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Government pledges to reduce ‘irrational’ spending on soccer
Despite the dismal performance of its national team, soccer is the most popular spectator sport in China. It’s also been a particular interest of President Xi Jinping, who said in 2015 that he hoped that Chinese soccer teams would become “among the world’s best.” The New York Times yesterday reported on Xi’s “Great Chinese Soccer Dream” (paywall) in an article noting the lavish sums local clubs are spending to lure foreign players, and the massive investments in training centers and clubs. Chinese companies have also been buying up large interests in soccer clubs overseas.
Today, China’s Sports General Administration (SGA) put a little prick into the bubble, rebuking Chinese clubs for paying “irrational” sums to sign up foreign players, and pledging to “limit excessive payments” and encourage clubs to foster local talent. The SGA also promised to regulate the finances of soccer clubs and mentioned acquisitions of foreign clubs as a problem. The SGA’s statement is here (in Chinese); Bloomberg has a thorough roundup of its content here.
Today, we publish Kaiser Kuo’s op-ed for January — “Spurning China and courting Russia: Trump’s dangerous game” — and this week’s Sinica Podcast: an interview with Alec Ash, author of Wish Lanterns, a book that tells the stories of six Chinese millennials.
More China news is curated below, with summarized stories at the top of each section.
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
- Apple removes New York Times apps from its store in China / NYT (paywall)
Apple said it was complying with a request from Chinese authorities when it removed both the English- and Chinese-language versions of The New York Times app from its China app store on December 23. Yet apps from the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and other international publications remain available. The move against The New York Times came on the same day that one of its reporters spoke to Apple about a story on “the billions of dollars in hidden perks and subsidies that the Chinese government provides to the world’s biggest iPhone factory,” which is operated by Foxconn.
- China to plow $361 billion into renewable fuel by 2020 / Reuters
“China will plow $361 billion into renewable power generation by 2020,” creating more than 13 million jobs, according to a document published by the National Energy Administration (NEA). Renewable power capacity, including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power, will make up about half of new electricity generation by 2020, if the NEA’s plans succeed.
- China’s offshore yuan surges most against dollar in a year / CNBC
- The man selling virtual reality to China / MIT Technology Review
- The pink yuan: How Chinese business is embracing the LGBT market / The Guardian
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
- Shanghai court accepts detained rights lawyer’s defamation case against state-backed media / SCMP
There has been little good news for China’s activist lawyers in recent years, but today the South China Morning Post writes that a Shanghai court has agreed to hear a defamation suit brought by the father of rights activist Jiang Tianyong against a state-backed media outlet for reporting that he had “people with grievances to ‘resist government agencies and interrupt judicial procedures,’ ‘severely violating social order’ and creating a ‘negative social impact.’” Courts in Beijing and Guangzhou had earlier rejected similar suits.
- China probes senior Xinjiang party officials days after deadly bomb attack / SCMP
State media report that “two Communist Party officials in Xinjiang have been placed under investigation for corruption and dereliction of duty.” The announcement came about a week after attackers drove a car into a government building in Karakax County in Xinjiang and set off a bomb, killing one person. All four of the attackers were shot dead.
- Party rules: China’s Communist Party goes for quality over quantity / WSJ (paywall)
- China says aircraft carrier testing weapons in South China Sea / SCMP
- Xi Jinping is busy arranging a huge reshuffle / The Economist (paywall)
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
- China’s rural poor bear the brunt of the nation’s aging crisis / Bloomberg
There are currently 80 million senior citizens — 60 percent of China’s total elderly population — living in rural areas, who often have limited access to quality health-care facilities. Among the challenges they face are the physical effects of years of hard labor in the field, higher rates of disability, chronic conditions and suicide than their urban peers, and limited insurance protection.
- Less bling, more mass ceremonies: A county in China is banning extravagant weddings / Quartz
Taiqian County in Henan Province announced rules to put a damper on extravagant weddings and funerals. Violations could be punished by public shaming. The rules include limits on wedding gifts (no more than 60,000 yuan, or $8,700) and a limit of 12 courses for wedding banquets. The funeral rules limit length of mourning ceremonies to three days and a cap on the value of liquor served (a maximum of 15 yuan, or $2.17, per bottle).
- China rates the best toilets for tourists (and tells the laggards to clean up) / NYT (paywall)
- Humans mourn loss after Google is unmasked as China’s Go master / WSJ (paywall)
- Instagram-like photos of Beijing that are colored by smog, not filters / Quartz
Keep an eye on what’s buzzing among China’s 700 million social media users.
How much money did you spend? / Sina Weibo (link in Chinese)
“The moment when I feel super rich is looking at other people’s bills,” said one commenter on the new craze of sharing screenshots of annual Alipay expense reports. These reports include information that ranks each user against all users nationwide and in the local district. Alipay is the most widely used online payment method in China, and use of the platform reached record numbers in 2016. The practice in recent years of showing off personal wealth online has been nicknamed shài (晒), which means to “bask” or “dry in the sun.”