News roundup: Former chief executive of Hong Kong found guilty of misconduct

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Top China news for February 17, 2017. Get this daily digest delivered to your inbox by signing up at

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 28JAN12 - Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region gestures during the session 'Global Economic Outlook 2012' at the Annual Meeting 2012 of the World Economic Forum at the congress centre in Davos, Switzerland, January 28, 2012.

Former chief executive of Hong Kong convicted of misconduct

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen 曾蔭權, chief executive of Hong Kong from 2005 to 2012, was found guilty of misconduct while in public office after a six-week trial. The South China Morning Post reports that Tsang “had deliberately concealed his negotiations over a three-story penthouse” while he approved various business licenses for the owner of the apartment. Tsang has been granted bail and awaits sentencing next week. He faces a maximum sentence of seven years behind bars.

Hong Kong’s current chief executive is the unpopular Leung Chun-ying 梁振英, who has withdrawn from the selection process by which a 1,200-member election committee will choose a new leader on March 26. Bloomberg has a roundup of the candidates competing for the job, and a feature on Carrie Lam 林鄭月娥, who is one of the favorites.

Leadership succession in China

China’s top leaders for the next five years will be decided or announced at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party in the autumn this year. The scholar Jude Blanchette has published a useful blog post on what we can learn about leadership succession in China by looking at previous Party congresses. You can listen to a Sinica Podcast with Jude on neo-Maoists here.

The murder of Neil Heywood: a radio show

The BBC has published the first episode of a radio documentary about the murder of Englishman Neil Heywood in the city of Chongqing. The story is told like a thriller and includes stories about Heywood and his killer Gu Kailai from Giles Hall, the company director of Vistarama, who had sold Gu hot-air balloons. Gu was found guilty of poisoning Heywood by a Chinese court in 2012 and sentenced to life imprisonment. She is the wife of Bo Xilai, whom many observers saw as the only real rival of Xi Jinping for China’s top leadership positions. Bo was expelled from the Party in 2012 and sentenced to life imprisonment on corruption charges in 2013.  

Xi chairs meeting on national security

Chinese state media today reported extensively about a seminar on national security presided over by Xi Jinping. Two topics were emphasized in official releases: cyber security, and the enhancement of safety measures in the transport and production of hazardous chemicals and the related improvement of fire prevention and control.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor in Chief

This week on SupChina

This week’s news roundups are:
Feb 13: Ripples spread after billionaire vanishes in Hong Kong
Feb 14: Small-time investors risk jail to recoup billions
Feb 15: A surprise win for the Trump brand in China
Feb 16: Female assassins kill North Korean leader’s half brother en route to China

This issue of the SupChina newsletter was produced by Sky Canaves, Lucas Niewenhuis, and Jiayun Feng. More China stories worth your time are curated below, with the most important ones at the top of each section.


  • Didi’s new plan to win over unfriendly authorities / Tech in Asia
    Didi Chuxing, the ride-hailing company that beat Uber into a humiliating retreat from China in 2016, has announced a plan for corporate restructuring in 2017 in a letter to employees that has circulated in the media. One of the noteworthy items on the plan is the creation of a new “future transit team” that will “work with local governments to create smart transportation systems.” Tech in Asia notes that “Didi may have defeated Uber China, but it has been struggling with government relations in the wake of bans on out-of-town drivers in many of its major markets.”
  • We checked out 7 co-working spaces in Shanghai, so you don’t have to / TechNode
    The operators of co-working spaces have become darlings of the venture capital community over the last two years, and China is no exception.


  • Massive show of force staged in China’s Xinjiang region after terrorist attack / SCMP
    After a knife attack in Pishan County in the troubled Xinjiang Autonomous Region on Tuesday that left eight people dead, police swarmed the city on high alert. Today, Chinese armed police and military aimed to further assure the public of their safety by staging a parade involving thousands of troops and military vehicles. The display took place in Hotan, a major town on the southern Silk Road. For more on ethnic tensions and the recently heightened security situation in Xinjiang, see this detailed roundup published by the Jamestown Foundation.
  • America’s affirmation of the one-China policy pleased Taiwan, too / The Economist
    The Economist reports that Donald Trump’s about-face on the one-China policy has not only pleased Beijing: It has also soothed rattled nerves in Taiwan, where President Tsai Ing-wen was no doubt worried that the erratic American leader would throw her under the bus after she had served her purpose as a bargaining chip. Furthermore, unlike a vocal faction of her party that insists on seizing any opportunity to push for formal independence, President Tsai “has presented herself as cautious, responsible and predictable,” and likely views these political events as a distraction from more pressing domestic economic issues.


  • Top Chinese university criticized for lowering admission standards for foreign students / SCMP
    China’s Tsinghua University recently changed its admission requirements for overseas students. Foreign students may now apply without taking any entrance examinations, as long as they hold a high school diploma and pass the HSK Level 5 Chinese proficiency test. Widely recognized as one of the top two prestigious universities in China, Tsinghua was ranked 57th best worldwide in the 2017 US News and World Report Best Global University Rankings. The move, according to an anonymous Tsinghua admissions official, is to “bring the university more in line with international practice.” For Chinese students, the path to get Tsinghua admission is highly competitive; in 2016, among nearly 9.4 million students who took the Chinese national higher-education entrance examination, only 3,000 students were admitted to Tsinghua University. The school’s favorable policies for overseas recruits sparked outrage on Chinese social media (in Chinese), with many commenters suggesting that Tsinghua discriminates against Chinese students. One person wrote, “Studying hard for 10 years is nothing compared with a foreign citizenship.”