This Week

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.

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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).

[/restab] [restab title=”October 2016″]

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?

[/restab] [restab title=”September 2016″]

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.

[/restab] [restab title=”August 2016″]

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.

[/restab] [restab title=”July 2016″]

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.

[/restab] [restab title=”June 2016″]

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.

[/restab] [restab title=”May 2016″]

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?

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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.

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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  .)

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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.

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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?

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December 24-31 Utterly without fanfare, the U.S. Congress in its “Omnibus Spending Bill” passed last week finally o.k.’d International Monetary Reforms giving China, whose contributions to the Fund have grown and whose economy has become a global power, greater voting rights in the IMF. In the five years that Congress held this provision up, China got tired of waiting and went about setting up its own institutions, notably the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which the U.S. poo-poohed. Now Global Times calls for expanded attention to AIIB while celebrating the overdue elevation of the PRC’s stature in the IMF. The official, annual Report on China’s WTO Compliance from the Office of the US Trade Representative, as mandated by Congress. The Executive Summary is very worthwhile. A Wall Street Journal article elaborating on the now-obvious point that in glittering Shenzhen there is a whole different strain of living and working, at low wages and in primitive conditions, vulnerable to catastrophes like the construction-dump landslide that has left more than seventy unaccounted for. Culture clash over high school curriculum in a high-achieving school district outside of Princeton: guess who’s on which sides of a heated debate about whether to lighten the overpowering emphasis on grades and test scores. The Global Times conducts a “survey” and finds that 95% of those surveyed favor the expulsion of French journalist Gauthier after her article suggesting that the Chinese government was using the excuse of recent ISIL attacks in France to further its assaults on the Uighurs of Xinjiang. A bitter, signed Xinhua article accusing the U.S. of a vicious double standard in its treatment of terrorist assaults in China and in the West. One person’s terror attack is another person’s righteous expression of resistance to repression, it seems. The full range of Chinese resentment at U.S./Western high-handedness bubbles forth in this display of angry exasperation. The world turns. Concern over China pushes Vietnam toward the U.S. Innovation with Chinese characteristics. A “coding boot camp” as a pathway out of stultifying “traditional” economic organization in the direction of “innovation,” as mandated by the Party.

December 16-23 Caixin, in a strong editorial, lays down a marker for a crucial task in 2016.  Powerful photographs of the huge so-called “landslide” of construction waste which has claimed nearly a hundred lives in Shenzhen.  A sadly familiar tale of malfeasance up and down a long chain of responsibility.  South China Morning Post(HK)  coverage of the Shenzhen disaster, with a number of embedded videos.  Shenzhen is just across the border from Hong Kong, so this is essentially a Local News story for the SCMP. A very fine Caixin article on prospects for final passage of a law governing charitable organizations and charitable activities in China.  The article provides insights into the complexities of key definitions in the Chinese context, and into the reasons that making this law has proved to be excruciatingly time-consuming.  A substantial U.S. arms sale to Taiwan.  Beijing will not be happy.  The U.S. Trade Representative’s “Fact Sheet” on the newly-signed Information Technology Agreement revisions agreed in Nairobi Dec. 16.  Important for U.S. high-tech companies.  China a key player in all the negotiations.  Good interview with Jeremy Goldkorn, the founder of and a sophisticated analyst of Chinese Internet

developments, regarding the World Internet Conference now underway in China and the internet visions of the Xi Jinping leadership. A report on President Xi Jinping’s address to the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, Dec. 16.  On Vietnam’s military preparations against the possibility of conflict with China.  What various candidates for the Highest Office in the Land had to say about China in recent televised “debates.”  As usual, China as both a side show and a stage prop in American electoral politics. The fox in the chicken coop?  Anti-corruption investigators work their way into the securities regulatory bodies in the aftermath of the summer share-price collapse and the expensive ensuing government rescue effort.  Inauguration of a historic cooperative project between a renowned Israeli technology university and a Shantou University in Guangdong. A blunt, no-holds-barred, view of China’s recent “World Internet Conference,” at which China’s official conception of an Internet rooted in nations’ sovereign right to manage the Internet within their borders was the center of official attention. The South China Morning Post, whose purchase last week by Alibaba magnate Jack Ma will arouse careful attention to signs of increased political caution in editorials and news coverage, with a piece on the PRC’s increasingly active (as opposed to purely defensive) management of the Internet to serve PRCG policy goals. A gloomy and troubling assessment of the year 2015 in Chinese cyber affairs. Richard Bush, of Brookings, is one of the pre-eminent American specialists on Taiwan affairs and U.S.-Taiwan policy issues. This is his new essay on the upcoming Taiwan elections and their implications for the U.S., the PRC, and Taiwan itself.  The RMB is dropping significantly now that it is one of the IMF’s “basket of currencies.”  Keith Bradsher of the NYT does about as good a job as can be done in making sense of currency complexities.  Potential for more US-China friction ahead over “currency manipulation,” for one thing. A look at how China has arrived at its current advocacy of “internet sovereignty,” i.e., the right of each nation to control what moves through the Internet within the nation’s borders.  Nothing new under the sun:  a fake acceptance speech by Nobel Laureate Tu Youyou has swept the Internet.  Reads like what we might expect as the Real Thing, but it isn’t.  The informative magazine Caixin runs a long article on the problem of the loathed “chengguan,” low-level official enforcer brigades in China’s cities.

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.

Dec. 2-8 A Must-read, or rather Must-View, since this is a nearly two-hour debate on the proposition “Resolved: China and the U.S. are Long-Term Enemies.” Four stalwarts (John Mearshimer/Peter Brookes/Kevin Rudd/Robert Daly) duke it out in formal debate fashion, with decisive audience votes at the end.  Should be viewed in its entirety. A curious Xinhua report on joint US-China cybersecurity meeting (follow-up to Obama-Xi September agreement), suggesting “Through investigation, the case turned out to be a criminal case rather than a state-sponsored cyber attack as the U.S. side has previously suspected.” USG no comment.

http:// President Xi in Africa.  Announcement of big PRC aid package.  Remarkable police veteran leading the intensified investigation of China’s financial services sector.  Useful roundup of current situation, plus unusual profile of the top cop. The Party’s English language online paper Global Times, on the Islamic State’s issuance of a recruiting song in standard spoken Chinese.  Official U.S. Statement on first US-China High-Level Joint Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues.  Perhaps a promising start on a key problem in U.S.-China relations today.  But only a bare beginning. Useful perspectives by two articulate experts (Arthur Kroeber and Chen Zhiwu) on the symbolic and actual significances of the inclusion of the RMB in the IMF’s basket of Special Drawing Rights currencies. Corruption in college admissions.  A big fish at Renmin University falls.  Wider implications, deeper structural social issues.  Bad numbers on the manufacturing sector for November.  But much more vigor on the services and consumption sides – which is the whole goal of economic “rebalancing.” Changes afoot in the military. An analysis of military justice reforms underway.[tt_news]=44865&tx_ttnews[backPid]=25&cHash=6153fed4cc0fc6bd1df82bb26926622f#.VmYLzOLW_VI  Multiple possibilities in interpreting recent Chinese military cyberspace developments. Nothing conclusive here, but a good layout of plausible possibilities.  The Congressional Research Service’s Report to Congress on the Paris Climate Change talks.  Issued immediately prior to the opening of the talks.  Lucid and well organized, as always.  The Rebalance continues:  US, Singapore agree on placing P-8 surveillance planes at Sing bases. Part of enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the two. Another article detailing a situation in which a person in trouble was not helped by those around him.  This “coldheartedness” theme has been a staple of Chinese self-examination for nearly a century, and has also been a topic for Westerners’ discussions “back in the day” when missionaries were spread throughout China bemoaning China’s civil customs and seeking to reform them with new doctrines.  Part I of a two-part Brookings Seminar built around a new book on the subject of contemporary Chinese social ethics and morality, the absence of which has become a subject of massive interest and discussion inside as well as outside of the PRC.   Major, nuanced US thinkers and scholars offer observations.  Very worthwhile, as is Part II, at . A link to a PDF transcript of the whole thing will be found at   .

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November 18 – Dec. 1 An extremely informative piece by UVA’s Harry Harding, a senior analyst of US-China relations, on the parlous state of American policy views on China today.  A must-read.  Pair with David M. Lampton’s “Tipping Point” speech to The Carter Center last May, at  A major development in China’s ascent to global economic financial “Big Power” status:  the RMB becomes part of the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket of currencies, at 10.92%, a bigger share than sterling or the Yen. The IMF action on the RMB seen as a spur to further economic reform and liberalization.  One more analysis of the IMF RMB SDR move this week.  China’s new prominence on climate-change.  See also*Situation%20Report  A reminder that the U.S. and China can and do work quietly together on major issues, in this case trying to restart Afghan government – Taliban talks on the future of Afghanistan. The briefest of early summaries of a new, huge report by hundreds of PRC analysts on the implications of global warming for China.  Very serious concerns indeed.  See also  China Development Brief’s translation of the endlessly-awaited and recently issued First Draft of the China Charity Law, a subject of intense international scrutiny. An important read:  Global Times’s take on the big military reform amid changing times globally. Official Chinese news report on President Xi’s discussion of major military reforms now announced. Modest outcomes from Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting. Some cooling words with respect to another PRC hysteria in US hawk circles.  Big news on long-awaited comprehensive reorganization of the Chinese military, ordained and announced by Xi Jinping. A nuanced article, eloquently illustrated, about something terrible and the systemic challenges to reform at the ground level in China.  Do not be unduly repelled by the title of the article.  China’s disappearing, but wanted, CEOs.  Will big data finally give China’s ruling authorities the grasp of what is happening everywhere, all the time, that they have yearned for but never achieved over many centuries past?  McKinsey China Ace Jonathan Woetzel with the message that The Sky Is Not Falling.  From Forbes in October. Official USG “Fact Sheet” on outcomes of the recent US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting.  Andrew Jacobs leaves Beijing after eight years reporting for the NYT in China.  Moving and pointed reflections. A WSJ article from early November that is being widely discussed, reporting that broad economic reform plans have been delayed in the face of flagging economic vitality.

November 11-17  This is a “Must Read” essay, because it brings into one coherent article the full range of the current U.S. debate over policy toward China, past, present and future.  Mme. Fu Ying is currently one of China’s most prominent foreign affairs “faces” in the English language.  Here she offers a presentation on China’s overall view of the world, delivered at a meeting sponsored by a Western foundation recently.  An articulate summation of official Chinese views on world order, relations with the U.S., etc. A moving article, originally in the NY Times, on the loneliness of the generation of single children born during the One Child Policy era. Two well informed US observers try to make sense out of the inconclusive and elliptical statements on the next Five Year Plan that emanated from the recent CCP Central Committee meeting.  We digress, only slightly, to include this editorial from the influential Washington Post, arguing for Congressional approval of the recently-concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. James Lewis of CSIS analyzes the Xi-Obama understanding on the reigning in of commercial cyber-hacking and the “way forward” hereafter. The Wall Street Journal’s China Bureau Chief Andrew Browne with a feature article on the larger implications of the recent Singapore meeting between “Mr.” Xi Jinping and “Mr.” Ma Ying-jeou.  U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, one of Congress’s most longstanding and severe critics of the PRC on human rights grounds, recently led a small group of American Members of Congress to China, including Tibet.  This is her statement upon returning to U.S. soil. A significant development nears in global finance:  the RMB likely to enter the “basket” of foreign currencies (now US$, EUR, Japan Yen, UK Pound) that comprise the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR). This is a lucid analysis.  For more on SDR, see  .  A commentary on the plusses and minuses of “Singles Day” – the enormous annual November 11 online shopping extravaganza thought up by Alibaba. Some signs of salvation in the Chinese housing market.

November 5 – 10  A great blog post by one of the most authoritative U.S. experts, on China’s current and future coal usage.  An important read.  The complexities of measuring climate change-related data, in China but also elsewhere. A study examining China’s future use of coal, and the timing of its likely “peak” in greenhouse gas emissions, in light of the “new normal” manner of economic development in the near term. Lawrence Summers poses basic questions about the world’s lack of basic understanding of China’s economic evolution, but perhaps on the basis of a straw-man dichotomy. A translation, by an extraordinarily sophisticated American, of a recent essay by a prominent scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, outlining with considerable clarity the principal features and emphasis of Chinese foreign policy under Xi Jinping.  One glimpse of the Taiwan in question as Xi and Ma meet. A scathing look at the Xi-Ma meeting, by an American who headed the American Institute in Taiwan a decade ago. An official Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs article on the Ma administration’s views of the upcoming meeting with Xi Jinping. The dependably pugnacious Global Times whacks Taiwan’s DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s comments following the Xi-Ma meeting.  Since Ts’ai is heavily favored to win the presidential election in January, GT’s bellicosity toward her may be indicative of PRC official decisions that may prove fateful in months to come. A nuanced analysis of then-upcoming Xi-Ma meeting, sensitive to the several audiences intently watching and listening.  Carnegie’s Douglas Paal, a veteran of three decades of Asia policy-making, on China and the U.S. “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific, with two years of U.S. domestic political maneuverings just around the corner.  Following Xi Jinping’s high-pomp visit to the UK, a veteran British foreign policy specialists evaluates things with a cool eye.  His observations are more widely relevant.  As the South China Morning Post stumbles, a new independent online Hong Kong publication emerges. Harvard’s Martin Whyte, perhaps the leading American sociologist working on China, places the new abandonment of the one-child policy into critical perspective.  May require registration. Renowned foreign policy scholar Yan Xuetong argues that China should embark on a new policy of extensive military alliances, to balance the Americans’ vaunted alliance network.  The uncertain fate of the term BRICs, as Goldman closes its BRICs Fund.  Places, sadly, to avoid in winter.  Shenyang’s PM2.5 at 864.  Fastidious visitors, spare a thought for those trapped in the noxious clouds. Is “Reform” being thrown under the bus as China faces economic slowdown?

October 29 – November 4 This is a tremendous piece, illustrating the complex mesh of social, economic and environmental issues, and the daunting governance challenges, facing Chinese political actors and society at large. Something new on the Taiwan front: Xi Jinping and Ma Yingjeou will meet face to face in Singapore. Significance as yet unknown. Xinhua reports on the 13th 5 Year Plan recently outlined. Slightly fuller information as to the content of the Thirteenth Five Year Plan, whose outline was approved at the recent Fifth Plenum of the 18th CCP Central Committee. Still very general, and, as usual, without any indications of cause-and-effect relationships or relative priorities. The complete Communique issued at the conclusion of the Fifth Plenum of the 18th Central Committee, in a draft translation. Guidelines and principles governing the upcoming Thirteenth Five Year Plan. Also the end of the one-child policy, and expulsions of disgraced Party bigwigs from the CCP. Green dimensions of the emerging Thirteenth Five Year Plan. Another urgent, somewhat bold, editorial from Caixin, as the Fifth Plenum of the 18th Central Committee meets, arguing that time is running out on economic reform. A veteran Chinese diplomat with a more optimistic view of TPP implications for China. An important analysis of the complex issue of the sharing of “source code” with Chinese regulators, at China’s insistence. IBM and Microsoft have agreed to do so, under controlled conditions, and the US Government is not happy at this apparent breaking of ranks. Practical home economics math sets in, leading some young couples to stick with one child even as China abandons the “one child policy.” Nobel Prize economist Amartya Sen discusses the social and economic changes that are really responsible for current low fertility rates among Chinese women. Wrinkles in the anti-corruption campaign. High drama as China’s billionaire hedge funder Xu Xiang is apprehended after a police chase on a blockaded highway bridge. From a couple of months ago, but still penetrating: UCSD’s Barry Naughton discusses the July stock market collapse and the regime’s responses, as well as the uncertain progress of SOE reform, in the context of the current leadership’s decision-making and administrative predilections. Veteran Asia journalist Barbara Demick’s obituary for the one-child policy. Mexico’s former Ambassador to China examines the similarities he finds between his native country’s experiences and China’s. Reuters uncovers an unacknowledged PRC control over a Washington, D.C.-area radio station, with implications for the station’s news content.

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October 22 – 28 This is the “Must See” item of the week: a zippy, catchy animated video, with English subtitles, hyping “13.5” – the Thirteenth Five Year Plan, likely to be discussed at the Central Committee Plenum currently underway. This must-read by James Fallows goes with the preceding entry, and offers more catchy videos. Some readers may remember Zhuangzi dreaming he was a butterfly. Or was he a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi? The “nationalistic” Global Times’s earliest reaction to the U.S. Navy’s sailing of an American warship inside the “Twelve Mile Limit” surrounding a couple of China’s South China Sea “enhanced” islets.    One seasoned South China Sea blogger’s attempt to decode PRC official media comments on the U.S. Navy ship’s voyage inside the twelve-mile circle around one or two of China’s new man-made “islets” in the name of Freedom of Navigation. Dazzling aerial photos of “China’s Manmade Islands.” From June, the Lowy Institute’s “The Perception Gap: Reading China’s Maritime Objectives in Indo-Pacific Asia. An look at how both the U.S. and China benefit from the recent U.S. Navy sail-by inside the 12-mile line near a couple of China’s pseudo-islands. Interesting thinking. Notwithstanding the intrusive commercials that elude deletion, these photographs of Gansu Province in Northwest China are truly breathtaking. IMF sees rising service sector helping to avoid economic gloom and doom as manufacturing stumbles. A very interesting compendium of Chinese press views on what the now-imminent Fifth Plenum of the CCP Central Committee should accomplish for the people of China. Mark Zuckerberg approaches China, in Chinese. His goal: to open Facebook in China, where it is now banned. We will see. Canadian scholar Daniel Bell has a new book arguing that China’s “meritocratic” model of political organization and governance is superior to the vaunted liberal democratic model normally identified with the U.S. and Western Europe. Columbia University China scholar Andrew Nathan powerfully disagrees in this review essay. A plea for enhanced people-to-people ties as vital to the stability of US-China relations. By an American and a Chinese author, both figures of stature in the field. With attention refocusing on the Chinese economy as the Fifth Plenum of the CCP Central Committee convenes, this Shanghai Daily piece is a reminder that poverty, even in otherwise prosperous East China, remains a big challenge. From October 27, GT on the Fifth Plenum as it gets underway. A massive combination of key terms and topics and links to related sources. Nicely constructed, albeit with Global Times’s familiar slants. An impressive academic analysis of the anti-corruption campaign in its political context in China, by Fu Hyualing, law professor at Hong Kong University. Downloadable from this site.

October 15 – 21 Your Editor once had the privilege of staring reverently at Chiang Kai-shek’s pajamas, under glass, in a museum. And another time, at Zhou Enlai’s. The BBC’s reporter Carrie Gracie, a longtime China correspondent, had the privilege of visiting Chairman Xi’s Cultural Revolutionary era poor rural village, on the eve of President Xi’s reception at Buckingham Palace.–china-trade-4a5353390b.html The (down)beat goes on: dismal import figures for August, worse than consensus expectations, suggesting deeper slowdown. Genuinely significant US-China cooperation on climate change issues. A courageous, refreshing editorial from Caixin, calling the recently-agreed Trans-Pacific Partnership (which does not include China) a challenge and stimulus to further economic opening and reform, rather than a device for the US and others to “contain” and repress China. China, it argues, should do what it can to prepare to join TPP. On the reintroduction of “traditional Chinese learning” in education of young children. Be sure to click on each of the three pages for the full article. This is the tip of a very complex political and cultural iceberg. More on cultural outreach in the U.S. A long, slow process worth pursuing. A serious video from Australia about the “Great Wall of Money”: who is investing in Australia, how, and why. Illuminating. A tiny hint that PRC bumptiousness might be moderated led to an online outcry that China is going soft. Capital outflows from China.

October 7 – 14 Must-view. The final segment of a twelve-part series on US reporting on China from the 1940s through 2012. This one covers the astounding events of 2012. US naval pushback in the South China Sea looming. From October 2, a fairly sober and inclusive piece on rising tension in the South China Sea as rumors swirl of U.S. intentions to sail naval vessels within twelve miles of some of China’s man-made islands, defying Chinese claims that such territories permit China to enforce a twelve-mile limit. Related to the above item, NYT on October 12 regarding further signs of US “Freedom of Navigation” sailings at an early date. Amid rumors of potential Sino-U.S. conflict in the South China Sea region, a PLAN ship makes a friendly port call in Hawaii.*Situation%20Report   Barry Naughton and Arthur Kroeber, two of Your Editor’s favorite specialists on the Chinese economy, connect the recently-concluded Trans Pacific Partnership agreement to prospects for the Chinese economy. Other contributors include Your Editor. A useful pulling-it-all-together essay on China’s numerous outward-facing initiatives now (AIIB, OBOR, New Silk Road, etc.) and the challenges they may face. Increasing concern as to whether SOE reform, widely acknowledged to be the heaviest lift in Xi Jinping’s reform agenda, is, progressing, or even can progress. Drawn, however, from only two interviews with skeptical analysts. A marvelous piece about the right-vs.-left harangues that break out on Chinese social media. News of PRC arrests of alleged hackers of US intellectual property, at behest of US authorities. Pride tempered by self-examination as a Chinese researcher, long denied membership in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, wins the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology. Further reverberations from an ugly development at Hong Kong University last week. A little, local tragedy. New leadership at the China General Chamber of Commerce in USA. As PRC business presence in US rises, this Chamber will become more prominent in wider circles. Last but definitely not least. An essay by a frequent critic of the PRC, writing regularly for the New York Times, on the love/hate attitudes of some people in China toward the United States. Reader comments are also extremely interesting.

October 1 – 7  Public Citizen, which hated NAFTA in 1993, hated Permanent Normal Trade Relations for China in 2000, hated Trade Promotion Authority for President Obama earlier this year, now hates the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreed to be negotiators for twelve countries last weekend.  China is not a party to TPP; indeed, President Obama has chosen to advertise TPP as a bulwark against China’s “writing the rules” for trade and investment in the Asia Pacific region if the U.S. doesn’t “lead.”  So Public Citizen, which loathes China and U.S. policies toward China, opposes TPP, which is supposed to pre-empt Chinese policy assertiveness.  No one has seen the text of TPP yet, and the public and Congress won’t for several weeks to come.  Public Citizen’s arguments against TPP are at this URL.  This will be a major battle in Congress.  Canadian Scholar Daniel Bell has gained fame for his argument that the Chinese “meritocratic” model may be preferable to Western participatory democratic forms.  In this new article, which he claims simply restates more succinctly some of his points in his recent book, he seems to be saying that the Chinese model itself is in peril if China does not take urgent steps to achieve a more “open” society.  Issued on China’s National Holiday, this is an upbeat summary piece on the growing complementarity, to the benefit of both sides, of the U.S. and Chinese economies, with emphasis on commercial progress revealed during the visit of President Xi Jinping to the U.S. in late September. By contrast, this is what was not enunciated publicly during the recent visit of President Xi Jinping to the United Sttes. More signs of major reforms coming in the People’s Liberation Army. This is an important video, more than an hour long.  It is a presentation to the Peterson Institute of International Economics by Professor Yu Yongding, Senior Fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and formerly a member of the People’s Bank of China Monetary Committee and a distinguished economist.  His analysis of the “China’s Financial Instability and Recent Turbulence” is complex but extremely informative and, in the view of some, very troubling.  His accompanying slides are viewable at Fine article on a young S&T whiz who is defying the official traditions of top-down technology development. Canadian China scholar David Zweig, long based in Hong Kong,  with an informative article on the Democracy Movement in Hong Kong and Beijing’s driving concern over foreign influences. A succinct summary of what the US and China agreed to on cybersecurity during the visit of President Xi last week, by the ever-dependable Gary Hufbauer and a colleague at the Peterson Institute. WSJ sums up President Xi Jinping’s carefully planned image-projection back home during his visit to the U.S. and the UN. A daunting and granular look at PRC investment in, and engagement with, a poverty-stricken African nation. The bad news: monthly numbers show yet more contraction in already-weakened manufacturing sector.  The (possible) good news: this could be a sign that the larger transformation (or “Reform”) of the structure of the Chinese economy is actually moving ahead.  In spite of numerous roadblocks, U.S.-China discussions on civil space cooperation get going.  State Department Press release at   : “a new initiative to enhance cooperation between the two countries and provide better transparency on a variety of space related issues.” An official Chinese report on President Xi’s meeting with “Chinese Community in the U.S.,” an event simply unmentioned in the U.S. press for some reason.  Given the perennially lurking controversy over the role of people of Chinese origin in American life, Xi’s message, as reported here, is positive and constructive. From the rich and productive environmental online publication Chinadialogue, this series of reports on the challenge of safe drinking water in the PRC.   As the U.S. reels from yet another mass shooting, a small town in Southwest China is wracked by a series of lethal package bombs in a single day. This SCMP account gives a rare intimate picture of the background to a severe local tragedy. An article, with lots of charts, suggesting that U.S. “declinism” and PRC “triumphalism” may be misguided. McKinsey’s veteran China hand Jonathan Woetzel, writing in Forbes, opines that pronouncements of China’s “collapse” are  not premature but wrong. A New Chatham House paper arguing that prophecies of a new U.S.-PRC bipolar dominion in the Asia-Pacific region are wrong but potentially, and fatally, self-fulfilling.  They see a more messy and complex region with diffused power.  Dr. Tu Youyou wins the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for her remarkable work in developing a hugely effective anti-malaria medicine from the vast literature and resources of Chinese Traditional Medicine. Two others shared the second half of the Nobel for Medicine this year, for different tropical-disease-related work.

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September 25 – October 1

(Note:  A particularly busy week has concluded, and SR is very long this week.  Plan on normal length next week!)  Your Editor places this long piece by the articulate William Overholt at the top of SR for the week.  Powerful observations about U.S. domestic maladies and their impact on, among other things, U.S. relations with China.  Australian Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with “Ten Questions” about China – sensible questions, valuable answers by and large.  Issued on the eve of President Xi’s arrival in the U.S. China’s official news agency’s report on the Outcomes of President Xi’s state visit.  It is important to read Chinese as well as American documents like this, even if the Chinese materials are in English for foreign readers.  This document, for example, places the phrase “New Model of Major-Country Relationship Between China and the United States” in the prime position, while the U.S. has generally avoided using the term, concerned that using it would signify excessive concurrence with PRC positions on contentious issues. The official White House “Fact Sheet” on the outcomes of the State Visit of President Xi.  Compare with the preceding item. The limits of language: a brief comment on the US-China agreement from the summit relating to cyber-theft.–roach-2015-09  Stephen Roach, of Yale these days, with a gloomy assessment of the recent Summit, arguing that the U.S. and China are trapped in an unhealthy “codependency” and accomplished little during the Xi visit.  Other views, including those published in China, are more sanguine.  A comment by a cybercrime specialist (in the private sector) on what Presidents Xi and Obama seemed to have come up with on the cyber question during their meetings.  See “Fact Sheet” above. China’s official English-language newspaper China Daily offers this entertaining illustrated boil-down of the several one-on-one meetings between the U.S. and Chinese presidents.  Food for thought, in the contrasts of content and flavor with what might be expected of American media, if they attempted something like this at all. Day-by-day vignettes of the Xi visit to the U.S. by Jane Perlez, a grizzled veteran of global diplomacy with few illusions but plenty of wit.  Nothing too heavy, but full of texture. Photos from the State Dinner in honor of President Xi.  Nice for flavor of the evening.  A positive and relatively detailed look at China’s domestic commitments on climate change and carbon emissions, announced during the Xi Jinping visit to Washington D.C.  From an NGO deeply involved in the subject. NRDC’s take on the international commitments announced by the two Presidents with respect to climate change. Deborah Seligsohn, who has been in the U.S.-China environmental “space” for a good long time, writes with exceptional clarity and liveliness, as is shown in this piece on the U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change just concluded. A useful, preliminary reflection by New Yorker magazine regular Evelyn Kolbert on China’s announcement, at the White House Summit, that it will implement a market-based cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, beginning in 2017.  It is early days yet, but in the U.S. partisan politics has put cap-and-trade out of reach in recent years. Early, cautious-to-glum commentary on what the two Presidents agreed to on the cyber question and what the agreement is worth in the real world.  Global Times’s own survey of Chinese citizens’ attitudes and perceptions with respect to the U.S. Blunt pushback by China Daily’s D.C.-based Chen Weihua, responding to what he sees as ugly U.S. claims of PRC bad deeds. Written in the middle of the Xi visit.  Richard Bush of Brookings, who has held key Taiwan-centered positions in Washington and Taipei, with a timely article on the possibility that Taiwan will again be a front-and-center issue of great and immediate sensitivity in Washington-Beijing relations. Fascinating piece on India’s arrival as the hot development destination for U.S. high-tech/internet companies, in some ways replacing China. Signs, not detailed, of closer U.S.-China cooperation on anti-terrorism efforts and on Afghanistan peace and development. “Plight and Prospects: The Landscape for Cause Lawyers in China.”  Unlike so many of the cheap gestures that accompany major U.S.-China diplomatic moments, this study from the Leitner Center at the Fordham Law School and the Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers, issued on the eve of President Xi’s state visit, is an important work of analysis and advocacy in a time when state pressure on so-called “rights lawyers” has reached unfortunate new heights. Two of the NYT’s very best, Chris Buckley (finally this week allowed to return to work in Beijing) and Didi Kirsten Tatlow, writing on the early years of Xi Jinping, particularly his experiences during the Cultural Revolution.  Back to substance: a useful reminder article on the persistence and deepening of regional inequalities within the PRC and the long-term structural challenges of creating adequate prosperity and growth in the many provinces that are left mainly in the backwater of development.  Compare Caught in the Middle:  America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism, by Richard Longworth (2009). A brief paper on how to improve the process of security reviews on proposed Chinese investments in the U.S., a process that continues to cause misgivings and resentments in China, while assuring that the security interests of the U.S. are fully protected.

September 10 – 16 China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, offers upbeat comments and other senior Chinese analysts opine on the upcoming visit of President Xi Jinping to the United States. Further comments by leading Chinese thinkers, and one well known American specialist, on the upcoming Xi Jinping visit to the U.S. “Reform” of China’s huge state-owned enterprises (SOE) is widely regarded as the central and biggest challenge of the overall Reform program launched in 2013. No fewer than five agencies joined in announcing SOE Reform this week.  Caixin, based in China, here pushes the envelope in offering critical comments on what was and was not announced.  Some outside observers have been more directly critical.  High drama over cyber attacks as President Xi Jinping’s visit approaches.  Later report indicated that the US will not act before or during the Xi visit.  But post-visit sanctions appear to be a possibility, at   . Yet another PRC runway under construction on a reclaimed reef in the South China Sea. “If the PLA wants to achieve its naval supremacy over the South China Sea [in case there is a war], it’s a must for the navy to get air control over the Spratly Islands, which is the sole gateway for the Chinese navy to enter the Western Pacific,” the retired (PLAN) naval officer said  Implications for investors of the Chinese government’s very muscular interventions to prevent stock prices from tanking. A detailed briefing by four U.S.-based specialists, on U.S.-China Cooperation in the field of Climate Change.  With an audio link. Yet another zone of U.S.-China friction: a huge backlog of deportation cases in the U.S. Another fiasco involving a U.S. academic of PRC origin and spying charges first made and then dropped.  The perceptive Australian journalist John Garnaut on the role of Xi Jinping and the evocation of ethnic pride in the context of the recent gigantic military parade in Beijing.  An Australia-focused essay, of broader relevance.  Almost two hours of video from “conservative” think tank The Hudson Institute.  A panel discussion of Christopher Ford’s new book, China Looks at the West: Identity, Global Ambitions, and the Future of Sino-American Relations .   Familiar figures from the D.C. opinion sector that views China through a glass darkly: Rep. Forbes, Michael Pillsbury, Ford himself.  A very Washington D.C. video. Depending on 2016 election results, author Ford could emerge as a China policy sage.  The anti-corruption tide moves into the aviation-regulation sector (CAAC).

September 3 – 9 suggesting depth of current slowdown. Veteran WSJ reporter Bob Davis on the potentially positive implications, for the U.S. economy, of the deepening economic slowdown in China.  Perhaps it had to happen. The first voices wondering whether the global frenzy over China’s stock market and currency moves in July were an over-reaction.  A Xinhua (official news service) writer blames “U.S. wars” for the current chaos and refugee crisis in the Middle East. A translation of the draft Cybersecurity Law, from a respected source of such translations.  “Governing the Web,” a brief paper by several leading European China specialists. Like many well informed “foreign” observers, legal scholar Stanley Lubman normally avoids prescriptive language. Not this time: he takes the Tianjin and other hazardous-materials disasters, and the official misconduct behind them, and urges a “crackdown” on entrenched, usually local, evasion or obstruction of higher-level safety regs.  A theme of many decades’ standing. Caixin on the latest bad manufacturing numbers.  Caixin has now taken over the PMI task, so its PMI numbers are considered authoritative. The full text of President Xi Jinping’s address on the occasion of the Military Parade September 3.   From just before the day of the Parade, a slicing criticism of “Western” indifference to the whole process: “Western indifference to the Chinese commemoration is a policy blunder that should have been avoided.” And much, much more.  Again, history.  The respected economist Lawrence Lau with a highly personal but intellectually powerful proposal:  Enough with the apologies for what happened in, China and Asia during World War II: what’s needed is rigorous, all-nations research and production of the truth.   Nevertheless, given history-manipulation industries in several of the most affected countries, Lau’s demand may be long in coming to fruition. Against the backdrop of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war against Japan, this intriguing exploration of the changing perceptions of Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek both on Taiwan and in the PRC. More reports that the U.S. is planning tougher responses to alleged PRC cyber-hacking..  He said, she said.  PRC official media critical reaction to Western media critical reaction to Xi Jinping announcement of 300,000 reduction in PLA. The former top USTR China official weighs in with pre-Xi Jinping-visit thoughts on what’s needed in further Chinese economic reforms of concern to its global trade partners (especially the U.S.) The Asia society ventures into podcasting, with this “Who Is Xi Jinping” broadcast, featuring all sorts of Eminent Americans in free-wheeling (but edited) comments.  A nice chance to hear some of America’s most prominent China specialists.  But little new ground broken.   30 minutes in total. Shi Yinhong, of Renmin University, is one of the more nuanced academic specialists on Chinese foreign policy.  This piece, on China’s much-ballyhooed “One Belt/One Road” program, is distinctive in its avoidance of uncritical repetition of familiar upbeat verbiage on the strategy. On the American Bar Association’s moral dilemma with respect to the PRC campaign against human rights-defense lawyers, following a strangely elliptical statement by the ABA.  The tip of the iceberg on similar dilemmas facing many NGOs in China. For the sixth straight month, PRCG authorities do not authorize domestic investors’ investments in overseas equities, as signs of significant capital flight roil the waters. And more; this is a richly informative article. An interesting essay on the implications of DECLINING U.S.-China interdependence.  A related article from the Washington Quarterly on U.S.-China interdependence. Bon Jovi concert in PRC cancelled on short notice, without explanation.  Speculation galore in BBC’s report (one of many such).

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August 27 – September 2 This week’s “must read,” by Francois Godement of the European Council on Foreign Relations, writing about seismic shifts in external perceptions of China following the June-July economic and financial upheavals. A NYT guide to the big military parade Sept. 3, interspersed with screen shots illustrative of its adduced facts. Andrew Erickson’s Baedeker to the big Military Parade, with lots of links.  More comments from American observers about the big Military Parade. An official PRCG web site offers photos of Military Parades since 1949.  A gorgeous set of photos of ordinary places in ordinary homes, the theme being the continuing presence of Mao Zedong in ordinary people’s lives. Another great photo collection, this one from China Radio International:  Pictures of military processions in Beijing from 1949, posted on the eve of the huge parade set for Sept. 3. From the official People’s Daily Online web site on the eve of the great military parade: Charming Female Soldiers. The commercial Party news organ Global Times details security measures in place for the big military parade Sept. 3. From the official People’s Daily Online web site, a piece on Xi Jinping’s stress on mainland-Taiwan unity at the celebration of the 70th anniversary of victory in the Anti-Fascist War. The New York Times may, again, not endear itself to the Chinese authorities with this article on the background and implications of the gigantic military parade September 3.  Roderick MacFarquhar, who has studied Chinese Communist leadership for decades, with an insightful review article on Xi Jinping, his leadership, his achievements and challenges.  The Chinafile “Conversation” about how the U.S. should handle the upcoming Xi Jinping visit lumbers forward.  Your Editor contributes.  Sanctions against the PRC for cyberhacks – before President Xi comes to D.C.??? News of the China General Chamber of Commerce – USA, the organization of larger Chinese companies in the United States.  More bad economic numbers as of August 31, especially in the manufacturing sector. The central bank attempts to stem the downward slide in stock prices – at significant cost.  From an official website. US mega-star Bruce Willis to star in a Chinese film on wartime Chongqing (Chungking) under Japanese bombing. Chinese naval vessels’ first known appearance in the Bering Sea.  Andrew Erickson, an analyst of PRC military affairs, writes (a little breathlessly) about pending organizational and conceptual reforms in the PRC military establishment that will likely appear soon after the big September 3 military parade. Mostly based on interview with Li Nan, a U.S. Naval War College expert.

August 20 – 26

(This late-summer week of SR includes a number of items from earlier this year, worth adding but not time-sensitive.) A must-read by Francesco Sisci, on the huge forces at work in China today, amidst uncertainties about the economy and even the future of “Reform.” Preparing for the big military extravaganza parade on September 3.  A rare, out-of-the-mold piece from a leading PRC think tanker on prospects for a new US-China “Grand Consensus.”  Very close to a “Must Read,” in the run-up to the Xi Jinping state visit in September.  Time will tell whether the turning of the American major media in the direction of concerns over deepening economic difficulties and signs of reform slowdowns is a passing fad or a more far-reaching change in U.S. perceptions of China’s future. Arthur Kroeber, one of the best and most constructive foreign analysts of the Chinese economy, showing his own blunter side as the Chinese economic tremors continue.  He takes up the oxymoronic quality of PRC economic policies, somewhat akin, in the old days, to oxymorons like “democratic centralism.”  Minxin Pei of Claremont McKenna with a very solid argument on how China might more effectively approach the task of repatriating fugitives hiding in the U.S. or other countries. This falls into the “must read” bucket.  A major Chinese think-tank specialist on the essential decisions facing the U.S. and China. An August 20 update on the Tianjin explosion disaster. Another passenger-flight crew altercation, this time on Air Canada.  We, and China, should ask why it seems that these incidents occur far more often with PRC passengers than with others, worldwide, and what it tells the world about China’s arrival on the global scene. An absorbing, minute-by-minute chronicle of the race between online messengers, official media organs, and censors as the Tianjin disaster unfolded. When Global Times prints something like this, we can assume that popular dissatisfaction emerging from the Tianjin explosions is a serious matter. Given the intensity of official attempts to control media and online treatment of the stock market situation, this piece in Shanghai Daily is surprisingly vigorous and blunt.  Whether a Chinese version also appeared is unknown. Signs of the times: global carmakers cut back production in China. From mid-August: cultural surprises for Chinese companies as they start operating offshore.  A very tough Economist opinion piece on the official Chinese approach to history these days, especially as the big military parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the “Victory in the Anti-Fascist War” approaches.  Won’t make a dime’s worth of difference to Beijing, though. One of the fuller illustrations, arising from the Tianjin explosions, of the depth and persistence of problems of personalistic ties and evasions of formal rules and regulations in China – problems to which the current leadership seems to be addressing great energies. An interesting Caixin piece on the changing Chinese work force, particularly its migrant labor ranks.  From July.  Another generally even-handed U.S. China specialist weighs in on the damage accumulating from the “Hostile foreign forces” tide in China.  From July. From last June:  the first of two pieces, from his now-published and very important book The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power, by Princeton’s Thomas Christensen, offering perspectives on  how to evaluate China’s current military strengthening.  The equally stimulating second piece is found at  . The two should be read together.   If this report is correct (from August 19), the US and China are headed back into friction over pending Chinese cybersecurity  requirements for banks’ acquisition of technology and software, likely to prejudice the market against US firms. Rhodium Group’s report on PRC investment in the US in 2015 H1. Will be interesting to see how H2 shapes up, given financial turmoil and RMB devalution. Amid an early and uncertain buzz over the possibility of some kind of  “amnesty” for those caught up in the anti-corruption campaign, this from Shanghai Daily on the unlikelihood of much sentence “commutation.”

August 13 – 19  Official Foreign Ministry statement in response to Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s formal statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. In the media echo chamber that inevitably forms after a major development in China, this NYT piece on the implications of recent stock-market and currency-devaluation moves, both for the world and for China itself, stands as both a summary of points made elsewhere and an initiator of additional analysis. An immense and rambling article, full of real-life connections to big economic issues, built around the recent currency devaluation. David Bandurski, a prolific and thoughtful critic of information control in China, writes on the official media-control response to the Tianjin disaster. A dimension of the Tianjin tragedy in this article on the threat of chemical reaction to rainfall on the streets of the city. An American journalist long stationed on Taiwan argues in a layered manner that Taiwan must up its relations with the U.S., including through a sophisticated lobbying campaign, to confront the serious threat of Chinese military action against the island by 2020.  Lots of oft-heard data points, mixed in a sophisticated way by an effective writer.  Aftermath of the gigantic explosion and fire in Tianjin, near Beijing. Speculation on the toxic toll, short- and long-term, from the Tianjin explosion and fire.  A New Yorker reflection on the questions of public trust arising from the Tianjin disaster. The rising chorus of concern and criticism among U.S. human rights organizations is, of course, partly occasioned by the approach of the state visit of President Xi to the U.S. in September, but also by developments in China over the past year, some enumerated in this article.  A contrary opinion on U.S. response to the vast hacking of Office of Personnel Management data on 20 million Americans, an attack that the White House has strongly suggested came from China.  A long but important article on a far-reaching issue in Chinese criminal law, from the Dui Hua Foundation, led by John Kamm. A sensible wrap-up on Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s statement at the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in 1945, a presentation that was voraciously awaited by policy analysts and the media in advance and endlessly parsed after the fact for its implications with respect to Sino-Japanese relations and other uncertainties. A very thorough rundown on the June 2015 US-china “Strategic and Economic Dialogue,” at which a very wide range if issues was discussed.  Also good preparatory reading as President Xi Jinping’s state visit looms. A “conversation,” sure to expand in coming days, on how the U.S. should conduct the state visit of President Xi and what it should try to accomplish.

August 6 – 12  The Xi-Obama meeting in the U.S. next month begins to heave into view. A day before China’s devaluation announcement, this piece on the urgency of “doing something” to confront the economy’s travails.  A China Daily (i.e., Party-authorized) commentary on what the RMB decision means and doesn’t mean.   Keith Bradsher of the NYT does his usual masterly job, this time of explicating China’s RMB devaluation.  NPR’s useful take on the currency move that has shaken everybody up. On China’s currency devaluation in the context of other currency movements, especially Asia-Pacific, over the past year. A fascinating “day in the life of a cyber dissident”  GREAT article on U.S. strategy toward China.  Witty and perceptive.  A most ingenious graphic showing contraction in the Chinese economy, sector by sector.  What nationalist writers concerned about deep-seated social and cultural maladies and the need for “rejuvenation” are worried about.  Needless to say, misdeeds like this are not confined to China. The verdict, from a military court, on one of the highest corruption cases in the military. How to convince officials not to succumb to the temptations of corruption?  Instructive and uplifting exhibitions might be one way.  And there’s a market to be made. A nuanced view of the new Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) initiated by China, and its relationship to China’s evolving role as a “global stakeholder.”  Full report may be downloaded from this page.  A brilliantly illustrated enumeration of what China is building in the South China Sea (and what it is destroying in the process). Why would Zhejiang Province be on such a campaign to take down crosses from Christian churches, even in the face of protest from the “official,” government-approved Christian organizations in this province of conspicuous Christian community size?

July 30 – August 5 A formal statement by the President of the American Bar Association, presumably occasioned by the furor in overseas legal communities over the recent detentions and disappearances of Chinese lawyers engaged in so-called “rights protection” work.  The ABA statement, which makes no direct mention of the current situation in China, was the subject of spirited debate before its issuance, and has occasioned much spirited discussion since it appeared. A nice look at what happened to Chinese stock markets over the past month, and what has been shown to be dangerously lacking in the current financial regulatory system.  A review by Elizabeth Economy of the Council on Foreign Relations, of two recently-published and important books on US-China Relations, Lyle Goldstein’s Meeting China Halfway and Thomas Christensen’s The China Challenge.   Listen and compare: is the official “bid anthem” of China’s 2022 Winter Olympics effort eerily similar to the cloying “Let it go” from the Disney film “Frozen”?  Hard to say which is less original, in the larger sense.  Upbeat comments on the economy, from official sources. But dilemmas loom; how to loosen currency controls in order to bring the RMB into the top ranks of global currencies while at the same time intervening heavily to control the behavior of the economy, most notably the stock markets. Official People’s Daily “No Crime Goes Unpunished” editorial on the day the second Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission to be brought down on corruption charges is expelled from the Party and turned over to the military justice system. “One demon killed, all demons deterred,” says PD. The South China Morning Post’s attempt at a “relationship map” for the deposed Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission.  A complicated graphic. Republican Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia is a champion of U.S. naval strength and naval construction. He formed a “House China Caucus” and sends daily news compilations, mostly of alarming reports of Chinese military development and global expansionism, to readers on Capitol Hill.  Here he calls for a whole new way to “talk about China.”  “China respects strength,” says he, in urging that the United States be far less solicitous of Chinese sensitivities on issues of U.S. concern.  The environmental costs of trying to shift some of the energy burden from coal to hydro.  A European scholar cogitates on the dawn of a tri-polar currency era:  the dollar, the Euro, and the RMB. Veteran Financial Times reporter James Kynge on the dilemma entailed by China’s push to internationalize the RMB: to do so requires opening capital markets to foreign involvements in ways that thus far have made China’s governing elites very, very uneasy. The New York Times runs this bitter commentary by a self-identified Chinese human rights lawyer currently in the U.S. on a fellowship from the National Endowment for Democracy.  NED is one of the foreign NGOs (albeit, in this case, a Congressionally-established one) that current PRC laws deem dangerous to domestic political stability.   As the U.S. and China lurch toward deeper contradictions in the Asia Pacific Region, Charles Glaser once again lofts his idea of a “Grand Bargain” between the two nations, the centerpiece of which is that the U.S. “should consider ending its commitment to Taiwan.”  Politically unimaginable, perhaps, but Glaser bravely lays out a detailed case for his proposed Grand Bargain, with concessions needed from both sides.  May be read together with Lyle Goldstein’s new book, “Meeting China Halfway,” though the two are vastly different.  “Courting China Inc.”  PWC report on challenges, opportunities, pitfalls, benefits of hooking up with Chinese partners in today’s economic environment.  A very interesting look at the dynamics of media control in China, including the emergence of public-private partnerships.

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July 22 – 29 A colorful, if somewhat arch, report by author/journalist Howard French, writing from Hainan Island, on China’s motives in its vigorous island-building efforts in the South China Sea. The state visit of President Xi Jinping to the U.S. in September now looms. Both sides are making detailed preparations. This is the first part of a three-part essay by one Alex Farley, of People’s Daily Online, about prospects for halting the gradual deterioration of U.S.-China relations. Links to Parts II and III appear at the bottom of this page.   High drama on the Shanghai exchange, as the Shanghai Index experiences its biggest drop in eight years, in spite of massive government interventions to prop up the market over the past couple of weeks. A new Congressional Research Service report on volatility in China’s stock markets. A critical overview, with many hyperlinks, of Chinese media treatment of President Obama’s trip to Africa. Impossible to know whether this survey is fully representative of Chinese press commentary, but it is not a pretty sight. A very useful article by Christopher Johnson and Scott Kennedy of CSIS on the expansion of the Party’s dominance in areas that hitherto fell under the operational authority of the government apparatus (as distinct from that of the Party). May be paywalled. Christopher Johnson (see preceding item) expatiates on his article’s findings in this NYT interview. Keith Bradsher, the NY Times’s longtime Hong Kong-based correspondent, with a most interesting backgrounder on his own approach to a major series inaugurated in the NY Times on July 26. Journalists writing about their own approaches to major reports are a welcome phenomenon. This, then, is the first big piece by Bradsher and a Times colleague, exploring China’s growing economic role in Ecuador. The Comments from readers at this web address make an interesting complement to a fascinating story. Liu Yawei, Director of the Carter Center’s China Program lays out in Global Times just how disastrous a US-China drift toward confrontation would be for the two nations and for the world. Prof. Lyle Goldstein, of the U.S. Naval War College, maintains an interesting series called “Dragon Eye” at the web site of The National Interest, a once-middle-of-the-road conservative magazine that has in recent years emitted a dense and constant stream of articles stressing China’s military challenge to the U.S. This article, derived from the work of a Chinese military strategist, is one of many stimulating pieces by Goldstein at . Goldstein is also the author of a new book, Meeting China Halfway, (Georgetown University Press, 2015) which lays out ten “opportunity spirals” for the two countries to follow in stepping away from confrontation. A review of another new and significant book by a leading U.S. scholar and public intellectual, Thomas Christensen of Princeton, The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power. An extremely hard-hitting and negative view of the PRC economy from Anne Stevenson-Yang of J Capital, long known for her no-holds-barred critical perspectives. Chinafile can at times decline into rather dreary “Ain’t it awful!” threads, but on occasion it rises to its own potential to stimulate and inform. This exchange, on the basic question of whether the era of “Reform” in China has in fact come to an end, is enlightening and thought-provoking. The official media demolishes the reputation of Ling Jihua, former top aide to President Hu Jintao, ascribing his downfall to wild ambitious and uncontrolled desires. The lurking question of course, is, how did he rise to such a position of power in the first place. As Chinese stock indexes recover, with intense intervention by government agencies, the latest monthly PMI readings show darker prospects ahead. The world watches the Chinese economy with day by day interest. Some of the psychic residue, for small investors, from the big stock price drop of early July, even as the indexes rise again on government support measures. Popular reflections on values and life goals amid disappointed hopes of quick riches. From a blizzard of reports, a single New York Times article summing up news of the PRC government’s measures against more than 200 lawyers who have worked on “rights defense” cases. Much more could be included this week. Huang Yanzhong, a major figure in the study of China’s public health systems and challenges, has been associated with the Council on Foreign Relations for years, and offers this thoughtful essay on what he terms “rising anti-intellectualism” in today’s China. The second part of his article may be found at   . A brief Congressional Research Service paper on the cyberhacking of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Includes discussion of allegations that the perpetrators were from China. Back to basics: Is China a market economy? It matters greatly in international trade. Oops. A little slip-up at AVIC, the big aerospace company, whose top exec assaulted mysterious foreign short sellers for causing the Shanghai Stock Index collapse last week. Wall St. Journal on the search for “hostile foreign forces” behind the stock market drop.

July 15 – 21  Remarkable piece with astounding pictures.  A fleet of mini-satellites photographs everything on earth, and the millions of photos, turned into “big data,” offer evidence of economic activity anywhere, anytime. Spreading protests against the ongoing wave of arrests and disappearances of Chinese lawyers working on human rights cases. As the immediacy of the early-July stock market plunge recedes, we are the post-mortem period.  This is about as detailed a look at what the government did to stop the hemorrhaging as anything in English. Fred Hu, ex-Goldman, with his version of what happened and who did what in the stock market crisis. Good essay by David Dollar of Brookings (ex-Treasury/ex-World Bank China) on China’s One Belt/One Road development programs, its Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement being pushed to conclusion by the US and a clutch of Asia-Pacific nations. Western commentators react with bitter criticism of the current sweep against so-called “rights lawyers.” Official Xinhua News Agency report of the alleged misdeeds of the lawyers now under government attack. WSJ on the same subject, with a few nuances woven in.  News, via official media reports, of the purported confession of one of the detained lawyers from the Beijing Fengrui law firm.  Hong Kong responses. A very important piece by Bonnie Glaser and a colleague on the implications – for China, and for regional peace – of  a Democratic Progressive Party victory in Taiwan’s upcoming presidential elections; the DPP candidate Tsai Ing-wen is far head of the KMT in new polls.  Beijing and the DPP have, to put it mildly, a “history.” A scholar at the U.S. Naval War College writes on the shifting, and increasingly hard-edged rhetorical formulations with which the U.S. and China discuss activities in space. Stock-taking time in China as the dust settles after the big stock market drop and the kicking-in of heavy-handed intervention by government authorities

July 8 – 14   Official economic growth rate numbers for the first half of 2015, with graphics showing multi-year changes in the rate and with interpretive comments.  From a PRCG web site. Must Read.   Once again, economist/writer/analyst Arthur Kroeber shines in writing of the economic and political implications of the recent stock market upheaval.  This is an important article, elegantly written.–nye-2015-07 The inventor of the term “soft power,” Joseph Nye of Harvard, expounds on why China spends so much money on international approbation but still seems to have so little “soft power” to show for it. The anti-corruption sweep pulls in the Vice President of China’s Supreme Court, a figure well known internationally for his work on Chinese commercial law, among other things.  Wang Jisi, perhaps China’s best known policy scholar of Sino-American relations, with a macro-level view of the divergent priorities and world views of the two nations, and what must somehow happen if further conflict is to be headed off.  Some interesting insights, e.g., that internal developments in both countries, rather than an Asia-Pacific power struggle, will determine the relationship’s trajectory. A massive sweep of human rights lawyers and law firm staff, with many arrests and other disappearances, gets underway. A New York Times story conveying many of the points made by official PRC media maintaining the necessity of the lawyer arrest and detention wave.  Reuters on the lawyer sweep. The convolutions of Chinese stock markets have elicited some strong reactions from foreign observers, ranging from Schadenfreude to critical analysis to gloom.  Daniel Rosen’s article argues that the overall economic reform agenda in China must go forward, even as the damage from the stock market plunge is both better understood and contained. After Chinese stock indexes rose sharply on July 9, for the first time since the stock plunge began, Global Times on the 10th declares public confidence restored, and slashes at Western mainstream media treatments linking insecurity on the exchanges to public faith in China’s political leaders. Another GT commentary following the rally on the 9th, this one complex and somewhat muddled.  But useful as an indicator of official public relations tendencies at a moment of high drama.  “The recent plunge in the Chinese stock market is widely considered to be caused by vicious short selling, which requires investigation. Whoever is found to have exploited loopholes in the law and made big and undeserving profits on the back of the stock market fluctuations should be punished. But this has to be done cautiously so as to safeguard the legal system.”  The Peterson Institute offers a “Primer” on China’s equities markets.  From July 8, amid rapidly changing circumstances. Tom Plate, an L.A.-based veteran journalist long interested in China, wallops the Western media for their allegedly gleeful and apocalyptic treatment of the PRC stock market drop.  A 19-minute video featuring “iconic” IR theorists John Mearsheimer and Joseph Nye on how the U.S. should perceive and react to a “rising China.” James Areddy of the WSJ reviews the background of the current stock market turmoil.  An early write-up on the newly announced Draft Cyber Security Law; good starting point for more analysis to follow. A critical evaluation of the draft Cyber Security Law recently made available for public comment. A group associated with prestigious Tsinghua University announces it intends to buy U.S. chip maker Micron.  Given the flap in the U.S. over allegations of Chinese high-tech piracy and theft, such an acquisition will receive exquisitely detailed scrutiny by U.S. authorities.  A scandal over apparent plagiarism of a Disney animated film.  Popular concerns over food safety, in the context of a murky report of “zombie meat” being smuggled into China for popular consumption.  An interesting example of the complex interaction of media, government authorities, consumers, and very possibly opportunistic businesspeople.

July 1 – 7

The day-by-day drama on Chinese stock exchanges has been the dominant concern of the week, with each day’s commentaries rendering the previous days’ messages out of date. Suggested Readings this week contains a tiny fraction of the week’s materials on the share market situation.–finance.html# One final item before we post Suggested Readings for the week. July 8 a.m. WSJ China chief Andrew Browne links the anxieties arising from the stock market plunge to the political authorities’ larger concerns with all-encompassing security, as evidenced by the new Security Law, in which virtually all aspects of Chinese life, including the economy, fall under the umbrella of “Security.” China’s new National Security Law. Most observers outside of China are very troubled by it. The final version is even more of concern than the Draft, which, when circulated, elicited a very heavy response from Western NGOs and business organizations. One of many similar commentaries on the newly issued “National Security Law of the People’s Republic of China.” A second mainstream-media comment on the National Security Law. One usually astute American observer’s observations about the implications of the stock market plunge, and of the government’s intense efforts to blunt that decline, on popular attitudes toward the CCP itself. Hard to tell where objective analysis ends and schadenfreude begins, though. From July 7. A short item for lay readers. One of myriad stories on the unfolding stock market situation, this one reporting that one quarter of all Chinese listed companies have stopped trading. Market “skittishness” in the Wall Street Journal’s terms: Shanghai Exchange down 16% on the week. Government looks for new ways to slow the fall. On the social implications of the current (as of 4 July) three-week plunge in stock prices. Urgent measures over the weekend to try to slow down or reverse the share-market plunge. A riveting weekend analysis (July 5) of the implications of the stock market crisis, published while awaiting Monday’s opening after news of new government support measures. Bloomberg on the Shanghai Composite Index decline: 29% in three weeks. China economist Andy Xie with a no-illusions view of the PRC stock markets and their current erratic behavior. Caixin (English) comments on the stock market “disaster,” with ten trillion RMB in value lost in two weeks. Finds regulators at fault. The web site of the new, and much discussed, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, created at Beijing’s initiative. Author and New Yorker writer Evan Osnos give us a panoramic article on the life of Xi Jinping that led to Xi’s political ascendancy, and on Xi as China’s top leader. Fascinating article on air quality in Beijing and North China. The resurrection of “Confucianism” as a core element in the current political leaders’ definition of a comprehensive modern Chinese identity has occasioned comment and controversy, as has the debate over Confucianism in the past century and more.   A prominent contemporary scholar of Confucianism weighs in with a very critical comment. Foreign films’ big share of Chinese movie box office in 2015 H1, and other interesting numbers about movies in China.

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June 24 – 30 Always interesting to watch private-sector economists delicately dance around playing catch-up after events while forecasting, however carefully, the future.  Here, economists react to the PBOC’s weekend easing measures, taken after the Shanghai stock market’s late-week plummet. Official “Selected Outcomes” of last week’s S&ED.  Many items.  Outcomes of the “Strategic Track” of last week’s Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington.  Official Text. S&ED Outcomes:  glass half empty. Brookings’s David Dollar on the disparity in media treatment of the recent S&ED (China- big news/positive; US – not so big news, not very positive) and worries about the Xi state visit in the fall. A reminder of the immense hardships and tragedies that still so many in China face.  A heartbreaking report on “left behind children” in the countryside after four siblings’ suicides. A striking report on the magnitude of China’s drug problems today, from the Chinese government.  49,000 deaths attributed to drugs last year.  The huge battle over Trade Promotion Authority appears to be over.  A major step on the way to a Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement.  China watches intently from the wings.  China issues a scathing Human Rights Report on the U.S.  Out of the S&ED, amicable verbiage on South China Sea conflict avoidance.

June 17 – 23 Official texts of remarks by the top U.S. and Chinese figures at the opening of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in D.C. June 23. Global Times’s editorial as the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) opens in D.C. The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos (National Book Award winner for The Age of Ambition), on saving the U.S.-China relationship from disaster. Written as S&ED opens. Much to discuss at S&ED, including the cyber furor. Vice Premier Wang Yang, 400 Chinese officials, 8 U.S. Cabinet members, etc., taking part. Vice Premier Liu Yandong also in D.C. for People to People summit. Something new and interesting on U.S.-China exchange and cooperation in the innovation world. University of Washington and Tsinghua University embark on a bold venture. As the S&ED opens, with an important “People to People” component, IBM and China sign an interesting science-student exchange program. IBM will support distinguished US science students heading to China to study in the sciences, and China will support Chinese students heading to “IBM partner universities.” Shifting sands in the Sino-American world of chip manufacture. Qualcomm, fresh from a new-billion dollar fine in China, signs in to a joint chip-development program with Chinese partners, including Huawei, much feared by U.S. security and political circles. An astounding piece, with brilliant graphics, by BBC veteran China correspondent Carrie Gracie, chronicling the transformation of a young woman’s life as her place of residence moves from poor peasant village to small modern city. From a few weeks ago, an analysis of the new Chinese Defense White Paper by Dennis Blasko, one of America’s most informed and judicious analysts. Great for background to earlier White Papers.[tt_news]=44072&tx_ttnews[backPid]=789&no_cache=1#.VYrIQEZqk48 M. Taylor Fravel of MIT is another major figure in the analysis of Chinese security policy, and his discussion of the new Defense White Paper (see preceding item) is also an important contribution. Retired US Army Lt. Gen. and former Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, trained in the China field, reflects on China in American foreign policy today and tomorrow. Food for thought. Losing the Veteran-Observers: Longtime Chinese law expert Stanley Lubman on the increasingly rigid vise gripping NGOs in China. The slow drip of information about China’s reef-enhancement activities in the SCS. A new paper on China’s reef-enhancement activities from the Congressional Research Service. An updated version of the Congressional Research Service’s excellent paper on China’s “economic rise” and implications for the U.S. CRS papers are written principally with a Congressional readership in mind. The meaning of “One Belt, One Road”: Chinese companies rush to start investment projects in the myriad nations along the two routes. At a moment of seemingly furious Western reconsideration of China’s global meaning and its essential nature, and its intentions, a Canadian scholar’s new book argues that China’s political model of “meritocracy” is winning the contest with Western democracy. A review. Francesco Sisci’s fascinating essay about the late Qiao Shi, whose background and life’s trajectory in CCP politics leaves many open questions and much food for thought. Early reactions to the HK Legislative Council’s rejection of the plan, proposed by the PRC, for the next election of a HK Chief Executive. End of a bloody week on Chinese share markets. But business confidence soaring – see Structural change in the PRC economy. While Beijing announces a big campaign to promote “Made in China,” small and medium sized businesses, including manufacturers, face tougher and tougher conditions. Lack of IP protection a key barrier to innovation. A tough critique of U.S. bumbling in the Asia-Pacific region, as the author sees it. He is the head of Foreign Policy In Focus. Measures to strengthen and control the behavior of Communist Party members in their “leading roles” within private companies, SOEs and other units, as further privatizations loom in key sectors of the Chinese economy. May be paywalled. An annoyed-sounding article, but with a serious point to make: resurrection by the CCP leadership of some approved form of Confucianism as a buttressing doctrine for 21st century China at home and in the world, may not succeed. The author himself has published a recent book on Confucianism and its legacies. He terms the present effort “a thin veneer of tradition draped on top of an unchanged political system.” A fascinating Caixin report on the ways in which the Internet is transforming healthcare. Volatility on Shanghai shares market. Last week’s drop worst since 2008. What next?

June 10 – 16   The U.S. Army and the PLA sign an agreement for a “dialogue mechanism” during Central Military Commission Vice Chairman Fan Changlong’s Pentagon visit. The OPM hack. A crisis, visible and invisible, of long duration looms. The last time we heard “Crown Jewels” was when China was accused of stealing the W-88 warhead from Los Alamos. That led to a huge furor, the Wen Ho Lee fiasco, and more. This time, unless there is some resolution, things could come out worse. What is not said in all this is what, if anything, the U.S. is doing for its part. The New York Times calls the author of this article, “A leading theorist of the ‘China Model.’” Zhang Weiwei tells Americans why China is certain to continue to succeed under its current pattern of governance.   The “Comments” from readers are also unusually interesting.   See also the following item. The well known economist and policy thinker Hu Angang presents, to an informed American lay audience, the full menu of elements proclaiming China’s economic success, arrival, and benefits for the world economy looking ahead. An official News Service piece on why China’s “rejuvenation” and the “China Dream” are good for everybody. In the same magazine as the preceding item, this article sums up and itemizes all the reasons that reform has hit a dead end in China after thirty-five years, and lays out a gloomy future for a petrified Chinese social and political system. A very thoughtful essay by author Peter Hessler on why, sometimes, he publishes his writings in China, censorship and all, and why, on other occasions, he doesn’t. A commentary as well on the U.S. discourse, especially journalistic, on the vexed question of how to deal with Chinese censorhip. Another statement by former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on China’s global position and aspirations and on the future of US-China relations. China’s new global “risk map” – with Chinese nationals and investments worldwide rising fast, China faces the challenge of protecting its interests in some very dangerous places. E.G., 200,00 PRC citizens in Angola alone. Official Chinese news release with upbeat verbiage on South China Sea friction between US and China. PBOC revises economic predictions downward. The latest juggle attempt to deal with looming and massive local government debt obligations. A signed piece, from the often-unpleasant Global Times English web site, showing more nuance than the usual confetti with respect to US-China Relations. A welcome rarity. Shanghai-born mystery author Qiu Xiaolong publishes a short story, “China’s Smoke-Smothered Sky,” in – of all places – World Policy Journal. An interesting departure for a major policy publication. An example of the “Washington Wind Tunnel.” The National Interest magazine has moved to feverish emphasis on the Chinese security threat to the United States, under the editorship of a fast-rising young web journalist whose rapid advancement has coincided with his writings on the China danger. This is his latest article. From Taiwan, a laudatory but informative article on President Ma Ying-jeou’s “South China Sea Peace Initiative.” A hint of a possible slowing-down of Sino-Japanese alienation as the 70th anniversary of the end of the “Pacific War” approaches? Former CCP Politbro Standing Committee member and security chief Zhou Yongkang sentenced to life imprisonment. New China News Agency story at . Announcement of two new expulsions from the Communist Party of senior officials suggests that, contrary to some surmises, the visible part of the anti-corruption campaign is still proceeding. More drum-beating in People’s Daily about “Western Values,” this time attributing the hated “Color Revolutions” to them in a five-article set. Interesting skeptical remarks by a couple of PRC academics who apparently allowed themselves to be quoted by name. Hong Kong faces a gripping decision this week on whether to adopt the Chief Executive election blueprint written by Beijing (universal suffrage, but a choice of candidates named by a Beijing-dominated Nomination Committee) or keep the current system which makes no pretense of popular participation. Wonderful 25-minute CCTV video about a family of 19th century imperial degree-holders and high imperial officials and their present-day family temple in their home city.

June 3 – 9 James Fallows, to his great credit, attempts to make sense of the current exchange of bombardments by the American commentariat and their Chinese counterparts.  Hyperlinks in the article are critically important.  The official English version of ”Progress in China’s Human Rights 2014,” issued by the Information Office of the State Council. In nine sections, each accessible by a clickable button at the bottom of the first page.  An Agence France Press report on the document may be read at  “Qiushi” is the official organ of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.  They publish an English addition, and of late have reached out to a mailing list of English readers, including Your Editor.  We have chosen this article, entitled “What Can We Learn From Chinese Civilization,” as a sample of the wide-ranging articles found in each quarterly edition of the English-language Qiushi.  We would observe that while this article is “politically correct,” and should be read as a politically authorized interpretation of China’s traditions for contemporary domestic or foreign readers, this does not mean that they should be dismissed out of hand or regarded merely as propaganda devices. This is an important article.  It reports on how the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), initiated by China, will be structured and operated.  AIIB, and U.S. opposition to it, are a perfect example of the reality of “multipolarity” in global affairs, and of America’s deep-seated difficulties in recognizing, let alone adjusting to, the idea.  The “One Belt, One Road” initiative takes form: China announces six corridors of development, and nearly a trillion dollars in China Development Bank commitments (NOT Asian Infrastructure Bank) to projects along these corridors connecting China and Europe.  This link takes you to both the video and the audio versions of a major speech by Tsai Ying-wen, the leader of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) and that party’s candidate for the 2016 presidential election in Taiwan.  That election will be of significant interest in Beijing and in Washington.  With the NYT, the WaPo and the WSJ all reporting that the massive hacking attack on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management was done by “China” or “Chinese hackers,” at least one writer, on a Council on Foreign Relations web site, doesn’t jump to that conclusion. Xinhua, the New China News Agency, pushes back against the recent flood of U.S. reporting on alleged Chinese hacking and other offenses. An LA Times Op-ed piece by two respected academics on the stalling of the gradualist “revolution” that seemed to lie ahead in the heady climate of the1980s but now seems to be disappearing, to the authors’ disappointment. Observations by a veteran China media figure (Jeremy Goldkorn, founder of on the official information-control effort surrounding the sinking of the “Oriental Star” river boat in Hubei.  Not sympathetic, but not rabid either.  A Chinafile series of views on the South China Sea situation.  Peter Dutton’s entry is perhaps the clearest statement of why the PRC buildup in the Spratlys is of global economic and geopolitical importance. Amid the plethora of reports on rising tensions in the South China Sea area, this report stresses growing US-India cooperation on naval development, but goes on to present a useful summary and useful graphics regarding the entire SCS-Indian Ocean situation.  Premier Li Keqiang vs. China’s entrenched bureaucracies.  The biggest obstacle to structural reform. But, with regard to the preceding item, here’s a report suggesting that on the ground real economic structural change is afoot.  The passing of the cement boom.  The full English language version of the recent White Paper, “China’s Military Strategy,” issued by the Chinese government.  There much discussion of this document has ensued in the Western and Chinese media.

May 27 – June 2 Another month of weak manufacturing and export numbers. As the Wind Tunnel punditry intensifies, a wonderful essay by a Beijing-based writer on the “fantasyland” that many commentators create in pontificating about China  A welcome essay, sure to ruffle feathers of many. Pungent pushback against the rushing tide of “realist” writing these days on the inevitability of Sino-American conflict and the need for the U.S. to “balance” China.  By two young scholars associated with Peking University.  Another piece, this one by a generally well informed and longtime analyst of U.S. policy toward China and Asia, Robert Manning, arguing that the long-held “consensus” view of China in the U.S. has come unglued.  From UBS’s Wang Tao, “The Most Asked Questions About China.”  Broad depiction of current economic conditions and trends, in the form of straightforward questions and detailed responses. The English version of China’s latest Military Strategy White Paper, issued May 26.  Analysis of the new Chinese defense White Paper by Dennis Blasko, known for his sobriety, judiciousness, and mastery of his military subject.  A useful commentary on what’s in the White Paper (above). The big news is “open seas protection,” a significant expansion in the role of China’s naval forces.  The “rebalance” as covered by the official U.S. Defense Department web site.  Includes Sec. Carter’s participation in the Shangri-la Conference on regional security in Singapore. A good piece on Australia’s dilemma as China proceeds with its Spratly Islands dredge-and-fortify operations. Change of command at Pacific Command and the Pacific Fleet.  Blunter tone from the new PACOM chief, plus bluntness from Defense Secretary Ashton Carter re China in the South China Sea.

The author of this essay, a China scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, has long been acerbically, sometimes vitriolically, hostile to the PRC.  Here, he draws on historical parallels to claim that the Chinese venture into assertive territorial claims has already failed, even as the possibility of hostilities increases.  What the vast 30 month-old anti-corruption campaign reveals to one senior American analyst about the future of the Chinese political system. The International Monetary Fund’s official statement of opinion that the RMB is not at this time “undervalued.”  A lucid, compact survey of all major dimensions of the Chinese economy. A set of experts’ essays on key aspects of the negotiation and implementation of a U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treat (BIT). China front and center in this year’s huge book publishing industry extravaganza, Book Expo America.  Some reality checks from the PEN America Center Executive Director. As it lays out plans for a vast upgrade of its semiconductor production skills, PRC investment in Silicon Valley is in the offing. How They See Us: a Chinese research scholar looks at the recent flood of U.S. specialists’ pronouncements on China and U.S. policy toward the PRC.  Very interesting reading.  The darker side of the vast presence of PRC students in U.S. colleges and universities.  “Good news” stories are surely out there, but seldom make the press.  A broader recent story on rising numbers of international students as U.S. schools appears at  China’s Draft NGO Law, apparently aimed at preventing “hostile forces” from spreading dangerous influences, is setting a great many teeth on edge internationally. Again on the draft NGO law, foreign business groups in China (like Chambers of Commerce) for once getting involved, however, cautiously, in expressing concerns over the draft law, especially the replacement of the Ministry of Civil affairs with the Ministry of Public Security as the controlling government agency for all foreign NGOs. Results of a not-too-rigorous but still interesting survey of American students in China. Discussion of a new book by Xinran, a Chinese woman who has written several fascinating interview-based books on the lives of women and children in China.  This new book is about the children of One Child Families.

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May 20 – 26–finance.html   Some U.S. Senators may not take this as gospel, but the IMF has declared that the Chinese currency is no longer undervalued.  A milestone.

More on Chinese naval construction:  how much, how good, toward what goals? As usual, columnist Russell Moses puts too many thoughts into the minds of the Chinese leaders he writes about without meeting them, but his observations about two speeches by President Xi Jinping last week bear reading nonetheless. An old veteran of Chinese science warns that the PRC’s nuclear power plant building plans are unsound, for safety reasons.  One of many articles on “Made in China 2025,” the latest big program announced by the PRC, this one aimed at remaking China’s industrial structure in ten years. Nine tasks of ‘Made in China 2025’ plan: Improving innovation in manufacturing sector; Integrating technology and industry ;Strengthening the industrial base ;Fostering Chinese brands ;Enforcing green manufacturing; Promoting breakthroughs in 10 key sectors; Advancing restructuring of the manufacturing sector; Promoting service-oriented manufacturing and manufacturing-related service industries; Internationalizing manufacturing .  Hank Paulson and Bob Rubin attempt to derail to descent into economic bitterness and recrimination.  An important contribution. Veteran researcher of Chinese labor issues Anita Chan writes on the changing mood of migrant workers in China’s coastal factory towns. U.S.-listed Chinese companies preparing to delist in U.S. and re-list on Chinese exchanges??? Yu Keping has long written on the need for democracy in China, and is much beloved by Westerners hoping that someone will stick up for such things as popular political participation.  Here he lays down a vast laundry list of items contained within the crucial notion of “rule of law.”  Alas, this list, with barely a nod to the question of how these goals are to be realized, is not the first of its kind in China’s modern times.   One of China’s most experienced diplomats in the English-speaking environment speaks to University of Chicago students about China, the U.S. and world order.  A comprehensive distillation of Chinese views as expressed through official channels, in a listener-friendly form tailored, we may presume, to the characteristics of the intended audience. For that reason, important to understand.  The English text follows the Chinese text.

May 13 – 19 The Vice Chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, Fan Changlong, gives no quarter on the matter of China’s activities in the South China Sea, during Secretary of State Kerry’s mission to China focused both on preparations for President Xi’s upcoming state visit (September) and on rising regional concerns over China’s SCS activities.

Some thoughts from Harvard Law School Professor Mark Roe on the relationship between China’s ever-increasing integration into the world economy and its recent highly visible muscle-flexing in the South China Sea.  Economist Nicholas Lardy, author of a new book, elaborating on his central theme that the private sector’s role in the Chinese economy is expanding vigorously under the Xi Jinping reform program, while the big state-owned enterprises continue to lag in both efficiency and profitability (as a share of assets).  Orville Schell writes of the darkening environment in Washington with respect to China, echoing the concerns of scholar David M. Lampton, speaking at a Carter Center conference last week. (See next item).  The respected U.S. scholar of contemporary China and Sino-American Relations, David M. Lampton, with an extremely important address to a recent Carter Center conference, warning that a “tipping point” in U.S.-China relations is “upon us,” i.e., very near at hand.  Another important policy item:  testimony of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel R. Russel on Maritime Issues in East Asia, the focal point of recent tensions involving China, the U.S., and other littoral states in the South China Sea area.  Chinadialogue, long concerned with the environmental effects of dam building in the Himalayas, focuses on the perils suggested by the recent Nepal earthquake.  Quite a furor underway about China’s new draft law on foreign NGO management, which puts the Ministry of Public Security in the top role and remains vague about concepts of “security” and even concepts of “foreign NGOs.”  This URL takes you to the third of three parts, with links to Parts 1 and 2.  A detailed report on the thriving business of traveling from China to the U.S. to give birth to a little U.S. citizen.  Not illegal, perhaps, but Your Editor predicts growing negative reaction to this.  Adding to what seems to be shaping up as a “perfect storm” of controversy over China in Washington and in the media, this long report from Human Rights Watch on the use of torture and ill-treatment of detained criminal suspects.  It will be lost on most readers that what has occasioned this report is “a national outcry against such abuse.”  HRW notes,  “Absent more fundamental reforms in the Chinese criminal justice system that empower defense lawyers, the judiciary, and independent monitors, the elimination of routine torture and ill-treatment is unlikely.”  Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is doing the most detailed thinking in “print” these days about how the U.S. and China can manage their looming challenges and avoid zero-sum-based conflict. More policy shifting in an effort to stop the downward slide of the economy, but this one with potentially deleterious longer-term effects. Monthly numbers are under very close scrutiny these days.  This article, posted three days before the preceding item, recounts slight improvement in industry numbers but continuing severe weakness in the property sector. A rare expression of skepticism about the “One Belt One Road” concept so heavily discussed these days, by a veteran independent economist who wonders whether hype and reality need to be distinguished. Speaking of “tipping points” (and “Western values???”)….Sponsored by Alibaba, the Pac-12 will play its opening game in Shanghai in 2016.  “It’s bigger than athletics,” Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said in a phone interview. “It’s who we are as a university and a conference. We’re here and ready to break new ground and do new things.” Very American.

May 13 – 19  The respected U.S. scholar of contemporary China and Sino-American Relations, David M. Lampton, with an extremely important address to a recent Carter Center conference, warning that a “tipping point” in U.S.-China relations is “upon us,” i.e., very near at hand.  Another important policy item:  testimony of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel R. Russel on Maritime Issues in East Asia, the focal point of recent tensions involving China, the U.S., and other littoral states in the South China Sea area.  Chinadialogue, long concerned with the environmental effects of dam building in the Himalayas, focuses on the perils suggested by the recent Nepal earthquake.  Quite a furor underway about China’s new draft law on foreign NGO management, which puts the Ministry of Public Security in the top role and remains vague about concepts of “security” and even concepts of “foreign NGOs.”  This URL takes you to the third of three parts, with links to Parts 1 and 2.  A detailed report on the thriving business of traveling from China to the U.S. to give birth to a little U.S. citizen.  Not illegal, perhaps, but Your Editor predicts growing negative reaction to this.  Adding to what seems to be shaping up as a “perfect storm” of controversy over China in Washington and in the media, this long report from Human Rights Watch on the use of torture and ill-treatment of detained criminal suspects.  It will be lost on most readers that what has occasioned this report is “a national outcry against such abuse.”  HRW notes,  “Absent more fundamental reforms in the Chinese criminal justice system that empower defense lawyers, the judiciary, and independent monitors, the elimination of routine torture and ill-treatment is unlikely.”

May 7 – 13  Volvo (owned by Chinese automaker Geely) picks South Caroline for $500m plant.  Economy slowing, central bank cuts interest rate for third time; Caixin’s dispassionate look.  The American Bar Association’s comments on pending amendments to China’s Patent Law.  The annual Defense Department report to Congress on PRC Military Developments.  Naval War College’s Andrew Erickson is near to establishing a lock on PRC military analysis for the layman.  Here he goes through the aforementioned DOD report. From apparently leaking sources, a report that the U.S. military is considering challenging China’s island-creating activities in the South China Sea by intentionally flying and sailing closer than the normal twelve miles from the shores of these blobs, thus signaling to China that “enough is enough.” A Chinese naval facility in Djibouti under negotiation.  The U.S. already there in a big way.  Minxin Pei points to the obvious:  the enhancement and expansion of U.S. military cooperation is aimed at the PRC. By the same photographer, memorable photos from Shamian, the little Island adjacent to Guangzhou City, where most adopted children and their parents spend a brief moment before leaving China for a new family life abroad.–china-cadre_school-5f3107ee6a.html In Shanghai, at a Party “ Executive Leadership Academy,” the anti-“Western Values” campaign seems to be put aside. Another pledge to cut over-capacity, this time in coal. Big long-term news on the population front:  rural to urban migration now dropping. A central pillar of the 1980s-1990s miracle economy is losing its salience. Economic restructuring impends.  Time to check in with ChinaFAQs for a set of very interesting, often positive, articles on Sino-American cooperation on climate change China’s wide-ranging efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions.  If you prefer that your Editor pick one item, try this one:  . A famous member of the “Realist” school of International Relations specialists, on the pros and cons of “rebalancing” to meet China’s rapidly expanding international presence.  In response to the Blackwill-Tellis Council on Foreign Relations paper discussed recently in Suggested Readings. Review of a new book on Mr. Jardine and Mr. Mathieson, China trade pioneers and founders of the great trading house that bears their names.  Opium was the name of the game. Whether China is visible or not, it is at the center of the unfolding U.S. debate about trade itself.  This is the new paper (quite economic) on the economic benefits of trade, by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors.  Serious challenges to the Chinese economy; People’s Bank lowers interest rates again to stimulate loan-activated growth, but earlier efforts of this sort have not produced results.  Commentary.  Economists react to China’s poor April trade numbers (imports and exports).  A useful Brookings primer on “Shadow Banking,” which occupies such an important place in PRC finance nowadays. Very interesting look at the complex Chinese foreign policy bureaucracy and some of its infirmities.  A Korean naval officer’s view of the uses and uselessnesses of PRC “militarization” of the South China Sea.   The grinding forces of degradation of US-China relations, in Congress and elsewhere, are alive and well; the figures cited in this piece have been doing this work for ten years or more.  Global Times on Sino-Russian military embrace, in face of threats from “neighbors.”  Joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean, for one.  The Economist on the mixed picture of present and future Sino-Russian relations after the Ukraine-induced “pivot” toward greater cooperation.  A very different take on the Chinese cybersecurity “threat.”  Warns of exaggeration of the threat, urges continued open Internet. FEATURE: a wonderful photo series from a rural home in Gansu Province, all taken on the kang, the traditional heated platform bed.

April 22 – May 6 Big news if true: the IMF preparing to declare that the Yuan is no longer undervalued.  U.S. has long complained that it was, and still does so.  One of a series of very interesting interviews in the “Thinking Strategically” series from China Development Brief, on the work of NGOs and questions of civil society development in China.  This one is with Perrine Lhuillier of Save the Children in China.  The entire series of interviews may be downloaded from a link at this site. A nicely written review of a new book, Fateful Ties: A History of America’s Preoccupation with China.  Newsweek’s take on the chill wind blowing through Washington D.C. with regard to China.  A leading American scholar has recently spoken of a “tipping point” close at hand in the U.S. over the future of relations with the PRC.  Harvard Business Review piece on “Why China Can’t Innovate.”  Some observers are beginning to opine that this view of China is fast becoming obsolete, but others hold strongly to it. Carnegie’s Michael Swaine in Foreign Affairs, responding to the proposal by Andrew Krepinevich, Jr. , in the preceding issue of the same magazine  , recommending the placement of U.S. ground forces in a ring of territories around China’s coastline in order to “deter China.” Swaine’s views a welcome counterpoint, at a time when a set of conflict-anticipating papers have emerged in U.S. publications.  Another mainstream media piece (the FT) suggesting that the US and China are now embarked on an illusionless and loveless relationship, at best.  Statement of Carrie Lam, Chief Secretary for Administration, Hong Kong Government, on the Method for Selecting the Chief Executive by Universal Suffrage.  That, of course, was the issue that led to the huge and lengthy Umbrella Movement demonstrations and occupations in Hong Kong.  Predictably, outside reaction has been mixed.  The price of going global, at least in the China-Pakistan case.  Singapore’s famed Kishore Mahbubani on how China will act when it becomes economic Number One, and why that will reflect how the U.S. acts now. Air styles of the rich and famous.  The end of the long-running controversy over Chinese rare earth exports?–china-us-volvo-d211808fbe.html Volvo, owned by China’s Geely, about to ship Chinese-made cars to the U.S.  A very good article on the Geely-Volvo marriage.  A slashing attack in a prestigious social science journal accuses American scholars of the so-called “New Qing History” of neo-imperialism.  This site translates only the opening passages of this diatribe.  The subject is actually very interesting. Two Singapore-based researchers discuss the geopolitical obstacles China will face in developing its Silk Road Economic Belt strategy  Tesla stumbles in China, at least at the outset.   The URL is self-explanatory.  A significant milestone, relevant to Sino-American relations.*Situation%20Report&utm_campaign=SitRep0430  Intensification of U.S.-Japan defense ties.

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April 15 – 21  Daniel Bell, who has been teaching Western political theory at Tsinghua University for a decade and who has written extensively about the strengths of a Confucian-derived meritocratic governance system in China, offers this new essay on teaching “Western values” in China.  Though most of his essay is of familiar tone, the final paragraphs suggest a new and somewhat qualified shading of his view on the intellectual environment.  A premier blue-chip U.S. information technology firm agrees to share extremely proprietary technology with China, in line with new Chinese pressures on foreign firms to do so in return for market access, and in so doing breaks ranks with other U.S. companies trying to band together to hold the line against China’s insistence on self-destructive sharing of crown jewel technologies. An interesting brief essay by Zhao Qizheng, perhaps China’s most famous student of “public diplomacy,” on what contemporary China’s message to the world should be. Another heavy sentence in a case that has angered liberals and human rights supporters.  China delays plans to implement new regulations requiring companies selling computer equipment to the banking industry to transfer extremely sensitive technology to China.  The issue had occasioned strenuous objections from U.S. tech firms and the US Government.  Long-term outcome remains unclear.  Heavy pressure on US and other foreign firms to hand over proprietary secrets in return for market access.  The government and party throw their weight behind innovation as an economic driver throughout the “new normal” economy.  In reform environment, a new attempt to climb the mountain.  A long interview with Premier Li Keqiang and the Editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber. Editor Lionel Barber’s long article about the interview with Premier Li (see preceding item). Coming into view:  Taiwan’s presidential election in 2016.  A book-flogging but straightforward interview with Hank Paulson, former Goldman CEO and former Treasury Secretary, about China’s economy and the US-China future.  The battle against “bureaucracy” grinds on.  China’s first-quarter economic numbers in four handy charts.  Never mind the cute headlines. An interview with veteran China reporter Michael Schuman on his new book about Confucianism in contemporary China, “Confucius and the World He Created.”  The Mayo Clinic to open a general hospital in Beijing:  many signs point to significant expansion of international participation in Chinese health care sector. One experienced external observer’s effort to make graphic sense of the Internet censorship phenomenon.  A “map” of what leads to what, and related explanatory comments. The latest draft of China’s new National Security Law, with new stress on “cultural security,” “cyber security,”  and the “dissemination of socialist core values.”  From the CCP’s Global Times.  Great piece by Rosealea Yao of Gavekal on the bringing to heel of the huge state oil and gas companies, and implications for further economic restructuring. This NY Times piece on Hank Paulson and his new book on China stresses Paulson’s concerns about future economic stability in China.  Other reviews have found Paulson too accommodating of regime sensitivities.  China extends the “Shanghai Foreign Trade Zone” model to a total of four locations.  The SFTZ billed as a major economic reform experiment, but its initial “negative list” of business fields from which foreign investment is excluded was huge.  Global Times here emphasizes tight security controls on foreign investors, mirroring or exceeding U.S. security inspections of PRC acquisitions in the U.S. On the other hand, China doesn’t like the putative “negative list” the U.S. is putting on the table in U.S.-China negotiations over a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).  The pro-trade forces clearly held their fire until now while opponents of “Trade Promotion Authority” and the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership prepared the battlefield, so to speak.  Now, with a TPA vote in Congress suddenly imminent, the “Pro” side has swung into action.  We will not spend much space on TPA/TPP in Suggested Readings, since China is not a party to the TPP negotiations, but the battle now breaking out is comparable in significance to that of the year 2000 over “Permanent Normal Trade Relations for China as it prepared to enter the WTO, largely on U.S. terms.

April 8 – 14   The winter “drought” is ending, and big papers are now raining down on us again.  Here is the site of a  “Summary Report” of U.S.-China 21: The Future of U.S.-China Relations Under Xi Jinping, by Kevin Rudd, the new head of The Asia Society’s Policy Institute and former Prime Minister of Australia. Another significant contribution, this from the European Council on Foreign Relations: “Explaining China’s Foreign Policy Reset.”  A brief (7 pp.) analytical summary of the thinking of China’s top international relations/foreign policy gurus on where China should be heading in the world. An engrossing review of a new opera performed in Hong Kong, centered on the Kang Youwei, whose failed attempt to initiate far-reaching reforms at the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1898 link him to China’s present.   China creating land property above the water level in the South China Sea.  A solid Reuters piece built around official Chinese responses to recent news reports on the South China Sea island-building activity.  Benefits of Chinese navy’s evacuation of Chinese and non-Chinese nationals from Yemen.  The behavior of a “great power” plays well at home. Party newspaper report on PLAN evacuation of Chinese and third-country nationals from Yemen. How to come to grips with the costs of environmental degradation:  China reconsiders the concept of the “Green GDP.”–roach-2015-03 Yet another writeup of impressions from the March China Development Forum, this one by Yale’s Steven Roach, who has attended the Forum since its inception in 2000.  The lack of conclusiveness is itself the most revealing element in this and other write-ups. A very senior specialist on Chinese foreign policy discusses U.S.-China relations  in the “Brave New World.  A CCTV talent show host pays the price after being caught making “disrespectful comments” about Mao Zedong. The only hint of what he said, in this Global Times (Party publication) account, is this:  “While singing some parts of an iconic play, Bi was also seen in the video saying that Mao led people to misery.”  Caixin on the “Anchor Baby” phenomenon, i.e., of pregnant women from China coming to the U.S. specifically in order to give birth to a U.S. citizen baby. Naval analyst Andrew Ericson’s detailed summary of a much more detailed brand-new U.S. Navy public report on the PLAN, China’s navy.  Much to ponder here. Intel denied US export license to sell chips to China for upgrade of China’s “world’s fastest computer” on national security grounds.  Bonnie Glaser, who has written on China security issues for decades, takes up the South China Sea issue.  Hint:  when someone urges that the U.S. “press China” on this or that issue, it is usually Beltway lingo that sounds more vigorous than its potential meanings are.  Chinese lash-back at Pres. Obama’s comments on PRC island-building activities in the SCS.  This CFR “Backgrounder” somehow manages to assemble all the dreary, mostly well known, reports of PRC repression of the Internet into one single document.  It is not polemical in tone. A big week for the Council on Foreign Relations.  Here,  a book-length study arguing that  “Because the American effort to ‘integrate’ China into the liberal international order has now generated new threats to U.S. primacy in Asia—and could eventually result in a consequential challenge to American power globally—Washington needs a new grand strategy toward China that centers on balancing the rise of Chinese power rather than continuing to assist its ascendancy.” (Thus:  more military spending, tougher export controls, and Your Editor’s favorite:  the U.S. “should build up the power-political capabilities of its friends and allies on China’s periphery.” ) Quick summary of all this, plus full paper downloadable at this site, at least as of April 11. Web giant Sina gets a dire warning from the Cyberspace Administration:  toughen up your censorship or your entire Internet news service will be suspended.  The massive annual U.S. Trade Representative report on Foreign Trade Barriers, known as the National Trade Estimate Report.  Pp. 75-87 contain the China section.  A useful way of understanding U.S. government “official” trade issues.  Argues that the U.S. should come to terms with the reality of increasing multi-polarity in the world, especially in global economics, rather than manning the battlements and heating the boiling oil.  A very thoughtful piece on the the newly-discovered “Great Cannon” instrument of cyber-attack attributed to China last week, and its implications for the future of the global Internet.  About the U.S.’s ability to grapple with the real world of the 21st century economy, with the political storm over the pending “Trans-Pacific Partnership”  (TPP) agreement as the focal point but the rise of China as a gigantic global economic force as the background.  On the danger of China’s reaction to the political selling of TPP (see preceding entry) in Congress as the economic partner of US “Pivot to the Pacific” military strategy. Wide-ranging layperson-accessible USA Today video interview with former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.  On China and many other things.  Another Ferrari-Lamborghini pileup in central Beijing.  One of the drivers, “unemployed,” made his money on the stock market.  No sign this time (or yet?) of connections to the politically high and mighty, as was the case in the famous politically fraught case a couple of years ago.  A must-read.  Global Times (which belongs to the Party’s People’s Daily) occasionally surprises.  This is a report (admittedly from another, more generally progressive, news source) on a village in Guangxi (the Autonomous region just west of Guangdong along China’s southern border) where, for decades, a great many people have been making great deal of money through online fraud and scams.  The difficulties law enforcement faces in stamping this out are indicative of very interesting structural issues in Chinese society and politics.

April 1 – 7  A very spirited exchange between a Chinese and an American specialist on strategic policy and security issues, getting to the core of some important rhetorical, and seemingly conceptual, differences.  Best to start by reading read the original essay by Deng Zhenghui, “Origins of Misperceptions Between China and the U.S.,” at  Economic analyst Andy Rothman offers a rejoinder to Prof. David Shambaugh’s recent striking Wall Street Journal article headlined “The Coming Chinese Crackup.”   Very straight talk to Americans, occasioned by the fiasco, as it is widely perceived, of America’s futile effort to get in the way of China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.  Someone had to say this. More straight talk on the preceding topic, from former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.  Analysis by Yale’s Stephen Roach of some of the “disconnects” in both American and Chinese thinking about their economies and their economic relations.     Like Stephen Roach, just above, economist Martin Feldstein is a veteran attendee at the annual China Development Forum, and like Roach, he writes his impressions of changing economic mentalities in Chinese officialdom, as displayed at this year’s CDF last month.  Blunt news from a U.S. blog on how the lawless days of “Wild West” activity in China are over.  Compelling reading. Cheng Li at Brookings continues his painstaking analysis of elite politics in the Xi era.  This site not only provides downloadable access to his new Part IV – an analysis of “Mishu” politics (i.e., networks of those who served as secretaries to prominent leaders earlier in their careers) but links to the first three of Cheng’s papers.  Out of the vast, seemingly unorganized list of reforms promulgated at the 3rd Plenum of the 18th Party Congress in November, 2013, progress appears at varying speeds in varying places.  Careful readers will watch for signs of change not only in high-profile Beijing activities, but in the provinces.  Here is an example relating to the ability of private citizens to sue government bodies, thanks to a legal amendment. Related to the preceding item, The Asia Society and The Rhodium Group produced in late 2014 a comprehensive look at China’s vast Reform intentions and the progress it has made in realizing them in the first year following the Reform agenda’s proclamation.  This site offers links to the detailed Executive Summary as well as the main report (191 pp.).

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March 25 – 31  Evan Osnos’s New Yorker Profile of Xi Jinping.  A must-read, for informed laypersons if not for 24/7 specialists.  Osnos continues to write beautifully. Something of a companion piece to the preceding item.  This one is a portrait of Wang Qishan, the figure leading the massive anti-corruption campaign still very much underway in China.  This is, as the term goes, a “major policy address” by President Xi Jinping, to the opening session of the Bo’ao Forum March 28.  A speech by a major Asian leader to an Asian audience, expressing China’s vision of the Asia-Pacific future and China’s roles in it.  Very much worthy of a careful reading.  Signs of a stock market bubble.  Foreigners uneasy, ordinary Chinese opening new trading accounts like there’s no tomorrow.  Progress, of a sort, on increasing the use of licensed software in China.   David Dollar of Brookings offers this succinct note on why foreign direct investment between the worlds largest and second-largest economies is not higher than it is.  Gen. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, opens a Pentagon photo exhibit on U.S. cooperation with China, in China, during WWII.  Symbolically positive.  And quite a story.   Regrettably, this is essential reading.  The inability or unwillingness of official voices to come publicly to terms with China’s post-1949 historical fact stands as a huge barrier to the PRC’s effort to build trust internationally.  A detailed look at the vast anti-corruption movement now underway in China, by Boston University scholar Joseph Fewsmith.  Detailed, down to significant individual cases.  On China’s navy today and tomorrow, and U.S. military engagements with it.  Signs of the times:  The Rhodes Trust expands Rhodes Scholarship recruitment to China.  “Reform” in China since 2013 has taken many paths, sometimes with little visible result, while headlines have focused on the massive anti-corruption campaign and increased repression of civil society and independent expression.  It is wise to watch many horizons, though, including this one.  A very fine article about the growth and expansion of Cofco, originally the state cereals-and-oils trading corporation, but now a dynamic player in all sorts of foods and beverages, now looking to expand its presence in the U.S.  Veteran diplomat and Taiwan specialist Alan Romberg on “changing times” in cross-Strait relations following recent electoral upheavals in Taiwan.  More on the “Fox Hunt” for allegedly corrupt officials now located outside of China. Interesting survey of 1200 foreigners from 65 countries on their views of life in Shanghai.  Only 20% have ever ridden a public bus!  UC San Diego’s distinguished China sociologist Richard Madsen, author of the brilliant China and the American Dream (1995) with a new article:  “Secular Belief, Religious Belonging in China.”

March 18 – 24  Late news on continued economic weakness. What appears to be the first public interest lawsuit on air quality, filed by an environmental organization against a polluting company.  A blunt, and regrettably telling, criticism of the U.S. government’s negative approach to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank initiated by China.  The author, a leading Financial Times commentator, identifies himself as a former World Bank staff member. A very sobering look at why hostilities in the East China Sea could break out, with disastrous implications for China, Japan and the U.S., and what might be done to mitigate these looming possibilities. May be paywalled.  A fascinating, if not entirely satisfying, essay on the long-term competition between the U.S. and China, with reference to the fundamental important of the ancient Chinese board game weiqi (often called Go).  The Washington Post Editorial Board on the perceived fiasco of U.S. opposition to the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and ineffectual efforts by the U.S. to dissuade major friendly countries in Europe and Asia from joining the AIIB.  Full disclosure:  the WaPo Ed Board never, ever is less than indignant about China when it expresses itself. PRC, Japan and South Korean Foreign Ministers meet and pledge preparations for trilateral summit.  So many bitter tensions among the three in recent years and months.  A change in trend?  Time will tell.  A British view on this week’s apparent fiasco, in which most of the big European economies have applied for participation in the China-originated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) over strenuous U.S. objections.  An interesting piece by a “new” (to Your Editor) voice, on  the paradox of China’s campaign against “Western Values” in, e.g., school textbooks, but its embrace of American box office movie hits like Captain America.  Some debatable ideas, but stimulating.  A feisty 23 year-old magazine, known for its pursuit of historical accuracy, run by retired officials, is compelled to cancel its annual dinner.  A concisely written Chinese view of economic challenges facing the PRC this year.  A somewhat more positive take on a development at this year’s NPC meeting, leading in the direction of a different process of lawmaking. As leading EU nations join the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank over strenuous U.S. pressure, China’s media take a blunt “victory lap.”  Ugly all around.  The Editorial Board of the New York Times lambastes China’s legal and judicial systems.  It concludes, “If China wishes to be a credible world power, it must get in step with international norms of criminal justice….”  at the very moment that, in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank case (above), China shows its “credibility” as a “world power.”  Good sentiment, but perhaps, alas, myopic as well.  The Party’s English-language Global Times, on the near-finalization of a new law governing foreign NGOs in China, among other things, placing them under the control of the Ministry of Public Security, rather than the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Carl Minzer of the Fordham Law School with a sort of cri de Coeur (cry from the heart) for lay readers on the glum future that ultimately lies ahead for China if the PRC retreats further (as he sees it now to be doing) into national-cultural isolationism.  U.S. commentators on China, over the past year, have descended into widespread pessimism, it must be said.  Evan Feigenbaum of the Paulson Institute on the big question:  how the U.S. should understand – and adapt to – changing realities in the distribution of global economic and other forms of power, especially the growth of “Pan-Asianism,” institutions and relationships not centered on a U.S. role.  A commentary on China’s increasing efforts to find fugitive corruption and white-collar crime suspects in other countries and bring them back to the PRC for investigation and prosecution, in a campaign dubbed “Fox Hunt.”  The U.S. and Canada are shaping up as two “preferred destinations” for people skipping town with their loot.  Lots of loot.  A fine site, presenting links to the first set of three (out of a total of fifteen) interviews with Chinese and international NGOs, under the rubric of “Thinking Strategically.”  Strongly recommended.  Report of ISIL execution of Chinese citizens who had joined the movement on Syria and Iraq.  Pirelli tires purchased by Chinese company.

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

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

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

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

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February 19 – 25

February 12 – 18

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[restab title=”January 2015″]

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

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

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


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

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


[restab title=”2014″]For the posts from 2014, click here.[/restab]


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.