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News roundup: Is Xi powerful enough to control local authority? Plus venture capital and Catholics

op China news for October 21, 2016. Get this daily digest delivered to your inbox by signing up at
1 year ago
The editors SFIO CRACHO, Drop of Light, Fotokon


As China strives to fill its provinces with Silicon Valleys, local governments bring $445 billion to the risky VC world

With Beijing’s encouragement, more than 780 local government funds are wielding $445 billion in an attempt to stake their claim on the next big startup of the venture capital world. The effort is part of China’s attempt to transform its economy toward consumerism and curb debt-driven spending on infrastructure, though one expert warned that the return on the investment is far from guaranteed and the flood of money could distort markets. / Bloomberg


  • China says property market regulations are calming the surge in home prices even as they rise 9.3 percent in September / WSJ
  • Chinese spend $1.7 billion on Apple apps and in-app purchases in the third quarter, passing the U.S. to become the largest market for the digital goods / Mashable
  • Opinion: Western financial firms should follow JPMorgan’s lead on exiting the investment banking business in China / Bloomberg Gadfly
  • Trump’s name is highlighted in a hotel business pitch to Chinese people that features a controversial American money-for-visa initiative / The New York Times
  • Ahead of China’s busiest shopping day, Walmart takes another shot at the nation’s online purchasing market with a alliance / Caixin


Analysis: Local authority poses a major challenge to Xi Jinping's power

"Xi spars with crusty generals, powerful bureaucracies and large state-owned enterprises controlled by the central government," the author writes. "But an even greater impediment to his power is an age-old one: local authority. This is reflected in a popular saying that refers to the compound in Beijing where China’s leaders live and work: 'Policies do not go beyond Zhongnanhai.'" / The Economist

Rallying support:

  • As a reshuffle of China’s top leadership approaches, Xi calls for ‘unity’ and a ‘staunch’ belief in communism / South China Morning Post


  • Sinica Podcast: Rachel Stern on China’s legal system / Podcast + Q&A + Backgrounder
  • After Rodrigo Duterte mentions a ‘separation’ from the U.S., the Americans seek clarity as Philippine officials explain that ties will not be severed / BBC News
  • Duterte’s diplomatic dance in China lands the Philippines $24 billion in funding and investment pledges / Bloomberg
  • Critics raise ‘Big Brother’ worries over developing social credit system that would score citizens by the Communist Party’s definition of good and bad / Washington Post


Testy relationship between the Vatican and Beijing may improve as talks on ordaining bishops make progress

In a contest for authority over mainland China's roughly 10 million Catholics, the Communist Party has opposed the Vatican's right to ordain Chinese bishops for more than 60 years. The longstanding dispute may be resolved at a meeting in Rome before the end of this month, sources say, helping put to rest the Vatican's concerns about a split in the country between state-sanctioned groups and those loyal only to the pope. / Reuters


  • A report counts 61 million ‘left-behind’ children in China’s countryside, a phenomenon often attributed to cities denying social services to families of migrant workers / SCMP
  • Like other Asian cuisines, Chinese food in the U.S. is changing to satisfy demands for cultural authenticity / Medium
  • Zeng Fanzhi, creator of the iconic ‘Mask’ paintings, gets an exhibit in Beijing offering a retrospective of his 30 years of art / CNN
  • Bao Bao, a giant panda born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., will be sent to China this winter under an agreement with the nation / NPR
By The editors
Jeremy Goldkorn, Anthony Tao, Lucas Niewenhuis, Jia Guo, and Jiayun Feng.
China in 2 minutes a day
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