade war” behavior.  Slow but valuable read. Official New China News Agency report on US states’ continuing hopes for closer economic ties with China, as expressed at a National Governors’ Association meeting in Santa Fe.

PRC Domestic  In the beginning:  the Communique of the Third Plenum of the Eleventh CCP Central Committee, December, 1978.  The start of “Reform and Opening.”  E-commerce and the transformation of rural China.  Great New Yorker reporting.  Some of the best Western analysts discuss developments in the Chinese cybersecurity realm over the past year, following passage of the Cybersecurity Law.  Economist Fred Hu argues that the U.S. obsession with China’s “Made in China 2025” high-tech development blueprint is misplaced, because state-designed development plans have proven to be costly and inefficient failures time after time. He leaves out a couple of key features of the state’s approach to developing key sectors, however. On political rumors in China, past and present.  The making, unmaking, remaking, etc. of a would-be blockbuster film.  Not for the faint-hearted.  From a commercially-sponsored online Newsletter.  Graphics showing projection of percentage of Chinese population over 60, compared with several other major countries, through 2050.  Major social and economic implications.  A sort of “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” article assessing current economic policy challenges in China on multiple fronts. The arrival of “social e-commerce.”  An interesting podcast with Prof. Ling Zhang,an “environmental historian,” author of the recent book, The River, The Plain and the State, about an environmental crisis in Song China (in the 12th century).  Another very serious faulty-medicine problem involving vaccines for infants.  Hot on the heels of a rabies vaccine scandal.  Corrosive effects on public trust.

July 6 – 13

PRC Domestic A dark look at the downward trend in China’s equities markets and in the value of the RMB, suggesting longer-term and deeper problems.  Unirule, a “liberal” think tank founded and led by economist Mao Yushi, evicted from its rented space, the door welded shut, the organization left homeless.  Remote Guizhou Province’s “big bet” on Big Data as the key to its economic future.  Great reporting.  But Guizhou not alone:  see the same author’s report on a small town in Ningxia, in the arid Northwest, with similar dreams: .  The flood season in Sichuan.  Must be seen every July to be believed.

PRC Global Interesting piece on Sino-foreign higher education programs, including those that have been cancelled by China.  MUST READ IF YOU HAVE THE TIME.  Economist David Autor takes on the economic effects of China’s arrival in the global economy upon other nations and their citizens.  A well laid-out economics article aimed at a general audience.

PRC-U.S.     USTR’s announcement of intent to impose tariffs on $200b more Chinese imports to the US.  Brookings’s David Dollar explicates the current “trade war” between the PRC and the US.  Read the bullet points, but watch the video.  Excellent reporting by WSJ’s Lingling Wei on Chinese dilemmas and responses to the new threat of higher US tariffs on $200 of PRC goods entering the US.  USTR’s formal announcement of commencement of procedures leading to imposition of tariffs on PRC imports valued at $200m.  Contains complete list of targeted imports.  Effects of tariffs so far on the U.S.  economy, by sector, with useful graphics.  Very good piece by AEI trade guru Claude Barfield with specific recommendations on how the U.S.  should define and advance its insistences on elimination of PRC trade and investment malpractices.  A short and intriguing note by a U.S. history professor just home from a year of teaching in China about Chinese students’ views of the U.S. (positive), contrasted with the gloomy perspectives of American students thinking about their own country.  ZTE saved?  US Commerce Department permits ZTE to purchase from US suppliers again.  A Missouri town feels the benefits of US aluminum tariffs and the threat of heavy damage from PRC retaliation against its farm products.  Great local reporting.  Thanks to CSIS Trade Vistas for reference.

June 25 – July 5

PRC Global  The PRC’s new “negative list” – replacing the old “Catalogue” of forbidden, tolerated, or encouraged sectors for foreign investment – shows some signs of further opening.  See also (Paywall) and .  Asia policy veteran Bob Manning, currently with The Atlantic Council,  presents “The China Challenge to an Inclusive Asia-Pacific Trade Architecture.” Approx. 20 pages. One of the most experienced American lawyers in Beijing with a thoughtful commentary on the implicit contradiction between the Xi regime’s policies on data management (including new “Measures on Scientific Data Management” and the inherent dynamics of scientific innovation.  The vision of China as global plague grows stronger: a report on the transformation of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, as the “Belt and Road Initiative” takes over.  Unregulated gambling, prostitution, unaffordable housing, etc.  Concerns about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s environmental record as enters its third year.  The Chinese Navy develops its base at Djibouti, reflecting the PRC’s large and growing Africa interests but also portending establishment of PLAN bases elsewhere around the world. Australia about to enact new laws to combat foreign interference in domestic politics.  China is the proximate cause and target.  Similar concerns about :influence operations”on front burner in U.S. and other countries.  China angry at Oz.  A fascinating “deep dive” into an unexplored topic: the possibility of a “rebalance” that would reverse the trend that has seen relocation of energy intensive production (steel, cement, glass, etc.) from developed countries into the PRC (resulting in overproduction, environmental catastrophe, and trade conflicts) and see the return of such energy-intensive activity to the US, where energy is cheaper and such activities are less polluting.  Could just be PR, but Alibaba’s moves to assemble global top minds to ponder questions of technology and society could prove very significant.  An ominous portent: CCP intervention cans an administrator at a Sino_British “Joint Venture” university in Ningbo after he wrote critically of the 19th Party Congress.

PRC Domestic  Kevin Rudd analyzes the recent, and significant Central Work Conference on Foreign Affairs.  A valuable analysis.  Peking University’s Zha Daojiong is always worth reading.  This new piece asks the question,”Where is China’s Governance Going?”.  GREAT new site for current Chinese writers and essays.  Wishful thinking? A report on bubbling concerns within the PRC, in the face of massive trade conflict with the US, that Chinese policymakers, starting at the top, have been over-cocky and have over-reached.  From May, Barry Naughton’s highly informative look at the new roster of key players in PRC economics following the latest National People’s Congress.  The Council on Foreign Relations’s Elizabeth Economy writes on China’s Internet.  Not a happy read, but a useful introduction.

PRC-U.S.  One of a zillion articles written within hours of the expected outbreak of tit-for-tat increases in US and Chinese tariffs on each other’s imported goods. The U.S.-China contest for cutting-edge technological dominance, and its growing effects on hallowed U.S. concepts of openness to foreign investment.  (May be paywalled),  6/26. SecDef Mattis arrives Beijing for “conversation.” No sabre-rattling in lead-up. Ref. preceding item.  An early wire service Report on the Mattis visit, including Mattis-Xi meeting. This site introduces a new Atlantic Council study on global, including Chinese, challenges to US technological dominance.  There is a hyperlink to the full paper, “The Global Innovation Sweepstakes.” A refreshingly robust assault on the arguments of the currently ascendant Trump trade and China guru Peter Navarro and a new 35-page Navarro paper that seems to be defining White House policy on high-tech issues with China.  Little of this kind of pushback evident in the US policy sector, however.  Global Times urges calm after one Sci-Tech leader warns  against misguided cockiness in China’s self-assessment of its technology strengths vis a vis the “West.”  Media orders from the propaganda authorities as the US-China economic battle unfolds: important to understand.

June 15-24

PRC – U.S. Critical analysis of pending U.S. legislation to expand the writ of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., in the face of surging concerns over PRC licit and illicit acquisitions of US advanced technology.

Bob Davis of WSJ on imminent US moves to interdict PRC-origin investment in US advanced technology sectors.  An interview with the ever-lucid Arthur Kroeber of Gavekal covers much of the current landscape, both on China’s domestic economic situation and on the deepening and vexing problems now pervading US-China relations.  PRC investment in US down 90% (!) year-on-year in first half 2018.  Rhodium Group crunches the numbers and analyzes.  The Navarro White House’s latest slasher paper on China.  Open this for American intellectual property guru Mark Cohen’s introductory note to his and others’ recent testimonies (links for both) regarding Chinese IP practices. Encompassing much more than the above, this D.C. hearing offers some very thoughtful testimonies on PRC intellectual property situations, and on present and future US policy options.  In addition to Cohen (above), see Webster.  Google invests $550 million in Jingdong (, 2nd largest e-commerce company in China.  The China-as-contagious-virus trope gains strength again in Washington, this time in the form of Senators’ statement of concern over Chinese “influence operations.”  Video.  Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein on China.  Businessy, and clear.  An unusual sight these days: U.S. Senate majority party pushback against White House tariff actions. From June 20, a brief report on the possibility that Trump will impose prohibitions on PRC investment in a lost of around 1,000 U.S companies, on national security grounds.  Fine Laura Tyson piece on the challenges of Sino-American competition in the very advanced technology sectors singled out by “Made in China 2025´for Chinese dominance.  A grim tale of apparent semiconductor technology theft, with Micro the victim.  Capitol Hill furor over alleged PRC cyber-theft of national security-related data.  As US-China stage darkens and US prepares to close down on visas for PRC sci-tech students and researchers, a veteran defender of stable bilateral relations issues his warning.  He will likely be dismissed by the usual faces, but his points are worth pondering.  Amid widespread discussion of PRC powers of retaliation on trade, this piece points out the harm that most of China’s alternatives would inflict on China itself.

PRC Global  From March, an impressive World Resources Institute paper on PRC progress toward its climate goals.  Meanwhile the U.S. charges backward.  China and the future of the World Trade Organization in the era of Trumpian deconstruction of longstanding institutional frameworks. China appears only occasionally in this important article about the power of quantum computing and the challenges it poses for major actors, including not only China and the U.S. but the EU, Canada, etc.  An absorbing look at China’s upcoming attempt to launch a probe on the “dark side” of the moon and communicate its data with a new satellite. The EU Chamber of Commerce in China weighs in on PRC mistreatment of foreign investors, in a manner similar to US complaints.  Signs of potential PRC mentor role for DPRK economic development.  Great press roundup with links.

PRC Domestic

Trump tariff threat on $200b in Chinese exports to the US drive Shanghai stock exchange down hard.  From June 19.  One of America’s top experts on PRC government and administrative behavior analyzes the country’s new Supervision Commission and its task of monitoring the behavior of all civil servants.  The Commission ultimately is only answerable to the Party.  A yawn?   A masterful article. As China’s economy slows amid Xi Jinping’s efforts to bring wild lending under control, prospects for a deepening tariff battle with the U.S. present unappetizing choices to Beijing.  China’s tough quest for domestic production of sophisticated semiconductors, as the ZTE crisis reveals PRC dependence on US chips. Ian Johnson’s interview with a renowned Peking University sociologist shows that critical thinking is alive.  MUST READ THIS AS WELL: great commentary on the same scholar, by the uniquely valuable Stephen Jones: .  72 square feet of house for $385,000.

June 7-15

PRC Global  A robust British argument as to what is at stake in “Freedom of Navigation” naval operations in the South China Sea. Turmoil in the global solar power market as China cuts subsidies for solar power development inside the PRC.  Between that and current environmental policy retreats in the US, bad news on the climate change front.  Restrictions eased on movement of funds out of China by Qualified Foreign Investors.  A step in the direction of a more open capital market. (Paywall?)  An intriguing and technologically enjoyable “debate” over the question if whether the “West” should “worry about the threat to liberal values posed by China’s rise.  True debate format:  opening statements, closing statements, reader votes, etc.

PRC – U.S.  The US and China lurch into tit-for-tat tariff conflict.  US companies caught in the middle as tariff battle opens.  Important article, but the Comments from readers can be blood-curdling. Official USTR statement on imposition of tariffs.  Further USTR comment on the list of products to be hit with higher tariffs at  Official Commerce Ministry statement on tariff tit-for-tat.  One day before, SecState Pompeo meets Politburo member (and former ambassador to Washington) Yang Jiechi.  An anodyne official report, emphasizing the positive.  MUST READ, even if it means signing up,  Several serious analysts respond to the Campbell-Ratner article in the previous Foreign Affairs on why and how “Washington” “got China wrong.” US ready to reduce visa access for Chinese students/scholars in STEM fields deemed “sensitive.”  The National Committee on U.S.-China Relations conducts this important Forum on “The Future of “Constructive Engagement.”  Read the Orlins transcript, listen to the other presentations. A Washington hearing featuring remarks by a set of well informed witnesses, on the theme of PRC “state capitalism,” its market-distorting effects, and avenues of potential US response.   Claremont McKenna’s Pei Minxin on the demise of US-China “engagement” and what comes next.  Not pretty. China Labor Watch on alleged labor abuses at a Foxconn factory in Hengyang that produces marquee products (e.g., Kindle readers) for Amazon.

PRC Domestic  A new collection of essays on NGOs in China, currently downloadable at no charge.  Corporate gold in the gigantic surveillance program (facial recognition, artificial intel) erected in Xinjiang, where ethno-political tensions with the Uighur native population are intense.  A massive business-government experiment in “stability maintenance.” Foreign investment funds flock.  WARNING: the author is not aware of the family-name-first word order in Chinese names. Often a sign of an amateur beyond his depth.  China’s economic numbers slowing down amid a clampdown on excessive lending.  The situation in Tianjin described here, with broader implications.  Sixth Tone scores again, with this feature story on a training school for detectors of counterfeit luxury fogoods.

May 28 – June 7

PRC-U.S.  Moving toward definitional moments in the American drama. Further to the preceding. Official PRC government web site presents a column by a U.S. figure on the growing disintegration of the United States.  Final line: “ I sadly feel that today he would have to say that, unless current trends change, the sun rapidly rising in the East is fast setting in the West.”  US clamps down on visa terms for certain Chinese student applicants in sensitive high-tech fields. An important interview on related topics should be paired with the above report:  see  .  An eloquent statement by a Chinese post-doc researcher at Cornell, arguing that closing the door to foreign talents, including Chinese talents, is exactly the wrong way for the U.S. to advance its global interests.  Mysterious symptoms affect US ConGen staffers and families in Guangzhou.  ZTE will survive, according to Commerce Secretary Ross’s description of a deal just worked out. Staggering USG intrusion into the management and operations of a foreign country.  A precedent for other cases worldwide?  What will be follow-on effects in PRC corporate governance?  One small example of how Chinese and Americans work together, illustrative of how much is at stake if the two countries unravel bilateral relations at the highest levels.

PRC Domestic  Academic and technical, but a very interesting study of the effectiveness of social media in enabling authorities to anticipate social protests and to disseminate propaganda. Gloom on the 29th anniversary. A poor peasant near Xi’an and his collection of others’ discards – artifacts from China’s ancient and more recent past.  Courage, 29 years on.  On the Alibaba – Tencent mega-competition in the digital space.   Why was the Mao-adoring “leftist” web site known as “Utopia” shut down this week.  David Bandurski analyses.  Francesco Sisci’s fascinating short piece on Christians and almost-Christians in China. The endless quest by authorities high and low to instill “civilized” behavioral norms in China’s citizens.  Chiang Kai-shek tried to do this with the “New Life Movement” starting in 1934, and the quest has gone on, in many forms, since.  Here, an obscure small city tries its best. Related to the preceding:  “grid management” aims at detecting undesirables in urban environments.  Chinafile breaks the alleged indifference and careful silence with regard to the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, in this series of postings by concerned Western scholars and observers.  Not an “on the one hand/on the other hand” body of comments.  Sift for nuggets in this elliptical report of General Secretary Xi’s address on the extending of “reform” at both the central and local levels.

PRC Global  China’s rise in scientific achievement and international attractive power parallels U.S. implosion.  Great piece on China’s growing global reach in power generation and transmission.  A troubling article about the tidal quality of Chinese arrival on the world scene and the potential problems that can result: this is about housing markets, in Canada and New Zealand, flooded with PRC buyers.

May 21-27

PRC-U.S.  Where to begin, this week?  Here. Must read.  Trump administration announces imposition of tariffs on $50b in Chinese imports, plus restrictions on Chinese investments in sensitive sectors and new export controls.     Official White House announcement at  Look for all three articles – by Wendy Cutler, Zheng Yongnian, and Nathan Gardels, around the theme of technological competition between China and the U.S.  All three pieces are important.  Must view.  “The Future of U.S.-China Engagement.”  From the National Committee on US-China Relations.  Four senior figures in the US policy community discuss this serious point. The China Threat theme fully expressed: a detailed investigation of PRC acquisitions of sensitive US technology firms, and the inadequacy of current US means of examining and interfering with such deals on national security grounds.  A breath of fresh air – or sip of water, in this case – in a time of seemingly unending bilateral disenchantments: a major Center for American Progress effort to advance US-PRC collaborative efforts at building a “Blue Future” in the world’s oceans.   After several previous participations, China “disinvited” from participation in this year’s US-organized RIMPAC naval exercise in Hawaii.  Militarization of South China Sea islets cited as main cause.  A significant symbolic step backward, but so was the landing of heavy bombers on China’s airfield on Woody Island.  The “latest” on the ZTE saga.  Also this: .  And THIS: One of myriad indicators of American frenzy over purported China danger.  The very last line is the most revelatory.

PRC Domestic  Official (and therefore somewhat stilted) but nevertheless interesting account of Xi Jinping address to Chinese Academy of Science and Chinese Academy of Engineering, on the future aspirations of PRC science and technology.  An amazing cornucopia of explorable images and commentaries – on everything “artistic and cultural,” but in this case on China in myriad ways.  Good advice on the perils of foreigners working illegally in China, and of not making sure that a foreigner’s would-be employer is acting legally in hiring the foreigner.  Teaching English the most common case in point.  The very talented Alec Ash with a review essay on science fiction in the China of today, and in the China of yore. The Xiongan New Area mega-city project near Beijing: monument to Xi Jinping’s vision of state-driven, advanced technology-enabled, urban development.  This writer has his doubts.  A contemplative reflection on old photos. The unending struggle against pyramid schemes, this one revolving around cryptocurrencies.  PRC tech grandees’ comments at annual Big Data Expo.  Official China Global Television News writeup.

PRC Global Thoughtful essay on current and future Sino-Indian relations in a shifting global context. From February, a study by veteran analyst David Kelly, entitled “Seven Chinas.”  What foreign startups and small business are up against: the “free look” method of gaining foreign companies’ lifeblood IP without ever investing a cent. An experiment in Soft Power along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative:  a stage play designed to provide basic financial education for workers along the BRI, in order to prevent financial fraud.  The swamp of foreign embassy attempts to communicate with large numbers of people via Chinese social media,

May 14-20

PRC Domestic  A moving profile of Professor He Weifang, a distinguished advocate for reform based in the rule of law, now heavily censored and restricted.  Strongly recommended as follow-up:  .  The fall of the House of Anbang, or at least the Head of Household.  Great piece on the vibrant start-up scene in China. An examination of evidence of the existence and scale of political re-education, or “de-extremification”, programs aimed at Uighurs in Xinjiang.  A very well informed British analyst writes on China’s water problems and what must be done to cope with them.  Download from this site.  Another serious examination of the Chinese water situation with a very different conclusion: no imminent water crisis.

PRC-U.S.  NYT’s Keith Bradsher does not mince wiords in assessing the visit of top Chinese economic negotiators to D.C. As Vice Premier Liu He descended on D.C. to try to find common ground with the U.S. on a host of huge trade and economic issues, U.S. ambassador to China Terry Branstad explained how far apart the two nations remain.  Vice Premier Liu He and his top economic team leave D.C. after several days of negotiations with Administration officials: here is one of many reports on what emerged.  Readers will be forgiven if the have trouble determining whether anything meaningful actually resulted, but perhaps time will tell.   South China Morning Post on the ambiguities trailing after the Liu He team visit to D.C.  Useful update on brewing Congressional action to expand scrutiny of incoming investments (main concern: China) and not, as of this report, to institute USG scrutiny of OUTBOUND US corporate investments for the first time.  The swirling goulash of Administration verbiage and actions on China trade sanctions. A by now well established American journalist, in the “Opinion” zone, blasts Trump for reversing course on ZTE, and goes on to portray a gigantic US-Chinese struggle in which one concession to a Chinese demand portends much larger U.S. strategic losses.  No mention of the list of demands the Administration laid on the table as they left Beijing a week or so earlier. US Congress prepares to expand US government authority to scrutinize and cancel incoming foreign investment deals, with Chinese M&A deals the main target.

PRC Global  A major study by RAND on “China and the International Order”.  Financial Times sage Martin Wolf with a follow-up assessment of what he heard at  a very high-end seminar for “thought leaders” of his stature in Beijing two weeks ago.  Sober but important views for those in the “West.”  PRC successes in building strong ties with Southeast Asia. A new wrinkle on “Made In China 2025.”

May 7-13

PRC Domestic  A massive essay by a respected Peking University scholar, with an invaluable introduction by the translators, on the philosophical and ideological synthesis embodied in “Xi Jinping Thought,” in the context of all of China’s history and China’s struggles over the past two centuries.  Worth the slog, for those with time and a quiet place to read. FT’s veteran China reporter Lucy Hornby on the reinvigoration of Marxism and the expansion of the Party’s role in the Chinese economy.  A relatively rare mainstream media hint at the granular complexity of social and religious life today.  The central subject here is one independent church leader’s arrest as he prepared to lead commemoration ceremonies in the community at the center of the catastrophic Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province exactly ten years ago. A generally upbeat story about the enhanced rol,e of NGOs in promoting disaster-preparedness in areas of Sichuan hit by the 2008 Wenchuan quake.  Only the lightest mention, however, of the political sensitivities arising from the quake, especially the government’s move to “coordinate” NGO work, and the suppressed furor over shoddy construction of school buildings in which hundreds of Chinese kids died in the 2008 disaster.  Still, an informative piece.  Related to the preceding.  A moving and powerful account of “second families” in the remote and impoverished mountain regions of Sichuan where, in 2008, a great many children – the only offspring of their parents under the “One Child Policy” – were killed in the great earthquake, and where husbands and wives created new babies to start new families.  A very unusual piece, by the former Editor of the South China Morning Post, excoriating ZTE leadership for its shady business practices and urging all Chinese enterprises to clean up their acts.

PRC-USA  Brain-spinning news on the U.S. ruinous sanctions against big Chinese mobile phone maker ZTE.  Trump orders Commerce Dept. to make sure ZTE stays in business, since too many Chinese jobs are at risk.  Analysis and background. This article is like a peek under the rug; it reveals a vast, roiling set of technological and government policy challenges, in both the U.S. and China.   FT sage Martin Wolf flays (correctly) the “terms” that the US demanded of China in the recent Mnuchin-Navarro talks in Beijing.  Unbelievable and blithe demands which, as Wolf says, no self-respecting nation could accept.  A trump-style “deal” opening move?  Waking from that dream will not be pleasant.  Amazing.  US ban on American companies supplying anything to ZTE (incl. chips on which ZTE is utterly dependent) may be putting ZTE completely out of business.  Details.

BUT: Days later, Trump says he and Xi are working to help ZTE stay alive, and to save Chinese jobs…  Signs of further talks just ahead.  Maybe.  US political world joins the “PRC Influence Operations” wave.  A disturbing story.  Throwing the WTO under the bus? US soybean sales to China tank.  Seasonal or political? 3-day USTR hearing on proposed retaliatory tariffs on Chinese imports for alleged IP violations will air this week.  US companies will testify, orally or in writing,  This article surveys the business sector’s uneasinesses.  Trump may see the whole thing as a haggle; Lighthizer (USTR) maybe more driven to dismantle PRC core economic practices.  Iowa farm groups express trade-war fears to Trump Admininstration.

PRC Global  A site to watch if you want to stay current in what me might call the “sociology of China reporting,” especially among younger Western journalists. Fascinating report by Willy Lam, suggesting (with cited sources but no definitive proof) that as the economic confrontation with the US builds, some voices are suggesting that China’s recent and vigorous assertiveness may havegone too far.  Great article by UK China veteran Charles Parton, about how words really matter and how we must avoid falling into easy phrases that either don’t mean what they seem to mean or don’t really mean much of anything. Tectonic shifts underway in East Asia?  Leaders of Japan, PRC and South Korea meet and pledge.  Vietnam asks PRC to remove missiles from its manmade islands in the South China Sea. Critical commentary and sensible, if improbable, advice to China on how to re-craft it’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) to ensure successful cooperation with the countries in which it proposes to invest. First aircraft carrier entirely built in the PRC begins sea trials.

April 29 – May 6

PRC Domestic An eye-opening opinion piece by the former editor of the South China Morning Post, in which he sees signs of PRC overreaching braggadocio in the high-tech space, and warns that over-the-top hype about China’s tech advances risks doing more harm than good.  Way down in China’s southwest, cursed by broken terrain with few natural transportation routes, in imperial times the exile destination for those in trouble with the Emperor, impoverished Guizhou Province comes into its own as – the next Chinese high tech focal point.  A fascinating lesson in long-term economic development.  It’s all about Big Data and AI.  The ups and downs of “Shangri-la,” in remote Yunnan, boosted from a remote scenic area into a huge (and typically crass) tourist bonanza, and then demoted to dog again by XJP’s menacing restrictions of official luxury and extravagance.  A moderating voice in the current brouhaha over “brain scanning.”  Related:  a very informative (for the lay person, anyway) Congressional Research Service paper on Artificial Intelligence:  .  This article suggests how hard it will be for Xi Jinping and his administration to make the kinds of decisive moves the US team now visiting China will likely demand: a) because Xi himself is a believer in the statist economy he is proclaiming and supporting; and b) because “vested interests” (again!  This has gone on for years!) will not comply with orders to undertake fundamental structural reforms at the grass-roots level.  An old theme, but important to revisit now.

China – Global  A blog on intellectual property legal issues in China.  Contents constantly changing, so scroll through for items of interest.  Definitely legal in nature, but of interest to companies with IP as well as to legal professionals.  Peter Mattis writes a sober and lucid analysis of PRC “influence operations” in other countries.  Serious and important reading. A useful look at the usually overlooked (and opaque) world of global technical standards, and at China’s growing efforts to define them,

PRC – U.S.  Ambassador Chas Freeman with a hard-hitting address on the current wave of hostility toward China in the U.S. and its ugly implications.  The much-discussed visit of Trump’s top trade team to Beijing just ended, here is an early an not-definitive report on what happened and what the US demanded of the Chinese.  What the US demanded China do, during the Mnuchin-Navarro visit (which has been deemed a failure, by most US media anyway).  China pulls the plug on US soybean purchases.  Wonder why….. (One expert notes privately that at this time of year China routinely ends soybean purchases in US and turns to Brazil anyway.)  As the Administration’s top team heads for China amidst vast publicity, allegedly to conduct “deal or die” talks with Beijing on Trump’s demands, the usually pro-free-trade Claude Barfield of AEI  stands with the hardest of the hard-nosed Americans, and lays down a menu of Chinese offenses – covering all the main points – that, in his view, the US must demand be remedied or eliminated.  He then lays out a menu of U.S. steps to be taken if China does not relent.  It’s pretty much all here, but he says nothing about ongoing tits and tats.  More positioning (Ross:  China’s “evil practices,” e.g.) before the US team heads for China.  Yet more positioning from the same D.C. event.  Strangely blithe failure to see the similarity between Paulson/Clinton’s “Strategic Economic Dialogue” (later “Strategic AND Economic Dialogue” and what USTR Lighthizer seems to envision.  Posturing or the real thing?  Is push coming to shove in the trade sector?  Mnuchin, Kudlow, Lighthizer (and “Death by China” Navarro?) head to China for talks on tariff threats, demands for PRC behavioral changes, etc.  A great summing up of many issues, bilateral and PRC-domestic.  The dreaded “China Tide Syndrome” advances.  USG considering blocking Chinese citizens from participating in “sensitive”research at US universities and labs.  A cornucopia of opportunities for paranoid, ill-informed, or literal-minded security bureaucrats.  For the trade-savvy.  A respected international trade analyst blasts the Trump tariff threat, delineates what is and isn’t legal under international trade law, and suggests ways that the US Administration could act against offensive (but not illegal) PRC investment policies.  A slow but valuable read.  A lighter read than the preceding item: bated breath everywhere over what the US Administration’s actions on trade (including steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from EU and other “friendly” countries – ostensibly occasioned by PRC overproduction – will ultimately amount to.  And, what will China do, having stated categorically that it is not going to be kicked around by the US?  Florida Senator Marco Rubio has found a political niche – China – and is maximizing his presence in it in the Era of Trump.  He here discusses the spectacular Bill he is about to introduce in the Senate.  Future unclear, but content unmistakable.  George Koo, an outspoken American businessman of Chinese descent, takes on the China Threat wave.

April 23-28

U.S.-PRC  TOP MUST READ OF THE WEEK.  EVAN FEIGENBAUM RANGES WIDELY ON WHAT CHINA IS AND IS BECOMING AND WHAT THE US HAS DONE, HASN’T DONE, AND MUST DO TO DEAL WITH IRREVERSABLE CHANGES IN REALITY.  Must Read.  No need for additional comment here.  MUST READ (May be paywalled).  This is the best thing we have seen so far on the roiling American debate over whether the U.S. erred in agreeing, after extensive and difficult negotiations with Beijing, to China’s entry into the WTO.  As the U.S. trade team – Mnuchin, Kudlow, Lighthizer, “Death by China” Navarro, (no Wilbur Ross, apparently) head for China, and Trump talks about chances for a good “deal,” China’s feisty Global Times conveys the official welcome, but warns that unless Trump “shows sincerity” China will respond to U.S. measures with tough measures of its own.  No surprises here.  Senate Finance Committee hearing on trade with China.  Useful testimony from competent U.S. witnesses.  Yale’s Stephen Roach (ex-Morgan Stanley Asia) takes a sharp whack at the USTR’s huge “Section 301 Report” on Chinese abuses of U.S. intellectual property.  Sure to be controversial, but welcome as a dissenting voice at a time of near-tsunami momentum to blast China and curtail US market openness accordingly.   Senior economist Jeffrey Frankel, now with Harvard’s Kennedy School, on why the U.S. will not “win” a trade war with China.  Obvious truths that the U.S. Administration seems unable or unwilling to grasp. Chinese economist Yu Yongding with a well organized and cogent discussion of the lurch toward “trade war,” including a number of rebuttals of recently-issued U.S. positions on China’s alleged economic sins. Some graphs and a regrettably brief bit of prose to push back, at least a little, against the tidal wave of concern over Chinese alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property.  Nicholas Lardy of the Peterson Institute of International Economics points to the heavy increases in PRC payments for the legitimate acquisition of IP from other countries, via licensing fees in particular.  Financial Times’s Jamil Anderlini speaks bluntly about China and “rules.” A lengthy Bloomberg editorial on how the U.S. should deal with the challenge of competition with China in the advanced-technology sector.  Brings together a compendium of more moderate proposals, likely to be more effective than the tariff-brandishing in which the U.S. administration is now engaged.  But it sounds vaguely pious, and some with darker visions will call it naïve.–davidson—oshaughnessy  U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Confirmation Hearing.  Listen to the section focused on the newly-named Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), Adm. Philip S. Davidson.  Much about China, with emphasis (because of the nature of the Committee and the hearing) on PRC military threats and US current and future measures to meet those threats.  “Stealable slides” from the American Chamber of Commerce in China, on the Chinese economy and US-China trade and economic information.  Usable by anyone in making Power Point presentations.  Compliments of AmCham.   A Chinese manufacturer bets big on an investment in the state of Georgia, in order to go from an anonymous supplier of finished products for others’ brands to establishing its own global brand.  A case study, 76 pp. once the full PDF is downloaded from this site.

PRC Domestic  China’s wide-ranging “social credit” system at work in a single locality:  points for “good” things, loss of points for bad ones.  Algorithmic heaven. Official media report on Xi Jinping’s call for greater Chinese strength in cyberspace.  A brand-new “private” university in Hangzhou to be at Cal Tech’s level in fifteen years.  Exciting, but devil is in the details.  Chinese advances in the field of fusion energy. Andy Rothman emphasizes the positive – not blindly, but persistently. With virtually everyone else emphasizing the negative, Andy’s piece here is a small but useful bit of pushback.  This one is on “the world’s best consumer story.”  And other current economic topics.  An Opinion piece on the forced decline of investigative journalism in China and the ominous implications that has for broader social dynamics.

PRC Global  An impressionistic but very thought-provoking essay by Italian writer and longtime China resident Francesco Sisci, about what went wrong between China and the US, and indeed between China and the world, over the past four decades. Rhodium Group/Mercator Institute paper on the quest for greater reciprocity in investment relations between China and the EU. Like the US, the EU has become much more concerned with the lack of such reciprocity.  This is now a key global economic issue, at least between the PRC and the developed economies. A very good, short, Aljazeera report from the Beijing Auto Show.  As Ford announces discontinuation of production of sedans and compacts in order to concentrate on higher-profit gas hogs, and the U.S. administration walks away from measure after measure designed to reduce hydrocarbon consumption and work against climate change, China sets out to build a dominant global position in electric vehicles.  Germany’s Mercator Institute on China’s lifting of foreign ownership caps in the auto sector as promised by Xi.  But some relaxations not until 2022, and auto-sector reactions have been muted, given the extensive and complex arrangements now in place under current JV requirements.  A variety of brief notes on other topics appear at this site as well. Related to the previous item, China announces plans to moderate current investment restrictions in the auto sector (e.g. joint-venture requirements, lower tariffs on imported autos).  Devil in the details, as always, and ultimate impact uncertain, given the extent of current foreign auto firms’ jv and other operations in the country. (paywall) indicates tepid response from foreign carmakers.   Official media report on Xi Jinping’s recent speech to a major national cybersecurity and informatization conference.  Worth a careful look.  Alibaba’s chief Jack Ma, whose public persona aligns ever more closely with official orthodoxy, makes the case for China and other nations to develop their own semiconductor technologies to escape from dependency on US chips.  This after the US Administration ordered US companies not to sell anything to Chinese mobile phone giant ZTE, whose products currently rely heavily on US semiconductor components.  The storm over alleged Chinese “influence” rages in Australia, and raises implications for other countries.  This piece focuses on alleged academic “self-censorship” by scholars and researchers fearful of personal or professional trouble if they pursue topics and lines of inquiry deemed political unacceptable by Chinese authorities.  Related to preceding item, the wide-ranging American China scholar Jeffery Wasserstrom offered this nuanced and self-analytical piece in 2015 on his own wrestling with questions of self-censorship in his professional work on China.

Misc.  An interesting case of a widely-sold “medicinal wine” consisting of Traditional Chinese Medicine ingredients being accused of false medicinal claims, with implications for the broader TCM sector.  A bit more on this colorful case at .  A beautifully written and illustrated article on three “urban commune” buildings in Beijing, all constructed in the late 1950s around the ideals and expectations of Maoist communism, all subject to the vicissitudes of time and economic and political change.

April 16-22

PRC Global Video of Xi Jinping’s address to the Boao Forum April 10. English interpreter voice-over, from a prepared text. A good chance to look at the man and sense his rhetorical style. Must Read. Was it a mistake to “let China in” to the WTO? A detailed look at Belt and Road Initiative projects in numerous countries, with emphasis on the problems China has encountered. This is an Indian publication, and may be subject to close factual examination. The U.S., and the UK, bring the sledgehammer down on major PRC telecoms manufacturer ZTE on grounds of security. Important, large development. China will surely react. Rising EU uneasiness about the Belt and Road Initiative: the sense that one “system” is going head-to-ahead with another “system.” China announces plans to moderate current investment restrictions in the auto sector (e.g. joint-venture requirements, lower tariffs on imported autos). Devil in the details, as always, and ultimate impact uncertain, given the extent of current foreign auto firms’ jv and other operations in the country. But a response to loud U.S. demands for liberalization in the auto sector.

PRC Domestic Elizabeth Economy of the Council on Foreign Relations has published a significant new book, and this article (may be paywalled) arises from her larger work. “China’s New Revolution: The Reign of Xi Jinping.” Cut in reserve requirement for banks – gentle action in face of signs of economic slowing. More and more and more on national security and fighting “foreign” spies and evil-doers. Research article on the rise of the Ministry of Public Security in intelligence work in China. (Paywalled in typical academic press fashion.)

U.S.-China This one will have legs. But much of this piece is a rehash of already-known material. U.S. considering use of the International Economic Emergency Powers Act to curtail Chinese investment in U.S. advanced technology sector – big deal, if it actually happens. One of America’s most seasoned and highly respected China diplomats, Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy, warns that recent U.S. legislation portends disaster for Taiwan and for U.S.-China relations. Unintended consequences coming? US ban on ZTE brings signs of impending Chinese response. Some US companies (Qualcomm above all) caught in the crossfire. EXCELLENT BACKGROUND ELABORATION ON THIS MAJOR CASE AT . More on the ZTE ban: inevitably, the ban strengthens the push for full-fledged indigenization of the Chinese IT sector, to avoid dependence on foreign components vulnerable to supply interruptions or subversions.

Other Items of Interest Serious jitters over potential PRC military action against Taiwan, following highly conspicuous PRC military exercise. China Daily tells the world not to dismiss recent large-scale military exercises lightly. “No room for bargaining when it comes to China’s territorial integrity….it would be wrong for any dreaming of the island’s secession to consider efforts in this regard as a demonstration of weakness or indetermination. Although it remains the last resort, the PLA will act if forced to do so.” A set of brief articles on China in a recent Australian publication. Some are Australia-centered, but others (including Lampton’s opening essay) are not. Lampton wisely concludes, “As we contemplate the prospect of endless Sino–American abrasion and negotiation, remember that the three decades from the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 to 1979 saw two wars involving China and the United States and virtually no bilateral trade. Te next almost 40 years have seen no Sino–American wars and huge welfare improvements in both countries through cooperation. Let’s remember past achievements as we deal with current and future frustrations.” FASCINATING piece on China’s thousand-plus “time-honored brands,” and their challenges in today’s market. History’s secrets revealed a little more: revelation of names of those who belonged to the infamous Japanese military Unit 731 during the Sino-Japanese war.

April 7-15

U.S.-China  Testimony from the Federation of American Scientists about PRC foreign policy and strategy, challenges facing the U.S., with recommendations for Congress on key issues.  Must Read.  The best statement of basic realities on U.S.-China economic relations in recent times, and in few words, to appear amid the current excitement over “trade war.” A succinct “What you need to know” page about the U.S.-China trade mess, from PRC official medium Xinhua. Bannon is incidental here; the issues the article raises, however, and the evolution of American policy thinking on China, are extremely important.  Alibaba Founder/CEO Jack Ma with an op-ed on why a U.S. -China trade war would maim both sides to no purpose. After Xi Jinping’s Boao Forum speech, mentioning intention to lower tariffs on autos, skeptical responses from American business people close to that market. And other reactions to Xi’s overall message. Rhodium Group’s 2018 update of its close study of two-way investment flows between the U.S. and China.  Executive Summary at A long and highly informed argument – a plea, really – that the US should turn to the WTO’s institutions, rules and processes for action on American intellectual property complaints, instead of acting unilaterally (e.g., with tariffs) and disregarding the global trade system.  A long and complex process, unlikely to be viewed favorably by the dominant actors in the Administration.  But a worthy argument; American contempt for the “rules-based global trade order” embodied in the WTO will have long term and dangerous consequences.  Almost funny, but not quite.

China Global/Foreign Policy

From AP: Signs that China is really turning the economic screws on Pyongyang.  Will it continue, if the US and China fall into unrestrained trade conflict?  Plain-vanilla wire service report on Xi Jinping’s heavily advance-hyped speech to the Boao Forum April 10.  A fun video-and-commentary handling of the Xi speech is at  .  The whole speech, with simultaneous English voice-over translation, is at .  Good to see the man himself in action.  Martin Wolf exercises economic Sagehood at the Financial Times, combining commonplace observations with occasional memorable insights.  Here he waxes “macro” about the rise of the Chinese economy and what the U.S. and the “West” need to do.  Financial bumps ahead on the Belt and Road?  Coverage of a major PLA Navy display in the South China Sea just after the Boao Forum on Hainan.  President Xi boards a destroyer.  The impressive spectacle appears cognate to land-force spectaculars, e.g. on National Day in Beijing.

PRC Domestic  must see.  A gorgeous collection of recent aerial photographs.  Unforgettable. An extremely worthwhile article on China’s “social credit system” in action at one particular locality in Shandong Province.  A young artist makes a public exhibition in Wuhan (albeit briefly) of stolen personal data on more than 300,000 people.  A remarkable confession and apology from the founder of hugely popular tech-based news and information platform clearly in trouble with the political authorities.  The timing is eerily coincidental with Facebook’s current challenges and CEO Zuckerberg’s testimony before U.S. Senate committees on where and how Facebook went wrong.  Sixth Tone’s complementary (and shorter) treatment of what happened is found at  .  Hank Paulson, former Treasury Secretary, emphasizes the positive: Xi has put a top-notch, globally savvy team at the top of the economic cone, so the time is right, finally to do major reforms long overdue.  China’s wide-ranging “social credit” system at work in a single locality:  points for “good” things, loss of points for bad ones.  Algorithmic heaven. A lovely story about poverty alleviation at the most local level.

April 1-6

PRC Domestic  A very articulate pushback against the prevailing Western negative interpretations of the elimination of the two-term limit on the Chinese presidency. A major attempt at analyzing Chinese intentions and assumptions with respect to Artificial Intelligence, which it is pursuing with great energy.  A thoughtful essay on the experience of repeated relocation, as humble folk are moved to accommodate major government infrastructure project after major project.  Something rare these days:  an English-language discussion, in a reputable publication, touching on persistent resistance to further “Opening Up” of the Chinese financial sector, and emphasizing the fallacies in the resisters’ positions.  An interesting report on local-level responses to climate change, primarily in coastal China.

U.S.-China MUST READ.  Cogent analysis of the USTR’s massive report on its investigation of PRC intellectual property and related practices, under Section 301 of the US Trade Act of 1974.  Big US penalty actions impending.  The latest update in the Congressional Research Service’s ongoing series, “U.S.-China Trade Issues.”  Always judicious and worth a read.  China’s response to Trump threat of tariff hikes on an additional $100b of Chinese imports. Another blunt editorial from an official medium, China Daily.  The list of U.S. exports to China that are now subject to new tariffs, in response to the U.S. imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum.  USTR releases preliminary list of 1300 Chinese that may be hit with higher tariffs in partial response to Chinese IP misdeeds detailed in the two preceding items.  Public comment period impends before finalization of the list.  Expect vast public discussion and huge lobbying maelstrom. Gloomy speculations on the impact on the U.S. economy from the escalating exchange of threats between Washington and Beijing. Related to the preceding item, an article on “Made in China 2025,” the PRC high-tech development strategy that lies at the heart of rising US and world concerns over their economic futures.  CSIS’s James Lewis about the basic realities of PRC acquisition of U.S. intellectual property.  He has been at this for a very long time. One of the few pieces in the torrent of English-language material on the looming trade conflict between the US and China that discusses the damage that US restrictions on Chinese high-technology imports could have on China’s long-term, strategic plans for development of its cutting-edge economy.

Journalism  Foreign Policy’s Asia Editor James Palmer lays out in detail the challenges to reaching “knowledge” about just about anything in China.

Mega-Critiques  Macquarie University’s Kevin Carrico could not be more blunt in his critical assessment of where China now stands.

March 15-31

Culture   What’s scoring at the movie box office in China.  Not what you might expect in certain ways.  Hint: politics are at work.  But also hint:  a lot of Chinese people feel very good about China these days, and the film affirms that feeling.  Nearly three hundred million viewers of e-commerce giant can now hunt for real estate in the US, UK, Australia and Canada with a few mouse-clicks.  (Kudos to SupChina for the referral.)

National Essentials  Former Australian Prime Minister (and longtime student of Chinese affairs) Kevin Rudd’s address to the U.S. Military Academy on “Understanding China’s Rise Under Xi Jinping.  Receiving much serious attention.  The delicate dance around the PRC relationship with the Vatican.  Sensitivities during Easter Week. A fascinating article about one of modern China’s greatest scientists, his core ideas, and their transplantation into China’s current massive effort at “social surveillance.”  While some prominent analysts have essentially accused the long-standing “China establishment” in the US of myopia in believing that China was becoming “more like us” when in fact it was always going to go its own way (the charge is spurious but popular today), articles like this one touch on the deeper reality that “Chinese characteristics,” inherited from centuries past, make the erection of a meaningful “rule of law” today very, very difficult.  Glass half full?  Half empty?  At a time of political and ideological stringency, a pungent message from a prominent Peking University scholar and dean disappears quickly from the Web, and its author purportedly resigned from his deanship, but his article (translated here) was widely shared.

U.S.-China  A foundational document.  “Findings of the Investigation into China’s Acts, Policies and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation Under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.”  215 pages.  Trump trade actions against China are almost certain to occur in response to the findings of this Report, with unforeseeable consequences.   Here goes.  PRC responds to US steel/aluminum tariff action by imposing higher tariffs on wide range of US products.  Still ahead:  US actions on matters discussed in preceding item.  The sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation sells its stake in Blackstone, originally made in 2007.  Reasons unclear.  No one is talking.  Waters heating ominously between US and China on trade and investment.  Claire Reade, who used to run the China shop at USTR, on what lies ahead as the first exchange of tariff increases portends bigger dangers. CSIS’s Scott Kennedy with a must-read on the unfolding economic conflict between Trump’s team and the China of Xi Jinping.  A dark view, from responsible analysts, on trends in U.S.-China relations.  A China visit by a local Orange County, California orchestra arises from its home area’s large and growing Chinese diaspora population.  Interesting angle on cultural exchanges. Two veteran Inside The Beltway Asia policy types, Matthew Goodman and Ely Ratner, with thoughts on the best way to “Challenge China on Trade.” (May be paywalled).

PRC Foreign Policy  A breathtaking editorial from Global Times about Canada.  One of the better post-mortems on the Kim trip to Beijing.  Bottom line: PRC-DPRK cordiality makes Trump’s task even harder than it already was, given Trump’s gestalt and the absence of any sign of organized US planning for the Trump-Kim “summit.”  The Belt and Road Initiative involves generous Chinese lending to recipients along the routes (e.g., Djibouti).  This author wonders what will happen when the loans come due.

Investigative Journalism Another deep dive by ace Times reporters Barboza and Forsythe, this time into the people and the maneuvers behind the rise and the current hesitation of the giant conglomerate HNA.  This time, one key figure, usually invisible, comes to prominence.

March 8-14

NATIONAL ESSENTIALS  Veteran Hong Kong finance official Andrew Sheng on why there’s no such thing as a “Beijing Consensus” and why the U.S. and China grapple with the government/market dichotomy from such different starting points.  A huge matter, in the mid- to long term.  Just how DOES the Beijing regime view persons of Chinese extraction who are citizens of other countries, and what will Beijing do about it?  How will this affect the lives of people of Chinese descent who are citizens of other nations?  In an era of emerging tribalism, a tribalistic China is not to be desired.  Of related interest is this proposal from a delegate to the NPC out of the legal community: .  From the official PRC television network China Global Television News, this essay by “nationalist” scholar Zhang Weiwei, on the “genetic defects” of the Western Political Model, which, Zhang asserts, China has totally rejected in favor of something much better.

NATIONAL PEOPLE’S CONGRESS (IN PROGRESS)   Washington Post report on NPC approval of constitutional revision eliminating two-term limit on state presidency. South China Morning Post’s early review of the massive government org-chart changes emerging from the NPC.  This is a very brief and well organized analysis of the ways in which this Congress is enshrining the Party’s assumption of powers and roles hitherto held by government not Party, and what that “takeover” suggests for the future.         PRC Government’s China Global Television News offers a lucid, if “official,” explanation of an important new law about to be passed by the NPC:  the “Supervision Law,” which will meld government and party bodies into a single Commission responsible for making sure that everyone stays on the straight and narrow instead of indulging in conduct broadly referred to as “corruption.” A huge bureaucratic attempt to deal with a persistent and pervasive social problem infecting the entire political system.  Good graphics.  China Global Television News’s take, again with useful graphics, on the “Drastic” reorganization of the structure of the central government.  Government Reorganization.  Here is one analyst’s handy look at which government units are being merged into which new units, which are being preserved, and which are being eliminated.  This is an extensive reorganization plan that will require much digestion.  This site also contains very useful links to related reorganization documents.

U.S.-China  What impends as the U.S. drives toward the cliff on China. More steam building on expected U.S. economic measures against China.  Signs of a White House juggernaut on this.   More ugliness on the cultural relations front.  Humble U.S.-funded “cultural centers” in China under pressure from PRCG and staggering. A long but very informative piece on how the kinds of tariffs about to be imposed on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum products may wind up slashing at the very U.S. enterprises – small and medium-sized industrial manufacturing companies – that their architects claim to be assisting.

PRC INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS  Big expansion of the surveillance system thanks to significant organizational innovations and much new money.  An early effort to render lucid the newly announced reorganizations in the financial regulatory sector, and what the new table of organization is aimed at achieving (or preventing).  See also .  The Paulson Institute’s ingenious web site for understanding “The Cleanup,” as they put it, of the complicated but unhealthy midden that China’s financial system has become.  A great deal of useful information in this long piece, which has the virtue of discussing the structure, evolution, and fate of the Chinese financial system over time, from the late 1990s to the present and into the future.  The international writers’ organization PEN with a grim report on social media controls.  We won’t elaborate here.

PRC GLOBAL Long paper from Germany’s Mercator on PRC “influence operations” in Europe, the dangers therein, and what Europe should be doing to combat them.  An interesting argument that, if the West starts treating WTO badly or jimmying with WTO rules, China will further adopt all sorts of delaying, evading, obscuring and other tactics by way of response. The precipitator now is US and EU refusal to grant China “market economy” status in the WTO in spite, as the Chinese and many others argue, of the promise made to the PRC at the 2001 time of accession that “non-market economy status” would expire in 15 years.

Military  Detailed look at the array of radar installations China has in stalled on the Spratlys and what it suggests regarding PRC intentions in the South China Sea.

March 1-7

THE “TWO MEETINGS” – CHINESE PEOPLE’S POLITICAL CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE AND NATIONAL PEOPLE’S CONGRESS, UNDERWAY THIS WEEK.  Xi Jinping celebrates the Chinese system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation led by the Communist Party of China (CPC) “a great contribution to political civilization of humanity.” Worth a read, for its robust statement that the Chinese system is “new” on the stage of human history.  Highlights of the Premier’s “Government Work Report,” the big document of the Congress’s opening day.  2018 targets, etc.  A reference work.  These “highlights” are extremely skeletal, however.  South China Morning Post writeup on the main economic contents of the Premier’s “Work Report” to the NPC.  See also this “Takeaways” effort to distill the vastness of this annual address into digestible main points:  A vast one-stop shop by defense analyst Andrew Erickson, starting with the announced 8.1% rise in officially budgeted military spending for the coming year.  Prof. Minxin Pei, who has never been a fan of the Beijing regime, with a tough and dark interview about the CCP, the PRC, and the misapprehensions of many Western analysts over many years.  A useful report, in the instant analysis category, on Premier Li Keqiang’s “Government Work Report” at the NPC on its first day.  This site offers as well useful links to other key NPC documents as made available at the opening of the Congress.  A short, official article on plans to improve the foreign investment climate, per Li Keqiang’s message to the NPC.  Some itemization of intended changes, but no details.

LEADERSHIP AND DOMESTIC POLITICS  Official Statement on China’s new “supervisory system” being established this week to fight corruption across the entirety of party and government.  Longtime contemporary China specialist David Shambaugh’s take on the constitution revisions set to eliminate term limits for the post of President of the PRC: de-institutionalization and reversal of the Deng Xiaoping attempts to stabilize Chinese politics by rebuilding institutional structures after Mao and the Cultural Revolution.  50-year setback. A gloomy and forbidding AP report as the National People’s Congress prepares to eliminate term limits on China’s presidency, one of Xi Jinping’s triad of top party and government posts.

U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS  MUST READ.  Michael Swaine of Carnegie with a withering criticism of the Trump Administration’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy, embodying zero-sum assumptions about Sino-American relations.  Swaine is courageous in the face of a tidal wave of calamitous visions of China and U.S.-China relations.  USTR press release accompanying issuance of the annual Trade Policy Agenda.  Link to the full document may be found at this site.  On this multi-article web site, see Michael Schuman, “Who Gains from Trump’s Tariffs? China”  FT senior commentator Martin Wolf with a lucid economics lesson covering trade deficits, tariffs, macroeconomics.  Not China-specific, but certainly China-relevant. (Paywall)  Meaningful multi-person (the list will grow) commentaries on the proposed Trump tariffs on steel and aluminum as regards China in particular, but also from a global perspective. No particular surprises in this list-with-commentary of U.S. companies (and sectors) most likely to take the hit if China retaliates against U.S. trade penalties.  WSJ early report on visit to D.C. of Liu He, expected to become Vice Premier in charge of the Economy, for meetings with top USG officials.  Just as Trump announces steel and aluminum tariff hikes.  Liu He, slated to be the top economic official in the PRC government, in D.C., tells a closed business audience he’s the man and asks the US to tell China what it really wants, economically.  In fact, through myriad channels, the US has been making it clear to China for years what is bothering it.  Now, with U.S. acting erratically or worse on trade, telling China what the U.S. demands, all over again, risks running into the familiar wall of “Look how badly YOU are behaving.” An Al Jazeera video report on Chinese firms fighting, and winning, IP cases in US courts. The Economist, with its familiar magisterial style packaging plain-vanilla content, sums up the “Collapse of Optimism” among Western, particularly U.S., views on China after three decades of, they say, mistaken judgments and expectations as to how China would evolve.  Not a bad summary of what is sweeping across the policy-making/ “thought leader”/ “China expert” ranks these days.  What happened? Plenty of explanatory elements on both sides of the Pacific.  (Paywall with profit-driven exceptions).  USTR press release accompanying issuance of the annual Trade Policy Agenda.  Link to the full document may be found at this site.  On this multi-article web site, see Michael Schuman, “Who Gains from Trump’s Tariffs? China” After CFIUS intervenes to delay the possibility that Singapore’s Broadcom might take over Qualcomm, WSJ probes the reasons for Washington’s apparent obsession with the dangers posed by Huawei.  Hint – it’s future market dominance, not stealthy “back doors” these days.


Development of aircraft carriers underway. Useful discussion of what requires what. Thoughtful analyses by knowledgeable Westerners of China’s current and future military development, following the announcement of intended 8.1% increase in military expenditures over 2017 (as the contributors note, numbers like that mean very little without further data seldom forthcoming).  This will be an expanding set of contributors, in the usual Chinafile manner.

MISC. Absolutely fantastic ethnography.  Micro-society life.  Women. Catholicism. History.  Engrossing reading. A beautiful short essay built around “old photos.”  Top grossing films last week.  The Number 1 film is worth reading about.  The toilet revolution continues.  This is, in fact, a serious matter.

February 22-28

CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION AND ITS IMPLICATIONS  Official Xinhua News Agency announcement of the pending amendments to the Chinese Constitution.  These have occasioned enormous, instantaneous discussion inside and outside of China.  Evan Osnos, one of America’s best China writers (The New Yorker) on implications of the week’s biggest news, the impending elimination of the two-term limit on the Chinese presidency.  Global Times (English) first editorial on pending Constitutional changes, including elimination of the two-term limit on the Presidency.  Closing line: “The constitution amendment is the punch line of legislative framework of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, and an essential constitutional insurance for China to advance.,” but read the whole thing.  The People’s Liberation Army checks the box on constitutional reforms.  Background.  Recent organizational moves affecting the armed forces imply higher degree of Xi Jinping’s personal control.  Global Times asserts that the newly-revealed amendments to the Constitution of the PRC, including elimination of the two-term limit on the country’s presidency, are in tune with the requirements of changing times, as Western democracy “ulcerates.” An intentionally contrarian view of the constitutional reform controversy, taking mighty swipes at the “commentariat” that is upset with what the end of the two-term presidency means.  Form your own judgments.  A somewhat Olympian opinion article by veteran Financial Times commentator Martin Wolf, on the challenge to the Western liberal order manifested by Xi Jinping’s assumption of one-man rule (through elimination of the constitutional term limits on the presidency.  (May be paywalled.) More in the tidal wave of commentary on the elimination of presidential term limits and its broader implications.  Chinafile features continually-expanding sets of comments on particular issues.  By the time SR readers open this address the set on the term limit elimination is likely to be even longer than it is at the time of this item’s insertion.  Jeffrey Bader, NSC Asia chief in the first Obama term, with a well thought out, essentially gloomy, analysis of the implications of ending term limits on the Chinese presidency.  Seven points in all, with good graphics and type faces for easy digestion.


SINO-AMERICAN RELATIONS  Liu He, who is about to wind up with the Western media sobriquet “China’s Economy Czar,” heads for D.C. to try to head off some of the widely-advertised Trump Administration punitive actions against China, endlessly said to be just around the corner.  More on Apple’s move of iCloud data to data center servers inside China. Including encryption keys. Angry Chinese response to Trump’s newest sanction steps against DPRK.  (Paywalled)  Another Chinese high-tech acquisition in the U.S. falls through over U.S. regulator objections.  More of this ahead, not least because of the opacity of Chinese corporate ownerships and very much because of the asymmetry between U.S. market openness and Chinese market (investment) restrictions in high-tech sectors.  The demand for “reciprocity” of treatment is rising fast in the U.S., and China’s restrictive policy choices of the past few years have alienated key elements of the U.S. business community.  Peter “Death By China” Navarro said to be rising to the surface again in the Trump trade policy cooker.  Also useful related article at


INTERNAL AFFAIRS  A foretaste of what lies immediately ahead.  A Third Plenum of the Party Central Committee,  announced and convened on extremely short notice, issues this Communiqué at its conclusion, foretelling changes to be announced at the National People’s Congress in a few days.  An important, though opaque, document. As the National People’s Congress session looms large, hints of significant structural changes in the government of the PRC, coinciding with the constitutional changes now under furious discussion. The kind of situation that must give China’s “soft power” architects palpitations.  A long and complex reflection by Paulson Institute’s Evan Feigenbaum, around the theme, What if ‘Reform’ simply doesn’t mean the same thing to the Chinese that it normally means to people outside of China?  Worth the time and effort. An earlier, angry editorial about foreign concerns over the fate of Gui Minhai, removed from a train by security personnel while he was traveling in the company of two Swedish Embassy officials (Gui holds a Swedish passport).  Much foreign discussion has ensued over the implications of the use of quotation marks around the word “foreigners” in this editorial: is anyone of Chinese extraction, no matter his/her citizenship, “Chinese” in the eyes of the PRC government, and if so, what does that mean for the lives and safety of such people?

Feb 15-22  A well known U.S. admiral/world affairs analyst comments on the U.S.-China relationship, calling for a U.S. “strategy” instead of a U.S. “policy” and explaining why.  A relatively balanced article on the current hot topic of alleged PRC government attempts to penetrate American colleges and universities for various nefarious purposes.  BE SURE TO READ TO THE VERY END if you read this at all.  Evidence of turmoil and, perhaps, of a “paradigm shift” in U.S. policy circles relating to China.  Longtime advocate of muscular U.S. responses to China, Aaron Friedberg (former Cheney Advisor), testimony before House Armed Services Committee Feb. 13.  Lists all the bad news and calls for a “New U.S. Strategy.”  The nastiness of Sino-“Western” relations increases.  This piece from incendiary English Global Times could, of course, simply be designed to sell newspapers and troll angry foreign readers. Interesting glimmers of an Australia-U.S.-Japan-India program to build infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific or “Silk Road” regions.  In response to China’s Belt and Road?  China’s closer entry into Middle East affairs.  Not a simple matter for either.  Commerce Dept. recommends Trump impose tariff and/or quota curbs on imported steel and aluminum.  China in the crosshairs. An “everything but the kitchen sink” look at all the programs and all the big actors in China’s massive effort to achieve global leadership in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). A slightly breathless, but still informative survey of the advance of Chinese science in key sectors. Robotic warships and other unmanned vessels.  China hard at work, but others also engaged.  As the National People’s Congress looms into view, and with it the formation of the new government (as opposed to party) leadership, individual personalities begin to garner heavy media attention.  This is about Liu He, widely expected to be the top government official in charge of the economy.  The fact that he went to Harvard for a while always helps.  But the survey of China’s economic issues is worth the time.  NYT’s Jane Perlez writes in a restrained manner about a CCTV New Year Gala of unimaginable offensiveness, at least to people outside of China.  Final line of the story is, “The dean of one of China’s African studies centers said that by Chinese standards the show was not racist.”  Great stats on how the Chinese people spent their Lunar New Year holiday, and what they spent on.  From a proprietary Alibaba web site (Alibaba amasses gigantic quantities of consumer data, and never met an algorithm it didn’t like), this short piece on Chinese international tourists and how they spend their tourism dollars.  The Los Angeles Review of Books continues to do breathtaking work.  Here, the reading of “Miss Sophie’s Diary,” (1928) by Ding Ling.  Regarded as the “first great work of Chinese feminism” by the curators of this site. Extra thanks to the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Oregon.  A brilliant report on what happens when a well-meaning, preservation-oriented architect comes to a dilapidated but picturesque village. A thoughtful and modest American academic tells of the closure of a book shop in Shanghai.  The future of Hong Kong.  A conversation with Hon. Anson Chan.  Video.  “Specialty health, wellness and performance retailer” GNC teams with Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Holdings, who puts up $300 million and becomes largest stockholder in the China joint venture.  Will US scream “food safety”?

Feb 8-14  An archetypal example of the widely-publicized view, these days, that the Chinese threat to U.S. national security is so dominant that all other aspects of U.S. security policy, and all other priorities, should be rearranged so that the U.S. can (and must because the national existence is at stake) mobilize its resources to defend against the Chinese threat.  Written in support of views expressed in the recent US National Defense Strategy. Contrasting with the preceding item, a vastly different analysis by Amb. Chas Freeman.  Do not read one of these without reading the other.  Yan Xuetong, the well known specialist on Sino-American relations and China’s foreign policy more generally, writes for the Washington Post on why the U.S. and China will not fall into an all-out “cold war.”  Emphasis on the foibles and weaknesses of the current U.S. administration, as well as the un-bellicose features of Xi Jinping global policy.  The Director of the FBI raises the perception of the danger that China poses to the United States to a new, and extremely serious, level – and “all-of-society” threat to the entirety of American society.  The FBI has spoken a similar language about Chinese espionage and other “influence” operations in the U.S. for decades, but the “all-of-society” terminology, in front of a Congressional hearing primed to hear and believe the worst, may have longer-term effects.  This will be paywalled, but those who can get to it will find an ultra-establishmentarian essay about how all the Americans who expected that China would evolve in ways compatible with American ideals and interests over the past forty years were wrongly optimistic, and about how what the U.S. should do is humbly admit it was wrong and build new policies that are illusion-free.  “The China Reckoning: How Beijing Defied American Expectations” is its revealing title. PIIE’s Chad Bown, increasingly the pre-eminent analyst on US-China trade and economic relations, sees China’s opening of a trade action against US sorghum imports as “Page 1” of China’s retaliation handbook, following U.S. actions against solar panels, and voices concern that unrestrained tit-for-tat retaliations may ensue, to the benefit of no one.  Reviews Bush steel tariffs and Obama tariffs on Chinese tires in search of parallels.  US-China Business Council analysis (and recommendations to Chinese authorities) on problems and issues in the cyber environment in China.  The latest “Who’s Who” analysis of upper-level CCP politics, by veteran journalist-observer Willy Lam.  Learn about the “Xi Faction.”  More dust-biting.  The former Internet security czar Lu Wei is expelled from the Party and accused of all manner of bad things including trading power for you-know-what.  Same story mentions takedown of former Shandong vice governor. Vice Premier Wang Yang:  China’s “unwavering support of the private sector….”  From official Xinhua.  A brilliant essay by The New Yorker writer Jiayang Fan about being an American journalist, born in China, in today’s China.  If you are too young to know Butterfly Wu, this is your chance; take it.  A useful update on China’s demographic trajectory – more and more very elderly people within a declining population.  115 days with no measurable precipitation in Beijing.  Longest dry spell for a parched capital city in a very long time. Xi Jinping on Lunar New Year tour in Sichuan.  Photos. Of course they’re staged, but they are still meaningful and worthy of a look.  Insidious cultural penetration:  “My Little Pony: The Movie” opens in China.  If you choked on Pony saccharine when your children were little, here is a chance to relive the agony…..

Jan. 25 – 31  Out of Davos, an official Xinhua News Agency piece laying out the Chinese mantra of a “shared future” against the Trump mantra of “America First.”  Guess which one Xinhua favors.  NYT’s always perceptive Bradsher sees China (Liu He, OBOR) “looking good” at Davos, more than U.S. (Trump, “America First”).  Doesn’t take a rocket scientist. More from Davos.  This Xinhuan piece opens an early paragraph with, “Lighting the way is Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s vision of ‘a community with a shared future,’ which, one year ago, he took to the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting at Davos, the bellwether of the global economy, and the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG), the cradle of modern multilateralism.  Fast forward one year and the idea has appeared in a number of UN resolutions and is the talk of the town in Davos.”  The ascension of Liu He to the Vice Premiership with overall charge of the economy.  Will see for sure at NPC meeting in March.  A real pro, in the eyes of most foreign observers. Following release of the National Security Strategy of the United States and the National Defense Strategy, both of which identify China as an threat, this Chinafile thread invites informed contributors to offer opinions on that very subject.   The home page of East Asia Forum Quarterly, out of Australia, with a whole host of interesting articles.  Read Lampton, but also Renato Cruz de Castro on the degeneration of the Philippine-U.S. alliance as Duterte makes his peace with Chinese power.  Something different:  writer Paul French’s evocative look at Shanghai’s Astor Hotel and some of the many interesting people who stayed there in the “old days” of Shanghai, before World War II.  Great read.  PLUS THIS MARVELOUS ESSAY BY FRENCH:  .  Spectacular photos of the new high speed rail link between Chongqing and Guizhou Province in China’s southwest.  The terrain is extremely hilly and broken-up; the magnitude of this project is astounding.  This reduces travel time from the Sichuan capital, Chengdu (northwest of Chongqing) to the Guizhou capital, Guiyang, to three and a half hours, with Chongqing-Guiyang cut from ten to two hours. From Davos, concerns that China’s big push into development assistance via its One Belt One Road initiative will toss human rights and environmental “strings,” usually attached to World Bank and other Western aid programs, in the dustbin.  Coal power plants an example. NGOs worried over implications for stunting of civil society in recipient countries.  Thoughtful analysis, including quoted comments from PRC sources.

Jan. 11-17 Amidst a rising tide of heavy breathing, Carnegie’s Michael Swain puts some sobriety into the bubbling discourse on management of security threats in the Asia-Pacific region. Andrew Browne on the increasing likelihood of a U.S.-China “trade war.” A workmanlike AP piece on the darkening skies for foreign businesses in China. Lots of examples brought together in a short and digestible article. CSIS’s Bonnie Glaser on imminent trade conflicts and their wider implications, i.e., likelihood of metastasis into far-reaching “Cold War.”–nye-2018-01 Joseph Nye, who coined the term “soft power” nearly thirty years ago, addresses the challenge posed by Chinese attempts to control or manipulate media in other countries – he calls that “sharp power” – and urges the West not to overreact in ways that would reduce the attractive Soft Power that characterizes the liberal democracies. A very compact note with graphics showing the steep rise in percentage of loans flowing to low-profit state owned enterprises. The authors see continued piling up of non-performing loans in this, and predict a “debt crisis.” Other commentators, especially PRC official ones, note that this crisis prediction has failed to materialize over many, many years. Headline writers sometimes go their own way. This headline, “China’s Fingerprints Are Everywhere,” is a sad example. David Ignatius is the Washington Post’s top foreign affairs columnist, and he repeats much of what is generally circulating now with respect to China’s extending tentacles of influence. But the headline gives credence to a “China-as-contagious-disease” formula that has a long American pedigree and is as misguided in today’s troubled and volatile atmosphere as it has always been. More on the same theme: China insidiously burrowing into Americans’ private information. This time because a Chinese entity has bought a gay dating application. Expect more of this journalism in future. Utterly fascinating. The earliest motion picture images from China, at the end of the 19th century. Aided by China’s familiar Leninist behavior and its more recent international bumptiousness, and by the convulsion underway in U.S. politics, American opinion is edging back toward the always-lurking theme of “China as Contagious Disease.” This article, from an editor at the right-wing political journal The Weekly Standard, raises dozens of warning flags about PRC infiltration of American minds via its “Confucius Institutes,” whose numbers continue to grow on U.S. campuses. Depressing news from Hong Kong. Joshua Wong sentenced to more jail time. A gripping article about the apprehension of an alleged destroyer of U.S. intelligence operations in China. Senators from both parties urge that Chinese media outlets such as CGTN, China Daily, etc., all of them under the control of the Chinese government and/or the CCP, be required to register as Foreign Agents under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act. All part of the degeneration now underway. Journalist/writer Ian Johnson, long one of the most sensitive and thoughtful observers of contemporary China, discusses his “five best books” choices on religion in China. An informative essay on the “China White Paper” issued by the U.S. Department of State in 1949, just before the PRC’s establishment, and Mao Zedong’s reactions to it that formed some of the foundations of contemporary PRC political rhetoric. With texts of Mao’s writings at the time.

Jan. 4-10 As outside observation and commentary rises on the question of the Chinese regime’s “social credit” program, this extremely useful piece separates the commercially-constructed “big data” programs like Alibaba’s “Sesame Credit” from the “social credit” system envisioned by the CCP.  We call this a must-read.  Serious expectations of impending rise in Sino-American frictions or worse.  Another must-read, unfortunately.  This U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee page relates to the Committee’s hearing Jan. 9 on the status of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).  CFIUS as the power to review and to block foreign M&A investments in the U.S.  Congress is currently considering expanding CFIUS’s scope of responsibility, largely in response to a wave of PRC investments in American technology assets.  Testimony by each witness may be opened by clicking on the witness’s name. Spiffy new graphics-full site for information on PRC investments in the U.S. state-by-state, including employment created.  From Macropolo at Paulson Institute.  Edward Wong, top NY Times correspondent in Beijing for a decade, paints a stark picture of where China seems to be going.  A granular look at how a policy decision aimed at reducing North China’s overwhelming winter smog ran into big trouble over implementation: why lots of people in North China found themselves without heating in the bitter cold of winter.  What a nasty legal case looks like close-up.  What happens when court judgments are ignored? An inconclusive piece on an important question: how does WeChat protect or violate the privacy of its hundreds of millions of users?  Xi Jinping dons camo and tells masses of carefully-arrayed Chinese soldiers to – fight to win, not fear death, etc.  What is the purpose of this succession of high-theatrics military expos? Related:  General Secretary and Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping’s address to the Chinese military on the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army.  From last August.  The Pakistan dilemma: Trump blasts Islamabad, China smiles benignly and Pakistan looks East.  Stirrings, however improbable, of concern over privacy in the Internet/social media sector in China.  Work underway on a third, wholly-indigenous, aircraft carrier.  A short and readable piece on Poverty Alleviation in remote areas of Southwest China.  A key goal of the PRCG and CCP over the next five years.  The author, a respected American China scholar and personal friend of Your Editor, recounts the shattering of his China Dream, in Kunming.  The Hudson Institute is home to a number of 30,000-foot thinkers about China (mostly stratego-gloomy).  Walter Russell Mead, affiliated there, sums up a reality: in U.S. politics, just about everyone, at each point on the political spectrum, is viewing China darkly and thinking about how to deal with the perceived threat from the PRC.

Dec. 29, 2017 – Jan. 3, 2018 Must-read review of the trajectory of US-China relations as we enter the new year. Evan Osnos, with his usual acuity, examines the global rise of China as Trump’s America seems to be heading for the exits. Self-proclaimed “Confucianists” (Confucius, the rejection of whose ideas was a core element in the 20th century Chinese political revolution) aim to squelch Chinese observance or celebration of “Western” (for which the 19th century term “ocean” is applied, in reference to the aggressive “ocean barbarians” who barged in to China starting with the Opium Wars) holidays. Such as Christmas, an all-out consumer bash in today’s People’s Republic. Caixin publisher Hu Shuli on the need for further reform of the Chinese economy, following the recent Economic Work Conference. There is a certain tired, or at least restrained, quality to her prose here, a certain “déjà vu all over again” quality. About as good a roundup as any, regarding this year’s “Central Economic Work Conference.” See also preceding Josh Chin’s remarkable account of his sojourn in Xinjiang, the presumed prototype for all-encompassing surveillance nationwide. This is the Contents page for a series of relevant articles, most narrowly including those by Susan Shirk of UC San Diego and Wu Xinbo of Fudan University, on Trump and China. (May require login. No fee.) Mealnie Hart on Trump, China and climate change: common interests ditched. (May require login. No fee.) Signs that Afghanistan will be included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor now under construction. (While the U.S. ups the military ante in Afganistan.) See also Reuters report at  . China’s year-end report on China-led accomplishments in building Asia-Pacific cooperation and development. Sino-American relations in microcosm: interdependence, competition and cooperation in Artificial Intelligence (AI), one of the fast-emerging foci of specialist and generalist attention. The author is exemplary of very young, very bright, early-career talent now coming online in China analysis in the US. A sober look at the long-haul process of effecting the carbon market announced with great fanfare two weeks ago.  A year-end review of U.S.-China military relations, by an author affiliated with the PLA. A leading British China specialist worries about what 2018 will bring in U.S.-China relations. One of umpteen recent reports on the extent of physical and technical security measures in place in Xinjiang. A highly critical assessment of China’s declaration of global presence in the fall of 2017. The author’s views will not be universally shared, but his critique is blunt. Anyone with half an ounce of historical awareness will be struck by the superficial parallelism between the current US opiate epidemic situation and the catastrophe that led to the first Opium War in China in 1839. The academic paper at the epicenter of the controversy over PRC influence-building efforts in Australia and, as the focus of this paper, New Zealand. An important introduction for the uninitiated. From last fall, former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs He Yafei announces the arrival of the ‘Post-American Era.” As clear and unabashed a statement of Chinese global expectations as any in recent months – and this before the 19th Party Congress. A story about the U.S., not China, illustrates the magnitude of the social, economic and political implications of big data and Artificial Intelligence, a field in which China is determined to establish primacy and in which China is already establishing wide-ranging social control applications, but a field in which China’s technological quest is not unique.. See, e.g.   ,

and  . Prospects for real SOE reforms looking forward. Dimmer than usual, thanks to the post-19th PC obsession with implanting and sustaining Party dominance in everything, including the big SOEs, even if that means that the political outweighs the economic and commercial. Not a recipe for needed SOE reforms, according to the author. Jeffrey Bader, longtime U.S. government China policy figure (Obama’s first-term NSC China chief) and Ryan Hass (both are associated with Brookings) weigh in on the brewing “Who Lost China? Redux” tide rising in D.C., the crux of which is that, now that China is big and strong and declares its explicit rejection of “Western” models, and thus is not becoming “more like us,” the architects of American policy toward China over the past four decades must somehow have misread China and misled the American people. Bader’s views are important; it’s a shame it has fallen to him to make the case he makes. The controversy arises also, of course, from Trump claims that his predecessors’ teams culpably led the U.S. into harm’s way with China. Does Xi Jinping have a plan to take Taiwan by force in the very near future? This writer thinks so. An enthralling BBC video on the Chinese struggle to end extreme poverty in the next few years. CFIUS puts the kibosh on Ant Financial’s (Jack Ma and Alibaba colleagues) proposed acquisition of Moneygram, and the deal collapses. Good analysis and summary of related issues by Reuters. A sober look at the long-haul process of effecting the carbon market announced with great fanfare two weeks ago.

November 10-19

NOTE: YOUR EDITOR WILL BE ON TRAVEL FOR THE NEXT FOUR WEEKS, AND “SR” IS LIKELY TO BE ERRATIC, PARTICULARLY GIVEN THE LIMITED ACCESSIBILITY OF SOME SOURCE SITES.  THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE. This is a must read for non-Chinese people who are not bathed daily in the rhetoric and the propaganda of the CCP.  Entitled “Xi Jinping and His Era,” it is a lengthy (click on each successive page at the bottom of each page) recitation of what Xi Jinping has accomplished in his first five-year term, and what China under Xi’s exalted leadership will accomplish in the coming five years of his second term as General Secretary of the Party.  Happily, the English is fairly smooth, and devoid of the familiar and deadening Leninist rhetorical style – mostly.  Analysis of new changes to the constitution of the Chinese Communist Party, focusing on the elevation of Xi the leader and Xi the intellectual pole star.  Veteran commentator Willy Lam’s write-up on Xi Jinping’s quasi-Imperial stature post-19th Congress.  Details on who’s who. A long Smithsonian article about the lurking threat of HN79 avian flu in China and the possibilities for a wider pandemic.  $25b in sales, 90% of them by mobile phone, up 39% YOY, for this year’s Alibaba’s “Singles Day” (11/11) shopping explosion.  Read to believe. An official PRC news story on Xi Jinping’s meetings with top Vietnam Communist Party leaders, and the joint pledge of enhanced economic ties that emerged from the meetings. An article on Wang Huning, the intellectual/ideology thinker now elevated to the Standing Committee of the Politburo. Valuable analysis of the move in the US Congress to expand the purview of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, primarily in response to perceptions that a rising number of PRC investments, particularly in M&A, should be considered threats to US national security.  Much more complicated than that, of course; read the article. As Trump, basking in the glow of China’s grand reception, leaves the PRC, the PRC announces a potentially meaningful step in liberalizing restrictions on foreign participation in the Chinese financial sector – something Trump did mention during his visit.  Time will tell as to the measure’s effect both on foreign financial actors and on the Chinese economy; by now, foreigners have not only been tightly excluded from any 51% roles, but in some cases have lost interest in going in, especially at such a late date and because of other onerous requirements, detailed in this article. A long way from Ping Pong Diplomacy: UCLA basketballers leave China after being picked up and detained for alleged shoplifting at a Louis Vuitton outlet in Hangzhou, home of the corporate sponsor of the team’s China appearance, Alibaba.  Trump intervened with Xi, and his staff claimed a Trump triumph in the early release.  LA Times follow-up at As ASEAN convenes in Manila, a Philippine newspaper’s report that ASEAN and China have agreed to enter talks on a binding Code of Conduct for the South China Sea.  Meanwhile, Trump publicly offers to “mediate” SCS disputes, but so far has found no takers.  An hour-long podcast with several generally knowledgeable US experts on China and US-China trade and economic relations.  OK for listening while driving.  Bubbling politics in China’s biggest city, Chongqing, far up the Yangtze River, where Your Editor will be spending some time starting this week. The bumpy pursuit of original sources, in this case archival historical sources, in China.  A frustrated Chinese scholar elaborates.

November 3 – 9  Xi and Trump speeches at APEC CEO Summit in Danang; Xi the internationalist/multilateralist, Trump the unilateralist/bilateralist.  End of an era of US defense of the “rules-based multilateral system” which the US, more than any other nation, created and supported for seven decades?  Which country is better off from this?  Singapore’s Straits Times reporting on Trump and Xi at APEC.  Important reading. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post on the APEC CEO Summit speeches by Trump and Xi. The U.S. National Center for APEC, which supports American business involvement in APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) with its roundup of the APEC CEO Summit’s final day, with Trump and Xi presentations. Official news agency report elaborating on Xi Jinping’s APEC CEO Summit address, with more detailed (but still general) references to a new era of Chinese global economic participation. The Asia Society’s Orville Schell sums up the Trump China visit in disparaging terms; his view is similar to those of many other U.S. China-experienced specialists long since exasperated by the substitution of Baroque ceremonials for serious attempts to deal with real challenges.  While the article is Schell-centered, his final point – that just maybe all the Trump flattery of the Chinese leader is prelude to hard-nosed confrontations with China over specific issues, at the sub-Presidential level, however far-fetched the notion, is on the minds of many in the observer community in the U.S. The Great Transition, apparently.  A top Obama Administration foreign affairs figure on the collapse of American global leadership and the substitution of You Know Who.  NYT’s Keith Bradsher puts out the best analysis of the commercial aspects of the Trump visit to Beijing.  Caixin’s quick wrap on the Xi-Trump dialogue on future Sino-American economic relations.  No substitute for a full reading of everything each of them said throughout the visit, but valuable for its collection of the standout points.  Drawn primarily from official PRC rapportage. On the very eve of Trump’s main day in Beijing, a NYT piece summing up the fatalism of those Americans who have long hoped for a serious attempt to remove structural barriers to US businesses in China but who expect little of that from the president’s mission, while press-friendly “deals” for sales of U.S. projects loom more likely.  The longstanding pattern of “deliverables” is wearing thin for many companies.  A worthwhile reflection on Xi Jinping’s upcoming five years, emphasizing the domestic evolutionary trajectory that he will seek to travel.  FREE DOWNLOAD FOR LIMITED TIME. The National Bureau of Asian Research has published this new study:  Asia’s Energy Security and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This will be “old news” by the time this edition of SR appears, but will be worth looking back upon anyway; a proponent of muscular US policies toward China offers a bunch of “do’s” and “don’t’s” to Donald Trump before he arrives in Beijing.  Teaching China’s children to be alert for “spies.”  China’s rapid advances in artificial intelligence.  Remarks by Kai-fu Lee, well known throughout the U.S. and Chinese digital worlds.  This is important material. Note that the article is four pages, not just the page that first appears at this site.  The article notes, “China provides a ‘conducive environment for fast launch and fast iterations,’ says Lee. Compared to the US, there is less focus on data privacy and ‘less expectation of consensus on moral issues.’ There is more focus on execution and a dedication to a singular objective and the vision for the company. That vision, more often than not, includes global ambitions.  Another strong piece on artificial intelligence development in China.  Note the clickable link to a complete translation of the State Council’s artificial intelligence development plan. Stepping up the legal fight against online consumer fraud.  Very tough challenge.  As always, enforcement remains the key.  Enticing glimpses of fraudsters’ ingenuity. Georgia Tech’s basketball team makes its first trip to China.  Do we all remember our first trips there? A new government super-committee focused on China’s financial system gets going, after a long period of fretting about regulatory silos and unconnected dots.  Time will tell.  A cursory Reuters piece about the discovery, Chinese and US enforcement agencies working together, of thousands of cases of intellectual property theft in Chinese products exported to the US and elsewhere.  This while the USG investigation of PRC intellectual property abuses grinds on, with results – and probably U.S. punitive actions – expected sooner rather than later.October 29 – November 3

October 29 – November 3 Niall Ferguson is usually a little to august for this Editor’s taste, but in this case his cautionary words about getting overly awed by post-Congress Xi Jinping are on the mark.  Steve Tsang ruminates on the meaning of Xi Jinping’s apotheosis at the recent Party Congress.  The New Era begins. Speaking of “New Eras,” this is a lively and cogent piece about the transition from cashless consumer payment systems to forward leaps in Artificial Intelligence in China.  The link – the vast mass of Big Data acquired by the online payment companies.  A Must Read. Optimistic words from official PRC news source re the likelihood of further SOE “reform.”  Opinion outside of China all over the map on this, but mostly tending pessimistic after the apparent doctrinal emphasis on state role in the economy at the recent Congress.  No one has proved more eloquent at advancing an optimistic, accepting embrace of Beijing’s portrait of China’s future than Eric Li, a venture capitalist with time in the U.S. but now based in Shanghai.  Here he argues forcefully that Western skeptics, proven wrong time and again, will be proven wrong again this time, as China embarks on the “New Era.”  What he never mentions, because it doesn’t trouble him, is what troubles many others: intellectual repression, sometimes ruthless authoritarianism, profound weakness of the “rule of law,” etc.  In other words, his upbeat vision simply excludes consideration of many of the things that make others less upbeat. Hong Kong China scholar David Zweig’s thoughts on what the “New Era” plastered all over the rhetoric of the recent Party Congress might hold for the wider world.  Some of the early post-Party Congress “expert” analysis is markedly more substantive than most of the deluge of can’t-not-write pieces beforehand.  Here CSIS’s Bonnie Glaser observes gloomily that PRC foreign policy in Xi’s second term is likely to posit an alternative Chinese international order to the hitherto dominant “liberal rules-based order” that the U.S. has largely formed and led since World War II.  A gimlet-eyed look at BRI – the Belt and Road Initiative championed by, and identified with, Xi Jinping.  This essay will not be popular in China.  Minxin Pei, like most highly informed analysts in the week following the Party Congress, spends most of this article laying out the core elements of what emerged from the Congress, but his comments at the very end of the article make the whole thing worth reading, whether he turns out to be right or wrong in coming years.  Profiles of the seven men in the Politburo Standing Committee. Cautions against over-optimism with regard to North Korea outcomes of Trump upcoming visit to China.  Written by a competent all-purpose current affairs writer, not an Asia/China/Korea specialist. As Trump lifts off for Asia breaths are being held in US government and policy circles.  Council on Foreign Relations Asia guru Elizabeth Economy articulates a set of (low) expectations, punctuated by very acute observations about the man and the trip – and about post-19th Congress China. With no successor to Xi Jinping explicitly identified at the recent Party Congress, this author looks below the Standing Committee to the full Politburo of 25 figures, and finds three who might qualify as Xi’s successor, if he were to adhere to recent precedent and leave his Party post after his second five-year term.  More steam, especially on Capitol Hill, as to whether the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, (CFIUS), as currently defined, is adequate to protect U.S. national interests in the face of rising and diversifying forms of PRC investment in the U.S., or whether CFIUS needs to be redefine and its mandate enlarged.  One Western academic’s thoughts on the disappearance of his research paper from the website of a prestigious publisher, Springer Nature, in the wake of revelations that that publisher had removed hundreds of scholarly research articles from its website in China at the demand of Chinese political censors.  Following on the Cambridge University Press admission two weeks ago that they, too, had pulled scholarly content from their website because of Chinese censors’ objections, this represents a growing problem that is not going to disappear, since it is linked to post-Party Congress PRC triumphalism about the superiority of just about anything – including intellectual/academic controls – that bears the title of “with Chinese characteristics.” An extremely important article.  The WTO is the institutional embodiment of the “rules-based international system” that attempts to substitute global agreements for an uncivilized “state of nature” in international trade.  China’s arrival as a vast economic power, particularly since its accession to the WTO at the end of 2001, by definition has reconfigured much of the global economy, including the trade sector.  The future of the WTO is in play, as this author makes clear.  The cavalier behavior of the current U.S. Administration, with respect to global and multilateral trade agreements, only makes that future even more cloudy. A faint odor of “Opium War In Reverse” lingers over the present U.S. opioid epidemic, though the historical parallels are limited. Great piece, by an undergraduate writer, on the persistence of the counterfeit-goods problem in e-commerce, and how Alibaba, one of the two Chinese titans of e-commerce, goes about trying to reduce it.

October 20-25 Plain-vanilla NYT report on the new Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC). China Daily official rapportage on introduction of the new PBSC. Who’s Who and who isn’t among the media invited to the rollout of the new Politburo Standing Committee. A rambling and somewhat inchoate body of instant reflections by Francesco Sisci on the “coronation” of Xi Jinping at the Party Congress, but nonetheless replete with cogitations and speculations about the future that bear reading.  With the Politburo Standing Committee finally announced, some useful writing may begin, after long weeks of space-filling speculations.  Here is SCMP on Wang Yang, one of the new members of the Standing Committee. And one more:  SCMP on new Standing Committee member Han Zheng, long the Shanghai top leader.  Yang Jiechi, onetime ambassador to Washington, later foreign minister, and most recently State Councilor, rises to the Politburo.  The country’s top foreign affairs figure joins the highest-ranking leadership cadre, save for the Politburo’s Standing Committee. The near-unanimous view of the commentariat, with respect to the inclusion of “Xi Jinping Thought” in the Communist Party constitution, is that it is a momentous occasion, certifying the establishment of Xi Jinping as the invincible, unquestionable, dominator of the Party and of Chinese politics; as one commentator puts it, any criticism or opposition to Xi will henceforth be treated as anti-Party activity, with predictable gloomy consequences.  Certainly, this development seems to augur for what might be called “Supremo rule,” but the long-term consequences of that development may or may not all be as rosy as the deluge of propaganda at this moment suggests.  What seems to be flickering out, at this moment, is any notion that China and the industrial democracies of “the West” are on a long-term trajectory of “convergence.”  Xi, at least rhetorically, with his consistent critiques of Western civilization (amplified and made more strident by his underlings in the propaganda apparatus) stands more on the “Never the twain shall meet” side of the scale. A workmanlike analysis of what lies ahead now that Xi Jinping’s “Thought” is enshrined in the CCP Constitution, by a former senior U.S. China diplomat.  Full English Text of Party Congress Resolution regarding Xi Jinping’s vast “Report” of the 18th Central Committee.  A basic document for all to read, laying out the current situation of the CCP and of China, and outlining the roadmap for the future of both. The 19th Party Congress’s Resolution on the Report on the Work of the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.  This is the Congress’s statement on the anti-corruption Commission’s work during the five-year period defined by the 18th Party Congress, just concluded. If Americans are wondering why China seems to be ever more prominent and influential in the Asia-Pacific region, this is powerful example of why. A highly versed American analyst of Chinese military affairs discusses potential modifications in the form and function of the Party’s Central Military Commission arising from the Party Congress.  This is a significant matter looking ahead.  Will the seemingly ever-more-comprehensive power of Party and state tighten the noose around the necks of entrepreneurs outside of the state-owned sector?  For good or for ill? Willy Lam, knowledgeable veteran etc. etc. with no rose-colored glasses about China, discusses Xi Jinping’s personalization of control over China’s military. Another major media take on the beginning of the 19th Party Congress, with nothing particularly special, but the entire page, with its many clickable side-items, really is a minor techno-marvel. A nice retrospective.  As rumors proliferate about Xi Jinping’s potentially staying in power beyond his upcoming second five-year term. Julian Gewirtz recounts the tale of the informal agreement in 1987 that Deng Xiaoping would remain the top chef in the kitchen, official titles (or the lack thereof) notwithstanding. Another apt reading of tea-leaves from Xi Jinping’s gargantuan first-day “Report” at the Party Congress.  This one is a keeper.  Kai-fu Lee, founding President of Google China and now with a VC firm in China, offers this “stimulating,” (or “chilling,” as you see fit) prognosis on what is just around the corner as Artificial Intelligence leads to the elimination of half of all jobs (he doesn’t say where, but presumably he is talking about advanced industrial societies including the US). On China’s rapid advances in the field of artificial intelligence, and the geopolitical implications thereof. The remarkable cloak-and-dagger story of PRC security operatives attempting to shut up – in New York – Guo Wengui, the Chinese wheeler-dealer who has settled in the US and has been emitting Youtubes and Tweets about the scandalous underbelly of the current top PRC leadership.  A real thriller of an article. A great blow-by-blow piece on the unending campaign against counterfeiters. Signs of a new and perhaps more serious and effective crackdown on polluters.  Will it last?  Will polluters be shut down allowed to wriggle out?

October 14-20 In a week of “reading overload” occasioned by the 19th Party Congress, we put this thoughtful piece from the European Council on Foreign Relations at the top of our list.  It focuses on whether China is nowadays driven by an overarching “grand strategy.” As good an official site as any for following what is being put out to the world from the 19th Party Congress, including highlights of Xi Jinping’s big opening “Report” to the Congress, etc.  The official media messaging will be overwhelming, and one will need to be selective.  See, e.g., this site: for an official view of “what has changed over the past five years” (i.e., since the last Congress and Xi Jinping’s accession to the top Party post).  Caixin’s first take on the content of Xi Jinping’s long “Report” to the 19th Congress of the CCP, on the first day of the Congress.  More Congress first-day links, including videos, highlights, etc.  Xi’s big opening-day report in handy bite-sized graphic form. WSJ veteran China reporter Andy Browne with a dismal, apocalyptic vision of what the PRC is doing with “big data” to dominate its population in every detail.  “Digital Leninism” is the emergent term for all this. A peek into the complexities of running a gigantic online merchant-to-consumer business like Tmall, Alibaba’s platform for branded merchants to sell directly to online customers.  Who qualifies and who fails to qualify for Tmall inclusion? Two writers associated with the HKSBC Business School at Peking University, plus one Peking University student, write about how to open China’s financial sector while protecting against harmful external dangers.  A far cry from a clarion call for “globalization.” Primary emphasis on the risks of globalization, and the lessons of two global financial crises. Out of the mountain of Western pre-pontification about the upcoming (as of this moment) CCP 19th Congress and the future of Xi Jinping’s leadership, this piece strikes Your Humble Editor as distinctive in its modesty but also in its valuable contextualization of the upcoming second Xi term as Party leader.  The New York Times’s invaluable Keith Bradsher writes on Wang Yang and his prospects for joining the Standing Committee of the Politburo.  The photos of Guangzhou themselves make this article worth reading, but Bradsher’s reflections on Wang’s progressive service in Guangdong Province, and what implications that might offer should Wang join the PBSC, are stimulating.  Updated Congressional Research Service paper on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which undertakes reviews of proposed foreign acquisitions of U.S. assets when the transactions are deemed sensitive on national security grounds.  CFIUS remains at the center of considerable concern, in the U.S. and in China for different reasons, over increasing attempts by Chinese companies to acquire U.S. firms, particularly in advanced technology fields. THIS URL WILL REQUIRE DOWNLOADING OF THE DOCUMENT – YOU SUPPLY THE NAME.  CFIUS reviews of proposed PRC investments in US assets are increasing in number and are causing heartburn in China.  A good piece on the topic before Trump visits the PRC. The China General Chamber of Commerce – U.S.A. 2017 Annual Survey of Chinese Businesses in the U.S.  Just as the US-China Business Council and other U.S. business groups survey their member companies in China and make wide use of their survey results, this survey merits consideration.  Big Internet companies are sued.  Once again, despite Trump’s campaign pledges to nail China for currency manipulation, his Treasury Department does not name the PRC as a currency manipulator in its latest semiannual report.  The Washington Post Editorial Board’s negative view of Xi Jinping’s gigantic “Report” to the Party Congress.  Not unexpected. A cutting article about PRC efforts to neuter or demolish human rights NGOs and advocates in the context of United Nations consideration of human rights issues.  Author laments the disappearance of the US under Trump from the human rights field, in the UN and elsewhere.  Quite a blockbuster, in terms of its lively writing.  This piece chronicles the upheavals that preceded Xi Jinping’s rise to the highest positions of party and government – rampant official corruption, the Bo Xilai affair, and others – and argues that while Xi post-Congress will continue to hold the highest and most powerful positions, his career has led to the ruination of many other cadres, and the likelihood that some are nourishing resentments even today, necessitating even more stringent and repressive clampdowns by the Party.  Few points are sourced, or hard facts adduced, but the article is stimulating nonetheless.  Suddenly, American media are filled with stories about the socially undesirable potentialities of gigantism in the digital field.  Who collects data, who assembles them, who uses it, and for what purposes are they used are moving to front and center in the U.S. and presumably in Western Europe.  China’s massive advances in the digital space, and the rise of China’s dominant digital firms, takes place under different policies, norms, and security measures than those currently operating in the U.S.  A serious topic worthy of continuous attention.  AND this has a significant trade-dispute dimension between the U.S. and China, as U.S. firms complain that they are blocked from investing and owning Internet businesses inside the PRC while Chinese firms are not similarly blocked in the U.S.

October 7-13  Your Humble Editor had the pleasure of being at the Yunqi Conference in Hangzhou, organized by Alibaba, last week, at which Alibaba’s chief Jack Ma announced what is reported in this news story: RMB 15 billion for a new DAMO Academy – “Read All About It.”  While the approach of the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party has generated much, often duplicative, speculation and regurgitation of widely known historical and political information, the imminence of the Congress is also generating some valuable and insightful essays by some of the best Western analysts of contemporary Chinese affairs.  This essay by the versatile Ian Johnson is a far better-than-average contemplation of Xi Jinping’s career trajectory and leadership in what will almost certain be his second five year term as General Secretary of the Party and President of the People’s Republic of China. He closes by noting that Xi’s Party predecessor, Hu Jintao, is “said to be practicing Chinese medicine, and to have withdrawn from politics.” The first (chronologically) of several WSJ pieces in recent days on the ambiguous relationship between China’s central governing and political authorities and the country’s growing list of very large, very powerful private advanced-technology/digital economy firms.  This piece relates to rumored plans to accelerate the growth of Party Committees within such companies, and initiate government investments – with Board memberships attached – into such companies.  Potential significance not only for the behavior of these companies domestically but for their global futures; e.g., with even small percentages of state ownership, will they be able to keep their “private sector” identities in other markets like the U.S. or the EU, where sensitivities over government ownership of Chinese firms is very real.  The complex relationship between the Party State and “business” in China, especially private companies with no government ownership stake, continues to be a matter of intense policy concern within China – and of guessing and speculation inside and outside the PRC.  This article discusses signs that the forces of authority may be about to extend their hands further into companies in the “private” sector, especially very big and successful ones.  There are precedents for such a trend if it emerges, even in pre-Communist Chinese history. Another major contribution, this one by Richard McGregor, author of The Party (perhaps the best English-language book on the CCP in recent years).  Here McGregor writes at feature length about the political authorities’ ambiguous relationship to private companies, especially big ones, and what the post-Congress future holds.  This question is a separate one from that which dominated the run-up to the last Party Congress five years ago.  Then the question was, what could be done to reign in the untrammeled power of so-called “interest groups” among the giant and often slothful state-run enterprises (SOEs), amid a general conviction that something had, indeed, to be done.  Looking back, most foreign observers would argue that only limited progress toward “reform” of the SOEs has taken place since 2012.  The question McGregor and others are discussion here, though, is whether the political authorities, with their Marxist ideological requirements and their Leninist organization traditions, will exercise more muscle among the private firms as the latter grow to sometimes gigantic proportions. An article arguing that with North Korea’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems unstoppable, Japan and South Korea should become nuclear powers themselves.  Implications for the U.S. and for China. Predicts “a six-way balance for mutually assured destruction” in Northeast Asia. An interesting piece on why WeChat, the ubiquitous messaging app with something like 700 million users inside China, is not thriving and may not thrive outside of the PRC, ambitions notwithstanding. An extremely useful article on the nuances of the North American Free Trade Agreement, whose revision, renegotiation, or even abandonment now hang in the balance thanks to Trump’s insistence that the pact be modified.  On the matter of “rules of origin” for auto parts, which are a major component in NAFTA trade flows, the author shows how the end result of Washington’s insistence on stringent rule-of-origin changes could result in auto-parts work going not to the U.S. but to China.

September 30 – October 6 Responsible, 30,000 – foot overview of current U.S. “Section 301” investigation aimed at alleged PRC violations of Americans’ intellectual property rights (counterfeits, trade secret thefts, forced tech transfer as price of market access).  Appropriately cautionary re immediate results.  Useful re-emphasis on desirability of negotiating a strong Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). A USTR hearing on alleged PRC Intellectual Property abuses is set for next week: find all submitted testimony for that hearing, some of it extremely   interesting.  Recommended:  National Foreign Trade Council (Yerxa), Coalition of Services Industries (Bliss), CSIS (Lewis), US-China Business Council (Ennis), American Bar Association Intellectual Property Section (Partridge), but many others, including Chinese testimony, worth reading.  US-Japan statement on digital cooperation.  Clearest possible contrast to China.  See, e.g., the sections on Digital Trade and Cross-Border Data Flows. CFIUS kills a PRC 10% minority investment in a European mapping firm.  Portent of things to come.  Willy Lam, who has been at the task of analyzing PRC leadership politics and ideological nuances for a very long time, tries to answer the question, “What Is Xi Jinping Thought?”.  Bottom line:  don’t expect liberalizing or reformist developments following the new apotheosis at the 19th Congress, but the dense analysis leading to this conclusion is worth the time and effort.  Beijing determined to reduce population, improve air quality.  Main tool: reduce migrant population by making life too difficult.  Signs it’s working, but maybe not for the migrants.  Related to the preceding item, a Beijing blueprint for “downsizing.”  From June, 2017, Bill Reinsch, former National Foreign Trade Council head and former top Commerce Department export administration official, comments thoughtfully on the invocation of “national security” grounds for controlling imports from China.  The case in point, still under review, is steel.  An annual feature – Golden Week in the PRC, this year combining the Oct. 1 National Day holiday with Mid-Autumn Festival.  700 million people on the move.   Useful, continually updated web site on NGO activities and conditions in the PRC.  From Chinafile, a program of The Asia Society. A NASA exhibition makes land in Shanghai; unusual and positive, after years of Congressional prohibitions on any NASA contact with China.  Last, but very much not least.  A terrific Bloomberg half-hour on Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, built on interviews with the top three at the company:  Jack Ma, Joe Tsai and Daniel Zhang. The shape of things to come?  Chinese e-commerce giant working on driverless delivery vehicles.  Coming home to roost.  China saying “No” to trash imports from developed countries.  Implications for every communities in U.S.

September 23-29 A “wide ranging review” on China going on in the White House.  Preceding Trump visit to PRC in November, for which Tillerson and Ross doing prep work now in China.  Pleasant bilateral verbiage at high levels of generality, but ugliness on trade, indeterminacy on DPRK, other issues lurks. The bigger they are, the harder they fall (to a point…).  Sun Zhengcai, until recently seen as a likely member of the next Politburo Standing Committee, kicked out of the party, stripped of all his titles, and remanded for legal prosecution.  Had been Party Secretary of up-river megacity Chongqing.  Something about that job?  Remember the fate of his predecessor a few years back.  Economist Barry Naughton discusses the economic dimensions of the apparent “personalization” of Chinese politics around President Xi Jinping, as the 19th Party Congress approaches. German industrial firms, mostly small to medium sized, deluged by a wave of hacks from China. TV program clampdowns pre-Party Congress. Global Times weighs in with combative retort after stories surface that a PRC official scholarship fund has nixed further financial support for students to study at UC San Diego after the school invited the Dalai Lama to make a commencement address.  On grounds of foreign infringement on PRC territorial integrity. Does the PRC have plans in place to deal with outbreak of war on Korean Peninsula?  Whither the Chinese economy?  Good first-half numbers, but S&P downgrade makes ripples. War and peace in the tech sector.  Intel’s challenges and plans in China. After Trump nixes China-invested Canyon Bridge’s attempted acquisition of US’s Lattice Semiconductor, the suitor heads for the UK.  A film that it would have been nice to see.  The transformation of the military under Xi Jinping.  By a major UC San Diego specialist on the Chinese military.  The Wall Street Journal’s veteran Shanghai Bureau Chief and China analyst Andrew Browne with a sobering but clear-eyed essay on the emerging Chinese victory over the U.S. in a “trade war” already underway.  Susan Shirk, longtime academic specialist on contemporary Chinese politics and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific focused on China, writes of the apparent trend toward one-man personalistic rule, as the Party’s 19th Congress looms.

The endlessly evolving question of the relationship between political authority and entrepreneurial business.  First, from the summer of 2016, at a time when private business investment was tanking, this:  Now, with the 19th Party Congress around the corner, Bloomberg at reports on a new document from the apex of the Party and the government, calling for patriotism to trump all in the private business sector. Ian Johnson’s ingenious and compelling article on the Catholic Church in China, built around his own visit to a village in the Taihang Mountains and his interviews with locals and visiting pilgrims there.  But plenty of historical and political context as well. By the end, this essay is overwhelming. “Chinese take-out” — delivered by drone.  Drone Sweet Drone. The latest exchange of dead-end comments between Beijing and Taipei. News of the re-stationing of Peter Navarro, author of the book and film “Death By China” inside the Trump White House. Terrific piece on the circumstances and actions that have produced super-gluts of key food grains.  Global in scope, but directly relevant to China.  SOE Reform and “Mixed-ownership” reforms.  Important economic developments.  Managed in detail by top central government authorities; no sign of privatization among major centrally -controlled SOEs. A tech-sector suicide opens a window to technological and moral ambiguity in the online dating space. Just another little tidbit about the Future as it is appearing in China.

September 17-22  Chen Dongxiao, President of the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, discusses the complexities of policy formation and execution with regard to the DPRK.  Paulsen Institute’s Evan Feigenbaum puts China’s single-minded pursuit of technological supremacy in historical context, and rather wanly speculates about the future for non-Chinese (especially U.S. and European) firms in China’s sights. With that in mind, this:  China’s major move into artificial intelligence.  A nice summary with lots of links.  Baidu’s latest, astounding, instant-voice-translation technology. The quintessence of the top-down approach to development:  The central authorities announce a plan to build 42 (not 43, not 41) “world-class” universities and disciplines.  Uh-uh:  PRC (Amb. Cui Tiankai) says “no” to US demand for Chinese cut of oil exports to DPRK, tells US to lower the rhetoric and find a way out of the current impasse.  Not music to American ears. Official PRC reaction to Trump’s killing of the attempted acquisition of US Lattice Semiconductor by a Chinese-funded investor. Rapid advances in Chinese robotics, with global implications. The latest wrinkle in the long-running saga of the Mysterious Aluminum Pallets that have showed up, in Mexico, the U.S. and elsewhere, since US trade regulators imposed restrictions on US imports of Chinese aluminum.  From June. Japane’s Nikkei with a short piece on China’s becoming a top “influencer” in science – heavy government spending yielding rapid rise in the relative position of Chinese authors of highly referenced scientific papers. A fuzzy, but nevertheless portentous, measurement.  Again, from June.  Interesting ABA article, interview-based, on how Chinese law firms internationalize, or “go global.” Whack-a-Mole: An iconic rustic library shut down by the anti-pirating authorities. Tech Transfer technicalities and the current US Government “Section 301” investigation of Chinese trade practices, particularly intellectual property practices.  Major issues impend. Thanks to AmCham China Newsletter for pointing to this item. Perry Link, a Chinese language and literature scholar long associated with support for dissident intellectuals in China, is utterly persona non grata there, and his writings tend to be biting and unforgiving.  But, as the saying goes, “he knows a lot,” and this essay on China’s increasingly blunt censorship merits attention. This piece was written in the aftermath of the Cambridge University Press/China Quarterly furor of several weeks ago. Not-so-ancient history.  The story of a young man from East China and his life during World War II.  Read and ponder.  From WeChat, a very interesting interview with Elizabeth Knup, chief Ford Foundation representative in China, about the Foundation’s history in the PRC and in particular its experience in registering under the new Foreign NGO Law.  Including “Lessons Learned.”   Hope Springs Eternal, or, The Search For Summit Deliverables. Bloomberg reports possible movement on opening PRC financial markets further for foreign investment, and suggests a potential “deliverable” for Trump visit later in the fall.  Trump’s US Trade Representative inflates the rhetoric on Sino-American economic relations.  He is now at work on a “Section 301 Investigation” relating to China’s treatment of American intellectual property, a subject of major concern among US companies in China.  From Australia.  Two very experienced and judicious Western specialists on China, Bates Gill and Linda Jakobson, address the bursting controversies over the presence of large numbers of PRC students in Australian Universities.  This compact piece opens the door to phenomena that go beyond Australia as China globalizes and other countries struggle to adapt to the enhanced Chinese presence within their borders. Anatomy of a startup flop, complete with US-style Failure Badge of Honor. S&P downgrades PRC sovereign debt, and PRC pushes back strenuously: S&P a product of “developed country” experience, doesn’t understand Chinese model.  “S&P theory did not apply to China’s development and resilience, Qiao said.”  Further reporting, including S&P defense of its downgrade decision, at Beijing announces a four-month “campaign”-style “crackdown” on theft of trade secrets.  A burning issue with foreign companies (and their governments), but a “campaign” with a start date and an end date? Once again, the European Chamber of Commerce in China says what has to be said about what ails the business environment there for foreign firms.  Will the post-19th Congress regime listen, and act? Prospects dim: what is the cure for “promise fatigue”?  China’s spreading pyramid scheme problem: 50 million involved?  Economic slowdown leaves the poor and unsophisticated more prone than ever to fall into these schemes that border on cults.  Fine analysis from the Paulson Institute’s Macropolo .  Poor rural children grow up intellectually stunted, in huge numbers. Stanford’s Scott Rozelle works on the problem.  Engrossing reading.

September 10-16 Amid the buzz pre-Party Congress, a piece on Chen Min’er, recently moved to be Party Secretary in Chongqing (population 30 million) but before that top Party man in impoverished Guizhou, previously a training ground for people headed for the top of the heap. Fat in fire: the President personally kills a proposed takeover of a US chipmaker (Lattice Semiconductor, out of Portland, OR) by a Chinese-backed firm, on national security grounds. Ripples likely, both in U.S. chip sector and in U.S.-China relations. Why Lattice brought the decision to Trump desk after repeated CFIUS demurrers is an unanswered question that prompts some wide-ranging questions. A business-focused article on the ripples flowing from the Lattice decision by Trump (preceding item). USC’s Stan Rosen, the leading American scholarly specialist on the Chinese film industry, with a lively appraisal of developments in the Chinese movie sector over the past year, and prospects for deepening Sino-American movie-making. Before the 19th Communist Party Congress, scheduled to start Oct. 18, expect a tidal wave of Western punditry, much of it duplicative. Victor Shih, of the University of California San Diego, focuses on pre-Congress protestations of loyalty to the supreme leader or other top-ranked patrons, on the part of aspirants to higher position. A “Things Aren’t Quite So Bad” piece by a City University of Hong Kong scholar, citing recent survey data in Beijing to suggest that the extreme, aggressive nationalism in public opinion so often noted by (mostly, but not entirely, Western) media might be less prevalent than believed, while a more nuanced nationalism, mixed with insecurity on a number of domestic fronts, characterizes a sampling of interviewees deemed to be on their way to official government careers. The shape of things to come? A semi-whimsical report on a tech conference in Beijing. Brilliant or blithe? You decide. A serious wrinkle in the struggle against air pollution in North China: “captive” power plants owned, and serving, individual heavy industry units. Lucid reporting on a big issue. An ongoing case with ugly international overtones. Party Congress Prep: Brokerage heads ordered not to travel after Oct. 11. Global Times’s relatively calm-voiced interpretation of the inscrutable Trump Administration policy maneuvers regarding China, as news of a Trump visit to China within a couple of months begins to crystallize. A small piece from an official sources on the Tillerson-Yang Jiechi talks in D.C., prepping for a Trump stop in China. The US-China Business Council on US exports to China Congressional-District-by Congressional District. Very interesting findings. A New Zealand case – of a Member of Parliament of Chinese origin, who concealed his extensive background within the Chinese security apparatus – illustrates, in this veteran journalist’s view, the “structural problem” facing open democratic societies faced with the methods employed by authoritarian and closed political systems. Including the dangers of “profiling” bordering on racism in such open societies. a dissenting academic from a highly-regarded Beijing university, barred from his classroom and under other pressures, finally decamps for the U.S. CRI (short for China Radio International) does a good job, with excellent English usage and tolerable levels of officialese, on topics of daily interest. Here they are with a piece on the economy’s mixed numbers covering the first eight months of 2017. New York Fashion Week (just concluded) and Alibaba hook up. Soft power/Win-Win. More spillover from a massive case of a global research journal’s retraction of hundreds of published papers authored by Chinese scientists, over questions of authorship, plagiarism, improper research methods, etc. A telling line in this piece: “So far, only a few institutes have publicly acknowledged punishing the authors involved.” For those with the time to read, this is a very serious essay, within the context of a debate among contemporary Western analysts, about the depiction of the historical and cultural “essence” of China as defined by current holders of political power, and its compatibility with historical accuracy. This could not be more important for serious observers. This essay was in response to an earlier piece that should be read: . In turn, a critical response to this essay appears at . A Global Times writer warns that growing US, especially US Government, suspicions and tighter national-security scrutiny with respect to incoming Chinese investments is already driving Chinese investors elsewhere, and the U.S. may be forfeiting golden opportunities of absorbing higher levels of incoming PRC capital. Proposals to expand the mandate of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States are blasted here, and are causing heartburn in China.

September 1-9 A brilliant interview with a distinguished Singaporean diplomat, covering a huge landscape, much of it relating to China. Must Read. The unending discussion as to how to rescue and revitalize the economy of China’s Northeast – the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang – merits careful attention over the long term. Taiwan’s new Premier. Resurrecting and re-instilling “Chinese characteristics” in the minds of the young. Are the days of China’s acceptance of trash from the advanced industrial economies coming to an end? The head of Human Rights Watch slashes not only at China’s human rights record but at United Nation’s quiescence or even complicity in the face of China’s alleged misdeeds. The US-China Business Council’s latest reports on state-by-state and Congressional district-by-district exports to China for the past ten years. Important data. A lengthening Chinafile thread on the 19th Party Congress, under the familiar heading, “What you should know….” Not the solution to CCP’s pre-Congress secrecy-enshrined curtain of silence, though. An introduction to ICOs, transactions in which have now been banned by the People’s Bank of China. Useful political analysis as the 19th Congress approaches, from Germany’s Mercator Institute of Chinese Studies. NYT reports on the seeming lack of high-positioned figure to manage the “China Portfolio” for the Trump Administration. A young Chinese person responds powerfully and movingly to writer John Pomfret’s portrayal of a tide of corrupt, clannish, petted students from the PRC inundating American universities. A must read. Following on the preceding item: Questions of increasing profundity continue to emerge with respect to the influence – political and cultural – of the PRC on Australian academia and the Australian world of ideas. This article will not be well received in official Chinese circles, but it is representative of a strain of thinking become more visible in many nations, where the balance of benefits and costs arising from China’s strengthening presence is becoming a matter of scholarly and public discussion. Growing jitters in US financial community about the probity and financial transparency of heavy-hitter PRC companies bent on expanded investments in the US. B of A steps away from HNA for that reason. PRCG taking tougher stand on big outbound investments by marquee firms. Goldman walks away from an HNA IPO as well: China continues to thread the needle as the North Korea situation (to all outward appearances) deteriorates. The kicker: if DPRK nuclear tests send radioactivity into Northeast China, what will China do? If China leads on the elimination of fossil-fuel automobiles, its impact on the world will be enormous. More clampdown on religious groups.  Food. A very interesting, and detailed, look at China’s production of meat, in the context of repeated food safety scandals. Ecological impacts, domestic marketing and consumption patterns, international linkages all discussed. For readers interested in Chinese agriculture, this is a very useful research piece. Any visitor to China realizes that the PRC is light years ahead in developing a digitalized, cash-free economy. With education for migrant children becoming harder and harder to reach in China’s cities, this author states the case for great urban welcomes to the children of migrant laborers. Why does this sound familiar to your American Editor these days?

August 25 – 31–business.html  19th Party Congress set for October 18 start.  Must listen/read.  Mary Kay Magistad’s latest Podcast in the “Whose Century Is It?” series from Beijing, on trends among China’s youth amid opposing trends in China’s politics.  Magistad’s voice is great, her thoughts clear and logically connected.  Start with the URL and read it, but click on the Podcast at the top.  UBS’s top China economy analyst Wang Tao on State Owned Enterprise Reform, with predictions about reform acceleration after the upcoming 19th Congress of the CCP.  The Guardian, which generally views China coolly, does so in this piece about the propaganda onslaught featuring the world-girdling statesmanship of President Xi Jinping, now being broadcast to China’s people in a multi-part TV series.  Part of the run-up to the 19th Party Congress in October.  An “after action” commentary, dripping with sarcasm, by a Global Times writer, on the Cambridge University Press censorship controversy and the angry foreign reaction.  New cyber regulations requires use of real names by anyone posting feedback comments on anything.  Websites ordered to develop “review and real-time verification system.”   A Dutch (and Dutch-language, with plenty of Chinese language: click on the little “cc” button for English subtitles), six-part visual journey up the Yangtze River.  This site is for Part 1; links to Parts 2-5 (individually) appear to the right.  For information on the organization that has produced this series, visit .   Thanks to Bill Bishop’s Sinocism for pointing to this. A major paper on the China challenge to the US and what the US must do about it, focusing on economic dimensions. By Aaron Friedberg of Princeton, from a conference involving the leading lights of a particular school of thinking about China, arising out of the work of the famed Andrew Marshall of the “Office of Net Assessment” in the Pentagon. The unique and energetic American Mandarin Society is forming and publishing syllabi, to facilitate professionals’ increased competence on key aspects of contemporary China.  At this site, the Military syllabus is available instantly.  The new Foreign Policy syllabus requires registration (which is free); Your Editor warmly recommends registration. After the DPRK sends a missile flying across northern Japan, China reacts with another statement about “tipping points” and (my words) how it takes “Two to Tango.”  Whew!  A Chinese would-be purchaser of a sensitive US technology firm ponders whether to go straight to Trump for approval, after failing to gain same from CFIUS.  CSIS’s resident China specialist Christopher Johnson’s musings on China politics, and informed guesses about what will and won’t happen at the 19th Congress this fall (at least, we assume it will be this fall – no dates yet known), written while the Leadership was out of sight at its summer Beidaihe beachside gathering.  Written with particular, very engaging, vigor.  Patriotic Education marches on, as new school textbooks go into use.  Details.  David Bandurski’s marvelous analysis of mind-numbing Officialspeak, in this case President Xi’s big July speech that everyone has been ordered to study.  A great read. An informative and sobering analysis of the Sino-Indian face-off along the Bhutan border, the ensuing de-escalation, and implications for the U.S.  Well, with the Bhutan crisis out of the way, Lo! China sees huge opportunities for Sino-Indian cooperation, as Modi heads for Beijing and the BRICS summit.  Cornell’s international trade specialist Eswar Prasad with an important summary article on, as he sees it, China’s current and future approach to the “rules based international economic order” and how China intends both to influence that from within and change its foundations from without.  An interesting profile of four Chinese people who have found their way to Africa to make their lives.  The United States lays out a schedule of naval patrols sailings in the South China Sea.  As distinct from recent occasional “freedom of navigation operations.”  Scheduled, that is, but not publicly announced in advance.  With aircraft in attendance, for the first time.  China’s Minister of Justice lays down the rules for the country’s top criminal justice lawyers.  Here’s what he told them. Repellent as these hypernationalistic rock-‘em-sock-‘em films are, and as unimaginative as each new filmmaker is in trying to imitate and outdo the preceding one, there is no reason why, if the US can feed its bread-and-circuses population on Rambo, the Chinese can’t feed theirs on “World Warrior 2.”  What the latter heralds for China’s international conduct remains to be seen. This is actually a very nuanced and stimulating review of the Box Office Blockbuster World Warrior 2.

August 18-24  Former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and before that Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington, He Yafei, who has never been particularly touchy-feely about China’s relations with the US, declares the dawning of the Post-America Era.  This is a long essay that requires sustained reading and digestion.  An official and highly critical Chinese response to the US Trade Representative’s initiation of steps leading to a “Section 301” case directed against alleged Chinese intellectual property abuses and forced transfers of US technology to Chinese firms.  An ignominious step by the august Cambridge University Press.  Later reversed:  see following items.  Comments by the editor of the prestigious, 57 year-old scholarly publication China Quarterly on the forced removal of hundreds of articles from CQ previously available through the Chinese web site of the Cambridge University Press, CQ’s current publisher. China’s Global Times, which never shies from a fight, offers its take on the Cambridge University Press censorship issue.  Basically, “The strong set the rules:  China is strong and getting stronger.  In future, we will set the rules.” But read the entire article.  Sharp Chinese pushback against the most recent U.S. sanctions related to North Korea and directed against specific Chinese companies and individuals. Journalist and author John Pomfret’s grim reflection on the Cambridge University Press fiasco, the more likely to be seen because published in his old newspaper, the Washington Post.  There is one ill-written and improbable sentence in it (see if you can find it), but it does not detract from the article itself.  With thoughts like those here, writers like Pomfret limn the possibilities of a dire “civilizational clash.”  The Cambridge University Press changes its mind.  News from the front: comments from international publishers attending the Beijing International Book Fair this week. Another Pomfret piece, this one on an issue that many know about but few lay out in public, relating to the tidal presence of PRC students in American university, whether they are qualified or not.  Again, Pomfret, intentionally or not, adds to what Your Editor has long referred to as the “China Tide Syndrome.”  But the issues are real. A tough critique of the recent Trump Administration action (if that is the right word for it) against China on intellectual property theft and abuse.  The author is extremely well versed on the subject.  An introduction, by the Congressional Research Service,  to the background and current situation in the Sino-India dispute in Bhutan; the dispute places Chinese and Indian military forces face to face with no buffers. Armed with Trump’s new Executive Order authorizing the United States Trade Representative to consider whether to initiate a trade action against China under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, focused on alleged PRC intellectual property abuses, the Trade Representative wasted no time in getting the process started – two days, in fact.  Here is USTR’s announcement of hearings, and a timeline for decisions.  Large demonstration in HK protesting the jailing of three democracy movement leaders. A respected U.S. specialist on Chinese law comments gloomily on what he sees as the decay of institutions in China in favor of a return to strongman, personality-focused, rule.  The upcoming Party Congress, in his view, will further advance the trend.  The boom in “educational tourism” to top UK and US universities, by parents who want their kids –aged 5 or ten, even – to have “wider horizons.”  Some schools responding negatively to the flood.  A spectacular, delightful interactive map showing the core facts of China’s trade with the nations of the world OVER TIME, from 1990 to 2014.  “Fun for the whole family,” as the old commercial phrase in the U.S. went.  Followed by an extensive essay on the trajectory of China’s global trade.  Marvelous report on discovery of stone carvings in central Asia validating a 2000 year old account of Han Dynasty China’s vanquishing of Hun invaders.  McKinsey’s latest take on Chinese outbound investment.  Dennis Blasko (always worth careful reading) analyzes the PLA’s progress toward global stature in the context of the giant military parade at the end of last month. A solid and digestible piece analyzing the content and implications of recent Chinese government policy changes affecting outbound investment.  By David Dollar, formerly World Bank and U.S. Treasury Department, now at Brookings.  China again at war with an epidemic of pyramid schemes.  The delicate line separating those from legitimate “multilevel marketing” companies, including many prominent US or international firms very active in China.  Proud of pride:  an official Chinese site celebrates the box office triumph of China-made film “Wolf Warrior 2” over foreign-made previous box office champ “Avatar.”  Read more about “Wolf Warrior 2” at  (Warning: this review unlikely to be shown in China.)

August 11-17  Trump/Lighthizer start the trade campaign against China.   Wise words on the core issue, from CSIS’s Jim Lewis, who knows whereof he speaks.  US Joint Chiefs Chair visits PRC.  New mil-to-mil contact-and-crisis avoidance understandings reached, with DPRK in view.  Press release by the non-governmental organization spearheading the China IP move. A ringing denunciation of unending Chinese IP theft, and a call for business to cooperate with US Government in prosecuting it, by two top former US intelligence chiefs, one of whom was also PACOM Commander and the other formerly head of the National Security Agency. Brookings commentary on the Trump move on China IP. Excellent all-inclusive writeup of the Trump IP announcement in broader contexts.   A CSIS panel discussion from last April on the issues surrounding the proposed expansion of the definition of the functions of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), whose secret deliberations can make or break foreign M&A acquisitions in the US – Chinese acquisitions dominate the current CFIUS docket and public discussion of foreign acquisitions in the US. Caixin on the slowdown in Chinese overseas investment. China Radio International posts a report on new government restrictions on outbound investment.  US Administration about to start a major trade action against China, it seems. An enthralling Mercator Institute of Chinese Studies look at China’s emerging “social credit system,” which uses “Big Data” to monitor the behavior not only of enterprises but of individuals. As the 19th Party Congress looms and the professional-promotion frying pan sizzles, another exhortation to the Party’s 90 million members to think about substantive performance, not routes to promotion.  He Yafei, former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and onetime senior official in the Chinese Embassy in Washington, has emerged as a frequently-published author of English-language analyses of trends in China’s global relations. This piece from the first week of August is an interesting discussion of fundamental shifts in global governance, as He sees them today.   Sino-Indian border standoff rises to the level of mutual stone-throwing.  An absorbing, if subjective, look at a culture of apathy and lack of motivation spreading among the young. Again, Germany’s Mercator Institute of Chinese Studies scores with this detailed but digestible look at Chinese leadership politics as the 19th Party Congress approaches.  In the end, lots of possibilities but few predictions, though.  This site provides a link for download of the full paper in PDF. An important article, a week old.  A former Clinton-era official retracts his earlier optimism about the beneficial effects of including China in the “rules-based” WTO system, as happened after much political controversy in the U.S., in 2001.  The Reader Comments are revealing as well.  China still struggles with the techniques of “public diplomacy.”  A rousing critique, from the official Xinhua News Agency, of foreign reviews of the PRC’s new blockbuster film, “Wolf Warrior II.” A new analysis of China’s emerging, all-pervading “social credit system.”  A withering, deeply troubling commentary on trends in the relationship between regime and citizen in the PRC, by a veteran Australian China hand.

August 4-10 China speaks to U.S. and DPRK about what it will do if, if, if.  Asia policy veteran Jeffrey Bader runs through all the terrible options the US faces with respect to North Korea and recommends, in some detail, the familiar course of deterrence and containment, citing George Kennan.  Once again, NYT’s Keith Bradsher lays the essentials on the line for Americans.  Very meaningful article.  From 2015.  The breathlessly-awaited announcement of US Administration trade actions against China is postponed for a bit.  Why are China’s outbound tourist numbers zooming while inbound foreign tourist numbers languish?  The delicate dance between ASEAN and China over South China Sea claims and activities.  Reuters report from the ASEAN Ministerial in Manila.  China’s change of rhetorical style at ASEAN Manila:  FoMin Wang Yi out front, voluble, visible.  US SecState Tillerson low key, low-visibility.  Analysis. Also from Manila, some movement toward a “code of conduct” for the South China Sea, but doubts as to its clout.  More, detailed speculation about the next Who’s Who list after the upcoming Party Congress.  Bottom line of this piece:  Xi’s people in all key slots, unlike the past five years. After UN Security Council announces new sanctions in DPRK, with US and Chinese support, PRC Party organs sprinkle cold water while US effuses. Some straight talk on steel – the U.S. sector, imports, and Chinese steel on global markets.  China’s top rep in HK sees things looking up – “rainbow after the storm.” Some of his reasons for optimism are itemized in this piece, and may not be seen as so positive by some Hong Kongers.  Bad quake in gorgeous Jiuzhaigou tourist area of northern Sichuan.  The Qualcomm-in-China saga, in excruciating detail.  Much larger implications.  US prepares to whack Chinese aluminum foil imports; China warns of trouble if it does.  Meanwhile US Intl. Trade Commission has extended trade sanctions against – Chinese paper clips!  A commentary on the challenges facing the building of a Chinese “brand.”

July 28 – August 3 Secretary of State Tillerson’s extended remarks at a “press availability,” August 1, including comments on US-China relations. Is the Trump Administration about to launch “trade actions” under U.S. law against alleged Chinese “unfair trade practices”? Could be the start of something big. See also     .

A fine Bloomberg piece on the systemic economic problems (starting with vast corporate debt) facing China, and more particularly facing Xi Jinping, as the critical 19th Party Congress approaches. A very valuable run-through of a list of big challenges. Per preceding item, Secretary of Commerce Ross publishes a blunt op-ed in the WSJ paving the way for U.S. trade actions against perceived unfair trade and investment practices in China (and the EU). Takes a big swipe at alleged inadequacy of WTO global trade organization’s rules and abilities to deal with such evils. All in line with current U.S. Administration line, i.e., “No More Uncle Sucker.” A report emphasizing the personal role of Xi Jinping in China’s “island-building” and other fortification measures in the South China Sea and its creation of new instrumentalities of sovereignty-assertion in the East China Sea. All, perhaps, part of the leadup to the 19th Party Congress; the flow of Xi-centered officially-issued materials is rising rapidly. Chongqing, 900 miles up the Yangtze, with a population (including vast rural areas) of over 30 million, and in which Your Editor has a special interest dating back decades, continues to lead the pack in rate of economic growth. Remarkable. Massive military demo on 90th anniversary of founding of the PLA. A gigantic and engrossing report on the operations of China’s biggest bank, ICBC, in Spain, including big-scale money-laundering. An example of why the massive influx of people and money from the PRC sometimes causes uneasiness or worse in “host countries.” Australia another case of this at present. As Trump and USTR Lighthizer appear to be ramping up “trade action” against China on intellectual property and investment market access, NYT’s Bradsher points to China’s options.

July 21-27 With the 19th Party Congress only about four months away and the annual leadership retreat to the beach coming within weeks, the Leader convenes a senior audience and lays down the ideological outline while apparently advancing his “Thought” to the level of Mao’s and Deng’s. It seems highly likely that the US Government will be taking a more active role in permitting or killing foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies, with the focus heavily on now-booming M&A activity from the PRC.  A pungent analysis of the recent US-China economic dialogue, which appears to have produced few results and to have disappointed many hopes.  A critical American analyst of PRC politics writes on the sudden political demise of Sun Zhengcai, hitherto regarded as a near shoo-in for a top Party position after Xi Jinping’s certain second term.  Message: the closer to the top, the more uncertain and perilous the path.  Univ. of Pennsylvania historian Arthur Waldron slashes at the whole notion of “The Thucydides Trap,” and at Harvard’s Graham Allison’s much-bruited new book on that subject which discusses chances of U.S.-China war.  PRC authorities (not clear exactly who) clamp down on high-flying private companies (Anbang, Fosun, Wanda, e.g.) which have been throwing huge sums of borrowed money into overseas acquisitions.  SCMP (HK) writes on the growing realization inside the PRC that the impending shutdown of VPNs will have serious ill effects on PRC science, academic research, business. By two senior Peking University economists, this article focuses on prospects for continued high rates of growth in China, IF the two inland regions can achieve the growth rates that still remain possible for them because of their lower levels of economic development. Variations on an old theme, however, i.e., the intractability of development challenges in the interior.  China forges ahead on renewable energy.  The US  Administration looks to more coal.  Supchina’s podcast with Lyle Goldstein, whose thinking and writing about how to deal with such dilemmas as North Korea and the South China Sea are out of the mainstream but stimulating and potentially more productive.  This podcast follows up on Goldstein’s book “Meeting China Halfway.”  This podcast focuses on US options with North Korea.  A reflection on the work of classical era thinker Xunzi, whose writings, the author asserts, provide an ideal portal through which contemporary non-Chinese people, with little or no background on China, might begin to enter the world of Chinese thought.  Well worth the quiet time needed to absorb it.  Ripples spread following the sudden removal of Sun Zhengcai from his Chongqing Party Secretary position.  Sun had been considered utterly up-and-coming, with the apex of the Party within his grasp in the future. A collection of press pieces arising from the sacking and apparent detention of Sun Zhengcai on charges iof “serious violations of party discipline.” Fantastic article on China’s growing role in Iran, and Iran’s crucial place in China’s Belt And Road dream.  Three Peking University scholars lay out, in some detail, what is wrong with the Chinese economy today, what could happen tomorrow, and what needs to be done to alter diminish current threats. The sea-change in Chinese people’s views of themselves, their country, and the “outside world,” most notably the U.S.  Pride, apparent confidence, the scent of contempt.  A meditation, occasioned by the death of Liu Xiaobo, about two different Chinas.  Clinging to slim reeds.  Loaded with graphics, this piece crunches data on the first six months of NGO activity in China following enactment of the Foreign NGO Law. WSJ reports PRC taking steps to prefer for contingencies along its DPRK border. Much hoopla this week about an agreement that would permit sales of U.S. rice to China.  But many procedural steps remain ahead. A reminder of what North China is up against: graphic images of a sandstorm from the Gobi engulfing Beijing.  Wanda, one of the huge private companies investing heavily in the U.S. and elsewhere globally, does an “induced” U-turn and announces it will focus on investments inside the Motherland.  A harbinger of things to come with the other giant firms putting their money abroad?  Very informative article on the burgeoning China-Russia relationship in its many dimensions, with notes of caution about potential limitations. This site offers a free download of a brand-new and extensive compendium of papers on the Chinese economy by a large team of economists, many from Australia and many from the PRC.  The range of topics covered is so vast that we recommend a careful perusal of the Contents pages to determine which pieces, among many, are of special interest to individual readers.  Joint project between US and Chinese “think tanks” announces its twin project reports.

July 15-21 A set of powerful reflections on the life, death, and meaning of Liu Xiaobo.  A thoughtful attempt at understanding the treatment – and lack of treatment – meted out to Liu Xiaobo. A pungent personal commentary following the death of Liu Xiaobo.  On the quick burial at sea of Liu Xiaobo’s remains.  The dismal, and hasty, “funeral” of Liu Xiaobo.  Liu Xiaobo’s dying words to his wife.  What will become of her?  Signs publicly so far are infinitely dark – that is, there are no signs of answers to that question, and that would seem to be an answer in itself.  We will perhaps never know whether the American abandonment of any pretense to concern about human rights in other countries, under the new administration, will have had any direct or indirect effect on the fate of Liu Xiaobo’s brave spouse.  See next item. One of the darkest, most pessimistic commentaries on the implications of Liu Xiaobo’s death. Bottom line; it will fade from  view, will have no impact on PRC behavior, and will bolster PRCG’s expectation that behavior like theirs in the Liu case will cause no meaningful pushback from other countries. A flicker of gentility in the highly-choreographed and often virulently antagonistic Chinese discussion of Japan these days. A brief review of the outcomes of the recent Financial Work Conference in Beijing.  Nothing very climactic.  The one-day “Comprehensive Economic Dialogue” between the US and China in Washington ends with no press releases and no press conference and apparently few significant outcomes. A modestly more positive view of the CED from an official PRC source. Yang Jiechi, State Council and former Foreign Minister and Ambassador to Washington, offers a lengthy essay on Xi Jinping’s “Diplomacy Thought.” An important article, both for what it says and for what it symbolizes.  Another fine article by Matt Sheehan, this one exploring the cultural differences between Silicon Valley and its Chinese opposite numbers, and some of the US policy conundrums that result. A pungent personal commentary following the death of Liu Xiaobo.  On the quick burial at sea of Liu Xiaobo’s remains. Prof. Lyle Goldstein of the US Naval War College, once again willing to challenge accepted wisdom, with ideas on how to follow Beijing’s lead in dealing with the North Korea mess. A Politburo member, until last week seen as having a great future, is removed from his position as Chongqing Party Secretary and placed under “investigation.” More speculation on what lies behind Sun Zhengcai’s removal (preceding item).   Ely Ratner, writing in Foreign Affairs, calls for a much more robust US policy of pushback against onrushing PRC power extension in the South China Sea.  (Semi-paywalled).  Chinese economy beat expectations in 2017 H1.  Details. China’s very competent ambassador warns U.S. governors of potential “derailment” of US-China relations.  Impending US trade action against Chinese steel imports one derailer he has in mind.  Will the US impose “Section 232” national-security sanctions on imported steel, including steel from China (Chinese overproduction blamed for lowering global steel prices and harming US producers), and will China strike back?  Stay tuned…. The sophisticated China-Vatican observer Francesco Sisci tries to interpret the tea leaves of recent developments in the dance between the CCP and the Church, but his essay itself requires further tea-leaf reading.  Your editor concludes that momentum in the dialogue between the two giants must have slowed or bogged down. The virtue of this summary article about the “state of play” at the highest levels of CCP leadership in the runup to the 19th Party Congress this fall (date still unannounced) is that it pretty much covers what is known, while making perfectly clear that no one in the public arena really knows much of anything about how the leadership will sort out at the Congress – including whether Xi Jinping will position himself for a third term at the top (breaking with post-Cultural Revolution precedent of certain two-term limit) and whether the carefully cultivated but nonetheless “voluntary” acceptance of age limits for top Party leaders will be breached this time around.  In short, one won’t learn Who is going to be Who from this article, but one can usefully learn what they key questions that will need to be answered are, at least at this time.   An important new addition to China’s military assets: domestically-developed AWACS aircraft.

July 8-14  The death of Liu Xiaobo.  Nicholas Kristof’s reflections on the death of Liu Xiaobo. Another lengthy obituary on Liu Xiaobo.  Statement of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on the death of Liu Xiaobo.  The text (translated to English) of Charter 08, the powerful call for democratic reform in China that led to Liu Xiaobo’s imprisonment and death in custody.

*************************************************************************************  More signs of tectonic shifting among gigantic PRC investment-obsessed conglomerates hitherto reliant on debt.  Consolidation in the shipping world:  COSCO makes a bid for Orient Overseas International, parent of container line OOCL.  Heavy weather again in China-Vatican discussions, as a Bishop disappears.  This from a Catholic news agency; links to related reports at bottom. With a new and, to many, alarming message from China’s information technology ministry seeming to order a cutoff of all VPN (Virtual Private Network) access by next February, this nuanced article suggests that MIIT’s announcement portends something at once less draconian and more powerful.  Very worth reading. From a Party publication not prone to excessive gracefulness with respect to the U.S., a moderately-toned and generally positive piece on the early days of the US-China “100 Days” trade initiative designed to advance bilateral trade relations and eliminate sources of friction.  But with a precautionary warning about upcoming U.S. “trade remedy” cases aimed at China.  More gigantic mergers on the way in key Chinese economic sectors: some say it’s prerequisite to further “reforms,” but others say it’s in lieu of the farther-reaching reforms hinted at when Xi Jinping came to power in 2013.  (May be paywalled.)  Once more, the highest office in the American government identifies the President of the People’s Republic of China as the President of the Republic of China (Taiwan’s official name).  Like identifying the “President of the United States of America” as the “President of the Confederate States of America.”  For those with plenty of time for quiet reading.  A significant article on the views of certain Chinese thinkers who are cautioning against the triumphalism that they see burgeoning around them in official policy and opinion circles. As a world-renowned Chinese Nobel Laureate nears death, some search for ways to express their thoughts beneath or around the Great Firewall.  A nice feature article interviewing a teacher in one of the premier Chinese language study programs in Beijing, the Interuniversity Program for Chinese Language Study (IUP). China pushes back harder against the U.S. idea that Chinese must up the pressure on North Korea to change the latter’s nuclear/delivery system behavior.–and-a-popular-path-to-it-may-disappear/2017/07/07/37617510-5c4c-11e7-9b7d-14576dc0f39d_story.html?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.b7bdef22b782n  The dreary EB-5 Visa mess; possible cancellation of the program stirs urgent uneasiness among Chinese hopefuls.  Another festering trade issue, thought to have been resolved in the “100-day Plan,” appears to be languishing.  This one involves US credit-card issuers’ quest for authorization to operate in China.  Apple learns to live with China’s new cybersecurity laws, establishing its first data center within the PRC.  Amazon and Microsoft already have data centers inside China, according to this piece.  China joins U.S., Japan in establishing a navy base in Djibouti, sending troops to the base in advance of its formal opening.  First stationing of troops abroad.  A zippy World Economic Forum introduction to the One Belt One Road initiative, with good graphics and, of course, a very upbeat overall tone.  Last but by no means least:  an hour-long Podcast on the Belt and Road Initiative, with Tom Miller of Gavekal, who has worked on these matters for a long time.  Informative.

July 1-7  Official account of President Xi Jinping’s speech to the G-20 meeting in Hamburg. Another hike in South China Sea tensions. UA-PRC relations under stress again after the Mar A Lago “Honeymoon.”  Terrific NPR piece about remote Guizhou Province and its advance to one of technology’s front lines: the handling of “big data.”  Lessons for other countries’ approaches to chronic backwardness in some regions?  Daunting challenges facing U.S.-trained Chinese academics when they debate whether to head back to China or remain in the U.S. or other western academic environments and societies. Structural problems within China’s academic system.  Informative, especially considering that this piece is from a Chinese source. Rising tensions between India and China in the Himalayas.  Hotter than usual.   What happens when the U.S. walks away.  China and Germany join hands.  Movie theatres must show political short subjects before the feature.  Recipe for obliviousness?  Another report on attempts to subject local officials to professional evaluation on the basis of their environmental records. A long Global Times piece on the North Korea situation.  After passing through a number of interesting observations, the author returns to the standard GT/PRC theme, i.e., that it’s up to Uncle Sam to solve the problem, and that Washington errs in expecting China to be willing or able to do much about it.  As the Trumpian withdrawal from U.S. global engagements becomes an assumed fact around the world, this GT piece explains that Chinese public opinion is mixed as to whether China can and should assume roles the U.S. seems to be discarding. Likely to be ignored for domestic political reasons, this article speaks truth to power on the argument that imported steel represents a U.S. national security threat.  China at the center of what’s being considered.  Speaking of imports, the old bugaboo of China as an exporter of dangerous and noxious products rises again, now that the quid of Chinese poultry exports to the U.S. market has been adopted as the quo for the opening of China’s market to U.S. beef.  Serious issues discussed. But politics intrude.  One U.S. food scare will cause tremendous damage.  The head of Yale University Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center, and renowned professor of Constititional Law, Paul Gewirtz, with a nicely nuanced piece built around the idea that China misread Trump at Mar A Lago and muffed a chance to grow the relationship with the U.S., thus (in the author’s view) opening the door to U.S. pursuit of a broader agenda than simply the matter of DPRK nuclear weapons. Fascinating photos of the confluence of the Yangzi and Han rivers at Wuhan, the great metropolis 600 miles upriver from the Chinese coast, in the current summer flood season. PRC-Vatican relations.  Another, and particularly Church-dense, look at this longstanding conundrum by China-based Italian journalist Francesco Sisci.

June 23-30  One of many official PRC reports on the activities of President Xi Jinping in Hong Kong, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the “Handover” from British to Chinese sovereignty.  More on HK below. After the Trump Tweet indicating disappointment that China has not “done more” to change North Korea’s behavior, the US mainstream media are now declaring that the brief “honeymoon” that began with Xi Jinping’s visit to Mar A Lago is over, and that darker relations lie ahead.  A leading U.S. Senator prepares to legislate changes in the mandate of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, mainly in response to PRC acquisitions of U.S. advanced-technology companies. Strong language on the “weaponization of investment.” A NYT report on preparations, in Congress and the White House, to intrude more actively into the onrushing flow of PRC capital into the U.S., as the security implications of Chinese acquisitions of U.S. critical-technology companies become more and more obvious. A thought-provoking follow-up to the previous item (on CFIUS expansion), arguing that the rise of U.S.-China competition in the field of artificial intelligence will require something farther-reaching. The Financial Times’s Jamil Anderlini grasps the bull by the horns in this blunt piece about the meaning of the term (Zhonghua Minzu) usually translated as “nation” but, in Chinese, primarily meaning (as Anderlini sees it) “race,” as applied to key contemporary slogans like “The China Dream” and the “Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation.” Frank Ching, who has covered China and Hong Kong for more than four decades, reflects on Hong Kong’s future as the 20th anniversary of the “handover” to the PRC approaches. A lively set of opinions (offered on a voluntary basis in response to an open invitation) by Western China specialists of varied backgrounds, on the significance of the ongoing stream of revelatory video presentations by billionaire Guo Wengui, who details corruption in the highest places but without providing definitive evidence.  Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, imprisoned since 2009, said to be suffering from terminal cancer, granted “medical leave” for hospital treatment outside of prison.  Strong world reaction.  New York Times report at     .  Twenty years after the Hong Kong handover, China declares the Sino-British Agreement of 1984 an historical relic with no current practical significance.  CNN interview with Christopher Patten, last British Governor of HK.  Plus, report at same URL on Xi Jinping review of troops in HK on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Handover. An open ended Chinafile discussion on the future of Hong Kong begins with two very articulate and very pessimistic views.  Video of Xi Jinping  reviewing the Hong Kong PLA Garrison, with choreography closely reminiscent of that displayed on major parade occasions in Beijing. Additional official PRC news organ coverage of Xi Jinping’s visit to Hong Kong. Official Chinese news agency informs the world of the global impact of President Xi Jinping’s book on Governance.  No one left in doubt as to its significance. A South China Morning Post report on what, specifically, the U.S. is selling for $1.4 billion to Taiwan, evoking a familiar, bitter, PRC reaction. The full text of Premier Li Keqiang’s “dialogue” with leading business figures at the recently concluded “Summer Davos” meeting of the World Economic Forum in Dalian.  NYT’s Keith Bradsher’s massive feature article on Hong Kong 20 years after the Handover, detailing a great many sources of malaise.

June 16-22  The perils of Trump’s heavy bet on Xi Jinping, i.e., what happens if Xi doesn’t “deliver” what Trump expects him to.  University of Denver’s Zhao Suisheng (who also edits the invaluable Journal of Contemporary China) on selective historical memory in today’s China and the defining of the meaning of China’s immense historical experience to serve today’s political purposes.  The links to other relevant readings at the close of the article are also valuable.  For example, this somewhat contentious argument from Prof. June Dreyer:  Another incident brings another wave of introspection over the uncertain moral foundations of society and social behavior in China; this one starts with a pedestrian death on the street.  Some parallels to the anguish over firearms in the U.S.  Major debates pending on when and to what extent the US government should intervene to prevent PRC investments in US artificial technology and other militarily-applicable forms of advanced technology.  The US lowers the publicity volume surrounding its “Freedom of Navigation Operations” in the South China Sea.  (May be paywalled or require simple survey-question responses.)  Grass-roots-level people-to-people contact:  West Virginia elementary school educators visit China through the efforts of a Confucius Institute in their home state.  Reported in local West Virginia news outlet. Some in U.S. see insidious Chinese plots behind Confucius Institutes.  This humble example is hard to reconcile with that. Always: the problem of enforcement.  This time environmental regulation. A report on the online spending explosion on “6/18”, a mid-year “shopping festival.” Eye-opening.   Joseph Nye of Harvard, coiner of the term “soft power,” on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and the interesting question of the primacy of a “Eurasia Strategy” versus an “Oceans and Littoral States” strategy.  Good by, “Security and Economic Dialogue,” hello “Diplomatic and Security Dialogue.”  Meets for first time June 21 in D.C.  with Yang Jiechi, Mattis and Tillerson in the principal spots at the table.  Some Chinese views on the Dialogue and on US-China issues.  An American student detained in North Korea returns home in a coma and dies.  US-China discussion of N. Korea issues now wrapped around this latest tragedy. US animus toward Mexico manufacturing leads Ford to move production instead to China.  Great piece by veteran journalist and writer John Pomfret about profound changes underway in the U.S. Chinese-American population and community.  A Chinafile podcast focused on NYU Shanghai, and exploring the many issues surrounding the establishment of U.S. institutions of higher learning within the PRC – intellectual freedom, freedom of speech, etc. China opens door to US beef after 14 years, and US opens door to Chinese poultry.  Major trade items. Useful official “prequel” to June 21 US-China high-level meeting known now as “Diplomatic and Security Dialogue.”  Interview with Ian Johnson, author of a major new book on religious revival in China, focused especially on the relationship between that revival and current Chinese views of the natural world and the environment. A first person account by a young Chinese woman, of her first, transformative encounter with “wilderness.” The Never Ending Story.  Yet another attempt to rein in locally-driven over-production, this time, again, of automobiles.  More on the “Thucydides Trap,” made even more famous these days by Graham Allison of Harvard, who is making sure that everyone who is anyone knows about and is reading his new book.  Including the sages of the Trump Administration. While, as the 19th Party Congress approaches, the “master narrative” focuses on the incompleteness of the reforms that accompanied Xi Jinping’s accession five y ears ago, this granular article looks at more promising changes now underway in the structure of China’s chaotic local and national fiscal systems.  Long way to go, however.


June 2-16 The mysterious buyer of the Waldorf-Astoria now may not leave China. From the Royal United Services Institute in the UK, a thoughtful look at China’s program of Silk Road development through Eurasia.  The US Acting Ambassador resigns from his 27-year distinguished career in the US Foreign Service rather than deliver notification of his nation’s abandonment of the Paris Climate Change Agreement to the leader of the Chinese government.  A man of integrity and courage, in this Editor’s opinion.  A wide-ranging exploration of familiar themes of U.S. Asia policy and developments within the Asia-Pacific Region, in interesting juxtaposition from John Feffer of Foreign Policy In Focus.  Fudan University’s Shen Dingli on tectonic shifts arising from Trump “America First” approach to global issues.  “Trump Exits, China Moves In.”  A retired PLA general evaluates US Defense Secretary Mattis’s speech to the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, proferring US policy toward security in the Asia Pacific Region. A Chinese graduate student’s account of his long conversation with a North Korean student, discussing US-China-Korea relations and other issues.  Long but very worthwhile.  A predictable ending to the piece. Michael Pettis focuses on the political question (no surprise) that underlies the  huge issue of whether superheated growth, driven by excessive government dispensations of credit, will or will not continue.  Quick review of China’s economic performance in the month of May.  PBS News Hour’s Judy Woodruff interviews David Rank, who resigned from the U.S. government and from his position of Deputy Chief of Mission at the US embassy in Beijing, as to how he came to resign.  Arthur Waldron, a crusty University of Pennsylvania scholar long known for complex thinking about China in ways that differentiate him from “received orthodoxies,” bombards the new and heavily promoted book on the “Thucydides Trap” by Harvard’s Graham Allison, who both coined the term and built a considerable reputation upon it.  Vintage Waldron.  The head of Anbang Insurance, the explosively-expanding but organizationally opaque Chinese insurance firm that made news with its purchase of New York’s Waldorf-Astoria last year, is now reported to be in detention.  Ramifications for the complex realm of PRC financial institutions – and for the larger Chinese economy – form the bulk of this fine piece by Keith Bradsher of the New York Times.



May 26 – June 1 Must read. One of America’s best-informed and intellectually balanced figures comments on the recent US-China trade “agreement.” A helpful starter-site for following the upcoming “Shangri-la Dialogue,” known as the 16th Annual Asia Security Summit. See also Australia’s skeptical commentator Hugh White on the dilemma facing the U.S. at this year’s Shangri-La meeting, at (Hugh White’s persistent theme is that China’s rise has permanently altered the status quo in the Asia Pacific region, and that the US and its longtime allies like Australia had better start dealing with the changed reality.) Latest manufacturing numbers seem to confirm downward trend extending over past several months. Given high debt levels, how to goose the economy when it slows too much will be THE dilemma, especially as 19th Party Congress and leadership team changes loom this fall. A detailed and riveting Reuters feature article on dodgy loans and even more dodgy collateral in the lending system in China, with potentially huge ramifications for the financial system itself. Changes announced in the manner in which the daily value of the RMB against the dollar is to be set by the People’s Bank. Will engender strong international comment. RMB has moved up against the USD this week in striking fashion. A Chinese government financial-sector veteran analyzes changes in the Chinese banking system in recent years. Rural poverty: achievements and daunting challenges. A related item, hyperlinked in this piece, is at Lucid early reaction to Moody’s decision to downgrade PRC sovereign debt. From Agence France Press, a critical commentary, conveying other interested parties’ concerns, on the impending implementation of the new cybersecurity law. Official Chinese statement denying negative implications for foreign firms of the new cybersecurity law. Informed comment on the Draft Intelligence Law made available for a month of public comment on May 16. Regrettably, this NYT piece on Guo Wengui (Miles Kwok) bears reading, if only to grasp the immensity of Mr. Guo’s ambitions and the enormity of his high-visibility attacks on corruption at the highest levels in China. Dealing with the stress associated with China’s college entrance exams. A translation of the newly promulgated Regulations for Internet Content Management Administration Law Enforcement Procedures. Mme. Fu Ying, chair of the National People’s Congress Foreign Affairs Committee and a seasoned, articulate diplomat, with her (official) view on how to handle the ever-worsening North Korean nuclear problem. Brookings’s David Dollar (ex-World Bank China) with a breakdown of where China’s overseas investment is going – not, primarily, to nations along the Obor route. Focuses on PRC ODI (Overseas Direct Investment) and lending by China’s two major “policy banks” involved in overseas investment. Does not discuss Chinese corporate overseas investment. The political-leader-as-moral-guide is a millennia-old feature of Chinese governance. This article suggests that further efforts to elevate China’s current leader to that stature are underway. A massive but highly readable and well illustrated examination of air pollution in China: extent, causes, effects. Worth spending time on, and keeping on file. As the PRC works at cleaning up the air at home and reducing dependence on coal, its power-plant exports to other developing nations are heavily weighted toward coal. Focus on Pakistan. Read this to believe it. A full-size exact replica of RMS Titanic under construction in an obscure county of deep-inland Sichuan Province – as a tourist attraction, complete with “reliving the moment of iceberg impact.” Cost figures included. The US turns tail, China walks in, this time for leadership on climate change.



May 19-25 He Weifang falls silent. If you don’t know who he is, read this item. Chinese report on the latest U.S. Navy destroyer sail very close to South China Sea location claimed by China. From China’s official international radio site, a short feature article on a poor village in northern Inner Mongolia and how it is improving itself. Real people working on real problems. Slow progress on hukou reform, one of the most vexed social/economic problems facing the PRC. The shape of things to come, hopefully. Chinese company builds US operations, seeks full-time permanent American employees. A Xinhua report on a recent top-level “Deepening Reform” group. Pregnant with possibilities, but devoid of substance.–a-renewed-vision-for-engagement-with-china-and-asia Two well-backgrounded Carnegie Endowment specialists ponder challenges to US Asia policy in light of China’s “Belt Road Initiative” and other recent PRC initiatives – plus the American desertion of the Trans Pacific Partnership and other signs of US retreats from global engagement. Struggling to retain some semblance of U.S. “leadership.”   A podcast discussing the case of New York University in China. NYU is one of a very few US universities that have set up degree-granting campuses inside the PRC, thus earning intense scrutiny over whether the defining academic freedoms of American academic culture can be sustained and protected in China. Another case of harsh “nationalistic” online reaction after a student from China, in U. of Maryland graduation speech, refers to clean air and “freedom” in the U.S. She subsequently apologized online and re-stated her lover for her motherland. The reader comments available here are, as of the time of this posting, thoughtful and worth reading (for the most part.) One of many follow-ups at   . Another great piece from Germany’s Mercator Institute of Chinese Studies, this one on the emerging “social credit system,” founded on the use of Big Data, and its implications for companies doing business in China.–roach-2017-05   The articulate economist Stephen Roach with the beginnings of a tentative re-think on China. The mechanics of academic publication fraud in China, with a humorous opening. China assembles a long list of wishes regarding trade with the US. Both sides need to be clear about what they “want” from each other, not only in merchandise trade and not only in economic relations. Powerful video from Sixth Tone on a visit to the old town of Beichuan, Sichuan Province, destroyed in an earthquake nine years ago. For those with granular interests, this is a useful blog on trade conflicts between the US and China, particularly U.S. trade actions against Chinese imports. Be sure to explore other tabs. Other sites will most assuredly offer different views.


May 10-16 The US and China reach an agreement on certain market-opening measures. New US Administration claims a “win” in doing the deal within the pledged 100 days; other observers are cooler, noting what was not covered. A somewhat miscellaneous list, but there is actually a lot in it. More on the trade deal. Best read together with preceding item. Devil in details, execution is critical, etc. US companies on the ground in China very much in the “show me” mode. Full text of Pres. Xi Jinping’s speech at the One Belt One Road Forum that dominated the Chinese news flow in the past week. An Editorial Board of Australian policy specialists comments on OBOR as the big OBOR Forum opens in Beijing, offering cool-eyed analysis. US companies itching to get into One Belt One Road business opportunities, as US policy stand-offishness on OBOR seems to diminish slightly. The Economist’s take on the Belt and Road Initiative, featured in the super-high-visibility international Forum in Beijing this week. A WSJ wrap up on the big OBOR Forum in Beijing, with the EU staying aloof from a final Trade Statement because clauses on transparency and standards were not included. We suspect this will be ironed out separately, soon. US-China economic intermingling at the granular level. A tutoring firm in Chengdu, owned by a US investor, gets in trouble. GREAT, mostly upbeat piece on the realities of China’s coal economy, by someone who has worked on the subject for years. Interesting podcast from Kaiser Kuo on three topics exciting Chinese public opinion these days. Not the valuable supplementary links in the third paragraph of the short introduction at this site. Related to the preceding item. The rise of a sort of alt-right-with-Chinese-characteristics online, featuring a particular current political insult – “white-left.” Thanks to Kaiser Kuo for calling this to our attention. Chinese official media report on Rhodium Group’s study of two-way US-China investment flows in calendar 2016.


May 3-9  China’s first commercial jet takes flight. Good background on PRC history and ambitions in the global civil aviation market. A fine review of a very promising new book about China’s “Millennials.”  May be paywalled. fascinating piece on the rise, expansion, over-expansion, and decline of “China malls” in South Africa, and the growing exodus of Chinese from that nation. Veteran journalist Frank Ching on ASEAN’s turn toward accommodation with China over the past year, amid the Duterte excitement and the arrival of Trump and his impenetrable diplomacy.  When is a “think tank” something else?  Or is a “think tank with Chinese characteristics” still a “think tank” in non-Chinese parlance? See also this:  While highly discretionary “Top 50” lists, whether of restaurants, “Thought Leaders,” or other forms of notables, should always be taken with a grain of salt (or aspirin), the writeups of some of the individuals on this particular China list, while uneven, are sometimes interesting.  A brief piece by the perceptive media/digital communications analyst David Bandurski on the crystallizing shape of the cyber world under the Xi Jinping administration, and the long-term implications thereof.  The American debate over China’s “Confucius Institutes” on US campuses continues, part of a larger, longer, and deeper American discourse about the seeping dangers of malevolent Chinese influences within the United States.  This item is a relatively sober-minded contribution to the discourse. Another of BBC’s many “life on the street” pieces, this one on Beijing’s changing neighborhoods as streetside bustle gives way to glitzy malls. A marvelous summary piece on Xi Jinping’s successes and challenges, by author Richard McGregor (The Party).  So much content in so brief a space.  An interview with a documentary film-maker, a “left-behind” child in the 1990s, about his film focused on such “left-behind” children.  A reminder of the human struggles for better lives, and the sacrifices that underlie China’s entire modernization saga.  Also in the human-drama column, this is a fascinating look at the Hong Kong White Russian tale, a century after the start of the eastward flight of anti-Bolshevik Russians.   ANU’s Hugh White, who has not endeared himself to many American strategic pundits with his consistent emphasis on acknowledging and adjusting to China’s rapidly increasing significance in all global affairs, with a very interesting take on China’s “Belt and Road” initiative.   A biting critique of White’s overall approach to China’s growing world role is at  The CCP, 88-million strong, develops a four-part system of “discipline” aimed at rooting out bad apples.  The endless, throbbing Chinese scramble to plant a foot in the U.S. merges with the throbbing need a politically prominent US real estate family’s throbbing need for investment capital.  $500k gets you a U.S. green card.  More on the relevant U.S. visa program at A Shanghai for-profit private school case mirroring the broader social phenomenon of the rich and privileged growing more rich and privileged.  Caixin’s courageous editor Hu Shuli with yet another editorial call for “open government,” transparency, and the like in the interest of national development.  1937 redux?  Another human rights lawyer does a 180 in his closed trial, confesses to everything and denounces “Western constitutionalism.”  Meanwhile, the US administration turns its back on human rights advocacy in foreign policy.  A wide-ranging look, in the Associated Press tradition, at China’s much-ballyhooed “One Belt, One Road” program and the varied reactions to it in countries all along the route.



April 2017

April 12-18 A lively podcast on the Mar a Lago meeting of Presidents Xi and Trump, with Peking University’s lively and articulate Professor Zhao Daojiong and the Carnegie Endowment’s Beijing chief Paul Haenle. A tip-of-the-iceberg report on a very significant development: the chilling of the U.S. business community’s assessments of the Chinese business environment, and growing resentment at the perceived imbalance between the relatively open US investment environment and the restrictive PRC investment environment for foreign firms.  A similar report from Reuters at Once again, the NYT produces a lucid report on US business disaffection with China.   A lengthy argument in favor of significant changes in US policy and regulation of inbound investment, as the US faces a series of major issues with respect to PRC investments in the US. The complexity of the prose does justice to the complexity of the issues, but this piece is worth wading through.     Congressional Research Service update on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the body that investigates security implication of sensitive foreign investment/acquisition proposals within the US.  A Must Read in the form of a mega-book review.  Oxford’s Rana Mitter integrates seven newly published and significant books into a contemplative essay on where China is going and where Sino-American relations may, in turn, go. Aftermath of Trump decision not to name China as a “currency manipulator.” A report on a remarkable presentation by a respected Chinese scholar on Korean affairs, arguing that PRC policy toward North Korea is grievously in error.  Link to a well done Paulson Institute case study on Chinese manufacturer Hisense’s advance toward production of branded products in the U.S.  Download the English or Chinese full document from this site.  The BBC interviews the centenarian Li Rui, “China’s Red Rebel.”  A man of remarkable candor and clarity.  Only a four-minute video, for a gripping saga.  Two PRC authors discuss the impact of US export controls on the trade imbalance between the US and China, arguing that lightening those export controls would make a big tend in the imbalance.  Not a new argument, but framed in interesting ways. Cato’s Dan Pearson, long a member of the US International Trade Commission, with a valiant, lucid effort to get at what causes the U.S. current account deficit and why focusing on bilateral trade imbalances with individual nations (i.e., China) won’t do what its advocates say it will.  One of the subtler among hundreds of essays this week analyzing the “complexity” of the North Korea matter facing U.S., Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, and other policy-makers.  IMF raises its 2017 GDP growth prediction, but warns about dangers of increasing reliance on debt financing.  Worth reading, but in essence the same old warnings that we have seen for years.  The politics of 2017 a heavy influence on government pursuit of GDP stimulation.  From Caixin. The other side of the coin (see preceding item): State Council worries about increased layoffs as China tries to tackle overproduction problems.  Solution – “more fiscal and monetary policy support.”  The problem is distinctly regional.  A daunting but informative introduction to the maze of work visas and other types of visa in the PRC.  From China Radio International, a brief piece on China Construction America, a Chinese firm doing significant constructions projects in the US, and how CCA approached the challenge.


April 5-11 An unusual top item for Suggested Readings:  Starbucks commits to health insurance for elderly parents of its “partners” (i.e., staff).   Short, but a Must Read. A middle-of-the-road assessment of the Xi-Trump meeting in Florida. Another standard-issue wrapup (Post-partum?  Post mortem?) on the Florida visit.  Possible PRC concessions on banking and beef to avoid trade war with US?  Somehow, the idea of increased beef imports being “mooted” is intriguing.  A new mega-mega-mega project announced, for an entirely new large Economic Development Zone south of Beijing.  This article introduces. Great piece on the “de-globalization” of the RMB.  Expectations of permanent appreciation have been dashed.  A fascinating tale of the complexities of US-China investment within a framework of politically-decided policies. A tough but useful pre-Summit expression of concern that the US may not be able to handle the full menu of China issues that it must deal with.  Useful to think about this article after the Xi-Trump meeting. A crucial article.  Why the apparent Trump focus on bilateral merchandise trade imbalances – with China or anyone else – is way, way off the mark but a tried and true cudgel in domestic political battles.

GREAT podcast on US-China relations just before the Mar a Lago meeting. The Hong Kong Free Press, which operates outside-the-mainstream-media on a shoestring, with a lengthy portrait of the newly elected Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam.  NOTE: This URL is for Part I of three parts; the link to part II occurs in the text, and ditto for Part II to Part III.  Multi-tasking during a visit by the President of China. The Pentagon rings alarm bells over PRC investments in US tech startups.  Slightly earlier and directly relevant NYT report at  .  The bankruptcy of American builder of nuclear power plants Westinghouse, a subsidiary of Toshiba, inevitably brings China-related complications.  This report details US-Japan plans to prevent Westinghouse from falling into Chinese hands. Another Chinese acquisition of a US technology firm, subject again to CFIUS review. Another, very interesting, PRC cyber-security measure under consideration.  Nice piece on Zhang Xiangchen, China’s new ambassador to the WTO.    A thoughtful review essay on Ian Johnson’s important new book on religion in China.


March 31-April 4

A TIDAL WAVE ON THE XI-TRUMP MEETING THIS WEEK.  OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST BELOW THE LINE OF ASTERISKS  Evan Osnos, the best place to start on this vast list of pre-Xi-Trump-Meeting prognostications and speculations.  Peking University’s perceptive and articulate Prof. Zha Daojiong looks to the chemistry and the substance of the coming Xi-Trump encounter.  Very worth reading. The WSJ take on the upcoming meaning and what the Chinese side has been thinking and doing since Trump took office. Another “veteran cadre” on the US side of US-China relations, Douglas Paal of the Carnegie Endowment, on how Trump and Xi will or will not get along in Florida, with implications either way.  Chinafile compiles comments from invited observers on the upcoming Xi-Trump meeting.  Crossley entry the most idiosyncratic.  Liu Yawei, Director of the Carter Center China Program, with his take on the upcoming Xi-Trump meeting, with emphasis on what Liu calls “Five Doables” for two leaders who both need to bring something home from their meeting.  A workmanlike review of the trade and economic issues likely to be on the agenda of the looming Xi-Trump meeting, but a veteran China economist now at Brookings. Perhaps the most interesting observation comes at the end, when he ruminates on the usefulness of US restrictions on PRC investments in the US, as a tat for the PRC’s increasingly onerous tit of market access restrictions for American companies seeking to invest in and operate in China.  As the Xi-Trump meeting looms, an informed NYT commentary on Trump’s anticlimactic photo op moves on trade policy.  More to come, perhaps.    Good, broad article as prep reading for the Xi-Trump meeting in Florida.  Robert Manning of The Atlantic Council does his part on the Trump-Xi encounter.  Emphasizes the “Two Trumps” – the virulent, China-insulting one and the less flamboyant one (neither apparently deeply informed on China issues) and wonders which will prevail (both Trumps have their phalanxes of close advisors with dissonant views on China).  Yet another prognosis, this one gloomy, on the upcoming Xi-Trump affair.  By CSIS’s Brad Glosserman, who is always worth reading.  Prepunditry on a roll.  More speculation about the upcoming Xi-Trump meeting, this time from South China Morning Post.  Infrastructure as a possible “win-win”?

***********************************************************************************  The annual US Trade Representative National Trade Estimate report on Trade Barriers.  This page shows “Major Developments” – highlights – but there is a link to the full document.  As usual, China figures heavily.  The question is what will happen under a US administration that seems fixated on bilateral trade imbalances, of which the US-China imbalance is by far the largest.  Access to the “President’s Trade Agenda” for 2017, published only two months after the Inauguration and prepared by an Office of the US Trade Representative that still lacks an official bearing that title for the new Administration may be gained at this URL, by clicking on the link at the lowest line of the text. Great podcast on civil society in China.  Maybe listen when behind the wheel?  Fun on a rainy day.  A CSIS map of PRC South China Sea “Defense and Detection Capabilities.”  Turn off and turn on the various options in the upper right to see different aspects of what CSIS is depicting.  No mention of whether these radars, fighters, etc. add up to deterrence or dominance or victory in a conflict.  But again, fun to play with.  Source of information not shown.  The New York Times’s struggle to open and keep a Chinese version online in China.  As the Xi-Trump meeting nears, “reciprocity” is in the air, as many U.S. businesses feel the weight of restricted access in China while the U.S. seems to be far more open to Chinese companies’ presence. Journalism is part of that debate. A very interesting piece with ongoing implications, about a Chinese company’s intention to invest in a US money-transfer firm, and all the political and national security alarm bells this has set off.  A very inside-Washington story, in which, toward the end, it turns out that another American company wants to make the same investment.  Reminiscent, perhaps, of the politics around the CNOOC-Unocal brouhaha of a decade ago.  Beijing shuts its last coal-fired energy plant.  This interesting article looks at six decades of Beijing’s use of coal-based energy.  Global Times on the North Korea mess and what U.S. policy should do about it.  China Daily (CCP organ) with an anodyne but positive prospectus on the Xi-Trump meeting.  A Chinese think tanker evaluates Trump and ponders US Asia policy changes.  Good serious read. From CRI (China Radio International) from April 4, a very low-key mention of the upcoming Xi visit to Trump.  Far down on the home page, with nothing on the visit more prominently displayed.  Other major Chinese sites similarly silent or obscure.  US media seemingly much more engaged.  Implications?


March 2017

March 24-30  From December, 2016, but now on the eve of the Xi-Trump meeting in Florida, a diplomatic veteran’s essay on possibilities of US-China cooperation in the Trump era.  Emphasis on China’s “One Belt One Road” program and the American “New Silk Road” vision that emerged during the last Administration, but discussing other aspects of the relationship as well. An argument against US placement of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile defense systems in South Korea, and in favor of further multi-sided diplomatic efforts to deal with the North Korea problem.  China bulks large throughout.    Not standard Washington D.C. fare, and thus worthy of attention. Author John Pomfret on the upcoming Xi-Trump meeting and the absence of a coherent American policy with respect to China.  This article, published in a major Japanese news outlet, gives a sense of how serious the South China Sea situation is and will be in the future.  Another piece, in English in a respected Japanese publication, purporting to reveal a paper by PRC navy officers claiming that China has now established military dominance in the South China Sea.  That this piece is from a Japanese publication is in some ways as much of concern as the purported content of the Chinese report itself. A short and gloomy article from an Australian think tank on what is happening, has happened, and will happen in the South China Sea.   Brookings China gurus on what came out of this year’s NPC, the last big political meeting before the 19th Congress this fall. Arrest of a US State Department employee on charges of long-term cooperation with PRC agents.    What happens in world affairs when the U.S. walks away from longstanding goals and commitments.  Case in point:  Climate Change.  Country in point:  take a guess.  Journalists rightly scratch for any signs of deviance from official media in the PRC, especially in politically fraught years like this one, as the 19th Party Congress approaches.  A government think tank has, without fanfare but in full public view, published a critical view of the “reform” process since the accession of Xi Jinping. Smart people in a video forum on China-and:  and the U.S., but also and Europe.  High-flying but stimulating.  Germany’s Sebastian Heilmann’s contributions especially welcome.  As President Xi’s meeting with Trump in Florida nears, rumbles from Washington that Xi will face a tougher counterpart, perhaps especially in the trade sector.


March 17-23  A rich site for following (or reviewing after the fact) the Hong Kong Chief Executive election scheduled for March 26.  NYT on the upcoming Hong Kong CE election.  What might prove the most significant outcome of the National People’s Congress meeting:  adoption of General Principals for a Civil Code.  The Economist does a decent job of making sense of this.  A half-hour podcast on the outcomes of the recent “Two Meetings,” i.e., the annual convocations of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.  Fordham’s Carl Minzner is the invited guest.  Useful listening for laypersons and for specialists without the time to slog through the NPC topics in detail.  Part III of III in Andy Rothman’s very interesting set, “Trump, Trade and China.”  All three parts of the series can be located, and PDFs downloaded, at . Official Xinhua report on the meeting between SecState Tillerson and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.  Secstate Tillerson, in Beijing, uses familiar Chinese verbal formulae to describe US-China relations, earning (no, that isn’t fair: “generating”) the following approving analysis in Global Times.  When Beijing terms something an American has said or done as “correct,” some Americans bristle (or should bristle).  A final swipe at critical thinking before the National People’s Congress wrapped up. The battle of recent history continues:  write it up, shut it up, use it for contemporary purposes? A fascinating story from Global Times, normally a pillar of regime orthodoxy.  Climate change and the overwhelming smog problem in North China.  The photo itself is worth opening this site.  A Chinese senior official’s response to international criticisms of the PRC’s “Made in China 2025” program emphasizing local content and import-replacement in the high tech sector.  A major controversy is now in the open.  The Premier discusses recent installation of military gear on China’s South China Sea man-made islands.  A Chinese conundrum:  what will be the “banner phrase” attached to Xi Jinping?  This will either be eye-glazing or engrossing, depending on your willingness to descend into the linguistic swamp of Chinese politics.  Will visas for travel to the US become scarcer or harder to obtain?  Will progress of the last few years in speeding the clogged visa process for Chinese applicants be reversed? Not a trivial matter:  Chongqing says “no” to women-only subway cars.  The article explains the wider problem.  Portents of a first law on overseas investment, as capital has roared out of China and the government, more recently, has moved to try to regulate and constrain that outflow.


March 10-16   Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, as the elder President Bush used to say.  “Made in America,” as the latest president likes to say.  A Chinese company constructs a plant to build subway cars – lots of them – in and for Chicago. Boeing opens its first overseas “finishing” plant in Zhoushan.  Selling planes in China has long involved Chinese desires to increase the PRC’s aircraft-building skills.  Foreign sellers are understandably reluctant.  Boeing expectations of aircraft sales in China are immense – if the US-China relationship does not disintegrate.  Get ready for “airport clusters,” as China continues to build airfields over the next few years.  For one:  Beijing/Tianjin/Hebei province. The endless task, for the state, of managing supply, demand, and price in the coal and steel sector, to say nothing of dealing with related environmental challenges.  A useful look at the factors that contribute to rapid changes in policy. Non-Chinese (notably European) critical reactions to China’s vaunted “Made in China 2025” program (see additional items below) have registered on the PRCG radar screen, as this item reveals.  NYT report, one of many similar, on new European Chamber of Commerce in China Paper on the “Made in China 2025” program.  Germany’s Mercator Institute of China Studies published this extensive look at the “Made in China 2025” program in December, 2016.  Significant reading.  Michael Green, Bush Administration Asia Hand, with an interview on US-China relations in, of all places, Global Times.  Handles the usual leading questions firmly.   From mid-February, a seasoned U.S. business figure based in China weighs in against the rising pressure for straight, one-for-one, reciprocity in U.S. treatment of China, as China tightens its discriminations against foreign companies inside the PRC.  A major U.S. policy issue at stake.

A gripping report by BBC’s indomitable Carrie Gracie on the Bo Xilai-Gu Kailai affair.  If a “Suggested Readings” reader doesn’t know what that was, all the more reason to click on this amazing report.  Policy popularizer Fareed Zakaria previews the Trump-Xi meeting in Florida, arguing that Trump is laying out the red carpet for a Chinese assumption of global leadership thanks to Trumpmerica’s retreat from the world.  A lively, detailed analysis of the ZTE settlement with the USG ($1.2 billion) over the company’s violations of US export control laws, against the background of a “new sheriff in town” at the White House and the US Commerce Department – and in the runup to the Xi-Trump meeting in Florida.  Longtime foreign policy official He Yafei with a succinct, if unsurprising, analysis of the current state of China-U.S. relations in the era of Donald Trump. A pleasantly non-polemical look at the development of China’s armaments industries and the growth of China’s global arms sales, by an analyst associated with The Hudson Institute, not exactly a PRC-cheerleader think tank.  Published in a medium generally friendly to the PRC view of the world, in a nuanced way.


March 3-9  Part I of a three-part series on US-China trade.  A compact, lucid presentation of the counterarguments to the now-familiar claims that trade with China is having ruinous effects on the U.S.  Another useful article on the US-China economic relationship and decisions facing the new US Administration. A valiant effort to help the layperson wade through the Premier’s “Government Work Report” to the National People’s Congress (convening this week).  May not save all readers from exhaustion, but will help some. 100 billionaires among the members of the NPC.  And more. English texts of the Big 3 Government reports to the National People’s Congress. The annual Big News from the NPC is the economic growth target the government announces for the coming year.  This year – 6.5%, down a little from the 6.7% rate for the previous year as announced by the government.  The debate over the reliability of Chinese statistics leading to headline numbers like this is unending.  PLUS other government goals as enunciated in the Premier’s annual Government Work Report to the NPC.  US mainstream media (NYT) analysis of the state of the PRC as the NPC convenes.  The big expectations of economic reform that accompanied the current leader’s rise to power in 2012-13 are widely seen not to have materialized, at least with needed depth and breadth. A reform-by-reform look at the menu of major challenges facing the Chinese economy and what, over the past five years of Xi Jinping’s leadership, has and has not been accomplished in dealing with those challenges. A once-proud (and endlessly flogged) rhetorical formulation loses ground and fades.  (May be paywalled.)  Zhang Weiwei, now of Fudan University in Shanghai, updates his familiar arguments that the Chinese system of governance is not only sui generis but is in many ways superior to the governance systems of the Western industrialized nations, now by starting with the negative example of Trumpism and then elaborating on the classical origins of China’s current, merit-based political system.  This is as good an exposition of now-familiar views as one might find in English, and is worth reading for its virtues as well as its vices.  He closes by suggesting that the Chinese approach to governance may have applicability beyond China; this is pushback against the “universal values” assumptions of the US, which irk Chinese politicians and Party intellectuals no end. Each year, as the National People’s Congress opens, a few numbers come out that everyone fixates on.  Here is a report on the relatively modest percentage increase in the PRC military budget for the coming year.  What exactly is covered by any country’s military budget and what is military and nature but budgeted elsewhere is, of course, complicated, as Americans know well. With the coming of the NPC, petitioners from around China try to head to Beijing to submit their appeals for justice to the “Office of Letters and Petitions.”  A BBC crew tried to travel with one would-be petitioner from rural Hunan.  This is what happened, according to the BBC reporter. An utterly unscientific pool, but a nice simple graphic, purporting to show the ten “hottest topics” in popular opinion as the People’s Congress convenes.  Great piece on U.S. mayors doing the “grunt work” of building economic relations with China while the White House grouses and rants.  Local efforts not without problems, however.  Four new appointees to top economic jobs. ZTE settles a six-year case with the USG for nearly a billion dollars.  Chinese journalists affirm their patriotism.  Video released during current National People’s Congress session.


February 2017

February 24 – March 2 We are in the breathless lead-up to the 19th CCP Congress this fall.  Speculations will cluster around leadership changes.  Every major pronouncement by Xi Jinping, including this one prefatory to imminent the National People’s Congress sessions, will be scrutinized for hints about larger trends in PRC political, economic and social policy.  This item deals with the possibility of more aggressive efforts to eliminate so-called “zombie companies,” failed firms surviving on unending extensions of credit. Preps for a Xi-Trump summit?  We will see. State Councilor Yang Jiechi, China’s top America Hand, meets Secretary of State Tillerson in D.C.  A short piece on food security policy priorities.  Pertains to fishing as well as grain.      Germany’s Mercator Institute for China Studies offers an analysis of the changing political role of the National People’s Congress, which convenes for its annual session in early March, in a year that will see the important Communist Party Congress in the fall.  Download the paper from this site. A tiny flicker of a possibility of perhaps a modest acknowledgment of reality on currency manipulation.  Look for the item from Feb. 24.  Interesting discussion of the judicial handling of “cults,” a sensitive matter in Chinese society and politics. More ideological tightening at Chinese universities.  A Chinese specialist on counterterrorism with a detailed reminder to the U.S. of the inevitability and desirability of continued U.S.-China cooperation in that field, in spite of certain emanations from Washington.  Uncle Sam backs out, China waltzes in to global leadership on clean energy.  Home from his tour as Ambassador to China, Max Baucus gives a breezy but blunt interview to the Washington Post.  Very solid observations.  Big-ticket (and politically sensitive) PRC investments in Hollywood run into Beijing concerns about excessive capital outflows.


February 16-23 A Chinese-originated “term of art,” “A human community with a shared destiny,” achieves UN-usage legitimacy.  An interesting case of the evolution of global language in response to changes in the distribution of global power and influence. How issues of burning weightiness in China filter into the local political discourse in other countries, in this case Canada.  A fascinating and troubling debate.–link30-20170217&sp_mid=53447728&sp_rid=Ym9ia2FwcEBnbWFpbC5jb20S1 Though time and the rise of the Trump team (whose identities are still not fully known or have not even been established yet) have for now diminished the lustre of their “access” to supreme power, four of America’s best-placed China specialists discuss China’s future and the future of US-China relations. Avian flu reports out of China are increasing.  US CDC relevant web site is .  Economist David Autor, one of the authors of last year’s blockbuster study of the impact of China’s entry into the WTO on U.S. manufacturing employment, with a nuanced discussion of trade principles and the follies of many politically popular views of trade and trade policy, e.g. as regards China. The struggle for cutting-edge leadership in the crucial semiconductor industry. A roundtable look at how other countries will react if, as Trump has suggested, the US withdraws from the 2015 Climate Change Agreement, the key to whose creation was a pathbreaking agreement between the US and China. A related article, arguing for the EU to join China in pressing forward while the US recedes from leadership, is at A nice podcast interview with Alec Ash, author of the new Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China, about “moments” of cultural upheaval in China’s modern history and the role of young people. The “nationalist” publication Global Times calls for resumption of the Six-Party Talks on Korea, challenging the US to alter its stance on them now that China has purportedly blocked coal imports from the DPRK for the rest of 2017. A complex but fascinating look at pilot projects leading in the direction of a “social credit” system, bringing “Big Data” to bear on a big population.  If it works, this could be a major change in China’s overheated lending-and-debt situation.  If it works.  More commentary on the apparent movement toward rapprochement between Beijing and the Vatican. A lengthy and wide-ranging examination of tensions between the Chinese government and the Uighur population of the vast Xinjiang region in Central Asia, in light of recent demonstrations of military and police might there in response to a new spate of terrorist violence.  Portents of changes in Chinese maritime law with direct implications for the situation in the South China Sea. A terrific Caixin article that gets at how things “really work.”  The case in point is contamination of the pork supply with a banned substance; discovery of the abuse; administration of prosecution of the abuse; and determination of who is punished as a result. A new addition to SR.  This is an interesting very recent English-language digest of Chinese-language discussions of a number of Chinese foreign policy issues.  Probably best for readers with background on East Asian international relations issues. Hard-nosed writing on Europe’s place in a PRC-Europe-Trumpian USA triangle,  by the eloquent Francois Godement of the European Council on Foreign Relations.


February 9-15 A change of pace: a naturalists’ discovery in the Qinghai, near the Tibetan Plateau.  Something to lighten these dreary and tension-filled days. The latest update of “China-U.S. Trade Issues” from the Congressional Research Service.  The longtime author of this paper is exceptionally judicious and solidly articulate. An interesting combination: an interview with the chief editor of China’s top official English-language web site, on US-China relations, with a Japanese weekly magazine.  Tentative signs of a new U.S. Administration “strategy” on China, particularly on economic and trade issues.  The Global Business Dialogue, a one-man show founded and animated by Your Editor’s old friend R. K.  Morris, here presents a Colloquium on U.S.-China trade relations and issues.  Clickable MP3 materials on the several presentations.  An idea whose time may be nearing:  more Americans in the business sector looking favorably on some US insistence on “reciprocity” of treatment in China and the U.S.  As China fiddles with market-closing requirements for foreign firms while investing hugely in the U.S., especially in U.S. technology M&A, Americans are now very impatient for remedies. A very useful article on Chinese realities with respect to climate change and the Paris Agreement, by Melanie Hart of the Center for American Progress, who has worked on China and climate change issues for years.  Yet another assault on excessive coal and steel production, and the colossal pollution that result, rumored. Deepening mystery surrounding the disappearance from Hong Kong of a very well-connected Chinese zillionaire, Xiao Jianhua.  Most people don’t leave the Four Seasons in a wheelchair with a blanket over their heads.  Caixin on another wrinkle in the mysterious Xiao Jianhua case.  The president of Securities Daily under investigation; the paper controlled by Xiao’s conglomerate. Another official press report on the persistence not only of corruption in major Chinese cities and provinces, but, in the case of Chongqing, of the “pernicious influence” of former Chongqing Party boss Bo Xilai, now serving a life sentence after being ousted by Xi Jinping in perhaps the most spectacular internal Party struggle of recent years. Remarkable to see this account of rampant internal dysfunction within the Party, in an official media outlet. Former South China Morning Post editor Wang Xiangwei takes aim at the current obsession with “think tanks” in the PRC, noting that as their numbers blossom, so-called “think tanks” are mostly under the tight control of the Party.  Meanwhile, a well known “think tank” finds its web site shut down after its octogenarian leader posts “liberal” comments. An ongoing battle with significant wider overtones. Official Taiwan statement following announcement of Trump support for “One China Policy” in call with Xi Jinping.  A detailed, point by point critique of the recent Task Force Recommendations on US China policy published by The Asia Society, from a former naval officer whose comments about the security threat China poses to the United States have been distinctive in recent years.


February 2-8 A paper from The Asia Society, offering recommendations to the new U.S. Administration on how to conduct relations with China.  The paper was long in the making, and the list of Task Force members who declined to sign the report is noteworthy.  While this paper represents a consensus among a significant group of well known American China specialists, one might speculate that the impact of the paper might have been different if the 2016 election had turned out differently. The author of this reaction to the above Asia Society/UCSD paper voices skepticism as to its likely impact on a Trump administration, in a pungent commentary.  John Pomfret, journalist and author of a new book on the broad sweep of US engagement with China since its beginnings, with an essay that concludes by cautioning against futile attempts to isolate China on the world stage.  Must read.  James McGregor on the whole tapestry of US-China economic and commercial relations.  Should be widely read in China.  South China Morning Post on related topic:  why major foreign firms are leaving China. Fraud in the rapidly expanding PRC electric auto sector.  The never-ending battle over the “independence” of the judiciary system in China.  Contrast this article with this  . On the record comments on the certainty of war between the U.S. and China, and other topics, by the President’s top strategy advisor and newly-named member of the Principals group in the National Security Council, Steve Bannon.  A concise report on Secretary of Defense Mattis’s comments on the South China Sea issue and the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands issue, made during his trip to Korea and Japan. Jonathan Fenby, a veteran of decades of China analysis and writing, with an article on China’s new global agenda and its interaction with domestic challenges.  Caixin’s sometimes bold publisher Hu Shuli on how to defend China against Trump protectionism. Strong hints of progress between Beijing and the Vatican on a key issue of contention, the appointment of Catholic Bishops in China.


January 26 – February 1  Delightful photos of people “getting away from it all” over the Lunar New Year.  Local flavor:  Shanghai news on New Year traffic.  More fun for the holiday:  the God of Fortune welcomes tourists.  Another zillionaire disappears from Hong Kong, assumed grabbed by PRC security and taken over the border.  South China Morning Post catalogues the numerous ultra-rich Chinese who have run into a variety of difficulties. The new Defense Secretary heads for Korea and Japan, but a top topic will be China. China Daily on girding for trouble with Trump’s USA.  Two Stanford worthies quoted, among others.  Good work from Chatham House in the UK on political transitions close at hand in China and foreign policy implications. “Alternate facts” raise their ugly heads in local government reporting their economic numbers to central government number-crunchers.  An age-old problem; how does Beijing actually know how the Chinese economy is performing?–roach-2017-01?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=c9b1fb42c8-trump_plot_against_america_1_29_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-c9b1fb42c8-93720913 Economist Steven Roach with a reminder that China can play the protectionist game itself.  Reflections on the future of China’s “model” of development, in light of slowing growth and the emergency of negative side effects including festering domestic social tensions. A richly informative piece on the genesis of the new law governing Foreign NGOs.  A new “crackdown” on “cults”.  The existence of organized communities, often tied to a charismatic leader or a body of quasi-religious beliefs, is of longstanding concern to Beijing.  Earlier in Chinese history, the emergence of such movements has on occasion caused vast social upheaval and threatened established authority.  A short TV interview with Purdue Professor Yang Fenggang, who focuses on religion in China.  Informative, especially for people new to the topic.


January 2017

Jan. 19-25  Three apparent “heavyweights” – former US Ambo to China John Huntsman, former US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, and Chubb Insurance CEO Evan Greenberg, with a D.C.-style essay remind of the vital importance of Asia to the US and the vital importance of U.S. “leadership” in the region.  Implicit but very gentle rebuke of Trump approaches thus far (e.g., dumping TPP).  Another prominent “liberal” think tank” taken off the web.  Premier Li Keqiang’s upbeat message to the world about the Chinese economy (improving in every aspect) and China’s embrace of “openness” (by implicit contrast with what the U.S. is now emanating before the eyes of the world).  A rosy picture indeed.  Claude Barfield, long a pro-free-trade policy intellectual affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute, with a paper on the dangers posed by China’s internet policies and the measures the U.S. should take in response.  Again, the spectre of reciprocity with regard to cross-border investment raises its head.  TPP: The US walks, China emits pieties.  Matthew Goodman of CSIS, their top Asia economics figure, offers a non-polemical explication of what the President did by officially pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and what the implications of US withdrawal are for Asia-Pacific regional economics. In Q&A form. Implications, realized or not, of the trade policies apparently to be pursued by the new Administration.  Yan Xuetong, one of China’s most respected International Relations scholars, writes for American readers in the New York Times on why China will do well if the relationship with the United States cracks apart. A general report on China’s indications of increasing expectations of tensions, possibly including military conflict, with the U.S.  Language matters.  The PRC’s language for domestic audiences often differs from its language for foreign audiences.  Rob Schmitz of NPR takes up the familiar term “lift out of poverty” and examines it in this context. Yet another new commission, reporting directly to the Party Politburo and headed by Xi Jinping, this one with one leg in civilian affairs and the other leg in military affairs.–link35-20170120&sp_mid=53235550&sp_rid=Ym9ia2FwcEBnbWFpbC5jb20S1 A very important essay, with links to other valuable sources, on China and the world economy, most notably the US economy, in the fifteen years since WTO accession.  Very dreary, even disillusioning, reading.  Robert Daly, well-grounded even before becoming director of the Kissinger Institute at the Wilson Center in D.C., with a thoughtful essay on what Trump and his team will wind up doing about, with, and to China, and why.  Former Taiwan Premier, leader of delegation to DJT Inauguration, on Cloud 9. Australian China specialist John Fitzgerald with a blunt discussion of PRC South China Sea claims and Australia’s needed responses. A sobering, graph-laden argument that China faces a financial crisis rooted in excessive credit expansion.  The authors’ identifiers are respectable, but the magnitude of their gravitas in their fields is not clear. Jamie Horsley of the Yale Law School has been working on Chinese law and governance almost as long as the very longest-lived American legal figures in the China field and she writes beautifully.  In this piece she takes up a range of long-term reforms in Chinese governance that have been proceeding ahead even as signs of government and party retrogression on a whole range of civil liberties and other governance questions continue to proliferate.  Download the paper from this page.  An argument that China should embrace, not reject, US deployment of the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea.  The issue has become a major hot button in Sino-ROK and Sino-US relations. A quietly moving article on the psychic burdens still afflicting people who lived through the Cultural Revolution, which remains a politically taboo subject. Veteran US Asia diplomat and trade specialist Frank Lavin with ideas on how the US should – and should not – approach a new and more vigorous prosecution of a remedial trade agenda with China.


January 12-18 The full English text of President Xi Jinping’s address to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Xi’s appearance there this year is widely seen as a major marker of China’s arrival as a guiding force in the world economic order, at a time when America’s traditional position is regarded as rapidly eroding. More must-read material on the emerging US-China mess as the new US Administration takes office. GREAT piece by two “warhorses” from the US-Asia-Security-China circuit in D.C., published in a magazine more frequently nowadays associated with dark views on the future of US-China relations. The American Chamber of Commerce in China 2017 China Business Climate Survey. A major annual document. Available at this site via a simple name-and-email-address signup.  China quietly prepares for trade conflict as the emanations from the incoming US team remain dark and opaque – or, maybe, transparent. Lots of retirements at the upper end of the PLA. And demotions of mid-ranked officers to lower-level assignments as “streamlining” and reduction of PLA numbers proceeds; see    . A respected former American China official offers a few public recommendations to China’s leader on ways to turn things in a more positive direction. Good proposals, but perhaps, taking the form of a public message like this, unlikely to bear much fruit. A Hail Mary pass? Hopefully, something more positive. China could play a role in reducing tensions, rather than simply waiting to see what thunderbolts the US will next rain down upon it. Richard Bush, also at Brookings, knows the US-China-Taiwan situation extremely well; his professional bio testifies to that. Here he offers another “open letter” (see preceding item), this one to Donald Trump, offering some reality-testing on the “One China Policy.” What looms over so many of America’s best-trained and (until recently) best-position China specialists is whether the Trump team has any interest in engaging with them, let alone seeking their advice. In fact, this solid and well-constructed “One China 101” open letter will be useful to a great many readers, even if DJT never gives it a glance. For his part, the incoming President tells the Wall Street Journal that the “One China Policy,” which China has always maintained is the ultimate foundation of US-China relations, is in question, and will depend on Chinese behavior changes on the trade front. PRC 2016 exports down sharply. Worries of more to come if US-PRC trade tit for tat exchanges emerge in Trump era. Rex Tillerson, the nominee to be Secretary of State, says that China’s access to the South China Sea locations on which it has placed personnel and military assets “will not be allowed.” Hmmm. Amid the ensuing strum und drang following the Tillerson confirmation hearing comments on the South China Sea (see above), this piece brings some political nuance to the whole thing. a brief National Public Radio interview with Ambassador Max Baucus as he concludes his service in Beijing. China and Vietnam announce their agreement to “manage well” their South China Sea issues. Uneasiness in Japan and Australia as Trump and Friends portend unraveling of longstanding core elements of the Asia-Pacific security and economic order. Such ideas not discussed by Tillerson or his respondents following his confirmation hearing. An article by and for the American business community in China, on the evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility into Sustainability as a key focus multinational firms in the PRC. Time will tell whether, as storm clouds darken, these corporate commitments make a significant difference. The perennial Neocon flame-thrower John Bolton, here labeled a “top advisor” to the President-elect, with a bright new idea: put American military forces on Taiwan. We will leave his thinking to our readers who open the link. Chinese exports down sharply in 2016. Worried glances toward the future.


January 5-11, 2017  An important PRC policy document on international relations in the Asia-Pacific region.  Here we go again; tainted seafood from China in US markets. Ian Johnson’s moving review of an account of Cultural Revolution horrors in a remote Hunan county, as related by a dogged and morally driven Chinese reporter/author.  The waiting game in progress; no one knows what Trump presidency will bring to the world and the East Asian economies, including Asian CEOs.   Elder statesman and strategic thinker Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the architects of US-China normalization nearly four decades ago, on US-China relations today and tomorrow in global context.  Atlantic Council senior fellow and former State Department official Robert Manning with a blunt look at the alternatives facing US-China relations as the new US Administration steps in.  An  important essay.  McDonalds sells it China business to CITIC (52% and other investors).  A fascinating look at the developing, often vicious, battle between “public intellectuals” and their younger-generation hyper-patriotic opponents on social media.  Terrific read. Fraying tempers, or at least fraying rhetoric, re military movements in the South China Sea.  USC’s Stanley Rosen, ranking American student of the Chinese motion picture sector, on the magnate Wang Jianlin and his politically fraught investments in the U.S. entertainment world.  US high-tech giants call for US protection of American lead in semiconductor innovation and production as a national priority, in face of government-driven PRC effort to achieve semiconductor parity or superiority.


December 29, 2016 – January 4, 2017 Loyalty pledges and tough leadership talk as preparations for the 2017 Party Congress and leadership reshuffle get going. On the U.S. side, speculation that Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross might have a calming effect on China economic issues in the new Administration.  Maybe.  See USTR item below.  A bristling call for by an Australian defense figure  for American counteraction against vividly described PRC threatening activities in the South China Sea.  Somewhat breathtaking in its prescriptions. Developments — subject to wide interpretation – on the “discipline” and “anti-corruption” fronts.  The NPC approves a new system of locally-established “supervision committees” with “the same legal standing as government,” will cover “all public servants who exercise public power.” Details not available.  Advice, not terribly reassuring, on how to try to deal with the pervasive problem of contaminated foods, and explanations of why the problem is so pervasive. Related to the preceding item: dealing with pervasive online scams – by means of a law?  Growing Chinese official concern at prospects for relations with the new US Administration.  This article relates to the appointed head of the new “National Trade Council,” best known for his book and horror film, “Death by China.”  More uncertainty for foreign NGOs as the new Law on International NGOs goes into effect.  Another propaganda video on “hostile forces”’ threats to the PRC.  Draft E-Commerce Law up for public comment until late January.  This site translates key passages and offers informed comments.  McKinsey’s top China figure offers ten predictions on China for the coming year. (May require registration). As our Chinese friends endlessly ponder the conundrum of making China’s voice more widely and more sympathetically heard in the global discourse, this analysis of recent Party pronouncements on what is required of the press offers food for thought, but not encouragement.  A visit to three Chinese cities, each seeming to offer a different vision of what could happen in the Chinese economy.  The newly appointed U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, has a long history of tough views on China.  Click on the link to his 2010 testimony, found within this article.


December 2016

December 16-28  More speculation on whether Xi Jinping is preparing to ignore the informal but established practice of limiting the Party General  Secretary to two five-year terms, and of retiring top leaders when they reach the age of 67. Gordon Chang, whose “Coming Collapse of China” predicted the dissolution of the PRC within ten years (fifteen years ago), with a lilting, almost gloating article on how Team Trump is going to punish China economically, and how it doesn’t care what damage the PRC will do to US companies operating there.  Written before the Chinese sided handed back to a U.S. warship the American undersea drone that they had taken from the water as the unarmed U.S. mother ship watched, unable to stop the seizure, this article by South China Sea expert Bill Hayton falls into extended speculation about the meaning of the seizure in light of Trump’s repeated rhetorical challenges to core PRC positions.  This kind of speculation is itself a part of the danger that sudden and ill-explained actions like this provoke.  Trump to name Peter Navarro author of “Death by China,” to head a new White House Trade Council.  Implications of diminished trade negotiating role for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.  Peter Navarro, author of “Death By China” and “The Coming China Wars” appointed to head a newly-created White House “National Trade Council.”  The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos on this person’s views.  Published in October. Comment from a contributor to the conservative magazine Forbes, suggesting that Trump’s stationing of Navarro outside Congressional or Executive Branch agency influences is a step in the direction of conflict, including military conflict, with China. Another demolition of the apparent “new orthodoxy” likely to undergird U.S. attempts to re-jigger economic relations with China.  A midsummer vigorous exchange of views with Navarro (see preceding). Evan Feigenbaum, now with the Paulson Institute and previously with the State Department, has a way with words.  Here he looks ahead at the increasingly conflictual relationship between the US and China as Trump takes over in D.C.  Xinhua News Agency’s year-end take on the parlous condition of the United States and the worries that causes elsewhere.  The unfolding saga of the U.S. drone seized by PRC sailors.  A major study by a German China-focused research organization, analyzing the content and strategic goals of China’s “Made in China 2025” program, which aims at rapid increases in China’s industrial manufacturing prowess.  Has occasioned much commentary. The Rhodium Group’s study of PRC investment in the U.S.,  as presented to the so-called “China Commission,” a body set up by Congress fifteen years ago to examine the impact of Sino-American trade and economic relations upon U.S. national security. The three-page Executive Summary is an important read.  Your Editor has followed Harry Broadman’s lucid writings for years, since he was at the World Bank.  Here he prognosticates on what will happen after January 20 if the new President sets out to nail China with 45% tariffs in the name of bringing jobs back to the U.S.  What your company should do to get paid in your home country by Chinese contractual counterparties.  The government is making strenuous efforts to slow the current vast outflow of capital from China (which has significantly reduced the PRC’s foreign exchange holdings), and foreign companies risk not getting paid for the products or services (a hoary problem, now intensified).  This item is perhaps advertising by the author’s law firm, and other firms may well have provided similar guidance to clients, but the content itself merits its inclusion here.  Hyperlinks to four earlier parts of this series.

The Atlantic’s James Fallows is conducting an ongoing, running series of observations, and responses to reader comments, about the portents for US-China relations in the Trump presidency. Social reactions to the horrific smog smothering most of North China for a week or more. A former WaPo China journalist, now at HK University, raises the idea that it’s time to treat China like “any other nation,” and drop the craven hyper-considerateness that, he argues, has characterized American kid-gloves treatment of Chinese sensitivities ever since Nixon.  Call it realism, call it accommodation to the new flavor in Washington, call it whatever; it pays no attention to Chinese reactions.  The extent of the December smog disaster.  The gnarled and none-too-friendly veteran Pekingologist William Lam on the appearance of personal factions at the top of the leadership pyramid.  A middle class furor over the light treatment of police involved in the death of a credentialed middle-class professional. (Note: Your Editor is well aware of the issues surrounding the treatment of police killings of unarmed suspects in the U.S.)


December 9-15  Worth remembering:  when the U.S. and China do work together on the really big issues, progress is possible.  The big Paris climate change agreement the case in point.  Julie Makinen of the L.A. Times elaborates usefully on the point made in the preceding item. CFR’s Elizabeth Economy on three big questions to focus on looking ahead from the Paris conference.  Veteran UK journalist and international trade specialist Guy de Jonquieres writes on “One Belt/One Road,” suggesting that early rhetoric may outstrip actualities. A typical, but nevertheless informative, piece, on a U.S. Naval Institute web site, essentially reporting on remarks made by a member of a D.C. “think tank” very heavily committed to Taiwan, on upcoming U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and the likely very negative reaction from the PRC. Unspecified changes coming (at last) in China’s famous “hukou” system of population registration.  If real change is finally afoot, this is big news. An official news article on, among other things, changes in the hukou system. A mammoth SOE merger in the shipping sector gets State Council approval. The trial of renowned Chinese lawyer and defender of dissidents Pu Zhiqiang, on charges of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” etc., nears.  Authorities ring in the threat of “Western Values” and pledge to be resolute in resisting such pressure. More on the Pu trial. Beijing’s air pollution “Red Alert” the first of its kind, but only applied to Beijing.  Across Hebei and North China, the air often worse, and the complexity of the challenge more evident. A fine article about four young Chinese mathematicians, their friendship and achievements in higher math, and their experiences in four of the best American universities.  Thanks to Charles Horner for the reference. The percentage of criminal cases that end in acquittal in China is vanishingly small.  One provincial High Court set out to find out why.  This article offers insights into the working of the Chinese judicial system and the processes leading to such a high percentage of “guilty” verdicts.  A related discussion of the systemic problems leading to wrongful convictions is at . Tough talk from a Danish specialist on China’s persistent vagueness with regard to the South China Sea. One scholar’s cautionary notes regarding the real-world prospects for the vaunted One Belt-One Road and Maritime Silk Road programs initiated by Beijing.  Many unruly nations to be dealt with, for one thing.  A big story. Alibaba buys the South China Morning Post (HK).  An interview with a top Alibaba executive on his company’s acquisition of the South China Morning Post and the future of that paper.  Amid widespread concerns that purchase of the SCMP by a PRC-based company will lead to new limitations on HK journalistic latitude, especially with respect to coverage of China itself. The very interesting denouement to a case that infuriated the media and public opinion in China: the U.S. government’s blocking of a PRC company’s Oregon wind farm investment on national security grounds, and the battle that followed in the U.S. courts when the company challenged the USG’s actions.  A confidential settlement has recently been reached, but the details, such as are available, make for fascinating reading.  The trial of renowned rights-defense lawyer Pu Zhiqiang on catch-all charges has been held, in a three-hour space, after 19 months of detention.  Scuffles outside the court building.  Verdict yet to be announced, as of this article, a.m. Dec. 14.  The WTO’s Information Technology Agreement is under review, with considerable progress in liberalizing trade in advanced technology products the goal.  John Neuffer heads the Semiconductor Industry Association, and contributed this blog piece on China’s role in the negotiations thus far.  The latest updating of Congressional Research Service’s regular report to Congress, “China-U.S. Trade Issues,” by CRS veteran analyst Wayne Morrison.  Always worth digesting.  A Paulson Institute economist laments the failure to materialize of a number of fundamental economic reforms since issuance of the 60-point Reform blueprint two years ago, and worries that delays rooted in short-term concerns may make long-term problems more intractable.  The write-up of a large conference organized by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (yes, there is ANOTHER CSIS) on a wide variety of topics of interest to contemporary China watchers.  Reads well.

December 1-9  Lest we forget:  December 11 is at hand, and nations must decide whether to grant China “Market Economy Status” in the WTO as of that date.  U.S. likely not to do so.  Could get very difficult all around.  The Rhodium Group has achieved pride of place in the field of measurement and analysis of PRC investments in the U.S.  This Rhodium Group report was prepared for the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a body established in 2000 by the US Congress that has consistently focused on the dangers and threats to the United States posed by China’s growing strength.  David Dollar, of Brookings, on “responsible hardball” with respect to asymmetries in Chinese market openness to foreign investment.  Suggests American restrictions on acquisitions by Chinese state owned enterprises.  This is emerging as a major issue.  Francesco Sisci, Italian and long based in Beijing, with some very interesting cogitations about the future of China, the future of the Catholic Church with and in China, and the future of the “outside world’s” response to China. How things happen in Washington.  The back story behind the Trump-Tsai Ing-wen call. Jeffrey Bader, top Asia hand in the Obama White House for many years, comments on the Trump phone call and the rupturing of long-established procedural precedents.  Recommendations for closer consultation with long-serving government experts, however, are likely to be ridiculed by the new team. A blunt interview with leading Chinese international relations scholar Shen Dingli of Fudan University  Must read, again, from Evan Osnos.  On the implications of the Trump-Tsai Ing-wen call,  Familiar faces from the GWB Asia policy shop weigh in with approval of Trump’s Tsai Ing-wen telcon, and argue for a reformulation of “triangular” relations among the US, Taiwan and the PRC. Another GWB top Asia hand, Michael Green, weighs in, noting the Reagan precedent of his NSC chief pushing a Taiwan agenda before his Secretary of State was in place, and what happened to both within a year and a half.  Everyone in the new pundit elite agrees that Taiwan should be given greater respect and support, wherever the China chips might fall.  Some (preceding item) are more in the Victors mood, while others (this item) are somewhat less certain about everything. WaPo on “Trump Team’s” information on the planning and execution of the controversial phone call between Trump and Tsai.  A pre-election article by two of Trump’s Asia advisors (including Peter Navarro, famed for his book and movie “Death By China”) on Trump’s “Peace Through Strength” “vision” for Asia policy. Another pre-election piece by Navarro, demanding that the US not “dump” Taiwan and calling for heavy expansion of US military involvement with Taiwan.  Complete with a link to his latest book on the China threat. A very interesting article on “twinning,” the pairing of Chinese sub-national administrative entities (mainly, provinces) with individual African nations for economic development purposes. Another high-tech acquisition raises hackles with the Usual Suspects in Congress, just after President Obama intervenes to block a Chinese acquisition of a German technology company whose products are used by U.S. defense manufacturers.–link26-20161209&sp_mid=52957832&sp_rid=Ym9ia2FwcEBnbWFpbC5jb20S1  Politically incorrect (nowadays) observations from a Council on Foreign Relations expert on who is guiltier of “currency manipulation” –  Beijing or Taipei.  Trump nominates Iowa Governor Terry Branstad to be US Ambassador to China.  Includes a brief video backgrounder. This exchange of views, evolving over a period of days, on whether Facebook should proceed to enter China by offering Chinese net authorities a tailor-made “censorship” technology has evoked some very thoughtful and farther-reaching contributions.  A new study by the Citizen Lab in Toronto details the extent to which PRC censorship and internet surveillance extends to WeChat users outside of China.  Very technical.  A reader-friendly writeup of this is at  If you buy a car for more than $190,000 in China, you’re going to pay more tax.  Ostentatious consumption – a global phenomenon or a peculiarly Chinese moment-in-time?  Given recent developments in the U.S., Your Editor is inclined toward the former view.

November 25 – Nov. 30  An astonishingly bizarre headline, and story, to open this week’s SR. The Scramble For Punditry rolls on.  This is Prof. Minxin Pei’s “Three Scenarios” approach to what US-China relations will be like under a Trump presidency.  Nothing terribly new here, but, as always with Pei, nicely expressed.  Something is clearly afoot between the Vatican and Beijing, but how the two overcome fundamental issues of sovereignty and the accumulated bitterness accumulated over six decades of non-recognition remains to be seen, and worries some interested observers within the Church. Faced with rising capital outflows and related drop in RMB value, PRC Government announces new restrictions on outbound FDI, especially big-ticket deals. An speaking of rolling-back, here is a useful article on the problem of “zombie industries” in China.  And speaking of zombie industries, here are visually stunning photos of a steel-making plant in Inner Mongolia – which happens to be illegal. Important personal observations by Mark Cohen, one of the best-informed U.S. analysts of intellectual property issues with China, on the IP-related outcomes of the just-concluded meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, the final meeting of this venerable bilateral government-to-government consultative body during the Obama Administration.  The official US Government “Fact Sheet” issued at the conclusion of the JCCT meetings Nov. 23.  See preceding item. A straightforward expression of oft-told points.  Why, if the US walks away from major trade agreements, throws very high import taxes on imports from China and Mexico, and somehow punishes China for alleged “currency manipulation,” those who have suffered from industrial contraction in the US are not going to wind up with bankable gains.  The bigger question, for the US and China and ALL industrialized countries, remains:  what is to be done when, because of technological change and specifically automation, a country no longer needs its own citizens for productive labor? A vast state-owned Chinese bank and its lease in New York’s Trump Tower: controversy looms.  A brief essay on the significance of a recent PRC abstention in a UN vote relating to the elimination of nuclear weapons. A debate over whether Facebook, which has come up with a way of censoring messages that China might like, should “do what it takes” to get moving in China.  The first, unofficial, English translation of the just-issued Handbook for Foreign Non-governmental Organizations’ Registration of Representative Offices and Filing of Temporary Activities, laying out the procedures that foreign-funded NGOs with representative offices in China must now follow.  An early report on new moves by the Beijing government to try to slow, by imposing all sorts of report-and-review requirements on pending outbound movements of RMB, the flood of RMB leaving the country and driving the currency down.  Later reporting on the same issue. With no decisive policy decision facing them since the Permanent Normal Trade Relations vote in Congress a decade and a half ago, US multinationals have lacked a rallying point, and in the interim China’s treatment of many such firms has darkened.  But, this piece suggests, if Trump prepares to wreck US-China trade and other relations, he will face a fight from the multinational community.  Let’s hope so.

November 25 – 30  An astonishingly bizarre headline, and story, to open this week’s SR. The Scramble For Punditry rolls on.  This is Prof. Minxin Pei’s “Three Scenarios” approach to what US-China relations will be like under a Trump presidency.  Nothing terribly new here, but, as always with Pei, nicely expressed.  Something is clearly afoot between the Vatican and Beijing, but how the two overcome fundamental issues of sovereignty and the accumulated bitterness accumulated over six decades of non-recognition remains to be seen, and worries some interested observers within the Church. Faced with rising capital outflows and related drop in RMB value, PRC Government announces new restrictions on outbound FDI, especially big-ticket deals. An speaking of rolling-back, here is a useful article on the problem of “zombie industries” in China.  And speaking of zombie industries, here are visually stunning photos of a steel-making plant in Inner Mongolia – which happens to be illegal. Important personal observations by Mark Cohen, one of the best-informed U.S. analysts of intellectual property issues with China, on the IP-related outcomes of the just-concluded meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, the final meeting of this venerable bilateral government-to-government consultative body during the Obama Administration.  The official US Government “Fact Sheet” issued at the conclusion of the JCCT meetings Nov. 23.  See preceding item. A straightforward expression of oft-told points.  Why, if the US walks away from major trade agreements, throws very high import taxes on imports from China and Mexico, and somehow punishes China for alleged “currency manipulation,” those who have suffered from industrial contraction in the US are not going to wind up with bankable gains.  The bigger question, for the US and China and ALL industrialized countries, remains:  what is to be done when, because of technological change and specifically automation, a country no longer needs its own citizens for productive labor? A vast state-owned Chinese bank and its lease in New York’s Trump Tower: controversy looms.  A brief essay on the significance of a recent PRC abstention in a UN vote relating to the elimination of nuclear weapons. A debate over whether Facebook, which has come up with a way of censoring messages that China might like, should “do what it takes” to get moving in China.  The first, unofficial, English translation of the just-issued Handbook for Foreign Non-governmental Organizations’ Registration of Representative Offices and Filing of Temporary Activities, laying out the procedures that foreign-funded NGOs with representative offices in China must now follow.  An early report on new moves by the Beijing government to try to slow, by imposing all sorts of report-and-review requirements on pending outbound movements of RMB, the flood of RMB leaving the country and driving the currency down. With no decisive policy decision facing them since the Permanent Normal Trade Relations vote in Congress a decade and a half ago, US multinationals have lacked a rallying point, and in the interim China’s treatment of many such firms has darkened.  But, this piece suggests, if Trump prepares to wreck US-China trade and other relations, he will face a fight from the multinational community.  Let’s hope so.

November 16-24 A Must Read. A good NYT piece stating, why the US needs to think twice before launching measures that would escalate to “trade war” with China. Details on what could happen. One of many thoughtful essays in recent days on the implications for US-China relations of the Trump victory. As Professor Aaronson says, “The lectured has become the lecturer,” i.e., China, after having been the target of U.S. lecturing for decades, now urges the US to remain committed to international cooperation. The short-sighted folly of the American strangulation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and what comes next for trade relations across the Asia-Pacific region (with the U.S. on the outside, looking in). Renmin University’s international relations scholar Shi Yinhong, whose observations are usually distinguished by their pungency, does not disappoint with this essay on the Trump election and the profound changes in global assumptions that Trump’s victory both reflects and will cause. A long and very serious Economist article (not paywalled, we believe) on the subject of Han Chinese identity and its implication for all manner of Chinese policies domestic and international. The nexus of ethnicity and nationality, at home and worldwide. May annoy some. The Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade convenes in Washington, with the landscape shifting under its feet. The Economist on prospects for leadership reshuffling at the fall 2017 19th Party Congress (may be paywalled). As Trump nails the TPP coffin, the world is in a mini-frenzy of anticipation that China will become the world’s leading “free trade” advocate. Global Times likes the idea, but suggests that China may not be quite ready. China at APEC Lima embraces long-term APEC goal of Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) Xi Jinping visits three Latin American countries around the Lima APEC Leaders’ Meeting, and GT celebrates China’s growing involvement in Latin American economies. Spectacular results of high speed rail extensions: Shanghai and lower Yangtze cities to Kunming, formerly 35 hours, from January 2017 about ten hours.

November 9-15  James Fallows, admired for his eloquence and perspicacity on China, writes a darker article on what has happened with China in the past few years, and what this portends for the relationship with the United States.  Your Editor’s early thoughts on US-China relations as the Trump presidency begins. Rhodium Group, known for its continual reportage on PRC investment in the US, with a new study of that PLUS US investment in China since the beginning of modern US-China relations.  Finds much larger volume of FDI in both directions than hitherto assumed.  A very helpful one-site catalogue of initial writings on the Trump presidency as regards China, effective mid-day November 11.  The ever-lucid Keith Bradsher of the NYT explores the realities of US-China trade relations and the complexities for the US that a “trade war,” for example set off by the 45% tariff on Chinese imports that candidate Trump pledged to impose, would bring.  An unfolding set of views, mainly from Americans in the China field, about what the incoming Trump Administration ought to do with regard to U.S. relations with China. In the aftermath of the US election, every expert on China and Sino-US relations must have his/her say, lest the pack leave him/her out.  The result, in the early days after the election, is a flood of largely platitudinous and duplicative prognostications.  Some are a bit more distinctive than others, however, and this one, by the veteran British writer and China guru Jonathan Fenby, is one.  Two of Trump’s apparent Asia-focused adherents on what’s ahead for U.S. Asia policy under Trump.  One of the two above-named advisors, writing about future US policy regarding Taiwan, published last summer. Some “adult supervision” recommendations for the new president with respect to Asia. Details on provincial leadership “shuffles” in recent weeks, as part of the leadup to the 19th Party Congress next fall. Early Chinese reactions to Trump victory.  No one knows what impends.  The two-character term that launched the furious controversy over Hong Kong’s newly-elected Legislative Council members’ oath of office and occasioned Beijing’s celestial response.  Initial thoughts from four Chinese academic specialists on the implications of the Trump victory.  Global Times reports on reactions to Trump victory at Marrakech climate change conference.  Trump earlier declared climate change a fiction foisted on the world by China.  China’s response to urgent problems of pollution and climate change, described with cautious optimism by a Chinese scholar. The presidency of Interpol goes, for four years, to a vice minister of public security from China. An unsentimental view of the Trump election’s potential effects on East and Southeast Asia, by an experienced Singaporean. Opinion piece:  China wins if trade war ensues with US per Trump campaign threats. An essay, published last July, by Michael Schuman on the current authorities’ choice of historical narrative for China, and on an alternative narrative, not chosen, that would have created a very different official Chinese perspective on the world.  Next in line, apparently, for “tightening” – for-profit schools educating Chinese students whose parents can afford the fees in order to save the youngsters from the negatives of the government education system.  New requirements for ideological curriculum content, etc.

November 3-9  This will be our only item added on November 9.  More in coming weeks.

*************************************************************************************  China has its first cybersecurity law.  Global Times praises.  Smog smothers China on November 4, covering more than 1/10 of China’s entire territory.  A strongly worded  People’s Daily article on U.S.-China competition in space science, taking detailed note of American voices expressing fear of China’s growing prowess and criticizing Congressional prohibitions on any kind of U.S.-China cooperation in space.  “America has only itself to blame.”  Thought-provoking. Caixin’s very interesting report on the vicious smog situation over many days in early November. Major news on Hong Kong.  The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in Beijing has “interpreted” an article in the Hong Kong Basic Law and ruled that two figures newly elected to the HK Legislative Council, each of whom make conspicuous and politically-inflected revisions in the Oath of Office that they took at their swearing-in ceremonies, were barred from taking office or from a second swearing-in.  Far-reaching implications.  Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post report on the same action by Beijing.  The new cybersecurity law passes.  Don’t bother to argue.  Out goes the finance minister. Informed Western observers don’t think it’s another nail in reform’s coffin. Another Congressional demand that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States block a Chinese corporate acquisition in the U.S., this time in the aluminum sector.  Major Democrats, including the putative new Democratic Senate Leader, write to the Treasury Secretary.  October exports – and imports – drop sharply.  A podcast with Evan Medeiros, who served as the top Asia figure at the National Security Council for much of President Obama’s second term, on the Obama “legacy” vis a vis China.  Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, sets his sights on major investments in the U.S. film sector.  A major Chinese investment in manufacturing in the U.S.  China and Russia announce plans to cooperate on production of a large wide-body airliner to compete with Airbus and Boeing.  Wanda’s march into the U.S. entertainment sector continues, with the purchase of Dick Clark Productions (Golden Globes, other “pageants”).   A detailed NYT report on Wanda’s chief, Wang Jianlin, is at .  The recent Party Central Committee Plenum was, apparently, all about intra-Party matters, including issues of ideological commitment, personal probity, and maintenance of discipline through the ranks of the huge organization.  This South China Morning Post story discusses some of the outcomes.  Reports of an impending agreement between the Vatican and PRC authorities on the endlessly contentious matter of ordination of bishops provokes virulent criticism from certain Catholic quarters and certain human rights quarters.  A fascinating look.  Signs of a new level of Beijing direct involvement in HK governance, via a looming “Interpretation” by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, after two newly-elected members of the HK Legislative Council modified their oaths of office in a manner offensive to the PRC and were denied their seats in the Council.  Hong Kong Lawyers march to protest NPC Standing Committee order (see preceding item).  From last September, a Chinese scholar’s reflections on why China is not ready to “lead” in global affairs. Nice piece by Isaac Stone Fish on how Chinese political elites may be expected to view Clinton and Trump.  Economist Tom Orlik strings together familiar uncertainties about China’s over-leveraged economy and the challenges that will face the next U.S. president.  Pure “What if….”  Who is said to be who in candidate Clinton’s advisory team on Asia (this item written before the U.S. polls close, Nov. 8).

October 26-Nov. 2 Big upturn in PRC manufacturing in October.  China’s new cybersecurity law about to be finalized.  Details.  South China Morning Post puts the question:  Now that Xi Jinping carries the crucial (informal) title “Core,” (bestowed on him at last week’s Central Committee Plenum), will he turn out to be an effective economic reformer or not?  A Xinhua website with numerous short items on the just-concluded Sixth Plenum of the 18th Chinese Communist Party Central Committee.  Journalist and author James Mann, who has been thinking about China for decades, with his latest blast at self-deluded Americans (business, presidents, etc.) of the 1990s who imagine China moving naturally in liberalizing directions, only to find now that China has moved in the opposite direction. The end of automatic big receipts for just any American film in China. An American Air Force Academy instructor on how China conducts multi-dimensional strategic operations, why the “simple” application of military technology to challenges does not and will not succeed, and what the U.S. needs to do to meet China’s multi-faceted challenges.  A Council on Foreign Relations podcast interview with Alec Ash, author of a new book focused on six very young and very varied Chinese millennials – their lives, their aspirations, their ideas.  The principal outcome of the Sixth Plenary Session of the Eighteenth Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, at least as far as public information is concerned, is the anointing of General Secretary Xi Jinping with the hallowed code-word “core,” as in “core leadership.”  Here is the ever-faithful Global Times’s celebration of that development.  Chris Buckley of the New York Times reports on the same Party Plenum “core” outcome.  Atlantic Council’s Robert Manning on China’s expanding fishing operations as a key driver of Chinese behavior in the South China Sea.  The Economist on a re-ignited struggle over “historical nihililsm,” obscure-sounding but very, very important. (May be paywalled.)  Forward movement between the Vatican and Beijing now imminent, it seems.  A Chinese scholar’s broad interpretation of past and present Chinese policy on nuclear nonproliferation, generally positive in tone but cognizant of some of the challenges facing the implementation of non-proliferation laws and regulations.  Buzz on the next mayor of Beijing. Another “Heat the boiling oil” dispute erupts after Microsoft develops a special joint-venture version of its operating system for Chinese government use. “Chinese companies will never be able to master the core technology needed to develop an operating system under a partnership with Microsoft,” argues an academic. Amazon Prime comes to China.  Think of it.  Global deliveries in 5 to 9 days.  For the specialist, a detailed look at the PRC’s processes of demobilizing soldiers and officers, as it begins to demobilize 300,000 from the PLA.  The Economist reports that the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank is really acting like a normal bank, not some sort of Chinese octopus tentacle.  Last but not least.  David Barboza’s gigantic report on Glaxo SmithKline’s vast misconduct in a Chinese market environment that encouraged exactly that, and what happened when China’s political authorities suddenly decided that enough was enough – for China and for SmithKline.

October 19 – 25  Global Times, which never strays from political acceptability, reports that since 2013 more than one million officials at all levels have been “investigated for graft.” And more.  A US Naval War College faculty member discusses China’s step by step program of space exploration, including plans for its orbiting Space Station, its unmanned and future moon landings, and its longer term goals in space.  Hong Kong bears extremely serious watching nowadays, as this ominous article suggests.  Pekingology by veteran journalist/analyst Francesco Sisci.  Importance of this fall’s Party Plenum leading to next fall’s Party Congress. The president of the Philippines makes a powerfully ingratiating visit to Beijing.  “I am Chinese….” The apparent death of a serious and productive “intellectual” web site.  What’s next on the anti-corruption front.  The game goes on in the South China Sea, with this latest U.S. Navy sail-by in waters claimed by China.  As the Philippine leader cuts ties with the U.S. and reaps financial largesse from Beijing, a “solution” to the original Sino-Philippine dispute over Scarborough Reef emerges – China might “allow’ Philippine fishermen to operate in the waters originally claimed by the Philippines themselves.  The implications of “Big Data,” not only for China but for everyone.  China the focus here. A cheap, garden-variety fraud aimed at wealthy Chinese, devised by two persons of Chinese descent in California, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Each side plays “You are too ignorant of real conditions in the other country; give me your money and I’ll navigate for you, and make you rich.” In this case, as well, abuse of the EB-5 visa program under which investors bringing $500,000 to the US are eligible for green cards. First in an interesting multi-part Washington Post series on the Chinese high-tech economy.  The South China Morning Post examines Hillary Clinton’s long track record with, and on, China.  WSJ China bureau chief Andrew Browne on Duterte’s sudden romance with Beijing and what it may not bring for China.  Part III in a series on negotiating with Chinese opposite numbers.  Part I at  and Part II at  All three are essentially paraphrases of Lucien Pye’s Chinese Commercial Negotiating Style, published many decades ago.  Author neutral as to whether Pye’s interesting observations obtain today.  With a key leadership-planning Central Committee meeting this week, much speculation about the makeup of the top leadership team to be confirmed at the Party Congress in September 2017.  Endless rumors about whether Xi Jinping will shake up the established succession and transition patterns, to the further heightening of his own position.  A very thoughtful presentation by Peter Mattis, who thinks broadly and often subtly about contemporary China.  Economist David Dollar, formerly with the World Bank and now with Brookings, on U.S. trade policy toward China in the next Administration, and the implications of rising American protectionism.  A pretty good look at the perils posed by China’s roaring real-estate markets (if it looks like a bubble, walks like a bubble, talks like a bubble….), but tepid and generalized thoughts on what to do about it.  Speculations, in an open-ended discussion, on the implications of Philippine President Duterte’s abrupt “recalibration” away from the U.S. and in Beijing’s direction, in particular what this will mean for the entire U.S. program of shoring up “balancing” relationships with other Asia-Pacific nations in order to meet the challenge of expanding PRC economic and military prowess.  “Introduction of overseas curriculum at international schools” in Shanghai to be regulated.  Related article on Chinese students seeking to attend such schools at  .

October 7-13  Five leading U.S. specialists on modern and contemporary China ponder the PRC’s future.  Each item contains a link to the full online text of the article.  The compilation is uneven, with some authors re-packaging arguments or rhetorical techniques used before, but the presence of all five scholars in a single publication is testimony to the darkening of U.S. China specialists’ perspectives on China’s future over the past few years.  China’s leader asserts in vigorous tones the centrality of Party leadership in state-owned enterprises.  Contrasts with what SOEs have been learning from “Western companies” over past decades, which, according to current interpretations, pushed the CCP to the sidelines.  Globally, the debate over how SOEs are to be treated will stiffen with statements like this, however unsurprising this one might, in fact, be.  The harshest sentence yet imposed in an anti-corruption case.  A model of brevity, this article reflects on the gaping “hole in the pivot” emerging from Philippine President Duterte’s abrupt dismissal of the United States and move toward accommodation with China over the contested Scarborough Reef, and on the implications of the likely U.S. rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the U.S. itself engineered.  The beginnings of a new, and perhaps manufactured, controversy in U.S.-China relations, as an Inside the Beltway consultant proclaims national peril over the potential purchase of a U.S. film studio by a Chinese entertainment mogul.  A European writer, in Global Times, points to apparent collapse of TPP as proof of U.S. global decline. A NY Times editor of Chinese ancestry faces naked racism on Manhattan’s wealthy Upper East Side.  Reader Comments merit equal attention.  On her country’s national holiday, Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen calls on the PRC for talks based on recognition of the existence of the Republic of China and its democratic form of political life.  Adverse mainland reaction to Tsai’s speech reported at  .  Familiar faces from the China Wars in Congress demand a review of the scope of authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), established to review pending foreign investments on national security grounds.  Important forward implications.  A critical article on one of the chief economic advisors to one of the U.S. presidential candidates, a person whose fame arises from his book and film, “Death by China.”  The authorities strike at Caixin for unexplained reasons.  A rare punishment for Caixin, which usually skates along the edge of trouble without provoking government sanctions.  On Russia-China alignment with respect to the South China Sea, despite lack of alignment on other issues.  As U.S. Government Accountability Office report on the experiences of twelve American institutions of higher education that have established degree-granting programs in China with Chinese counterparts.  A useful investigation of significant challenges, as this phenomenon continues to grow.  The government’s announced plan to reduce PLA numbers by 300,000 raises sensitive issues, as illustrated by this report from Beijing.  Pandemonium at opening of the new Legislative Council in HK. New developments in the struggle to unwind gigantic corporate debt. A wonderful and moving piece about a young Chinese woman from the humblest of backgrounds and her journey into the real of artistic creation.

October 7-13  Five leading U.S. specialists on modern and contemporary China ponder the PRC’s future.  Each item contains a link to the full online text of the article.  The compilation is uneven, with some authors re-packaging arguments or rhetorical techniques used before, but the presence of all five scholars in a single publication is testimony to the darkening of U.S. China specialists’ perspectives on China’s future over the past few years.  China’s leader asserts in vigorous tones the centrality of Party leadership in state-owned enterprises.  Contrasts with what SOEs have been learning from “Western companies” over past decades, which, according to current interpretations, pushed the CCP to the sidelines.  Globally, the debate over how SOEs are to be treated will stiffen with statements like this, however unsurprising this one might, in fact, be.  The harshest sentence yet imposed in an anti-corruption case.  A model of brevity, this article reflects on the gaping “hole in the pivot” emerging from Philippine President Duterte’s abrupt dismissal of the United States and move toward accommodation with China over the contested Scarborough Reef, and on the implications of the likely U.S. rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the U.S. itself engineered.  The beginnings of a new, and perhaps manufactured, controversy in U.S.-China relations, as an Inside the Beltway consultant proclaims national peril over the potential purchase of a U.S. film studio by a Chinese entertainment mogul.  A European writer, in Global Times, points to apparent collapse of TPP as proof of U.S. global decline. A NY Times editor of Chinese ancestry faces naked racism on Manhattan’s wealthy Upper East Side.  Reader Comments merit equal attention.  On her country’s national holiday, Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen calls on the PRC for talks based on recognition of the existence of the Republic of China and its democratic form of political life.  Adverse mainland reaction to Tsai’s speech reported at  .  Familiar faces from the China Wars in Congress demand a review of the scope of authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), established to review pending foreign investments on national security grounds.  Important forward implications.  A critical article on one of the chief economic advisors to one of the U.S. presidential candidates, a person whose fame arises from his book and film, “Death by China.”  The authorities strike at Caixin for unexplained reasons.  A rare punishment for Caixin, which usually skates along the edge of trouble without provoking government sanctions.  On Russia-China alignment with respect to the South China Sea, despite lack of alignment on other issues.  As U.S. Government Accountability Office report on the experiences of twelve American institutions of higher education that have established degree-granting programs in China with Chinese counterparts.  A useful investigation of significant challenges, as this phenomenon continues to grow.  The government’s announced plan to reduce PLA numbers by 300,000 raises sensitive issues, as illustrated by this report from Beijing.  Pandemonium at opening of the new Legislative Council in HK. New developments in the struggle to unwind gigantic corporate debt. A wonderful and moving piece about a young Chinese woman from the humblest of backgrounds and her journey into the real of artistic creation.

September 30 – October 6 An essay on the CCP’s perceived “return to its Chinese cultural roots.” A very fine piece on U.S.-China relations by Cheng Li of Brookings.  A one-of-a-kind review article on the fascinating labyrinth of cross-cultural translation, in this case the turning of the great 18th century tale usually known as “The Dream of the Red Chamber” into a contemporary English-language opera.  Senate testimony on SCS by former Pacom Commander Adm. Dennis Blair and former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Kurt Campbell.  The hearing came shortly after the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling on the Philippine complaint over Chinese activities in the South China Sea. A complex and multi-flavored piece about vigorous online pushback against online “nationalism.”  With numerous hyperlinks to sources.  The 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is a year away, but rumors of politicking over leadership posts for the following five years are already rife.  Rumors of a possible departure from established succession politics, which would call for selection of a successor to General Secretary Xi by the fall of 2017.  Sudden turmoil in U.S.-Philippine relations; implications for U.S.-China.  The latest Pew public opinion poll in China, including views of the U.S. More jitters about soaring housing prices: a re-run of last year’s stock exchange?

September 16-29  A well known and respected former Australian Ambassador to China warns of increasing PRC/CCP interference in Australian internal affairs, through the channel of Australians of Chinese descent.  The U.S. is not Australia, to be sure, but the issues here lurk elsewhere and could be profoundly incendiary if they were to pop up in the U.S.  Those who remember the late 1990s in the U.S. will understand this implicitly.  NYT writeup of the big story regarding the snaring of 45 members of a single province’s delegation to the National People’s Congress on corruption and vote-buying charges.  Soaring prices for housing in major cities; Americans may remember their version. An important essay by Wang Jisi, perhaps the most highly regarded Chinese specialist on the US and Sino-American relations.  A Chatham House (UK) paper on prospects for US China policy following the 2016 election.  From May, 2016, before the Republican and Democratic nominees were named. A very bleak podcast interview with Stein Ringen, Norwegian scholar and author of the new “The Perfect Dictatorship:  China In the 21st Century,”  Nothing terribly new here (podcasts are usually summary versions of other work, and this one is no exception), but the presentation is eloquent.  Very worth a half hour’s listening.  This will not endear him to the Chinese leadership.  A moving and brilliantly illustrated report by NPR’s Anthony Kuhn on a minority village in southwest Sichuan and what the village children have to go through to get to school and seek a humble education.   The bumpy road toward development of the charitable-giving sector in China.  Occasioned by a long Chinese-language article in Caixin (hyperlinked) , about one particular philanthropist’s questionable activities. This article represents an intriguing confluence of Caixin with Sixth Tone, a stimulating, sometimes moderately muckraking online publication under the aegis of the Shanghai CCP Committee. Statistics on China’s Top 100 philanthropists, from the Ash Center on Governance at Harvard’s Kennedy School.  This site features ingenious and innovative graphics.  The Gift That Keeps On Giving:  JP Morgan’s program of hiring offspring of Chinese leaders to increase business opportunities. A fascinating case study of the difficulty Beijing has in compelling behavioral changes at the provincial level.  What to do about a failing steel company, and who should be left holding the bag?  On preferences in China for Clinton or Trump. A nuanced look at Chinese attitudes toward the U.S. election and U.S. politics.

September 9-15

(Note:  Suggested Readings on China Will next appear in late September, following Your Editor’s overseas travel.)  An analysis of the recent Hong Kong Legislative Council election by a veteran Hong Kong specialist affiliated with the French Centre on Contemporary China. A site providing links to all sections of the new white paper on judicial protection of human rights in China, published by the State Council Information Office.  Why long documents like this in English translation are usually put online in many parts, each with its own URL, is not clear.  Remarkable. 45 of 94 National People’s Congress delegtates from the northeastern province of Liaoning sacked for electoral fraud, and 523 delegates to the Liaoning Provincial People’s Congress either resigned or were taken down.  A thoughtful big-picture discussion of U.S.-China relations past, present and future by distinguished scholar Wang Gungwu of Singapore.  China’s forex reserves lowest since 2011.  The latest North Korean nuclear test, U.S. policy dilemmas, and the role of China.  Reading the tea leaves after the ASEAN Summit in Laos: did China “turn the page” on the South China Sea question because the Communique did not raise the issue?  Journalist/writer Ian Johnson interviews a Chinese documentary filmmaker, Ai Xiaoming. The US Naval War College’s Peter Dutton, one of the most informed US analysts of the South China Sea situation, asks what kind of state China will prove itself to be in the aftermath of the UNCLOS Tribunal decision on the Philippine case. A sharp and critical essay on the meaning of China’s past and the uses of the Chinese past by the present leadership.  See also following item.  A spirited rejoinder to the preceding essay by a Canadian academic known for his argument that the Chinese system is a “meritocracy” superior in some important ways to present-day Western political systems. The central issue for much of the world with respect to China, re-examined.  National myth and its implication for others. A long and convoluted article on the ambiguities of the meaning of Mao Zedong, forty years after his death.  The article benefits from numerous quoted comments from interesting sources.  And once again, as so often in the past, this article concludes with the idea that a “new generation,” more cosmopolitan and raised under different circumstances, will have different views from those of its predecessors.  This line of reasoning is becoming somewhat threadbare. Another very prominent official taken down: this time the mayor and Acting Party Secretary of Tianjin, one of China’s four province-level municipalities, where a gigantic explosion killed 162 and displaced thousands just over a year ago. Speculation about possible high-level repercussions of the take-down of the Tianjin Acting Party Secretary.  A quick summary page, with graphics, on the opinions and expectations of U.S. manufacturing firms in China looking ahead.  The “New Normal” in U.S.-China mil-mil relations, constructively described by Yao Yunzhu, Director at the Chinese Academy of Military Science.  Former Treasury Hank Paulson’s new essay, “Demystifying Chinese Investment in the U.S.”  An important topic. A dreary report on ugly developments in the Guangdong village of Wukan, which a few years ago had its moment in the sun as a place where local residents seemed successful in rising up against official corruption. Interesting piece on the failure of China’s gigantic chatapp WeChat to take root outside the PRC.

September 1-8  Foundational reading.  The White House “Fact Sheet” issued at the conclusion of the Hangzhou G-20 meeting.  The G-20 Leaders’ Communique at the conclusion of the Hangzhou G-20 meeting.   Long and dense, inevitably.  Imagine twenty countries’ diplomats wordsmithing documents like this.  China’s highly skilled Ambassador Fu Ying writes on the US-China issues in the South China Sea, on the eve of the Hangzhou G-20 meetings.  She is regarded as one of China’s most skilled diplomatic “handlers” of relations with the Atlantic nations, most notably the U.S. and the UK. No changes on the issues, but intriguing rhetoric nonetheless.  A useful summary article following the G-20 Hangzhou meeting and President Obama’s extended visit to Laos, by journalist Melinda Liu, who has been around for a very, very long time.  Good to see the momentary huffs and puffs dealt with by a real veteran China reporter.  WSJ on the G-20 meeting, in which PRC overproduction, particularly of steel, was a concern of other industrialized economies, including the US.  An intriguing article full of suggestions, evasions, and lack of definitive proofs regarding the invasion of the U.S. aluminum market by Chinese imports, through legitimate and other channels. Another investigative journalism inquiry into a famous Chinese company, in this case Anbang, which gained particular renown by purchasing the Waldorf Astoria in New York some months ago.  Much obscurity pierced through diligent research.   Major article by Dali Yang of the University of Chicago on “China’s Quest For Order.”  What US-China trade disputes can come down to: paper clip imports. Global Times whacks the media for hyping the angry mixups surrounding President Obama’s arrival in Hangzhou for the G-20 Summit. The mess over the Obama arrival in Hangzhou has set off a particularly heavy round of inference, by leading Western journalists, as to what the hidden mentalities and motives were that led to the incident.  Jamil Anderlini of the FT links all this to the Qianlong Emperor’s view of “barbarians.”  I would be wary of too-easy associations.  May be paywalled.  The Guardian (UK) has a characteristic flavor in its feature pieces, and that flavor is evident in this article about the ambiguities of Mao Zedong’s reputation among the Chinese people, as the fortieth anniversary of his death approaches. Controversial Mao-worship concerts booked for Sydney, Australia cancelled.  The eloquent James Fallows returns to tiny Eastport, Maine and views the effects of involvement in the global economy – some good, some bad, many deviant from recent expectations.  Before each US-China summit, the leading American think tanks rush into action with “context” pieces, recommendations to leaders, etc.  Although there is at time an “obligatory” feeling about such essays, they do provide the public with some framework for understanding.  Jeffrey Bader’s article is a good example.  The American President at the ASEAN summit in Laos; the “rebalance” in concrete form.  Signs of a nationwide “negative list” specifying which industries or fields of business are closed to foreign investment.  The finalization of a similar “negative list” for the Shanghai Free Trade Area has proven a major obstacle to enhanced foreign investment there. A nationwide “negative list,” if it appears in coming weeks, will be intensely scrutinized by the global trade and finance community.

August 25 – 31  Published in 2013, this scholarly paper on “cultural governance” by Harvard’s Elizabeth Perry is Your Editor’s “Must Read” choice of the week, for those interested in deeper explorations of contemporary China.  May be downloaded in PDF form at this site. Caixin’s useful and well presented survey of Chinese economic performance March through July.  As usual, big firms and SOEs have far better access to capital than smaller, private firms.  A huge concert celebrating Mao Zedong scheduled for Sydney, and the ensuing controversies.  The Taiwan government’s “New Southbound Policy” initiative to attract student talent from Southeast Asia and India. A Ministry of Commerce spokesman comments on current US-China trade and economic relations.  An article by a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council on the important subject of new efforts to delineate central-level and local-level responsibilities for various spheres of expenditure responsibilities, in the face of huge local-government indebtedness.  As always, implementation is more than half the battle.  Wang Wen, who has just published a book in Chinese by the English title “Anxieties of U.S.: A Think Tank Scholar’s Perspective on China’s Rise and U.S. Response,” heads a vigorously-developing “Think Tank” (see following item as well), and writes regularly about China’s optimistic prospects.  Here he prognosticates on the directions that the G-20 will take as China assumes the chair at the upcoming Hangzhou meeting.  No question about it:  China is in the midst of a think tank “boom.”  This item from the European Council on Foreign Relations analyzes the “boom” and raises some cautions. As China prepares to host the G-20 in early September, a big global issue awaits resolution before the end of the year:  whether China is to be granted “Market Economy Status” (MES) within the WTO this December, fifteen years after its WTO accession. The recrudescence of beliefs in the occult, even among high officials, as the economy slows and the future seems, to some, more uncertain.  Global Times (English) with a very short summation of where it thinks China is, and should be, in world affairs as the PRC prepares to host the G-20 in Hangzhou Sept. 4-5.  The ensuing comments from readers are for the most part ludicrous. The urgent and deepening dilemma of growing local state-owned enterprise indebtedness. A major PRC industrial acquisition in Ohio. A Chinese article declaring a happy ending to the endlessly-discussed case of American government intervention to block a major Chinese firm from acquiring a wind farm close to an Oregon U.S. Navy testing zone. After all the nastiness, a celebration of the American constitution and justice system.

August 18-24  A sober reflection on the nature of the American policy community’s “understanding” of China and on the personnel tasked with developing that knowledge.  Hyperlinks to other materials are an important component of this article.  One of the hyperlinked articles in the preceding item, from 2009.  Kenneth Lieberthal writes about what is (or was, as of the time of writing) needed in the intelligence community as related to the process of foreign policy formation.  The practical implementation of new laws on NGOs begin to appear.  More Party presence, everywhere.  The US-China Business Council’s updated annual report on state-by-state exports to China, this year delivering services export statistics as well as manufactured goods statistics.  Important foundational reading. Fascinating discussion of PRC plans for a vast big-data-based “social credit” monitoring system  watching everyone. Still reverberating.  Francesco Sisci’s interview with Pope Francis last winter.  The subject:  China.  William Reinsch, until recently and for many years the president of the National Foreign Trade Council (and a relatively judicious member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission for fifteen years), now writes for The Stimson Center in D.C.  This is a thoughtful essay on trade agreements and human rights, by someone who has been in the thick of the unending debate over American trade policy as regards human rights for a very, very long time. A lively interview with a Chinese energy expert on prospects for gas, mainly from shale, in the Chinese economy. A poignant and dramatic story about persistent social bias against people born with cleft palate, from Sixth Tone, the very interesting English-language site, affiliated with a state-owned media enterprise, that nevertheless is posting unusually compelling materials like this. Turgid but significant.  A long article on the National Informatization Development Strategic Outline, “sounding the clarion call of the times for walking the road of informatization development with Chinese characteristics and constructing a cyber superpower, launching the new journey of China’s informatization development.” Another compelling entry in the area of persisting private nodes of economic power nationwide even in a climate of tightening central authority.

August 11-17  Must read. WSJ’s Bob Davis with a long piece on the impact of China’s arrival in the U.S. market on heavily-hit communities in North Carolina and Appalachia.  Connects this to the rise of political extremism, i.e., Trump, among the disaffected and the laid-off.  Not the whole story of US-China economic interactions, however. A serious counter-argument to the preceding piece, focused on employment implications of trade in general and not just on U.S.-China trade. A major Brookings study of “Advanced Industry” in the U.S., with worldwide comparisons and ideas on how to improve U.S. Advanced-Industry.  Related to the preceding two items.  Readout of U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander meetings with PLAN during U.S. destroyer port call at Qingdao. Government steps to deal with colossal overcrowding in Beijing.  Bottom fishing or kicking the can down the road?  Looking for profitable opportunities within the gigantic mass of bad debt in China. An attempt at dispassionate exploration of an Olympics moment that has provoked extremely ugly hysteria. An interesting look at Global Times, the “nationalistic” and combative Chinese- and English-language publication, with extensive comments by its famous editor, Hu Xijin. Another granular story of an individual in conflict with a system, by distinguished journalist and author Ian Johnson.  Anatomy of a ghastly British pyramid scheme in China. A complex wade, but gripping for those with the financial savvy to follow it. Follow-on regarding the nuclear waste reprocessing facility slated for Lianyungang but cast into limbo by popular demonstrations there. The drone continues:  IMF predicts growth below 6% by 2020 and warns against continued financing of weak or failing enterprises. The rising mountain of barely regulated “wealth management products” provokes rising concerns over a possible meltdown as Chinese economy slows.  CSIS’s Cordesman on Evolving Strategies in the U.S.-China Military Balance.  Always stimulating.  An idea whose time may be approaching in the U.S.  Carrie Gracie of BBC with a hard-hitting response to PRC popular rage over perceived victimization at foreigners’ hands, whether at the Olympics or at The Hague.  Great article on the complex world of fashion imitations and knockoffs, as PRC factories accustomed to making high-end products for top foreign labels start producing their own goods oh-so-similar to (or better than) the products they sell their customers, but priced far lower.  From OEM to ODM (original design manufacturer). Not a polemical piece, very informative.  An analysis of the politics of leader Xi Jinping, in social, economic and political context.  Insights into internal ideological struggles, among other things. a WSJ video on the newly-launched “quantum satellite” that may open the door to hack-proof communication. Integrating renewable-generated electricity with power-plant electricity.  Paulson Institute recommendations for the Jing-Jin-ji megalopolis including 2022 Winter Olympics site Jiangjiakou. A detailed discussion of the future of law in China, by two competent specialists in the field.  The Never-ending Story: the provinces resist and delay implementation of orders to cut production in glutted sectors, especially steel and coal.  A mirror of the central governance question in China in every historical period.  Another well-placed economic policy expert lays the future of the PRC economy squarely at the feet of today’s economic policy makers, in a call for fundamental reforms reminiscent of the calls for similar crisis-avoidance reforms at the end of the Hu Jintao era.  The latter produced hopes, followed more recently be deepening disappointment, unfortunately.  Lest we forget: China’s left-behind children (bereft of both parents who have migrated to distant work opportunities) the subject of this report. Requiem for a courageous magazine. Upcoming cyber rules alarm foreign businesses; PRCG response, in essence, “Don’t worry, be happy.”  Concerns unfounded.

August 4-10 On PRC military construction on South China Sea islets it claims.  Lots of photos.  Further PRC reactions to UNCLOS Tribunal South China Sea decision: assertion of domestic law jurisdiction over foreign nationals in claimed Exclusive Economic Zone waters.  Ideas on trade policy in general, and China trade policy in particular, from two of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s known (maybe) advisers on such matters. SCS situation not getting any better. Amid more show trials and sentences, stilted televised “confessions,” and so on, doubts as to the future viability of professional legal “rights defense” work and as to the long-term directory of civil society development.  Time for the August leadership retreat to seaside Beidaihe.  An Australian report on what it is like there.  Wide variation in regional and provincial economic performance numbers. A Global Times editorial on tensions in the East and South China Seas, conveying PRC official positions on issues of ownership. Global Times’s editorial on the recent trial and sentencing of a number of Chinese rights lawyers, a development that has enraged many outside of China from human rights organizations to Western media.  Complete with the required reference to Western ideology “infiltrating” China.  The limits of retaliation options for China in response to S. Korea-U.S. agreement on placement of THAAD anti-missile battery in South Korea in response to North Korea nuclear weapon and missile testing programs.  No “good deed” goes unpunished: decline in PRC hacking attacks leads to layoffs at famed US computer security firm.  A nuclear reprocessing plant project put on hold after surprisingly large street demonstrations in the port city of Lianyungang.  Reported by an online publication housed within a state-owned media conglomerate. An interesting, granular report from a locality in Hebei province where educational reform was attempted but failed, and why.

July 29 – August 4 A generous award to President Jimmy Carter, “for his commitment to human rights, equality, ethnic and racial reconciliation, and peace.” An official news agency article celebrating the results of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s efforts to modernize China’s military forces in line with his evocation of the “China Dream.” Touches on many of the visible signs of change within the PLA.  Veteran journalist Richard Bernstein on Chinese reaction to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) tribunal’s recent ruling, and in particular on near-universal public outrage at the United States.  Contrast with official US press statement on National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s meetings in Beijing at the end of July: And China Daily’s spin on the Rice meetings, with quotations from leading scholars and mid-level officials indicating that Rice’s restraint and soothing comments were a reaction to Chinese anger over the UNCLOS ruling.  A new RAND paper on war between the United States and China. Title: “War With China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable.”  Full paper downloadable from this site.  Those scheming Westerners again, this time revealed as another prominent “rights lawyer” goes to trial.  The zombies roll on, in the steel sector for one.  Beijing struggles to reduce over-production.  This is a long, long-running story, with ramifications for global economic relations, as over-production steel spills onto world markets at rock-bottom prices and other nations’ steel industries, workers, and politicians react.  Wall Street Journal writers see signs of strongly divergent views on management of the Chinese economy between President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang.  Though various Chinese observers are quoted, heavy breathing about leadership disputes is a staple of Western rapportage on China. A short article that demonstrates, for those less familiar with administrative process in China, what it takes to get things done.  Nicholas Lardy of the Peterson Institute of International Economics views the consolidation of inefficient and money-losing state owned enterprises into even bigger state owned enterprises with concern that this “reform” is headed in the wrong direction. One of many hot-and-heavy interpretations of Uber’s decision to drop its high-priority assault on the China market and take an 18% share in its, now triumphant, native-born Chinese rival, Didi.  A welcome new blog with reports from “the provinces,” i.e., places other than the Beijing and Shanghai metropolitan centers, offers here an examination of one localities efforts to fight the spread of “heterodox /religious/cults.” New, posthumous publication of a vast trove of 1980s speeches and other writings by Zhao Ziyang.  Hopefully some or all will ultimately find English translation.  Chinese University of HK courageous to bring these out. Data and analysis of the rising torrent of PRC investment in the U.S., from Rhodium Group, which has established itself as the strongest focal analyst.  Nayan Chanda, who has been analyzing Asian developments for a very long time, looks at the South China Sea situation post-UCLOS Tribunal ruling and ruefully observes that might is making right, and that China’s intentions and positions are unaffected by what came from The Hague. A major change of course in UK-China relations, as the new UK government puts off final approval of a nuclear plant, partially financed by the PRC, at the very last moment. Reporter and author Howard French writes on China’s imminent demographic crisis – not too many people, but too many aging people supported by two few people of working age.  Sees much wider ramifications.  But the news itself is not new, and was discussed in recent months as China relaxed the “one child policy” a bit.  The Federation of American Scientists has published its 2016 update on Chinese nuclear weaponry and delivery systems.  Informative and compact. A wide-ranging new book entitled “China’s New Sources of Economic Growth,” published by the Australian University and containing essays by top experts on many aspects of China’s economy.  Free download from hyperlink at this site.

July 21-28  A handy graphic on the Chinese economy in the first half of 2016, from an official government web site.  Prof. Shi Yinhong of Renmin University, one of the more nuanced Chinese scholars who publishes in English, with a reflective essay on Chinese priorities in the South China Sea, with the U.S. and  its other neighbors. WSJ’s top China reporters find evidence of a serious leadership split (President Xi and Premier Li) over how to handle the Chinese economy.  All inferential. A major new report from the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and several Chinese ministries on the future of the PRC health care situation amid changing demographics. The dust begins to settle, perhaps only temporarily, after the South China Sea ruling from The Hague.  See also on aftermath of U.S. Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson’s multi-day China visit.  The struggle for control of Vanke reveals glaring inadequacies in the financial regulatory system, according to Caixin Editor Hu Shuli.  The invaluable David Cowhig blog has posted this translation of a lengthy essay on the meaning of the Cultural Revolution and its lingering effects on the Chinese political system.  In a relatively slow summer week for newly-published items, we include this essay from October 2015, as translated by David Cowhig, by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences scholar Xue Li, ruminating about the major challenges to China’s modernization and how the PRC should meet those challenges.  From environmental pollution to the absence of core values to, inevitably, the threat coming from the U.S.  An essay very worth reading.  The English-reading audience needs to see more items like this.  The Chinese original, entitled “Pitfalls China Will Face In the Next Phase of Its Rise,” is found at  , the Chinese-language site of the Financial Times. A flood of unverifiable online “reports” erupts in with natural disasters such as the floods in Hebei province last week.  The problem of accurate information distribution in a sensitive and controlled environment.  A short official report on the arrest of three individuals for “spreading rumors” about the lethal Xingtai flood may be found at  A handy look, from the US-China Business Council, at the question of “Market Economy Status” treatment for China, fifteen years after the PRC’s accession to the WTO.  Will be a politically fraught issue in the U.S. and Europe in coming months.

July 12 – 20  UNCLOS Permanent Court of Arbitration.  Press release accompanying the PCA “Award” in the Philippines South China Sea case. An official PRC media organ assaults the UNCLOS ruling AND those who made it.  GT reports China will expand construction programs on its “islands.”  Plus plans for dozens of floating nuclear power plants to provide electric power to these paradises. Patriotic outbursts online after the UNCLOS ruling.  Text of Chinese Foreign Ministry statement following the UNCLOS Tribunal verdict.  “…null and void and has no binding force…”  Official U.S. State Department statement on the UNCLOS Tribunal ruling.  One of many quickly-issued analyses of the UNCLOS Tribunal decision, this one having the virtue of tabularizing the various counts in the Philippine complaint and the Tribunal’s verdicts on each. A ponderous but very insightful post-UNCLOS-verdict commentary by Jacques deLisle of the University of Pennsylvania.  Perhaps the best of the rapid-response essays in the wake of the decision at The Hague.  One of many useful items appearing immediately after the UNCLOS Arbitration Tribunal issued its decision on the Philippine SCS case. Early report on PRC reaction to the UNCLOS decision. Prof. Julian Ku of the Hofstra University Law School maintains a well-written blog.  This is his newest comment on the aftermath of the UNCLOS South China Sea verdict.  Chinafile’s rapidly-growing list of entries from Western specialists on the aftermath of the UNCLOS Tribunal ruling on the Philippine SCS case. Another serious look at the UNCLOS Tribunal decision. US Chief of Naval Operations heads for China to meet with his counterpart post-UNCLOS verdict. A Singapore consultant goes a step further: if law of jungle prevails in SCS, China will face superior force of US and its allies.  China’s domestically-created long-distance heavy-lift aircraft enters service. The persistent viability of non-viable “zombie companies” in China.  Another liberal-media takedown?  The end of a fine publication, for the usual reasons.  For those concerned with the preservation of historical memory, a major loss. NYT report on the end of Yanhuang Chunqiu.  Donald Trump’s apparent “advisor” on China offers his opinions here.  Analyst Andy Rothman with a characteristically positive view on the overall trajectory of the Chinese economy – an antidote, perhaps, to the familiar and more negative views found in most of the Western media.  A podcast on an important topic.  American Bruce Dickson discusses his public-opinion surveys in Chinese cities showing popular satisfaction with government, optimism for future, and tepid concern over censorship.  A dazzling discovery at one of China’s earliest modern archaeological excavation sites.  J. P. Morgan prepares to settle cases relating to their program of hiring the sons and daughters of the Right People in China and elsewhere.

July 8 – 12 Regime and internet in China. A sort of sum-it-all-up-in-one-place article. In the must-read column, for this week when the CPA decision on the Philippine SCS case comes out.  The author is an increasingly widely-read younger PRC “think tank” leader, whose views generally coincide with PRC official policy. Retired Amb. Fu Ying, perhaps China’s most articulate English-language spokesperson currently operating, explains why China dismisses the UNCLOS arbitration case brought by the Philippines.  May be paywalled.   Douglas Paal of Carnegie with a modest proposal on how to de-escalate China-U.S. tensions in the South China Sea once the UNCLOS Tribunal comes out with its decision July 12. A last-minute argument in favor of wiggle room for China if, as anticipated, the July 12 UNCLOS tribunal ruling goes against the PRC. A letter calls on CCP Central Committee members to disclose their assets. Rising levels of bad bank loans – again. A tiny Chinese “think tank” in Washington struggles to make a mark in a crowded arena. From last September, the Naval War College’s Lyle Goldstein on 5 Dangerous Myths with regard to the “South China Sea Showdown.”  Read in conjunction with this brand-new item:  .  Taylor Fravel, one of America’s most judicious analysts of the South China Sea situation, prognosticates on China’s likely reactions once the Court of Permanent Appeal issues its ruling in the Philippine case on July 12. Ripples from the U.S.-South Korea decision to deploy THAAD anti-missile system; implications for China’s relations with the South, Japan, and the U.S. The latest, but probably not the last, reverberation arising from the American Bar Association’s differentiated approaches to rule-of-law development in China: the new ABA International Human Rights Award will go to an incarcerated Chinese “rights lawyer.”  Given recent PRC passage of “Foreign Funded NGO” legislation, the future of ABA cooperative programs in China may be affected.  While the U.S. wait breathlessly for news of V.P. candidates, this article opens the starting gate on who will move to near-top positions at the next Party Congress in 2017.  Where China is excelling on the “innovation” front, and where some observers feel it is not excelling.  NYT’s Didi Kirsten Tatlow writes on Chinese views of Hillary Clinton.  City and other big foreign banks not raking in the profits on consumer business in China.  A leading Australian critic of US policy in the South China Sea, Hugh White, with a critical review of The Pivot, by Kurt Campbell who, as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was one of the key architects of the Obama Administration’s redirection of military assets to the Asia-Pacific region.  Campbell’s response to the review is clickable at a hyperlink following the body of the review.

June 30 – July 7  Xinhua’s report on Xi Jinping’s lengthy speech to the Party on the 95th anniversary of the CCP’s founding. A must-read interpretation of Taiwan-Mainland relations with the ascension to power of Tsai Ing-wen.  Mayhem over trade with China in the U.S. election.  The NYT’s Keith Bradsher with another solid summation of the dilemmas likely in post-November U.S.-China trade and economic relations. Leadership of China’s Cyberspace Administration changes hands.  A characteristically adept Economist article on OBOR – “One Belt, One Road,” China’s vast project for linking the PRC to Europe by land and sea.  Veteran military analyst Dennis Blasko’s essay on recent reorganization moves in the Chinese armed forces, part of a decades-long transformational process. An absorbing article on an attempted hostile takeover of China’s largest real estate development company.  Insights into the complexities of China’s hybrid economy.  With the Court of Permanent Appeal set to issue its ruling on the Philippine case against China July 12, tensions and apprehensions are very high on all sides. An article from the US Navy point of view on current USN activities in the South China Sea.  The final few lines are quite astounding.  On the SCS, a major statement by Dai Bingguo, perhaps the most senior living Chinese official (now retired) who has overseen Sino-American relations, at a Carnegie Endowment “Think Tank” conference on SCS.  Should be read in its entirety.  Global Times’s take on the “Think Tank Dialogue” at which Dai Bingguo (previous item) delivered his address.  Interesting elaboration on the Chinese view of the potential value of think tanks, which are all the rage of late. An articulate and concise piece on the significance of Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to Taiwan’s diplomatic partners in Latin America.  On recent US sanctions against PRC IT giants Huawei and ZTE, and what the two companies may ultimately have to grapple with.  An American citizen held without trial in China.  A UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issues a non-binding “Opinion” calling for the PRCG to release her or provide competent legal assistance.  The head of the “US-China Strong Foundation,” formerly the “100,000 Strong Foundation,” sounds the call for massively increased Chinese-language training of young Americans amid tensions in Sino-American relations. A final commentary by the late Wu Jianmin on US-China relations following the recent Security and Economic Dialogue meetings between the two giants.

June 15-29 We start with the serious:  The Waldorf-Astoria, recently purchased by China’s Anbang Insurance, is going condo.  Wonder who the purchasers will be.  The author of this powerful article, Ambassador Wu Jianmin, was killed in an automobile accident on June 18 in Wuhan, just a few days before Your Editor was scheduled to be with him at a private dinner.  His death occasioned an outpouring of sympathy and regret, on the one hand, but an outpouring of vilification on the other, accusing him of “selling the nation” and appeasing the United States.  The controversy seemed to suggest the intensity of debates going on beneath the surface, and was noted in international media, including  .  Prof. Zha Daojiong of Peking University with a critical essay on the dangers of overconfidence that the U.S. is in decline. A rambling opinion piece on a real problem: suicides of office-holders in the vast bureaucracy.  Easy explanations (anti-corruption pressures) may not suffice.

file:///C:/Users/Bob/Documents/AAAAA.RAK%20Documents/2016/National%20Security%202016/DragonEye%2338_China’s%20Energy%20Strategy_Goldstein.pdf One of Prof. Lyle Goldstein’s (U.S. Naval War College) interesting explorations of the content of a Chinese article, this one on how Chinese thinkers are dealing with shifting global energy realities and pondering ways around the “Malacca dilemma” of vulnerable hydrocarbon shipments from the Middle East to the PRC.   A report on a speech to The Asia Society by former Foreign Minister and former Ambassador to Washington Li Zhaoxing, plus a 78-minute video of Li’s speech, dealing with the South China Sea dispute.  A very robust presentation highly critical of U.S. conduct. Prof. Goldstein (above) uses another recent Chinese article to discuss developments in undersea warfare, including the development of increasingly sophisticated undersea monitoring systems and other anti-submarine weaponry that could blunt U.S. submarine superiority if conflict erupted in the seas off the Chinese coast.  Enlightening for the novice. More nail-biting in advance of the Philippine decision. Hugh White of the Australian National University, who has long counselled accommodation to the immovable reality of China’s enhanced power in the Asia-Pacific region, wonders whether the U.S. can do anything effective if China ignores or actively confutes a negative decision on the Philippine claim. Mainland-Taiwan “diplomatic” contacts severed by Beijing over Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s insufficiently line-toeing statements on the island’s relations with the mainland.  Beijing to crack down on electric bicycles as safety dangers.  Having just returned from the Chinese capital, Your Editor was indeed impressed by the vast numbers of electric two-wheeled vehicles on the streets (many resembling full-size motor scooters).  They are quiet, less polluting, and above all agile in the face of Beijing’s overpowering traffic jams. This article discusses the alternatives.  An earlier Chinadialogue piece on electric bikes (2013) is at  If the run-up to the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on a complaint against China by the Philippines doesn’t end soon, we may all collapse from over-anticipation before the decision is announced.  This article is one of the more informative and less breathless pieces on the topic.  The case, and China’s response to any verdict, will have important bearing on the thinking and expectations of many parties to the South China Sea disputes, even if, in the short run, it doesn’t change much of anything. China-chartered ship first through the new Panama Canal.  Challenges in a maturing Shanghai Cooperation Organization.  Lining up China, Russia and all the Stans in between not easy.  Premier Li Keqiang’s speech to this week’s “Summer Davos” meeting in Tianjin.  A broad economic summary.  The English version of such speeches, filled with the verbs “will” and “must,” point to surprisingly subtle issues of translation, as there are no directly parallel verb tenses in Chinese.  But as a field guide to today’s official verbal formulations, this one is fully qualified.  Example: “We will enhance economic transformation and upgrading by comprehensively deepening reform.” Chinese student blues living with U.S. host families.  What is wrong with this picture? Bloomberg’s Tom Orlik on the relationship between corruption and slowing growth.  Spoiler: the one doesn’t make much difference to the other, but geography and state share of provincial economies does.

file:///C:/Users/Bob/Documents/AAAAA.RAK%20Documents/2016/PRC%20Political%202016/CP2016-2-p3p6-Cabestan.pdf  What kind of world order does China want?  The subject of this Introduction by Jean-Pierre Cabestan, head of the Department of Government at Hong Kong Baptist University, to the latest issues of China Perspectives, which also contains several other useful articles, at   .  That much of what transpires in Chinese high politics is hidden from public – and foreign – view is a given.  Some longtime observers are currently finding things even more opaque than usual.  Here, The Economist focuses on the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (“Publicity” has replaced the traditional term “Propaganda”) and the implications of recent criticism of that Department by Party General Secretary Xi Jinping.  (May be paywalled.) Constructive thinking about opportunities for U.S.-China nuclear cooperation in Southeast Asia.  A European view (pre-Brexit) on the upcoming battle over whether to grant China MES – Market Economy Status – fifteen years after the PRC’s WTO accession.  Likely to be controversial in the U.S. as well, and Suggested Readings will contain additional materials on it in coming weeks.

June 10-14

Note:  Your editor will be in China next week, and Suggested Readings will resume the week after.  A remarkable report on the deep wellsprings of respect and nostalgia for the Cultural Revolution among some who participated in it.  Key journalist Hu Shuli on US-China relations.  A downloadable report (free for a limited time) from the National Bureau of Asian Research, by a set of distinguished U.S. and Chinese authors, on U.S.-China Relations in Strategic Domains.  A very informative review of the many legal and regulatory developments affecting the NGO sector in China this year.  A military writer argues that China has no alliances because, unlike the U.S., it doesn’t need any.  A An interesting long-running podcast emerges in a new location and format.  Newest one – 50 years of entertaining and informative reflections from the National Committee on US-China Relations.  The ancient lurking sense that China is a kind of dangerous contagion flares again in situations like this.  What is never publicized, though, is whether US actors are engaged in similar invasions.  A forty-minute film on the PRC, historical in nature with great footage.  By the German Deutsche Welle.  German trade official on need to avoid another train wreck with China, this one over the granting or denying of “Market Economy Status” to PRC this December, 15 years after WTO accession, as the accession protocol seems to dictate (hint: it doesn’t seem to everyone….)

June 2-9  After the final U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue of the Obama administration, no progress on the South China Sea issue, to all appearances.  People’s Bank of China report suggests that China’s economic deceleration may be flattening out.  Address by Admiral Sun Jianguo, China’s ranking representative at the recent IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore.  Important Read.  US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s address to the Shangri-la Dialogue.  Admiral Sun’s remarks (preceding item) may be seen in part as a response to the Carter address, though presumably each presenter’s remarks were prepared long in advance.  From April, but still eternally relevant: a report on the persistence of lower-level bureaucratic ponderousness and evasion in the face of clear policy mandates from “the center.”  This problem has bedeviled the PRC since its creation, and is a prime factor in the unfolding of Chinese domestic affairs.  U.S. tech firms’ challenges in China lead to more and more cooperative ventures with Chinese party in controlling position.  Serious tech transfer issues involved, and potential clashes with other U.S. policy interests loom.  A tempest in a teapot or a symbol of increasing Chinese “assertiveness”?  Either way, a reflection of inextinguishable sensitivities.  Note, by the way, this article’s omission of the fact that the television station NDTV is an arm of the Falun Gong.  A good example of Chinafile at its most interesting:  a series of comments by Chinese passport-holding students, approaching the completion of their academic programs at U.S. universities, on whether to stay in the U.S., go back to China, or choose a third course.  Nastier and Nastier.  USG subpoenas Huawei USA for documentation of any Huawei shipment of US technology items to banned countries like North Korea.  China’s – and every country’s, perhaps – endless problem of how to speak to other peoples “in words they understand.”  Frank Ching is something of an “elder statesman” among Hong Kong journalists and intellectuals, given his extensive global background and many nuanced writings.  His blistering analysis of PRC Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent behavior at a press conference in Canada needs to be read against the background of Ching’s traditionally low-key commentaries.  A young and very popular Harvard professor seeks to link the core works of classical Chinese thought to the lives of his 21st century students and readers.  This poses the eternal question of how to make texts from a distant place and a distant time meaningful to contemporary readers without so distorting the original texts as to make them unrecognizable  This WSJ piece indicates that gloom on the Chinese economy is a major driver of George Soros’ recent high-value trades, and suggests that in Soros’s view the effects of Chinese economic sluggishness will be felt worldwide.  Nose-to-nose tensions in the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands as a PRC naval vessel and three Russian vessels enter waters claimed by China and Japan.

May 27 – June 1  Must read, not to boost the reputation of the interviewee or promote sales of his book, but to grasp the thinking of a widening swathe of American specialists on contemporary Chinese affairs.  A solid review of David Shambaugh’s  new book China’s Future.  See preceding item.  Washington Post’s David Ignatius on Donald Trump’s China fulminations and the benefits China will reap from them.  Connected to preceding item: US cold feet (per Trump, Sanders and Clinton) on the Trans-Pacific Partnership offers opportunities for China, according to this analyst.  Very worth reading.  Full transcript of U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s Commencement Address at the U.S. Naval Academy, May 27, much of it dealing with Asia-Pacific, South China Sea, and other China-focused issues.  China has reacted with very strong criticism of the speech and of Carter. A must-read, about a black American soldier who chose to remain in China after his capture during the Korean War, and about the family that he formed there and brought back to the U.S. in the late 1960s.  No heavy message, just a riveting story. On President Obama’s visit to Vietnam and the rapid growth of comprehensive U.S.-Vietnam relations; implications with respect to China.   Stanley Lubman on the new International NGO Law and implications for legal reform in China. A Chinese scholar finds fault with President Obama’s Hiroshima visit, on the grounds that it could “send the wrong message.”  Written before the actual visit. A sad and somewhat murky, but still thought-provoking, article about Harry Wu, the Chinese dissident who escaped to the U.S. after many years in PRC “Labor Reform” and became one of the most skilled advocates, from the exiled dissident community in the U.S., working with and on the U.S. media and the U.S. political class.  Much food for thought.  Wu’s defenders have taken serious issue with the report’s findings on Wu’s compensation, and further controversy over the report’s accuracy may be pending.  PLA Song and Dance Troupes, which have a very long revolutionary pedigree, taking a hit as Xi’s PLA reforms begin to demobilize 300,000. Something to follow:  approval of plans for a Yangtze “city cluster” involving Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui, perhaps similar to the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei conglomeration.  Details at 11…. A useful reference piece, with good graphics, on China’s 13th Five Year Plan as it relates to clean energy and climate change.  PRC steps to reduce wastage of renewable energy. Global Times provides a glimpse, for English-readers, of an ongoing and important debate within Chinese society on education, tradition, patriotism.  A long and somewhat sad piece, with perhaps a touch of derision, about the flawed process that builds massive “ghost cities” in inhospitable locations out of fealty to headline-making central Party development policies. A useful commentary arguing against recent suggestions that something like the Cultural Revolution might occur again in a China dominated by a single strongman leader.

May 19-26  Not specifically on China, but too important to exclude:  the International Trade Commission’s detailed study of probable impacts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement on the U.S. economy.  Discount the characteristically swashbuckling tone of Telegraph reporter Evans Ambrose-Pritchard, and find in this a wide-ranging essay on the unsustainability of China’s current frenzied expansion of credit.  Will the U.S. re-establish a military presence at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam?  History has produced stranger transformations.  From May 9, a summary of the main points in the controversial People’s Daily interview with an unnamed “authoritative person” about the future trajectory of the Chinese economy.  Some speculate that this article was written either by of at the behest of General Secretary Xi Jinping, but that has not been confirmed.  Why China struggles to perfect its “public diplomacy.”  Extremely regrettable news of a massive college-entry cheating operation.   A serious case made for a WTO complaint against PRC interference with the flow of information on the Internet.  An innovative approach to urban mass transit moves ahead, but not without controversy.  The China steel dumping situation escalates heavily:  major new US anti-dumping and anti-subsidy penalties on major U.S. steel import categories.  Follows other US duty impositions and Chinese decision to maintain steel-export subsidies, one week before; see .  An obituary article on Yang Jiang, a literary figure whose life was intertwined with the turmoil of twentieth-century China.

May 12-18

Fifty years ago this summer, Your Editor, a breathless graduate student summer intern at the U.S. State Department, watched with his seasoned colleagues responsible for analyzing developments in China as gigantic and inexplicable events burst forth in Beijing, heralding the start of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.  Now, comment on the CR within China remains hooded and seldom publicly visible.  Western media, on the other hand, have marked the fiftieth anniversary with a profusion of articles.  We offer a few in this week’s Suggested Readings.  A look at Chinese media mentions of the CR on the 50th anniversary, denying ideological strains among the populace today.  Global Times’s “never again” editorial.  Bloomberg’s useful overview. The New China News Agency reports on People’s Daily’s editorial condemning the CR and assuring that nothing like the CR will happen in the future.  But the actual People’s Daily editorial in English is harder to find.  The PD editorial, in Chinese, entitled “Toward an Even Better Future, With History as our Mirror,” is at  On the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution, this foreign journalist’s reflection from today’s vantage point.  Paradoxes abound. A powerful South China Morning Post multi-media feature on the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which broke out fifty years ago this week and remains largely beyond the pale of public discussion in China.  A very curious article, coming from the “nationalistic” Global Times, with an ambiguous but apparently critical appraisal of “Neo-Leftists” in China who sling the term “traitor” with, according to the writer, unseemly and even dangerous abandon.  The kind of article that suggests but does not clarify multiple messages for multiple audiences. The South China Morning Post (now owned by Alibaba’s Jack Ma, with as yet unclear implications for its editorial behavior) analyzes Xi Jinping’s just-released discussion of his detailed views on the future of the Chinese economy.  The U.S. Department of Defense annual report on the state of China’s military.  Beijing has reacted very negatively.  156 pages, with a two-page Executive Summary at the top.  Senior Chinese and U.S. military leaders confer on ways to reduce SCS tension.  Military upgrade plans and schedules.  From the official New China News Agency.  Sino-American technical cooperation on “smart cities” technologies aimed at urban public safety.  Business opportunities, but human rights concerns?  More mixed signals re the economy, with some stories announcing that the slowdown is over and others, such as this revealing less glowing numbers. A flurry of interest has erupted since an unnamed “authoritative figure” published a long article on the proper approach to managing the economy about one week ago, seemingly at odds with some current economic policy orientations.  The same author published a second piece, and this Caixin essay aims to clarify some of the analytical issues regarding the future trajectory of a more slowly-expanding Chinese economy.  A Must Read:  The first of what is surely an inevitable body of writing to come in refutation of the current front-and-center study by Economists Autor, Dorn and Hansen.  That widely-cited paper purports to demonstrate that trade with China was directly responsible for the loss of 2.4 million American jobs, with accompanying tragic declines in those workers’ earning capacities, standards of living, etc.  The important essay here finally grapples with what the Autor team seems not to have dealt with, and seems to unravel much of what Autor et al. are claiming, and what U.S protectionist politicians are using as red meat.

May 5-11 While just about everybody who is anybody is warning that China’s current effort to keep the economy moving by opening the credit taps is a recipe for trouble in the not too distant future, perhaps a sign, via a People’s Daily unsigned article, that the PRC leadership is preparing to alter course.  Speaking of altering (or not altering) course, another in-your-face moment in the South China Sea.  A remarkable mystery:  how did a big Cultural Revolution-style spectacular get to be staged in the Great Hall of the People on May 2?  More on this from SCMP.  One can only ask, “What is going on?” after reading of this event at the Great Hall of the People.  The aftermath of this will be important to observe.  RE the preceding item, the English language Global Times for its part poo-poohs the event and denies any larger significance.  How the GHOP got rented for it, and tickets sold at prices up to RMB 2000, remains unelaborated.  Some legal investigations are to come.  From February.  A balanced and sober article about what the U.S. and China don’t understand about each other and what the future holds for bilateral relations.  By an experienced Singaporean diplomat.  A meditation on Chinese-Russian cooperation in developing an Internet “alternative universe” free of perceived American domination and subversion.  Yu Keping has long been a forthright defender, advocate for, and explicator of, democracy in China.  The most notable thing about this forthright statement is that Yu holds positions as Professor of Political and Dean of the School of Government at Peking University, and that thus far in the current political-intellectual environment he has not been deprived of those prestigious positions.  Veteran Beijing-based Italian journalist and commentator Francesco Sisci joins others who are raising these days the question of China’s broad attitude toward “opening,” or engagement, with the “West,” and particularly with the United States.  See Andrew Browne’s WSJ article last week about “rolling up the welcome mat,” at  .  Chinese scholars comment on prospects for US-China relations should Trump win in November.  Chinese media moderation in the face of U.S. campaign vituperative rhetoric regarding China, especially from Trump.  Robert Lawrence on the myth that U.S. workers cannot compete in any sector with lower-wage labor in developing countries.  A staple of the China discourse in the U.S.  As the BRICS Bank (formally, the New Development Bank) and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) get started on making loans, initial signs of “green” focus are encouraging, but some questions remain troubling in this article from ChinaDialogue.  With one of his signature summing-up articles, WSJ China Bureau Chief Andrew Browne asks the big question:  is China simply closing its doors to foreigners across the board?  Such a broad question invites innumerable qualifications, but simply asking it is a sign of the times.  By the end of the year, the U.S. will have to decide whether to accord China “market economy status” under the terms of the PRC’s  WTO accession protocol, 2001.  It will be controversial in the U.S. and in other OECD countries.  This NYT piece on global steel industry challenges and the problem of PRC overproduction is indicative of some of those challenges. Developments in Kaifeng’s tiny but historically rooted Jewish community.  The author is a rabbi with strong China-related competence.  A lucid and fascinating article about a looming paradox affecting a vast swathe of the Chinese economy: as real estate has become commercialized and millions have bought their own dwellings, the land on which such buildings lie remains owned by the state, only leased to property developers for finite periods of time.  Lease-expirations are just beginning. Thus, property owners are just beginning to discover that they don’t actually own their property in full. The latest Pew survey results on Americans’ view of the U.S. in the world – and their view of China, among other things. As the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution approaches, a British believer remains free of doubt after half a century.  China is undertaking “supply side” economic reform, but not THAT “supply side,” i.e., “Western” supply-side policies, because China’s circumstances are different, according to this author.  The practice of appropriating some term from its original language (usually English) and then declaring that the term as used in the original language is different in kind from the term as it is used in China is a familiar but irritating pattern.  If phenomena must have uniquely “Chinese characteristics,” why bother to appropriate the English-language original term and translate it into Chinese in the first place?


April 28 – May 4   The appearance lately of several major articles focused specifically on General Secretary Xi Jinping is not an accident, or the result of a pundit-cabal.  Mr. Xi’s actions since his ascension to the top Party and government positions have occasioned the current intense focus on the man and his plans.  This is a well crafted and comprehensive article by Prof. June Dreyer of the University of Miami, tracing the trajectory of Xi Jinping’s tenure as Party General Secretary and State President, and asking where the line leads from here. An awesome and delightful, if perhaps intimidating, article, for readers not in China, about living in today’s ultra-digital but still censored China. The new law governing the activities of “foreign NGOs” has finally been approved, and reactions have come swiftly from many quarters.  The NYT does a respectable job, but we are still in early days, and most concerned parties’ attentions are now turning to the details and the timing of implementation.  More to come.  The official China Daily report on adoption of the new Foreign NGO Law. The new Foreign NGO Law has inevitably stimulated endless questions as to likely implementation measures and likely effects on NGO work.  This site offers a useful examination of major issues to date, in Q&A format.  The anti-corruption machine begins to bit into serious flesh and bone, by way of a ban on “doing business” to be applied to children and relative of local officials in several megacities and a couple of other provinces.  All on a pilot basis.  This GT article does well at portraying the realities of the nexus of family-tie power and official office-holding power.  Lots of imprecise definitions in the article, though.  A gigantic two-month festival of French culture makes its 11th nationwide appearance in China.  Hard to know how to remove those sinister Western Values from something like this.  An upbeat, even flattering China Daily article about the U.S. FBI’s man in Beijing. Using Apple’s first sales decline in more than a decade as a “hook,” this article from The New Yorker discusses China’s current undeniable efforts to build a national internet and to curtail foreign (mainly) high-tech companies’ access to Chinese markets as Chinese competitors gain strength in their domestic environment.  Inside an iPhone factory.  Pressure on PRC economy analysts to brighten their reporting and avoid the gloomy side.  A pilot program placing Chinese police on the streets of Rome as an accompaniment to the large and growing numbers of Chinese tourists there.  Two weeks only, for now.  Would help with language problems.  China’s new military: PLA recruiters using hip-hop music in their recruitment commercials.  Plenty of muscle flexing.

What about those infamous Western Values?  President Xi’s remarks from January, only now published, on dangers within the Party from careerists and others bent on pursuit of private goals and privileges.  Blunt talk.

April 21-27  A must-view.  A 13-minute video, in which the camera follows the Mayor of Datong, in Shanxi, as he proceeds with a demolition project for the sake of a gigantic tourism/urban renewal program.  The ending is very sobering. We don’t normally refer to our own web sites, but this short essay by Ambassador Wu Jianmin, long known for public exposition of official policy positions, is of exceptional interest in its sharp criticism of excessive nationalism in Chinese politics and foreign policy. After a series of prosecutions of Americans of Chinese extraction on espionage charges that unraveled in embarrassing ways, the U.S. Department of justice rewrites procedures to try put an end to the Amateur Hour.  One of WSJ reporter Jeremy Page’s typically well constructed long articles, this one on the dimensions of military reorganizations instituted by Xin Jinping early in 2016, with emphasis on the potentially negative implications arising from widespread institutional reformulation.  State Department Congressional  testimony on the Administration’s budget request (for State Dept., under jurisdiction of House Foreign Affairs Committee), for East Asia and Pacific Affairs.  A workmanlike Administration review of its Asia policies. Titled, “Budget Priorities for East Asia: Engagement, Integration, and Democracy.   The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, in Hanoi, discusses South China Sea and U.S.-China relations.  Mixed signals as to whether legislative action is finally impending on the Foreign NGO Law, which is of interest and concern to many in the world NGO community.  A usually authoritative source itemizes the changes now expected in the Foreign NGO Law, which some consider almost ready for passage (while others do not see passage as imminent).  The always patriotic Global Times pays a visit to a PRC “town” on one of China’s island developments in the South China Sea.  A colorful and revealing report. A pleasant article about former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s current focus – green housing for China as a key to combatting global warming. From GT on the same day as the preceding item, a report on pervasive pollution of China’s watersheds.  Refers to The Nature Conservancy, which generated the data, as “a leading nongovernmental organization for global conservation work.”  Just as a reminder: the US will have a new president in January, 2017, and the PRC will have a new Politburo Standing Committee by the end of 2017.  This piece by the always-judicious Robert Sutter reviews US-China relations in the Obama years, but also, in its conclusion,  looks ahead, as we all should.  A long analysis of the reform process in China’s military, emphasizing the latest round of major reorganizations in recent historical context.  Very cogent, and worth the time and effort.  An interesting wrinkle in a trade dispute that has edged toward a crisis as China has sought to sell off excess production on the U.S. market.  This case involves aluminum, and this article shows the extent of the complex webs of interests among the U.S. Government, U.S. companies, U.S. organized labor, other North American governments and China itself.  Alarm at China’s rapidly rising debt levels, and worries about future economic crisis. Cited economists’ analyses differ but all are uneasy or worse. The drumbeat of stories of military-related espionage by persons of Chinese citizenship or ethnicity in the U.S. is highly corrosive, and damaging to the legitimate status of persons of Chinese extraction in the U.S., citizens or otherwise. Rippling after-effects of a big tainted-vaccine scandal. Another large charitable gift from a 21st century Chinese billionaire, amid talk of a sea change in the charitable orientations of the very, very wealthy.  An antidote to the familiar “Let’s compare our Lamborghini” stories about seemingly comatose but very wealthy Chinese young people abroad. The American Bar Association responds to the heads of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Rep. Chris Smith and Sen. Marco Rubio, who entered into a growing an uproar over what initially was said to be the reversal of a decision by an ABA unit to publish a work by a renowned Chinese human rights lawyer, Teng Biao, on grounds that the publisher was concerned that Chinese authorities would be displeased. A cryptic report on intriguing remarks by the eminent Wang Jisi on the future of U.S.-China relations and the desirable trajectory for Chinese foreign policy. Commentary by IMF China analyst on China’s huge and increasing level of corporate debt and the adequacy or inadequacy of measures taken thus far to avert a banking crisis.  Cautionary in tone.  Verbatim transcripts of think-tank seminars can be a hard slog, and this one is no exception, but in fact it is full of interesting nuggets relating to the Chinese economy.  The remarks of Gao Xiqing, formerly chief of China Investment Corporation and now teaching at Tsinghua, are fascinating, in their dissection of what might be called the “appearance-reality” conflict in thinking about, and talking about, the PRC economy, and in particular the putative vs. real role of the “market,” with its multiplicity of definitions.  This important article touches only tangentially, if still importantly, on China, since it discusses a structural economic change in the U.S. and worldwide that has huge implications for U.S. politics and thus for U.S. foreign policy.  While we marvel at the seeming suspended animation of many major reform agenda in China, whose rhetoric emerges year after year but whose accomplishments remain elusive, Americans also confront the ponderousness of real structural change, not only at the granular level of individuals and families but at the conceptual level without which policy changes are impossible.

April 14 – 20 We approach the half-century moment already; fifty years since the outbreak of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.  Chinafile is hosting a growing set of reflections, all (need we say) from scholars located outside of the PRC.  Somehow, in very short pieces like these, the pulsating center of the target seems to remain unexcavated.  A thoughtful and stimulating lecture on China-U.S.A. relations by a distinguished Singaporean scholar. Hugh White of The Australian National University with a new iteration of a theme he has been advocating for some years:  that, while the familiar US-formed “rules-based international order” might be preferable in the abstract, in reality China’s arrival as a great economic and growing military power means that clinging to dreams of preserving a pre-China world order are simply infeasible, and that the U.S. and others had better get to thinking about the present and future world order in which China bulks very, very large. A limited-time availability of a new report from the National Bureau of Asian Research, “US-China Relations in Strategic Domains,” in which one American and one Chinese expert jointly deal with each of a series of “domains” where the two countries face the task of managing differences and competitive interests. A fine, if all too brief, WSJ interview with Finance Minister Lou Jiwei.  Escalation in the South China Sea. McKinsey (corporate promotional material) survey on rapidly moving changes in Chinese e-commerce. A modest US-PRC agreement on ending PRC export subsidies to certain products. Shirley Kan, long a specialist on Chinese foreign and military affairs, and on Taiwan, at the Congressional Research Service (now retired) with a rousing article call on the US Navy to un-invite China from participation in the big multi-nation RIMPAC naval exercise in the Pacific. An astonishing combination of dark speculation about worst-case scenarios and near-total absence of fact on key questions, mixed with a pastiche of re-run old information about things long gone, presenting itself as an important story on a potentially catastrophic spying incident – if that’s what it is.        A lucid explication of the issues at stake in the controversial draft revisions to the Regulations for the Management of the Domain Name System, issued two weeks ago.  Comprehensible for lay readers.  Now that the best-selling The China Dream by Col. Liu Mingfu is available in English, a serious review is in order.  Here is one.  On National Security Education Day, April 15, this poster display of instructional cartoons called “Dangerous Love” appeared on many walls in certain residential areas of Beijing.  A Chinese girl gets taken in by a handsome foreigner bent on espionage.  English translation appears at the lower edge of each frame. AmCham China’s annual review argues that PRC policies are not comporting with Reform intentions. With overcapacity in steel, coal, cement, and glass staring China in the face and amid government calls for redundant plants and mines to shutter, this is a first, very general glimpse of what is being envisioned by way of handling inevitable large-scale layoffs. The Disney film “Zootopia” is a box office smash in China, but it has earned a denunciation for being a Trojan Horse aimed at infiltrating “American values” into China.  Scholar-official Yu Keping with an address on democracy and China that reminds us that some people in the PRC hold to values and ideals not always embraced in the larger public discourse.

April 7-13     A Must Read on a complex and fraught topic:  whether to adopt Market Economy Status (MES) for China on the fifteenth anniversary of its WTO accession.  No one more lucid on this than PIIE’s Gary Hufbauer.  Could blow up into a very serious economic conflict between China and the U.S. As South China Sea (SCS) tensions continue to increase, a proposal for a five-part program aimed at preventing conflict.  More bile, this time involving the G-7, over SCS. One of many reports this week on a new survey of Chinese water resources showing that a very high proportion of water from so-called “groundwater” sources (principally wells) is unfit for human consumption.  A problem of potentially far-reaching significance.  See also Global Times story at  . Something new and promising:  A “syllabi Project” aiming to help English-language readers expand their understanding of China-related subject areas in which they are not specialists themselves. An odd Global Times editorial, justifying and defending The Great Firewall as a bulwark against Western “penetration” and “domination” of China, but suggesting that it might not be necessary forever.  In this collection of essays, UC Berkeley’s T. J. Pempel (pp. 30 ff.) offers a robust argument against the pervasive “Thucydides Trap” idea that war between the reigning hegemon U.S. and the “rising power” China is all but inevitable.   An intriguing article regarding possible signs of terminological accommodation between the PRC and Taiwan. Amid the vast outpouring of ink over the “Panama Papers” and their revelations with respect to members of the families of a number of China’s highest Party leaders, this piece is distinguished by its cool-eyed and un-hysterical appraisal of likely impacts.  A good write-up of the multi-faceted effort to save a major steel conglomerate drowning in debt.  Challenges in “knowing what we know” about PRC coal use and CO-2 emission levels over time.  An extraordinary airing of laundry, describing tense differences of opinion between the White House and U.S. Navy high officers over what to do as China continues to grow its presence in the South China Sea.  Remember the source: Navy Times.  Follow-up to the preceding item.  Denial of that item’s headline “gag order” claim. A worthy set of essays, including two by distinguished Chinese international relations specialists, on the building of a “Regional Order in East Asia.”  From the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, which does very fine work.  How a huge US punitive tariff on Chinese imports would ripple through the American economy.  This piece is long overdue, and better than nothing, but it still fails to convey the scope and magnitude of the ill effects such an ill-advised unilateral US action would have on the United States, to say nothing of the world economy. An Agence France Press report on the extensive China activities of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, the leak of 11 million of whose documents has been at the top of the news pyramid for the past week. On the new Charity Law, to enter into force in September.  Renowned economist Yu Yongding on PRC current economic challenges and the urgent need for RMB devaluation.  A valuable quarterly update on PRC investment in the US, by Congressional District.  See also for discussion of employment effects of PRC investment in U.S.


March 31 – April 6  President Xi Jinping’s speech at the recent Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. A well done FT video on the darkening trend in the Chinese economy, and the movement of migrant workers back to their home provinces. The always articulate Stephen Roach (now at Yale, ex-Morgan Stanley Asia) makes lemonade out of lemons with this report on the 13th FYP and discussions at the Annual China Development Forum.  A little more cautionary than usual, but in the end the familiar “implementation will tell all.”  McDonalds to add 1,250 new stores to existing 2,200 in China, virtually all via franchisees.  China market seen as antidote to weaker US market, despite competition and various nastinesses afflicting US-based fast food companies in recent years. Very useful smoke-clearing on US trade deficits, Free Trade Agreements, and the bilateral trade relationship with China. Global Times on the vast “Panama Papers” leak: another conspiracy with Uncle Sam behind it.  Zzzzzzzzz…… Great Caixin piece on prospects of a big new debt-equity swap program whereby banks would trade bad debts of struggling SOEs for ownership slices of those firms. A scathing, unforgiving, and (in the eyes of some critics) somewhat tilted denunciation of what the author sees as a now-undeniable Chinese retrogression to political styles and abuses usually associated with the Mao era.  Tilted or not, Schell can, and does, point to a long list if troubling developments over the past few years.  As usual, the front-cover headline writers at the New York Review of Books get away, unconscionably, with murder. Former Obama Administration NSC Asia Director Jeffrey Bader with a three-pronged outline of US policy alternatives with respect to China.  Usefully read as a sober balancer of the Schell article (preceding item).  The dimensions of the overproduction problem in steel, with global implications.

March 24-31  Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change following Obama-Xi White House meeting March 31.  Analysis of 13th FYP on energy and environment.  With President Xi in D.C. briefly for a nuclear summit, this site recaps recent Pew survey findings on Americans’ perceptions of China and Chinese perceptions of the U.S.  Useful graphics. An important article on a looming, very large, issue:  whether to declare that China is a “market economy” for trade purposes, fifteen years after its accession to the WTO.  Japan passes a law authorizing Japanese military forces to fight outside of Japan.  Chinese reaction. A well known journalist quits, saying he can’t take the political subservience any more.  It is hard not wonder whether something is afoot in recent months with respect to attempts to intensify media fealty to the Party and the Leader. Details at .  A worthy and relatively successful attempt by friends at Beijing Normal University to put the contents of China’s new and significant Charities Law into brisk English-language graphics. An unofficial translation of the entire new Charity Law.  More unpleasantness over PRC espionage directed, this time, and major US technology-holding companies.  The Global Times editorial referred to in this South China Morning Post item may be found at  . A paper on China’s evolving interests in, and policies with regard to, the Middle East.  He Yafei, former VM of Foreign Affairs and former Minister of Embassy in Washington, interprets the Trump phenomenon. The latest bright idea from MIIT on controlling what is available on the Internet inside China.  If carried out to the fullest, an extraordinary act of self-isolation.  Reactions have been fast, and sometimes furious.  A cloud of concern and of ambiguity surrounds news of latest proposed Internet regulation.  See preceding item.  The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, whose members are reliably negative on China (some Commissioners have drawn their paychecks from Uncle Sam for fifteen years) convened this hearing on the Chinese economy.  A good source for those looking for critical commentary. A leading Japanese newspaper finds signs of high-level frictions im a speech by Yu Zhengsheng, head of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, showing pointed omissions or deviations from the rhetoric surrounding Xi Jinping’s consolidation of personal power.  Overly Kremlinological?  Time will tell. A new Congressional Research Service paper on Chinese military development and potential issues that the US Congress might confront.

The Economist, which prides itself on its judiciousness and stability, with a remarkable essay on what it perceives to be Xi Jinping’s ill-advised overreach. And from the Council on Foreign Relations (though the CFR always indicates that authors’ views are independent and do represent the CFR itself), this paper on Xi Jinping’s mounting challenges and the resultant possibility if more pungent “nationalist” behavior.

March 17-23  Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party publication, reports on changing Chinese popular attitudes toward North Korea in the wake of Pyongyang’s nuclear tests.  Another disappearance, this time of a Chinese journalist leaving Beijing for Hong Kong AFTER he had passed through airport security.  A piece about 13th Five Year Plan incorporation of air pollution reduction goals. South China Morning Post editor Wang Xiangwei comments on a Soviet-originated system of ranks that persists in China despite repeated calls for its elimination as an obstacle to economic and social reform. The latest wrinkle in the latest ZTE saga, with explanatory background. UC Berkeley economist Barry Eichengreen with a stable commentary on the challenges of “threading the needle” between an engineered slowdown and a public promise of 6.5% growth. For those old enough to remember, this report of top US Navy Commanders visiting Vietnam to deepen cooperation between the two navies is remarkable.  No mention of China in the report, but references to shared commitment to “rules-based international order” are presumably code.  Deepening defense ties between the US and the Philippines (S military can use portions of five Phil bases) – not directed at China, we are assured….  A full-length analysis, by a U.S. Naval War College scholar, of the PRC-South Vietnam naval battle over the Paracel Islands in 1974, with reflections on potential relevance to PRC approaches to South China Sea potential conflicts today. A Chinese report ponders possibilities for Chinese businesses as U.S.-Cuba relations thaw. Xinhua on national park/nature preserve planning in Qinghai, in China’s far west.  Sign of the times?  Yum Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell) ponders sale of a chunk of its massive Chinese business.   Familiar faces in Congress sound the familiar alarm about a PRC acquisition in the agribusiness sector.  An excerpt: “’Whenever the Chinese acquire American operations, it is reason for concern,’ said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R, Neb.)” A good South China Sea piece, occasioned by the Chinese seizure of a Chinese fishing boat that Indonesian authorities had taken in tow and charged with violation of Indonesian waters.  Global Times on the PRC-Indonesia fishing-boat flap.  US and EU governments joining together in messaging concerns over recent PRCG actions regarding political expression, censorship, disappearances, etc. With some reluctance, because the provenance of the original letter posted to a widely-used Chinese web site remains unclear, Your Editor offers this commentary by veteran China journalist Francesco Sisci, discussing that “Open Letter,” posted to a widely-used web site during the recent session of the National People’s Congress (and quickly taken down), calling for President Xi Jinping to resign and itemizing the reasons.  Text of the letter in translation at  .  Again, no one has shown the certain origins of

March 10-16   An important rejoinder to Presidential aspirant Donald Trump’s incessant attacks on China.  Read and remember.  The days of China-as-stage-prop-in-U.S.-politics are over, whether this man knows it or not.  There are, now, consequences to this, where there were not thirty years ago. An ingenious graphic, illustrating the main goals of the 13th FYP as generated at the National People’s Congress session.  NPC approves a new and much-awaited Charities Law.  WSJ commentary. A brief but thoughtful essay on the U.S.-China “currency union” and the political implications of any breakup of that tightly-governed relationship  Chicago transit system to buy its new rail cars from PRC rail company subsidiary.  Assembly in US.  An analysis of “opinion management” in the wake of the murder of a Beijing judge. Three years in to the massive Reform programs outlined by the current leadership as it stepped into China’s highest positions, it is dawning on many both inside and outside of China that much more was foreseen than has materialized.  In the international business sector, the US-China Business Council’s annual “Reform Scorecard” at is one indicator.  In the item mentioned here, the author comments responsibly (as plans and statements are emitted by this year’s National People’s Congress) on why Reform turns out to be so difficult in today’s (and yesterday’s, it might be added) PRC.  A new report from the Japan Institute of Defense Studies, analyzing PRC military developments and intentions.  Your Editor offers no evaluation of this document.  A rambling, often cutting, exchange of views on the growing evidence of a “cult of personality” developing around Xi Jinping (and his wife Peng Liyuan), and what that might mean for the future of Chinese politics. As reports on inherent contradictions in China’s recently-announced growth targets and monetary policy positions go, this one is lucid and coherent.  The final comment by UCSD’s Barry Naughton sums up the entire piece, but the piece should be read top to bottom; it’s short.  The Global Times comments on Trump. A more inclusive summary piece on PRC media reactions to the rise of Donald Trump.  Report on labor unrest, as economy slows and government starts to try to reduce over-production in such sectors as mining and steel.  Notes few signs of emergence of anything approaching a national labor movement. A National Bureau of Asian Research think piece on US-China-India responsibilities and cooperative opportunities in the energy security/climate change.

March 3-9  Wealthy Universities including Princeton and Duke put money into a very big venture capital fund in China, a bet on China’s entrepreneurs.  Qiming Venture Partners founder Gary Rieschel is an American.  His views on the future trajectory of the Chinese economy are worth reading with care.  For the initiate reader, a very “101” introduction to the annual “Two Meetings” – of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress.  For those with time, and absorptive capacity, here is a site with access to three major Reports presented this year, as each year, to the National People’s Congress on its opening day:  The Report on Government Work by Premier Li Keqiang, plus the Finance Ministry’s Report and the Report on the Draft Plan for Social and Economic Development.  Like other major media, SCMP is struggling bravely to distill key points from the immense, often eye-glazing Reports to the NPC.  Here is their distillation of the Dfraft 13th Five Year Plan and the Three Reports. Interesting to compare the NYT’s boil-down of the major NPC presentations with that of the South China Morning Post, just above.  People’s Daily (English) goes a step further than the above, introducing Ten New Words found in this year’s Government Work Report from the Premier.  Such “words” become stock phrases in the national discourse once they are enshrined in something like this Report to the NPC. Speculations on the meaning of the more modest budget increase for the military this year, and what that suggests about Xi Jinping’s relationship to the military establishment. A big loyalty campaign, and some major anti-corruption moves, have been directed toward the military over the past year.  A bullet-point boil-down of the Reports discussed in the preceding item.   PRC military budget to rise by lowest percentage in six years, even as one prominent military figure calls  for much higher increase.  The US-China Business Council’s latest update of its “Economic Reform Scorecard.”  Impatience seeps through.  A nice compendium of brief essays by many of the “best and brightest” analysts on the state of the Chinese economy and the transition to the market, as the formulation of the 13th Five Year Plan approaches.  Quick reads. A good piece by experienced SCMP reporters on the composition of Xi Jinping’s inner circle.  Haier buys GE’s appliance business and enters the US market big-time. More (see lead piece last week) on the problem of “zombie industries” and the social and political challenges raised by the need to shrink or shutter many of them. The eloquent Andrew Browne, WSJ Bureau Chief in China, attempts the near-impossible, drawing together the many strands of discourse on the Chinese economy today around a theme of growing regional disparities.  His “hook” is a look at Fushun, in the Northeast, a steel town now deep in recession as China’s building boom has headed downward. A remarkably slashing article in the English language version of Caixin, about the blocking of an article on freedom of speech as published in Caixin’s Chinese version.  Quite a saga.  Now written up in the NYT at  .  (Later revision: the Caixin English article referred to here has been taken down:  see  .)

February 26 – March 2  For its graphics alone, this report would be worth viewing, but substantively it is important as well.  A portrait of a distressed city in China’s Northeast, a region of early industrial development, especially coal and iron-and-steel, now facing an uncertain future as China struggles to rein in excess steel production.  In particular, a gripping analysis of the bitter challenges still facing major state-owned enterprises and their workers.  A reminder of some of the severe long-term challenges facing the PRC (and, by extension, other industrialized economies including the US, as current US political developments again reveal).  (See previous item.) An official source offers numbers, if not time specifics, regarding anticipated layoffs in coal and steel as the state attempts to reduce excess productive capacity.  Yet another campaign, this one to make sure the CCP’s 88 million members don’t worship Western values or slack off in their duties.  With the annual “Two Meetings” (National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) just around the corner, General Secretary Xi Jinping makes a highly choreographed visit to the major media organizations and prescribes loyalty to the Party in all aspects of their work.  NYT presents a critical report.  Distant echoes can be heard on the U.S. campaign trail. Media jitters in the Age of the Internet: did two juxtaposed headlines in a major newspaper contain a cryptic and politically subversive poem, right after the Party called for the media to toe the line politically?  Did heads roll?  Was it all a social-media fantasy? Interesting exchange of non-Chinese expert views on PRC efforts at Internet control  Another call from the top of the military for a “clean” army (i.e., one free of corruption).  Global Times reports on Western Ambassadors’ joint letters of concern over pending PRC legislation on three major topics.  Reporting the views of the foreign ambassadors is more unexpected than GT’s refutation of those views.  A video (Chinese language only, but do not let that deter you), about the “ordinary rural people’s” love of Xi Jinping.  Visually spectacular, and less alien to U.S. political and visual experience than one might at first imagine.  Professor Jerome Cohen, a frequent critic of China but a deeply qualified specialist on China’s legal system, with a warning about the fate of that system under current politicized conditions. An outspoken businessman with 37m online followers loses his social media voice at the hands of the cyber police.   A brief video on Ren Zhiqiang’s loss of social media accounts is at  .  Interesting Bloomberg graphics showing structural changes in China’s economy.  Be sure to move the cursor over the first one.  More bad numbers on the manufacturing economy front.  It is difficult not to juxtapose these developments against increasingly stringent actions to control media, intellectual life, and the legal profession, but connecting dots in China is always a fool’s errand.  The amusing aspect of this piece is that it gathers into one article a slew of “bad news” pieces from the major media, and leaves open the question of whether those media are hooked on a “bad news” vision or whether things in China are really looking bad.  Assuming that this Caixin editorial on the U.S. elections and their meaning for China also appears in Caixin’s Chinese edition, it is quite courageous in enjoining China not to let nationalism get out of control, even while staring rampant U.S. election-season hostility toward China in the face. A CSIS-Sasakawa Peace Foundation task forces recommends heightened US-Japan military alliance in the Western Pacific.  U.S. foreign policy heavyweights involved; sign of the times?  Article mentions Trump view that US-Japan alliance is an unnecessary burden on US.  (May be paywalled).

February 19-25  From People’s Daily, a look at what the major items will be on the agendas of the “Two Meetings” (National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference), always held in early March.  Why China has failed to address the age-old pathology of over-investment, over-building of factories, and thus excess capacity.  An important piece focused on longer-range structural issues.  Nothing new in this piece, but that is precisely the point. A website that should lead, if things are functioning properly, to a way to download the European Commission Report on PRC over-capacity.  Follow directions. See preceding item. RFA reporting this time China is going to get serious about reducing over-production in the coal and steel sectors, but serious unemployment issues and other problems will emerge.  New boss at China Securities Regulatory Commission, after former head Xiao Gang was dumped.  Market behavior since the summer – huge drop in stock index, erratic behavior by market regulators, plus unsettling currency fluctuations, have created a confidence problem domestically and globally, which the new man must deal with. An amazing article on the Beijing air pollution problem, complexities of the “Alert” system, and ideas on what to do about it specifically in the city of Beijing.  Read about proposed “ventilation corridors,” for example.  Gated communities run into trouble with traffic planners.,%20The%20way%20forward.pdf  A new Greenpeace report on PM 2.5 pollution in China, drawn from satellite data, and showing meaningful improvement in recent years without minimizing the enormity of the problem.

February 11–18 One of many mainstream media reports on the PRC’s emplacement of surface to air missiles on one of the islets it has built up in the South China Sea, this one near Vietnam and claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan as well as China.  Follows US military “freedom of navigation” sallies into waters deemed sovereign by the PRCG.  Global Times’s blunt response to U.S. assertions that the placement of surface to air missiles on one of the Paracel Islands near Vietnam represents “militarization.”  Not so, says GT – merely a defensive response to U.S. provocations.  Another in a growing series of reports from China about the regime’s determination to enforce ideological orthodoxy; this one concerns students studying abroad, 300,000 of whom are in the U.S.  Some big players beginning to plan on financial crisis and massive RMB devaluation.  This week’s press all agog.  See also  .*Situation%20Report The fascinating thing about this article describing the massive foreign policy advisory team assisting presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is that, in its listing of key sub-groups on specific regions or issues, Asia, to say nothing of China, is not even mentioned.  Something to watch for:  a stimulating review of Jia Zhangke’s newest film, “Mountains May Depart.”  One man tells the truth about what he did as a teenager in the Cultural Revolution, and explains why he is now coming forth.  Hint – it’s more than personal exorcism.  A few PRC media quotations regarding the vagaries and spectacles of American politics. A delightful “must read” on China’s contemporary “knockoff” culture and its historical antecedents. Related to the preceding item, an LA Times piece on the lives, deeds, and misdeeds of “parachute kids” dropped into American life without supervision by parents in China.  This story revolves around prison sentences recently meted out.  Another large and possibly sensitive deal: a PRC corporate group buys a very big U.S. high-tech distribution firm  .  CFIUS review likely amid increasing U.S. sensitivities over transfers of advanced technology to China.  An important explication of a major case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, pitting the Philippines against China on the question of when a rock protruding above the surface of the ocean is an island, and when it is just a rock. Much hangs on the case, which goes to the heart of South China Sea tensions fraught with dangers of armed conflict.  An intense, yet somewhat ambiguous, editorial from Global Times editor Hu Xijin on what may happen on the Korean Peninsula and what China’s stance should be.  Another thoughtful and readable New Yorker essay, this one by Fan Jiayang on the super-wealthy young Chinese people sent to places like Vancouver B.C. by their parents, for complex reasons, and facing equally complex issues with respect to their futures.  May be paywalled.  China currently chairs the G-20.  This brief China Daily article deals with trade policy items likely to be on the G-20 agenda at a July Trade Ministers Meeting in Shanghai and the September G-20 Summit in Hangzhou.

February 3-10  A rare and meaningful interview with The Pope on the subject of China, by veteran Italian journalist and longtime China resident Francesco Sisci.  The URL indicates the theme: should the world be worrying about what is going on and will happen in the Chinese Economy.  Arthur Kroeber is always worth a serious read.  This piece reviews much that has been described earlier, but Kroeber’s piece raises some pungent issues not fully elaborated in other easily accessible publications.  This article is unfortunately paywalled (one free article per month from this magazine).  A much longer and far more detailed economic analysis by Martin Wolf of the FT, laying out the prospects for China’s achievement of much higher GDP per capita levels by various dates-certain, but concentrating on the structural obstacles standing in the way of that, with implications for China’s social and political systems as well.  An important interview with one of China’s top foreign policy/international relations gurus, Yan Xuetong, in which Yan again calls for recognition that China and the U.S. are competitors, and in which he argues that China should form a network of military alliances.  The nightmare du jour:  gigantic bad loan overhangs, in China big-time but elsewhere, too, threaten the global economy. Analysis of the very big acquisition by ChemChina of Swiss Syngenta ($43b).  About as bold as a journalist in China can be these days:  famed editor Hu Shuli of Caixin calls for deeper, bolder reforms at a difficult moment in China’s economic and even political development.*Morning%20Brief&_r=0  Another disappeared Chinese journalist winds up back inside the PRC under cloudy circumstances.  A long and fascinating article about a 17th-century (late Ming) map found in the Bodleian Library in England.  Thoughts on the DPRK nuclear test program near the Chinese border and its implications for PRC food safety – or perceptions of food safety.*Situation%20Report  From last December but still relevant, a piece on the US Navy’s intentions to preserve dominance in the Pacific, and what that entails.  The cascading security dilemma in the Asia-Pacific region continues to worsen, it seems.  Noted Economist Kenneth Rogoff’s version of current fevered Western opinions regarding capital outflows and PRC efforts to maintain the value of the RMB. Murmurs of rising concern that the anti-corruption campaign and the campaign to define and enforce ideological purity are becoming conflated.  Here, a report that the prestigious research body the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences may be coming into the political crosshairs.  Report leads off with news that the Communist Youth League, long the incubator of younger Communists with political promise, is under attack.  Former General Secretary Hu Jintao and current Premier Li Keqiang among the most prominent of many figures closely associated with the Youth League.  Now the president of gigantic SOE Sinochem in trouble with the graft-smashers.  A new Congressional Research Service paper on the strategic implications of the now-signed Trans-Pacific Partnership, of which the U.S. has been a key architect but which faces an uncertain future in the U.S. Congress.  China not a TPP member, but TPP’s relevance to U.S.-China relations is beyond question, given the President’s invocation of the danger that China will “write the rules” if TPP, led by the U.S., does not.  On a very different note, a report from the field on prospects for Western-operated senior care facilities in China.

January 18 – February 3  As the late Senator Everett Dirksen used to say, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”  Here a report of a 50 Billion RMB scam that has finally yielded some prosecutions.  “As far as I know, 95 percent of the investment projects on Ezubo are fake,” quoth one of the arrested execs. Speaking of billions, the WSJ reports that the biggest PRC acquisition of a foreign company is impending:  ChemChina to purchase Syngenta for $43b.  Billions again – lots of them. U.S. Secretary of Defense calls for higher Defense budgets, with Russia and China in mind.  As the U.S. tries to tighten the screws on Pyongyang following the latter’s latest “hydrogen bomb” test and its impending test of long-range missiles, what will China do?  A foreigner resident in China gives foreign readers a sense of the reality of government surveillance over ordinary telecommunications inside China, and discusses the different assumptions governing such activities in China and in Western countries.  A U.S. company does the unusual and fights back against very harsh judicial punishments in a famous case involving alleged provision of bad foods to McDonalds, KFC and others. Intimations of disgruntled employee skullduggery now surface, but all remains murky. The continuing campaign against “Rights Lawyers” ripples through the legal and human rights communities of the U.S.  This long and detailed article reflects the extent of the assault on Chinese “Rights Lawyers” and the traumas now underway not only within China’s “Rights Movement” but among foreign legal specialists and professional organizations.  The Economist on the spate of televised confessions of wrongdoing now going on in the PRC, and what has led to this (to outside eyes) unedifying spectacle.  “The moment we’ve all been waiting for,” one way or the other: PRC-made autos arrive in U.S. showrooms.  Interesting that the article quotes ordinary Americans who maintain open minds as to where the products they purchase are made – along with, as might be expected, voices from organized labor who have dreaded this day for years.  A useful discussion among specialists of divergent views as to the likelihood of China’s economy coming to a “hard landing.”  Another murky head-rolling, this time of the former President of the very very big Agricultural Bank of China. A brief official item on the destinations of outgoing Foreign Investment from China to the world in the first half of 2015.  The U.S. was by far the heaviest recipient of PRC outbound FDI, in spite of occasional and much-discussed interventions by the US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United Sates (CFIUS).  A web site that tabularizes U.S. presidential candidates’ comments on Asia, including China.  Title speaks for itself.  “Suggested Readings on China” makes no judgment on the validity of this argument, but it is worth considering.  The Conference Board employs a set of less familiar metrics to measure the real state of the Chinese economy.  Veteran British journalist Guy de Jonquieres on the approach train wreck over whether China should be considered a “market economy” in trade disputes.  A long-running drama seemingly coming to a head.   A wonderful interview with David Barboza, who has just finished a long tour of duty in China for the New York Times, during which he researched and wrote the vast report on the wealth accumulated by the family of then-Premier Wen Jiabao.  A model of self-awareness, modesty and discretion.

January  14-18 Foreign Ministry message to international community following Tsai Ing-wen/DPP victory on Taiwan. Analysis of the Taiwan vote and DPP victory.  By Richard Bush of Brookings, former head of the American Institute in Taiwan.  Another serious analysis of the Taiwan election and the triumph of the DPP, with emphasis on the serious economic challenges facing Taiwan.  This SCMP piece focuses on Tsai Ing-wen herself – her background, her work style.

(The following two items were published before the Taiwan election.)  Douglas Paal of Carnegie, who, like Richard Bush of Brookings (see last week’s SR) served as director of the American Institute in Taiwan (the U.S. unofficial representative agency there) and in other key Asia policy roles in a long government career, with his take on what the Taiwan elections will bring, and what they will mean for the triangular relationship of the China, Taiwan and the United States. A straightforward NYT primer on the Taiwan election, for novice readers.  Offers interesting vignettes on some of the more colorful candidates for the Legislative Yuan, or parliament.  The sweep against “rights lawyers” in China goes on, and the PRC tells the USG not to stick its face in.  From The Guardian, a bitter article on the significance of charging four “rights lawyers,” not with “inciting subversion,” but with “subverting the state.” The new “received wisdom” on China’s economy, from Bloomberg. Wu Jianmin, a reliable conveyor of official Chinese policy positions, with a very upbeat perspective on the overall trajectory of US-China relations, citing examples ranging from cybersecurity to climate change and even South China Sea issues.  On the other hand, from the very same online publication, here is a derisory and scathing denunciation of the U.S. Administration’s policies toward North Korea, rejecting any suggestion that China itself might be able to help bring about a more meaningful international response to the latest, “thermonuclear,” blast in the DPRK, fifty miles from the Chinese border. A NYT report on the fraught relationship between the China of Xi Jinping and the DPRK of Kim Jong Un, all of which adds up to a Chinese aversion to putting real pressures on North Korea in the wake of its “hydrogen bomb” test. Very useful Chinadialogue piece on 2016 prospects with respect to the environment.  Comments by a set of appropriately placed Chinese officials and commentators. China Daily takes note of President Obama’s allusion, yet again, in defense of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to the need to prevent China’s “setting the rules” for trade in the Asia-Pacific Region.  Huang Qifan, Chongqing mayor since 2010, tipped for higher position. At a moment when stock market gyrations and inchoate government responses have called into widespread doubt the effectiveness of the relevant but disconnected agencies (central bank, securities regulators), a new office formed to coordinate among them.  This word “coordinate” is a familiar one in the official PRC lexicon and sometimes describes substantive work but at other times turns out not to do so.      A Financial Times recap of the chaotic first week of January on PRC stock exchanges and RMB valuation, emphasizing (with a hint of schadenfreude?) the lack of coherence among relevant Chinese government agencies and the doubts the volatility has again sown among outside investors and observers.  A handy graphic illustrating the restructurings of the Chinese military announced very recently. A substantial analysis of Chinese overseas FDI by Derek Scissors of the American Enterprise Institute; Scissors has worked in this field for a long time.  Haier buying GE appliance business.  That will make a mark on U.S. public consciousness.

January 7-13  Taiwan’s election will take place on Jan. 16, with the DPP favored to take over the presidency – not the outcome preferred in Beijing, to put it mildly.  Brookings’s veteran Taiwan hand (and former American Institute in Taiwan chief) Richard Bush looks at the upcoming Taiwan election (Jan. 16).  Always worth reading. As suggested last week in SR, the disappearance of certain Hong Kong book sellers is a very serious matter.  Loggerheads again, at least publicly: Kerry tells PRC to toughen up on DPRK following nuclear/thermonuclear test, and PRC says “Not our responsibility – YOUR responsibility.  Analysis of the economic turmoil sweeping through China’s financial system and shares markets in the first week of the new year. An economist piece, written in the familiar faintly Olympian style (“H.L. Mencken, an American writer…”) on the structural dilemmas now surfacing as China’s share markets and currency valuation maneuvers experience ominous stresses.  A very gloomy, somewhat technical, article from The Telegraph on challenges to maintenance of currency stability in the current very volatile environment.  Pyongyang’s H-Bomb test: implications for relations with China. An early Global Times report on the DPRK nuclear test.  One has to admit that not informing a neighboring “friendly” nation of an imminent hydrogen bomb test fifty miles from the common border is, well, not a “friendly” way of behaving.  What will this gathering economic implosion in the PRC do to the much-discussed Chinese attitude of contempt for the U.S. economic system that arose following the 2008-09 financial crisis?  Most observers date the rise of PRC “assertiveness” to the American stumble in ’08, which put paid to the notion of a U.S. economic/political model for the world.  The shoe, these days, seems to be on another foot.  Plenty of humble pie for all to eat, but perhaps no one will.  A veteran American observer, based in Beijing and not always on point, with an essay hinting that the big political push of recent years could evolve into a Big Stumble.  Not quite rumor-mongering, but not amenable to verification, either.  An important U.S. analysis of the State Council’s recent “Opinion” on Building a Strong IP Nation. Why are China’s notorious social-media censors allowing so many derisory postings about Kim Jong Un following Korea’s “H-Bomb” test, including postings critical of Chinese authorities for tolerating Kim?   This report on the erection and demolition of a gigantic golden statue of Mao Zedong in the farmlands of Henan Province is a reminder that China is a country of vast distances, cultural as well as physical.  The playing out of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, USA, however, is another signal against smugness among US observers of China.   UNOFFICIAL translation of the Second Reading version of the China Charity Law, now under NPC consideration.  The home web site, , is an extraordinary resource. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s paper “Worst Innovation Mercantilist Policies of 2015” discusses China and numerous other countries. No one can accuse The National Review of not being conservative.  Here they run an article about the demagogy/reality divergence on the subject of the U.S. trade deficit with the PRC.  China’s “Other Power,” neither “hard” nor “soft;” the power to energize or retard other countries’ economies.  Volvo on the rise.  Ford could barely get rid of it after the financial crisis, and China’s Geely finally bought it.  Geely has put in the capital, and has left design and manufacture to the Swedes.  Now building a U.S. manufacturing facility.  A nice story of PRC investment abroad.  Another take on China’s economic uncertainties, this one by John Cassidy, who writes for The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books and embodies, not so much a specialized career focused on China, but a kind of “intellectual elite” style directed at an “educated elite” audience.  Cassidy bio at

January 1-6  Economic wrap-up 2015 and prognosis 2016.  Reorganization of the Chinese military off to a major start with establishment of new Rocket Force, PLA General Command, and PLA Strategic Support Force. Another summary piece on military reorganization. A nice piece on a leading American academic who served as advisor to the self-proclaimed Emperor of China, Yuan Shikai, in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.  Links to the delicate role of foreigners in advising, or in advocating for, those building a 21st century governance system for China.  Louisa Lim, former NPR reporter and later the author of The People’s Republic of Amnesia, with a report on the five Weibo postings that garnered the most “hits” before being removed from the Internet by Chinese censors. The Naval War College’s remarkable Professor Lyle Goldstein with a piece on China’s growing Coast Guard, and the need for U.S.-Chinese Coast Guard cooperation – not the dominant idea in U.S. thinking today.  One of a blizzard of reports on the conviction and sentencing of renowned “Rights Lawyer” Pu Zhiqiang, after nineteen months of detention.  Three year suspended sentence, plus cancellation of his right to practice law.  Weak manufacturing numbers, stronger service-sector numbers, and prospects for 2016, from the South China Morning Post.  Forget the lurid headline; this is a serious matter that had better be resolved quickly and without harm. Economic implications of the vast over-building of housing in second-, third- and fourth-tier cities in China.  A little McKinsey Info/Promo on ways in which Chinese companies are innovating successfully.  Part I of three on the Rise of China, by India’s former National Security Advisor.  Interesting reading.  Part II in the above three-part series.  An old problem resurfaces:  what to do with hundreds of thousands of demobilized soldiers?  The current military reforms will “lay off” 300,000 from the armed forces.  The regime tells state-owned enterprises to help employ them.  Veteran diplomat Mme. Fu Ying, now chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, has emerged as one of China’s most articulate English-language communicators of government messages.  Here she discusses, for English-language readers, the persistence of poverty in China as a top policy challenge.  With the Shanghai stock index flopping on Day 1 of the new year, a Merrill Lynch analyst adds that the index will likely head further south as the year progresses.  His arguments and evidence are included.  McKinsey balances the requirement of earning money from its clients with the value of making expert perspectives known gratis to the public.  For a publicly available piece, this forward look at major issues in the Chinese economy in 2016 is pretty meaty.  Word games, homophones, and especially references to earlier literary or classical texts to touch on contemporary issues are all part of China’s rich and constantly evolving linguistic universe.  This article tells of a phrase in a short story by the great early 20th century author Lu Xun and its sudden popularity online in today’s China.  Much tea-leaf-reading about a single remark in a speech by Party chief Xi Jinping: who is in the cross-hairs of Party disclipine-maintainers?  Big fish?


About Suggested Readings

Robert kapp








Dr. Kapp holds a doctorate in modern Chinese history from Yale.  After ten years in academic teaching and research, he spent twenty-five years leading several business-supported nonprofit organizations..  From 1994 through 2004 he was President of The US-China Business Council, the principal organization of American companies engaged in trade and investment with China.