Links for January 3, 2020


China has decided to keep its inflation target unchanged this year at around 3 percent, sources say, suggesting policymakers will continue to roll out more economic support measures while avoiding aggressive stimulus.

Local government land sales are expected to have hit a record high in 2019 as officials struggled to fill budget gaps left by tax and fee cuts that have bitten into their fiscal revenue.

Land sales revenue in 50 major Chinese cities last year grew to a record 4.2 trillion yuan ($601.6 billion) as of Decembber 26, marking a jump of 17.6 percent from the same period in 2018, according to data provided by a research center of Hong Kong-based Centaline Property Agency Ltd.

An expert in human rights who spent more than a decade at Google and directed its international diplomacy says the tech giant pushed him out last year because it no longer takes human rights seriously.

Ross LaJeunesse, who is now a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in his native Maine, said in a blog post Thursday that Google abandoned its former, famous motto “Don’t be evil” as potential business in countries such as China and Saudi Arabia became too enticing.

Commodity market analysts and agricultural economists warn an agreement won’t be an immediate fix for the U.S. farm economy because the conflict has spurred China to develop new supply chains.


Chinese capital city Beijing cut smog levels in its metropolitan area by more than 17 percent in 2019 after five years of an anti-pollution campaign, data from its environmental authority [in Chinese] showed on Friday January 3.

Average concentrations last year of small, hazardous breathable particles known as PM2.5 were at 42 micrograms per cubic meter, the Beijing Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau said.

In July 2018, a company named Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences Ltd. was found to have sold hundreds of thousands of faulty vaccines, leaving young children with permanent disabilities and sparking a wave of public anger.

In response, the government passed its tough new Vaccine Administration Law [in Chinese], which went into effect Dec. 1, 2019. Under the new law, any organization administering vaccines without authorization would be shut down, fined up to 1 million yuan ($145,000), and have its leaders punished — though the law doesn’t specify whether they would face criminal charges.

The vaccine law aims to bring peace of mind to Chinese parents by increasing scrutiny of vaccine makers and preventing substandard products from making it to the market. But the tighter oversight is also creating supply issues, as vaccine companies shut down, unlicensed clinics stop administering shots, and products get recalled on a large scale.

The Pakistani government is ignoring the climate impacts of the energy and infrastructure projects under the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Much like severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, exposed the shortcomings of China’s public health system when it became an epidemic in 2002–3, swine fever today exposes the weaknesses of the country’s animal-disease prevention and control.


Chinese President Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 will replace Premier Lǐ Kèqiáng 李克强 as host of this year’s Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries meeting, sources said, in a sign of the greater significance Beijing now gives to its links with Europe amid a growing rivalry with the United States.

Invitations for the event — launched by Beijing in 2012 and better known as the “17+1” for the 17 European nations that take part — were sent to European leaders in Xi’s name, according to diplomats who have seen them.

As well as those being held in criminal detention — which under Chinese law is likely to lead to a formal charge — several other activists had gone missing after being approached by the police, the Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group said in a document published on Wednesday.

The round-up began on Boxing Day and was ongoing, it said.

  • See also: Change — a 2020 New Year’s message / China Change
  • Hacking and industrial espionage
    Ghosts in the clouds: Inside China’s major corporate hack / WSJ (paywall)
    The Wall Street Journal says a new investigation finds the previously reported Cloud Hopper attack “was much bigger than previously known.”
    Cyberattackers alleged to be working for Beijing “stole volumes of intellectual property, security clearance details and other records from scores of companies over the past several years.” One of the targets was a cloud services company, meaning that its clients may have been exposed.
    Firms that may have been affected include: Rio Tinto, Philips, IBM, HP, American Airlines, Deutsche Bank, Allianz, and GlaxoSmithKline PLC.

Hong Kong’s retail sector continues to take a beating as sales plunged 23.6 per cent in November from the previous year, the second largest drop on record, as tourism and consumption activities were severely affected by increasingly violent anti-government protests.

Consumer spending dropped to HK$30 billion ($3.84 billion) for the month after a record 24.4 percent year-on-year slump in October, according to the Census and Statistics Department on Friday.


A popular Chinese childcare blogger has apologized [in Chinese] for leaving her six-year-old daughter alone at home to punish her while the rest of the family visited an amusement park.

Zōu Yuè 邹悦, also known as Zhōu Yuèyuè 粥悦悦, said she had wanted to teach her daughter a lesson about finishing her homework on time, but apologised to her 1.5 million Weibo followers after her “tiger mother” style of parenting triggered a public outcry.

The cartoonist and mother of three, who is based in the southern city of Guangzhou, said she now felt ashamed of what she had done and should be promoting “correct parenting ways.”

One Child Nation, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, is part investigative report, part family history. Co-directed with Jialing Zhang, the film follows a Chinese family that is jailed for human trafficking after they moved thousands of abandoned Chinese babies — almost all of them girls — into state-run orphanages, and an American couple who started a foundation to help track down the girls’ biological families.