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Yazhou Zhoukan Magazine Selected the Hong Kong Police as the “People of the Year”

Yazhou Zhoukan (亚洲周刊) is a widely circulated Chinese-language weekly magazine in Asia, headquartered in Hong Kong. Michael O’Neill and Thomas Hon Wing Polin, who also established the magazine Asiaweek, created it in December 1987. The Ming Pao group owns this magazine after purchasing it from Times Warner in 1994. Yau Lop Poon is the editor-in-chief.

Recently, Yazhou Zhoukan selected the Hong Kong Police as its “People of the Year” for 2019. The top story of its most recent issue published 7,000 Chinese letters that praised the Hong Kong police as their “guardian angel” and the “anchor that stabilizes the sea,” which, at the critical moment, “impacted the path of history and safeguarded Hong Kong’s rule of law.” It called the Hong Kong police “the most twisted and most insulted” group but also the “most dependent and most respected group.” It claimed that it was all because of the police that the “Hong Kong people maintained their freedom without fear.”

Many people criticized Yazhou Zhoukan for lining up with the Chinese Communist Party and ignoring the simple facts in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s renowned Chinese-language fiction writer Dung Kai Cheung posted on his Facebook site that he refused to have his novel “Mingzi” named in Yazhou Zhoukan’s 2019 Top Ten Novel List.

Wang Dan, a student leader at the June 4th Student Movement and dissident from China, called for people to boycott the magazine. “There are plenty of media even without this one,” Wang wrote on his Facebook page. “We must take the bad media off the shelf!”

Source: Radio France International, January 4, 2020港澳台/20200104-香港亚洲周刊评选香港警察为年度风云人物备受争议

Beijing Anticipates Upcoming Mass Layoffs and Social Unrest

As the end of the year approaches, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang once again demanded to regulate how Chinese companies fire their employees. He proposed measures to prevent the outbreak of mass layoffs. The official party mouthpiece Xinhua News Agency reported on December 24 that Li issued the “Opinions on Further Improving Job Market Stability.” It proposed that the government should put more emphasis on employment stability and offer guidance to companies that conduct economic layoffs. The Opinions aims to prevent the risk of mass layoffs and ensure that the employment situation is stable. The above measures highlight China’s grim employment situation as a large-scale wave of layoffs may come soon.

The Opinions also mentioned the need to improve emergency response mechanisms. All regions should deal in a timely manner with mass social unrest that results from large-scale layoffs. The local governments have been advised to coordinate the employment needs of different groups and formulate temporary response measures.

On December 23, the government think tank, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, released the “Social Blue Book: Analysis and Forecast of China’s Social Situation 2020.” It stated that, due to the downward pressure on the economy and the impact of Sino-U.S. trade frictions, compounded by cyclical, structural and frictional factors, China’s employment situation continues to fluctuate because of increasing pressure and amid growing risks.

Source: Radio Free Asia, December 25, 2019

Xinhua: Chinese Government Plans for “Tight Days” Ahead

Xinhua recently published a commentary after the National Financial Work Conference, observing that the Chinese government is preparing to tighten its control over spending. The Conference outcome was a guideline for all levels of the government to do careful planning next year, ensuring that money is spent only on things that are required. In the year 2019, China delivered a major tax cut package that boosted the market while eating into government income. It is expected that the next year will continue to have the same challenges China has today, if not more. All government branches are asked to get ready for tough days ahead and all the work should focus on expanding income sources and reducing the budget. The government should set an example for the whole country on looking at all phases of operations to cut costs. The Conference sent the message that the Chinese leadership is asking the entire government system to “get serious” about the coming tight days, by cancelling unnecessary projects and strictly controlling new initiatives. “Scientific money management” should become the new norm and should form the foundation of a sustainable society.

Source: Xinhua, December 27, 2019

The Mysterious Person Helping the CCP’s Elite Families Transport Money Overseas

Epoch Times reported that a person has been instrumental in helping some top Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials and their families move their money out of China. He remains low-key, rarely interacting with Chinese and hiding behind those transactions, so very few people know about him.

His real name is not clear. The name he uses in his circle is Michael P. Xu (his Chinese name might be 许鹏). He is a third generation of a Red Officials: His grandfather was a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) general who had fought wars for the CCP to take over the mainland. His father is a current PLA general. The government sent him to study at a U.S. high school and he might have changed his name at that time. He later worked at a senior position at Akerman LLP’s investment banking sector on mergers and acquisitions.

He is well connected to the family of current the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee member Z. His relation with Z’s family dates back to when Z was holding a local government position. He has also helped other elite officials’ families to purchase U.S. companies via the Chinese companies that they control. Those families include the one of Dai Xianglong (戴相龙), former Governor of the People’s Bank of China; Shang Fulin (尚福林), former President of the China Securities Regulatory Commission and former President of the China Banking Regulatory Commission; Zeng Qinghong (曾庆红), former Politburo Standing Committee member and Jiang Zemin’s right hand man.

He has a good reputation in his circle and has a strong influence both in the U.S. and in tax haven islands. He is close to a Jewish group, especially the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). He frequently comes to the elite California Club, a by-invitation members-only private social club.

He provided strategic consultation for the China Metallurgical Group Corporation (中冶集团), China Merchants Bank (中国招商银行), and a global level company based in Guangdong, on their Northern American business strategies. He also did lobbying work on U.S. politics and regulations.

When Che Feng, son-in-law of Dai Xianglong, tried to buy Digital Domain (the producer of Titanic and Transformers), he had a problem with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s rule which required him, in a short time window, to put in money that was already in the U.S.0. Michael Xu moved several tens of millions of dollar in the U.S. and British Virgin Island to make the deal go through.

CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee member Z’s family started transferring their assets from China to Hong Kong and overseas while Z held local government position. One of Z’s assistants is Michael Xu’s relative. Many of Z’s family’s affairs were handled by Z’s son-in-law and Michael Xu through single contact.

Source: Epoch Times, December 14, 2019

Data Says China’s Economy Faces Most Difficult Time

An Internet posting by author Tuozhanlaogou (拓展老狗, WeChat account name) has been widely spread in China. Using data and charts, the author explained that China’s economy is at its most difficult time:

  • 28.54 million people used Baidu to search for jobs in 2019, whereas less than 7.5 million people did that in 2018.
  • China’s banking section is making so much money that it squeezes profits out of other industries. China has four companies ranked in the top ten companies with the highest profits in the world. All of them are banks. China’s banking section claimed 40 percent net income return, whereas the U.S. banking section only claims 14 percent.
  • China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are growing and the private companies and foreign companies are shrinking. In 2018, the rate of net asset increase vs. total profit (an indicator of investing profits into businesses) was 60.7 percent, -99.4 percent, and -1.6 percent, for the three types of business. The negative number itself indicates that the economic sizes of the private and foreign companies are shrinking.
  • People are short of money. The fund industry (both mutual funds and hedge funds) raised 500 billion yuan (US $72 billion) in the third quarter of 2017 alone. However, for the whole year of 2019, it has only raised 180 billion yuan.
  • 1,884 movie or TV related companies closed in 2019.
  • New car sales dropped 2.76 percent in 2018 compared to 2017. From January to October 2019, the number of new cars manufactured and sold dropped 10.4 percent and 9.7 percent respectively, compared to a year ago.
  • China’s M2 money is out of control. It has increased from 11 trillion yuan in 1999 to 194 trillion yuan (US $28 trillion) in 2019, twice China’s anticipated GDP in 2019. The U.S. M2 money in 2019 is only US $15 trillion and its GDP is US $21 billion; its M2 is only 71.6 percent of its GDP.
  • In the past 12 months (December 2018 to November 2019), the Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) was below 50 for nine months and above 50 for only three months. The economy is considered contracting when the PMI is below 50 and expanding when above 50.
  • China is departing from real (manufacturing) businesses. Among the total companies’ assets in China, the financial and real estate industries claim 47.9 percent of the assets, whereas the manufacturing sector only accounts for 11.7 percent.
  • In the first six months of 2019, all provinces in China, except Shanghai, ran into a fiscal deficit.

Source: Sina, December 8, 2019

Chinese Communist Party Releases Document Vowing to Protect Legal Property of Private Enterprises

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) Central Committee and the State Council of the Chinese government issued the “Opinions on Supporting the Reform and Development of Private Enterprises.” In the contents, the CCP vows to “protect the legal property of private enterprises and entrepreneurs” and to “implement larger scale tax and fee cuts” to “substantially reduce the burden on private enterprises.”

This opinion claims to improve the fair and competitive market environment, improve a precise and effective policy environment, enhance the legal environment for equal protection, encourage and guide the reforms and innovations of private enterprises, and promote the normal and healthy development of private enterprises.

On the “protect the legal property of private enterprises and entrepreneurs,” the opinion claims to adopt measures such as seizure and freezing in strict accordance with legal procedures, strictly to distinguish illegal income in other case-related property and legal property, strictly to distinguish corporate legal personal property from shareholders’ personal property, and strictly to distinguish between the personal property of the persons involved and the property of family members.

As China’s economic policy has turned left in recent years, private enterprises are projecting a gloomier future. In the second half of 2019, the founders of a few large private enterprises in China retired one by one. Following the announcements, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Ma Huateng from Tencent, Li Yanhong from Baidu, and Liu Qiangdong from, Inc. all resigned as chairman one after the other. In December, Wang Wei, chairman of SF Express Group, and Liu Chuanzhi, founder of the Lenovo Group announced their resignations. In response, Beijing’s recent move is suspected to boost the low economic sentiments, especially among the private sector.

Source: Central News Agency, December 22, 2019