BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Inflation target: Three percent
China to keep same inflation target in 2020 despite food price spike – sources / Reuters
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.
China is slowly moving up the microprocessing value chain / Economist (porous paywall)
“Getting good at designing is easier than at manufacturing, however.”
Cash-strapped local governments turn to their old vice
China land sales expected to break record as local governments fill budget gaps / Caixin
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.
Google in China
Google pursued profits over free speech in China, former head of international relations says / NBC
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.
The failing U.S.-China techno-trade war, day 546
U.S. farmers see another bleak year despite Phase 1 trade deal / Reuters
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.
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Blue skies in Beijing
Beijing cuts city smog by more than 17 percent in 2019 / Reuters via Channel NewsAsia
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.
Climate inaction on a major Belt and Road spoke
Why don’t CPEC projects factor in the climate crisis? / China Dialogue
Pakistani environmental lawyer Ahmad Rafay Alam writes:
The Pakistani government is ignoring the climate impacts of the energy and infrastructure projects under the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Why African swine fever spread so fast
Opinion: Why did one-quarter of the world’s pigs die in a year? / NYT (porous paywall)
Yanzhong Huang writes:
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.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
The boss himself goes to Central and Eastern European China forum
Chinese President Xi Jinping to take over as host of ’17+1′ summit with European leaders / SCMP
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.
- Related Sinica Podcast: China’s push into Eastern Europe: A conversation with Martin Hála (2017).
Boxing Day crackdown on activists
Five Chinese human rights activists detained after secret gathering / SCMP
At least five Chinese human rights lawyers and activists who took part in a three-day “secret meeting” in Xiamen in December have been disappeared.
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 protests and retail woes
Hong Kong protests continue to batter retail sector as sales plunge 23.6 percent in November, the second biggest drop on record / SCMP
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.
Thousands of teachers and supporters stage rally in Hong Kong against government’s handling of protest-related complaints on educators / SCMP
“Move comes as war of words rages between the Professional Teachers’ Union and the Education Bureau over which side is instigating ‘white terror.’”
Hong Kong considers the future: ‘if you can afford it, leave’ / NYT (porous paywall)
“We are very confused about how to teach a child that Hong Kong is a good place to live.”
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Chinese childcare blogger apologizes for ‘home alone’ punishment / SCMP
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.”
The One Child policy, documentary film, and censorship
How the Chinese government is censoring my Oscar-shortlisted film / Daily Beast
Wáng Nánfú 王男栿, who “co-directed doc One Child Nation exploring China’s one-child policy, writes about how state media has scrubbed mentions of her film.”
See also: In “One Child Nation,” Nanfu Wang confronts China’s history, and her own, from August 2019 in the New Yorker (porous paywall).
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.