Benefits of Cheaper Oil Not Trickling Down to Asia’s Consumers

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 02:48
The economic boost from falling global oil prices is being blunted in Asia as governments in the region use the decline to boost state coffers instead of passing savings on to consumers through cheaper gasoline.
Categories: China

Captive Audience: IKEA Lures Sleepers With Showroom in Beijing Airport

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 02:29
Chinese shoppers have long enjoyed sleeping in IKEA’s stores. So the Swedish furniture giant is giving them a new place to rest their heads: Terminal Three, Beijing International Airport.
Categories: China

As China’s Economy Slows, So Too Does Growth in Workers’ Wages

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 00:45
Growth in minimum-wage levels across China appeared to have slowed this year, amid low inflation rates and a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy, a labor watchdog says.
Categories: China

China’s Closed Cities Threaten Population Goals, Report Says

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 23:23
Despite China’s efforts to ease decades-old curbs on the movements of its rural population, the world’s most populous country could see its ranks of internal migrants swell to dangerous levels over the next decade, a new research report says.
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Picture China: Winter Training, Subzero Weather, Thread Sculpting

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 21:58
The day's China news in pictures: Guards train outdoors amid temperatures of -30 Celsius, cyclists ride along a street in subzero weather, a sculptist builds decorations with lacquer threads and more.
Categories: China

Tencent Adds Sony to Growing List of Foreign Content Partners

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 20:17
Tencent Holdings Ltd. ’s latest deal with Sony Music Entertainment highlights the larger battle unfolding among China’s Internet giants to control the country’s potentially lucrative market for online entertainment.
Categories: China

Amy Chang on the Internet with Chinese Characteristics

China Digital Times - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 17:12

China is becoming increasingly assertive in controlling its Internet borders. At the World Internet Conference held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang after the APEC summit last month, a manifesto on the central government’s right to “sovereignty over the Internet in China” was slipped under the hotel room doors of attendees. The conference was an opportunity for China to defend the Great Firewall, not break it down.

Digital insularity may be paying off. The Great Firewall creates a vacuum for homegrown Internet companies to fill. Once Twitter, Google, and Facebook were out of the picture, Weibo, Baidu, and Renren filled the space. Domestic web platforms, while not yet household names abroad, are now gaining foreign investment, as evinced by the Alibaba IPO this summer. Facebook is now looking for a way back into China. It has opened a field office in Beijing to help Chinese companies advertise on the site. When cyber czar Lu Wei visited Facebook headquarters earlier this month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg had a copy of Xi Jinping’s The Governance of China on his desk, and explained that he had given copies to colleagues to help them understand “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

“Internet sovereignty”—the maintenance of national cyber borders—is a key element of Chinese Internet control, argues Amy Chang, a researcher at the Center for a New American Security, in her recent report Warring State: China’s Cybersecurity Strategy. At the Huffington Post, Chang warns that “China is openly undermining the United States’ vision of a free and open Internet”:

China’s list of prohibited content online includes any information that: endangers state security, damages state honor and interests, spreads rumors, and disrupts social order and stability. These draconian regulations are further reinforced by Chinese literature on cybersecurity strategy. Chinese cyber scholars, for example, have noted instances where loss of control over the Internet toppled regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. Nothing frightens the ruling CCP more than the prospect of an uncontrolled Internet having a similar outcome in China.

China has engaged the international community on this front, wishing to signal to other countries that it is a responsible and cooperative actor on technology issues. Understanding that international norms and law have yet to codify Internet governance and cyber activity, China has invested significant effort to set the course for international norms in Internet governance.

China’s push for Internet sovereignty gained momentum abroad after Edward Snowden released information about U.S. National Security Agency surveillance programs. Capitalizing on the anti-U.S. sentiment in other authoritarian countries like Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, China wooed developing countries with growing online populations to consider the benefits of control of the Internet. [Source]

In the executive summary of her report, Chang writes that “China’s foreign policy behavior, including its cyber activity, is driven primarily by the domestic political imperative to protect the longevity of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).” Zuckerberg’s courting of Lu only supports Chinese protectionism, Chang says at SFGate:

Why was Zuckerberg’s gesture toward Lu especially concerning? Because China is actively promoting a counter-narrative to the traditional Western notion of an open, free, networked society. China, and in particular Lu, have been proposing the concept of sovereignty in cyberspace, implying China’s ability to control its own Internet, censor information that may threaten the regime, and administer Web traffic within its own borders. China has employed this language in state-sponsored media, in government white papers, in U.N. meetings, and in literature distributed at Internet governance conferences.

The message conveyed in these efforts is the antithesis of what Silicon Valley stands for. In the past several years, companies have stood up for its principles of free access to information and freedom from censorship and monitoring. In early 2010, Google said it would stop censoring Internet search results in China and subsequently ceased search services in the country.

[…] While Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected, the company should have had the foresight to understand how Lu’s visit to Silicon Valley — and Zuckerberg’s gesture in particular — would provide fodder for promoting China’s model of Internet governance. [Source]

China may never export Internet governance to the U.S., but it is increasingly spreading its message—and its digital reach—to other countries. Baidu launched Busca, a Portuguese-language search engine, in Brazil this July. Busca does not block sensitive keywords like “Falun Gong,” but results may be filtered. Naspers, a media and Internet giant with a “near-monopoly on satellite TV” in its home country of South Africa, owns a 34% stake in Tencent, leading to concerns that Chinese censorship practices could affect media consumers in the country.

Rebecca MacKinnon addresses the problem of a Balkanized Internet in her 2012 book Consent of the Networked.

Read more about Internet censorship from CDT.

Update (12/17 10:50 a.m. EST): William Farris’ findings on Busca filtering search results, cited in the Internet Monitor article linked to above, has been discredited.

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China’s Corruption Fight Inseparable from Economic Reform

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 14:30
It remains to be seen whether China's aggressive anti-graft drive can pave the way for the extensive economic reforms that the party has committed to pursue. If not, corruption will continue to plague China for the foreseeable future.
Categories: China

After Slamming U.S., China Admits it Also Tortures

China Digital Times - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 13:54

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary detailing torture methods used in the CIA’s secret interrogation program during the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” prompted criticism from China’s state media and Foreign Ministry. Official media devoted special attention to the revelations and U.S. “double standards,” while the Foreign Ministry called on Washington to “correct its ways” and stated China’s consistent opposition to torture. Days later, following the posthumous retrial that exonerated Huugjilt, a man executed in Inner Mongolia in 1996 for rape and murder, Chinese state media admitted that the use of torture to force prisoner confessions “has not been rare.” The Washington Post’s Simon Denyer reports, and translates netizen commentary:

“It has not been rare for higher authorities to exert pressure on local public security departments and judiciary to crack serious murder cases,” the state-run China Daily said in an editorial. “Nor has it been rare for the police to extort confessions through torture. And suspects have been sentenced without solid evidence except for extorted confessions.”

[…] In an editorial released after last week’s report into interrogation by the CIA, Xinhua accused the United States of “sheer hypocrisy” in casting itself as a defender of human rights. The news agency asked whether the report would accelerate the United States’ fall “from the altar of morality and justice.”

Some bloggers and other Netizens here appeared to share their government’s outrage. But most reacted with irony to that report last week, suggesting U.S. interrogators might have learned a trick or two from China. One posted an imaginary conversation between the CIA and a suspect: “CIA: If you don’t confess, I’ll send you to China. Criminal: I confess!” […]

“I see that China Central Television is talking about torture in the United States every day. Waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and that’s torture. These are the most lightweight in China!” posted another. [Source]

According to the Senate Intelligence Committee report, the two architects of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” had been paid $81 million for “work [that] consisted of “reverse-engineering” survival techniques taught to US military personnel to withstand Chinese and North Korean torture techniques if captured during the Korean War,” (via The Guardian).

Beijing and Washington engage in an annual critique of each others’ human rights records.

Earlier this year, a survey from Amnesty International found that 74% of the Chinese public supported the proposition “torture is sometimes necessary and acceptable to gain information that may protect the public,” compared to 36% worldwide.

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Photo: Frozen Lake, by Ding Zhou

China Digital Times - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 13:10

Frozen Lake

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Jonathan Mirsky: Pope Francis’ China Problem

China Digital Times - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 12:57

Pope Francis recently declined an opportunity to meet with the Dalai Lama, apparently after deciding that the meeting could “cause inconveniences” with Chinese authorities. While the Chinese government routinely pressures foreign governments from meeting with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader has regularly met with previous popes, though this would have been his first meeting with Pope Francis. In the New York Review of Books, Jonathan Mirsky writes that Pope Francis’ decision differs from that of heads of state who decline to meet the Dalai Lama:

What happened in Rome is wholly different. Unlike the US, Britain, Norway, and South Africa, among other countries, the Vatican has no economic ties with Beijing, nor does it hold security discussions with the Chinese. It is also usual for the Pope to meet the leaders of other world faiths on purely religious grounds.

What is plain is Francis’s anguish over the fate of the estimated twelve million Chinese who are Catholic and the more than three thousand Catholic priests active in China. About half of China’s Catholics are connected to one of the churches under the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), which means their bishops are appointed by employees of CPCA, which was created by the Religious Affairs Bureau of the People’s Republic; the other half are unofficial “House Christians,” who recognize the pope as their leader. Along with China’s Protestants, both groups have at best uneasy relations with the Communist leadership. Earlier this year, Catholic and Protestant churches in some regions of China were designated as “illegal structures” and demolished; in other cases in recent months, Christian religious symbols, such as crosses, have sometimes been forcibly removed.

Evidently, the Vatican understood what could happen if the Pope met “the criminal, splittist Dalai,” as he is routinely condemned by Beijing. There is always the possibility of detentions of prominent Catholics and their priests, and more punishments for Tibetan Buddhists, well-tried forms of Communist persecution. There also could be more at stake now that Beijing has signaled that it might consider improving relations with Rome. The signal seems arcane but it was understood in the Vatican. During the Pope’s visit to South Korea, for the first time a plane carrying a pope was permitted to fly through Chinese air space. In response, as he passed over China, the Pope sent a message to President Xi Jinping: “I extend the best wishes to Your Excellency and your fellow citizens, and I invoke the divine blessings of peace and well-being upon the nation.” [Source]

Read more about China’s relations with the Vatican, Pope Francis, and the Dalai Lama, via CDT.

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Chinese Artists Go “Back to the Land”

China Digital Times - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 12:24

A new video by Leah Thompson and Sun Yunfan of ChinaFile looks at a group of young Chinese who are moving from cities to the countryside in order to preserve local heritage, help develop rural areas, and escape the urban grind. Thompson writes:

We see [artist] Ou [Ning]’s effort as connected to a global “back-to-the-land” tradition that often follows the growth of cities and related urban problems. But within China, experiments like the Bishan Project—as Ou and his collaborator, Zuo Jing, have dubbed their efforts—are collectively described as part of the “new rural reconstruction movement (NRRM).” To call their efforts “rural reconstruction” ties them to a historical movement, led mostly by Chinese intellectuals who became enamored of Progressivism while studying in the U.S. in the early decades of the 20th century and returned to China fueled by a quest to uplift and modernize their nation’s countryside.

But while today’s rural reformers view themselves as heirs to this earlier movement, they are more interested in reviving rural traditions than replacing them. In response to what they see as the damaging impacts of globalization on rural areas, they focus their efforts on “sustainable development,” reviving local culture and bridging the gulf between rural and urban life. In 2013, Zuo published a map in his Bishan Magazine, which we have translated here. It identifies 50 current projects that Zuo classifies as part of this movement.

ChinaFile has translated and posted Zuo’s map.

While some young Chinese are choosing to move to rural areas and escape the country’s rapid urbanization, the official media regulator the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television is also sending some journalists into the countryside to learn from their rural compatriots, in a move reminiscent of Mao Zedong’s campaign to send intellectuals to labor in rural areas.

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Feng Zhenghu: The Narita Airport Diary (7)

China Digital Times - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 12:09

After being denied re-entry to China eight times, Feng Zhenghu lived in Tokyo’s Narita Airport for 92 days in 2009-2010. Now Feng is telling the story of his airport odyssey on his blog, and CDT is translating his account. This is the fourth installment. Read previous installments here:

November 9

I’d been living in the immigration hall at Terminal 1 of Japan’s Narita International Airport for six days. By night I slept on a bench, and by day I sustained myself primarily on tap water. The immigration bureau officials stipulated that no employees could buy food for me, and they refused to let my friends in Japan send food. So I had no choice but continue my forced hunger strike. I would choose death over dishonor.

The Democratic Party of Japan had won the recent elections, and since it was its first time in power, it needed the support of the Chinese government. The Hatoyama administration’s foreign policy was to “get closer to China and move further away from the U.S.” It wasn’t about to insult the Chinese government for the sake of the human rights of an ordinary Chinese citizen. Instead, it supported, or at least tacitly consented, to the Chinese officials’ violation of human rights. But Japan is a democratic country with the rule of law. The Japanese police wouldn’t be so crude as their Chinese counterparts–they wouldn’t drag me into Japan against my will. All the Japanese government could do was starve me into crossing the border. But this trick doesn’t work on an idealistic person who has survived the purgatory of Chinese prison.

When one door shuts another one opens. The day before, a stranger arriving from China brought me a package of crackers, a bag of little cakes, some chocolate, and three drinks. He had been entrusted by the Shanghai lawyer Yang Shaogang to buy some food for me at the departure hall of the Shanghai airport. To be in dire straights far away from home and have the first food I receive come from my own country, from a close friend and mentor for whom I have the utmost of respect and admiration—it really moved me.

I had food, delicious and filling. Not having eaten in over three days, however, my stomach had shriveled up, and I couldn’t eat normally. Instead I had to eat bit by bit, slowly returning my appetite to normal. With a few packs of crackers, I was able to break the food blockade, and could continue my protest at the airport for the long haul.

Chinese people couldn’t imagine—most Japanese people couldn’t imagine—that I’d go hungry on Japan’s doorstep. If they knew the truth, they would give me a package of crackers on their way through immigration, helping me to get through this difficult time. So I went online and posted a request for help under the pen name Shu Wen, titled “Give Feng Zhenghu a Pack of Crackers.”

The letter ended like this: “Dear readers, if you or your friends will be taking United Airlines, Air China, All Nippon Airlines, or EVA Air to Narita International Airport, when arriving at the south wing of Terminal 1 pay attention to the area for filling out declaration cards in the immigration inspection hall. You may see Feng Zhenghu. Give him a package of crackers or some other food—you will be giving support and sympathy to an individual who is struggling through adversity to uphold the human rights of the Chinese people.

“Feng Zhenghu’s Japanese cell phone number is 080-3445-7210.” [Chinese]

Translation by Nick.

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European innovation continues to fall

FT China Feed - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 07:30
Region’s share of global patent filings falls to 5.8%, the lowest on record
Categories: China

China businesswoman fined $404m for graft

FT China Feed - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 05:07
Former egg-seller who brokered bribes for rail chief also jailed for 20 years
Categories: China

Why Beijing is Spending $13 Billion on a New Airport

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 04:25
Six years after Beijing spent $3.5 billion to build what was then the world’s largest airport passenger terminal, the city has green lit a new airport that will cost nearly four times as much.
Categories: China

Green light for $13bn Beijing airport

FT China Feed - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 03:41
City’s second set of runways is latest megaproject aiming at boosting growth
Categories: China

Feast turns to famine for China trusts

FT China Feed - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 03:40
Loans tumble as demand dries up and amid new competition for investor funds
Categories: China

Investing in China’s Medical Device Industry, Part 2

China Briefing - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 02:25

Investing in China's medical device industry requires investors to go through complex establishment process and obtain all relevant licenses. Foreign investors need to consider many issues, normally including tax, governmental procedures and permits, IP protection, legal liability.

The post Investing in China’s Medical Device Industry, Part 2 appeared first on China Briefing News.

Categories: China

China Jails Egg Farmer Who Became Railway Tycoon

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 01:37
An egg-seller turned railway tycoon, Ding Yuxin, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $400 million in fines for corruption related to her alleged take from the build-out of a train system called Harmony.
Categories: China
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