China’s Trade Surplus with U.S. Soars in First Quarter but March Exports Falter

Elias Glenn, Stella Qiu
Reuters
China’s trade surplus with the United States surged nearly 20 percent in the first quarter, with some analysts speculating exporters were rushing out shipments to get ahead of threatened tariffs that are spurring fears of a full-blown trade war.

China Delays Deal Reviews as U.S. Trade Frictions Build

Lingling Wei, Yoko Kubota, Takashi...
Wall Street Journal
Amid escalating trade tensions, China is holding up deal reviews that could clear the way for U.S. companies Qualcomm Inc. and Bain Capital to make multibillion-dollar acquisitions of semiconductor companies, people familiar with the matter say.

Putin’s Fourth Term

Paul Haenle & Alexander Gabuev from Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Vladimir Putin was elected to his fourth term as president of Russia on March 18, 2018. His continued leadership has important implications for the international community, including China.

Books

04.12.18

China’s Great Wall of Debt

Dinny McMahon
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Over the course of a decade spent reporting on the ground in China as a financial journalist, Dinny McMahon gradually came to the conclusion that the widely held belief in China’s inevitable economic ascent is dangerously wrong.In this unprecedented deep dive, McMahon shows how, lurking behind the illusion of prosperity, China’s economic growth has been built on a staggering mountain of debt. While stories of newly built but empty cities, white elephant state projects, and a byzantine shadow banking system have all become a regular fixture in the press in recent years, McMahon goes beyond the headlines to explain how such waste has been allowed to flourish, and why one of the most powerful governments in the world has been at a loss to stop it.Through the stories of ordinary Chinese citizens, McMahon tries to make sense of the unique—and often bizarre—mechanics of the Chinese economy, whether it be the state’s addiction to appropriating land from poor farmers, why a Chinese entrepreneur decided it was cheaper to move his yarn factory to South Carolina, why ambitious Chinese mayors build ghost cities, or why the Chinese bureaucracy was able to stare down Beijing’s attempts to break up the state’s pointless monopoly over the distribution of table salt.Debt, entrenched vested interests, a frenzy of speculation, and an aging population are all pushing China toward an economic reckoning. China’s Great Wall of Debt unravels an incredibly complex and opaque economy, one whose fortunes—for better or worse—will shape the globe like never before.{chop}

Conversation

04.11.18

China’s Communist Party Takes (Even More) Control of the Media

Stanley Rosen, Chris Fenton & more
China’s Communist Party made moves last month to solidify and formalize its (already substantial) control over the country’s media. China’s main state-run broadcasters are to be consolidated into a massive new “Voice of China” under the management...

U.S. Stocks Surge after China’s Xi Eases Trade Fears

David Hodari and Allison Prang
Wall Street Journal
U.S. stocks climbed Tuesday, with the Dow gaining more than 400 points, as remarks from Chinese President Xi Jinping soothed concerns about a trade war that have roiled markets in recent weeks.

China’s Vast Intercontinental Building Plan Is Gaining Momentum

Faseeh Mangi
Bloomberg
China’s massive build program to recreate trade routes stretching from Asia to Africa and Europe is gaining momentum.

Xi Says China to Lower Trade Barriers as Beijing Files Wto Complaint against U.S.

Scott Neuman
NPR
China’s President Xi Jinping says his country will “significantly lower” import tariffs on automobiles as part of a broader move to open up its economy amid a major trade dispute with the U.S.

China Now Has the Most Valuable AI Startup in the World

Bloomberg News
Bloomberg
Facial recognition company in China becomes richest-valued private AI startup.

China Elites Seek to De-Escalate Trade Tension before Xi Speech

Gabriel Wildau and Emily Feng
Financial Times
Government advisers dismiss reports of secret plan to sell off US Treasury bill.

Hopes Are High for China to Announce Market Access Reforms on Tuesday

Nyshka Chandran
CNBC
Xi’s speech to announce market reforms could help heal U.S.-China trade frictions.

Tensions Rise over Taiwan Strait as U.S. and China Harden Positions

Simon Denyer
Washington Post
Fears grow that Taiwan will suffer the consequences of Trump-China spat.

Europe Caught in the Middle as Trump Threatens China

Jack Ewing
New York Times
Europe in dilemma as conflict escalates between its two biggest trading partners.

China Is Studying Yuan Devaluation as a Tool in Trade Spat

Bloomberg News
Bloomberg
China evaluates impact of currency depreciation among trade tensions.

White House Sends Mixed Message on China Trade Thaw

Shawn Donnan, Michael Hunter and Ben...
Financial Times
Markets rally but questions remain over US willingness to talk to Beijing.

U.S. Farmers Likely among Hardest Hit by Chinese Tariffs

Frank Morris
NPR
China's retaliatory tariffs may hit farmers harder than any other group...

If There’s a U.S.-China Trade War, China May Have Some ‘Unconventional Weapons’

Neil Irwin
New York Times
There are ways to make life harder for American companies in China that need not be formal, or widely publicized.

Why China Could Get Hurt More from a Trade War in the Tech Sector

Saheli Roy Choudhury
CNBC
China could lose more than the U.S. from trade tensions now spilling into the technology sector, according to Gavin Parry from Parry Global Group.

Anti-China Tilt in Australia Is Shortsighted

Daniel Moss
Bloomberg
In Australia, Chinese investment is small, but feels large.

Xiaomi Ceo Calls China’s Plan to Lure Tech Listings ‘Excellent’

Bloomberg News
Bloomberg
China’s trial program for encouraging technology giants like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to list their shares at home is drawing positive early reviews, a sign their stocks may soon be available in the world’s most populous country.

China Strikes Back at the U.S. With Plans for Its Own Tariffs

Keith Bradsher and Steven Lee Myers
New York Times
China hit back at the United States on Wednesday with proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of American soybeans, cars, chemicals and other goods, in a move likely to stoke fears that the countries’ escalating confrontation could become an all-out...

China Strikes Back at the U.S. With Plans for Its Own Tariffs

Keith Bradsher and Steven Lee Myers
New York Times
China hit back at the United States on Wednesday with proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of American soybeans, cars, chemicals and other goods, in a move likely to stoke fears that the countries’ escalating confrontation could become an all-out...

China’s Financial Opening Isn't Quite What It Seems

Andrew Polk
Bloomberg
Although trade tensions between the U.S. and China show no signs of abating, there are some reasons for cautious optimism.

China Announces It’s Imposing New Tariffs on 128 Us Products

Nyshka Chandran
CNBC
China implements additional tariffs as retaliation against increased U.S. import taxes.

‘America First’ Shouldn’t Stop the Us from Welcoming Chinese Students and Other Global Talent

Vasilis Trigkas
South China Morning Post
Almost half a century after the “Nixon shock”, when US President Nixon unilaterally declared that the United States would abandon the dollar’s convertibility to gold and impose a 10 per cent import surcharge, the world is now being shaken by the “...

Viewpoint

03.27.18

Secretary Pompeo’s First China Briefing

Robert Daly
Donald Trump’s national security documents frame China as the United States’ greatest long-term threat. This declaration caps a historic shift in America’s strategic disposition toward China. From the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979,...

China’s Attempts to Supplant Dollar Face Historic Difficulties

Mike Bird
Wall Street Journal
The world’s first yuan-denominated oil contracts launched Monday, as part of China’s drive to turn its currency into a global force in markets.

The US and China Are in Talks to Try to Avoid a Trade War

Jethro Mullen
CNN
The United States and China are acting tough over trade, but they’re also busy talking to try to stop the situation spiraling out of control.

China’s Radical Plan to Limit the Populations of Beijing and Shanghai

Helen Roxburgh
Guardian
In the weaving alleys of Shanghai’s Laoximen district, swathes of residential buildings sit empty. The historic area in the heart of the city is being slowly demolished, and many residents have already abandoned it, leaving behind rows of...

How China’s Government Has Changed after the NPC

BBC
BBC
A stronger military and more power to fight corruption are among the major changes revealed at China’s National People's Congress (NPC) this year...

China Vows to Open Its Markets Further in Response to Trump’s Tariff Threats

Simon Denyer
Washington Post
China responded to the threat of a massive package of tariffs from the United States by vowing Tuesday to further open its own markets to foreign trade and investment, while warning that a trade war between the two nations would hurt both sides.

Tillerson’s Last Act: ‘Do as I Say, Not as I Do’ Advice for Africa

Eric Olander & Brooks Spector
There is a certain irony when a U.S. envoy travels to Africa to warn his hosts about the dangers of borrowing money from China. The United States, after all, is the world’s most indebted country and borrows more from China than any other nation in...

The Battle for Digital Supremacy

The Economist
Economist
“DESIGNED by Apple in California. Assembled in China”. For the past decade the words embossed on the back of iPhones have served as shorthand for the technological bargain between the world’s two biggest economies: America supplies the brains and...

Hard-Charging Chinese Energy Tycoon Falls from Xi Government’s Graces

Alexandra Stevenson
New York Times
A mysterious Chinese buyer surprised the financial world last year when it swooped in to buy a $9 billion chunk of Russia’s state oil company.

China Tech Titan Alibaba Plans Stock-Market Homecoming

Julie Steinberg and Liza Lin
Wall Street Journal
Technology giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is working on a plan to list on a stock exchange in its home market, China, according to people familiar with the matter, more than three years after its blockbuster initial public offering in New York.

China Levies Record $870 Million Fine for Stock Manipulation

Bloomberg News
Bloomberg
China slapped a logistics company with fines totaling 5.5 billion yuan ($870 million) for manipulating the stock market, the biggest ever punishment for such an infringement.

Trump Demands Aides Pump up Anti-China Tariffs

Adam Behsudi and Andrew Restuccia
Politico
President Donald Trump is getting ready to crack down on China. Trump told Cabinet secretaries and top advisers during a meeting at the White House last week that he wanted to soon hit China with steep tariffs and investment restrictions in response...

Chairman Xi, Chinese Idol

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
For nearly sixty years since it opened in 1959, the Great Hall of the People has been the public focus of Chinese politics, a monumental granite block that extends 1,200 feet along the west side of Tiananmen Square. It is where the country’s leaders...

A Malaysian Insta-City Becomes a Flash Point for Chinese Colonialism — and Capital Flight

Brook Larmer
New York Times
A futuristic city funded by China is rising from the sea off Malaysian coast.

Honeywell, Other U.S. Companies Look to Benefit from China's Gigantic 'Belt and Road' Initiative

Evelyn Cheng
CNBC
Over 15 U.S. companies called the program an opportunity for business growth.

Trump’s China Whisperer: How Billionaire Stephen Schwarzman Has Sought to Keep the President Close to Beijing

Michael Kranish
Washington Post
This American investor has one of the closest relationships to Beijing.

China Says Trade War with U.S. Will Only Bring Disaster to Global Economy

Elias Glenn
Reuters
Beijing criticizes proposed tariffs by Washington amid fears it could shatter global growth.

Books

03.09.18

End of an Era

Carl Minzner
Oxford University Press: Since the 1990s, Beijing’s leaders have firmly rejected any fundamental reform of their authoritarian one-party political system, even as a decades-long boom has reshaped China’s economy and society. On the surface, their efforts have been a success. Political turmoil has toppled former communist Eastern Bloc regimes, internal unrest overtaken Middle East nations, and populist movements risen to challenge established Western democracies. China, in contrast, has appeared a relative haven of stability and growth.But as Carl Minzner shows, a closer look at China’s reform era reveals a different truth. Over the past three decades, a frozen political system has fueled both the rise of entrenched interests within the Communist Party itself and the systematic underdevelopment of institutions of governance among state and society at large. Economic cleavages have widened. Social unrest has worsened. Ideological polarization has deepened.{node, 45901}Now, to address these looming problems, China’s leaders are progressively cannibalizing institutional norms and practices that have formed the bedrock of the regime’s stability in the reform era. Technocratic rule is giving way to black-box purges; collective governance sliding back towards single-man rule. The post-1978 era of “reform and opening up” is ending. China is closing down. Uncertainty hangs in the air as a new future slouches towards Beijing to be born. End of an Era explains how China arrived at this dangerous turning point, and outlines the potential outcomes that could result. {chop}

US’s Tillerson Warns African Nations Not to ‘Forfeit Their Sovereignty’ by Taking Chinese Loans

Justina Crabtree
CNBC
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned against African nations accepting Chinese cash in agreements which could “forfeit their sovereignty.”

How China Is Challenging American Dominance in Asia

Max Fisher and Audrey Carlsen
New York Times
As China grows more powerful, it is displacing decades-old American preeminence in parts of Asia. The outlines of the rivalry are defining the future of the continent.

China, Europe Slam Trump’s Tariffs as U.S. Metalworkers Cheer

Wayne Ma, Emre Peker, and Doug Cameron
Wall Street Journal
China and Europe lashed out against new U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, while officials and executives from several American allies caught in the crossfire reacted more cautiously, embracing what the White House promised would be some flexibility...

Trump Takes the Bait from Musk, Attacks China Auto Import Duties

Dana Hull and Justin Sink
Bloomberg
President Donald Trump may not follow Elon Musk on Twitter, but the Tesla Inc. chief’s posts decrying China’s automotive trade practices managed to catch his attention.

Excerpts

03.08.18

Reversing Reform

Carl Minzner
Political stability, ideological openness, and rapid economic growth were the hallmarks of China’s post-1978 reform era. But they are ending. China is entering a new era—the counter-reform era.

Francis Fukuyama: China’s ‘Bad Emperor’ Returns

Francis Fukuyama
Washington Post
Since 1978, China’s authoritarian political system has been different from virtually all other dictatorships in part because the ruling Communist Party has been subject to rules regarding succession.

China Protectionism Creates Tech Billionaires Who Protect Xi

Shelly Banjo
Bloomberg
China’s tech giants will add star power to the country’s political festivities this week, paying homage to President Xi Jinping and endorsing constitutional changes for him to remain president indefinitely.

China and the Philippines Will Work Together to Tap the South China Sea’s Vast Oil Deposits

Ralph Jennings
Forbes
China needs fuel to grow the world’s second-largest economy by 6.5% this year as established this week at annual legislative sessions.

The West Is Doing Its Best to Help China

Edward Luce
Financial Times
Most of it is unintentional. Yet the west could not be helping China more if it tried.

Blockchain Is a Surprisingly Hot Topic at China’s Annual Political Gathering

Josh Horwitz
Quartz
Thousands of China’s elites are currently gathered in Beijing for the “two sessions,” the annual meetings for members the National People’s Congress (or NPC, China’s rubber-stamp legislative branch) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative...

Conversation

03.02.18

How Will Trump’s Tariffs Affect U.S.-China Relations?

Derek Scissors, Donald Clarke & more
Arguing that America is harmed by other countries’ trade practices, President Donald Trump said on March 1 that the U.S. will impose a new 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. “People have no idea how badly...

As Xi Tightens His Grip on China, U.S. Sees Conflict Ahead

Mark Landler
New York Times
A few weeks after Stephen K. Bannon left the White House in August, he was invited to a dinner at the Council on Foreign Relations to discuss American policy toward China.

Why Chinese State Media Love Elon Musk’s Latest Tweets

Jethro Mullen
CNN
The Tesla CEO tweeted out a link to a video about a Chinese rail station that was built in less than 9 hours.

China Box Office Surges 39 Percent in First Two Months of 2018

Patrick Brzeski
Hollywood Reporter
China is once again rapidly closing the gap with North America, still narrowly the world’s largest film market.

A Social Media Tycoon Is Now China’s Richest Man

Daniel Shane
CNN
Tencent CEO Ma Huateng is the country’s highest-ranked person on the Global Rich List published Wednesday by Shanghai-based wealth research firm Hurun Report.

How the West Got China Wrong

The Economist
Economist
Last weekend China stepped from autocracy into dictatorship. That was when Xi Jinping, already the world’s most powerful man, let it be known that he will change China’s constitution so that he can rule as president for as long as he chooses—and...

China Spends $279 bln on R&D in 2017: Science Minister

Reuters Staff
Reuters
China’s total spending on research and development is estimated to have hit 1.76 trillion yuan ($279 billion) last year, China’s science minister said on Monday, a year-on-year increase of 14 percent.