Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Tao Guang Yang Hui

There possibly could be no better resource on Chinese political study for me right now than this Blog by a chap called Sun Bin, and the concept of Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦).

Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦) as a strategy – is China a threat?

“Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek made a great observation in China’s strategy on Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), literally translated as “Hide brightness, nourish obscurity” (see Mike Pillsbury for a good introduction in English, but some of his conclusions would be argued against in part II of this blog) or “Bide our time and focus on building ourselves”. Zakaria also praised the wisdom of Lee Kuan Yew’s comments on education for China’s next generation, whom he worries may not understand the importance of being humble. LKY’s deep insight contrast sharply with the views from some low ranking officials in China and many western observers (perhaps including himself) who seem to have missed one of LKY’s points. LKY’s comment has two fold meanings, about popular education / indoctrination of TGYH and about the need to ensure that TGYH will be adopted as the long term strategy in future generations…”

<a href="http://sun-bin.blogspot.com/2005/07/tao-guang-yang-hui-as-strategy-is.html
“>Here for the full article

Filed under: Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦)

Lunar New Year Reflections

Happy Lunar New Year everyone! The Chinese New Year is a great time for China to conduct its internal ponderance – the cost, trials and tribulations of its growth.

Was watching the Phoenix Channel (a great source of news for all things China from an overseas-Chinese perspective (Hong Kong-based) as it is ‘quite’ not state-owned), and there has been a wave of reflective stories on the travels of China’s internal migrant workers, the secret formula for China’s success story.

They travel thousands of miles away from their village homes to major cities in a bid to improve their lives and unwittingly contribute to the world’s fastest growing economy. The hard figures? There are almost 200 million of them. The lunar new year period is really the only time for most of them to return home to see their families, though many don’t return for many years. 200 million people! It is not uncommon for many, if not all of them to take journeys that are 10 hours or more, without ever sitting down. Seriously, can any other transport network in this universe accommodate and move 200 million during a short period (the lunar new year festivities)? What a logistical feat.

Here’s a good article from the International Herald Tribune that paid special attention to the personal plights of these workers, and the macro effects the recent financial turmoil is going to heap on these hapless workers.

Chill winds cool Chinese New Year migrant spirits

By Ben Blanchard and James Pomfret
for the International Herald Tribune
15 Jan 2009

It’s supposed to be a period of happy reunions, fireworks, feasting with family and gifts of cash stuffed into auspicious red envelopes.

But the chill winds blowing through the global economy are putting a damper on this Chinese Lunar New Year, especially for the millions of migrant workers who toil in factories and building sites, and who only get to go home this time each year.

Some 188 million people are expected to flock home by rail during China’s annual “spring rush” this year, an average of 4.7 million trips made daily, mainly from developed coastal regions to villages and cities in the poorer heartland.

Now, with factories closing and consumer spending shrivelling, what should be a joyful occasion has soured as the world’s most populous nation’s economy starts to slow, hit by falling demand in major markets in Europe and North America.

A lot of factories are doing badly so many people are heading back (home) early,” said Li Jinli, waiting with his wife at a station in the southern city of Guangzhou for a train to their home village in Guizhou province, 15 hours away.

“We’ve been on holiday for a month now, business has been very bad,” added Li, 39, a deeply wrinkled metal factory worker who said he was laid off twice in the past year.

“To find a good job is very troublesome,” he said. “And I’m very worried about finding work when I return.”

Li is one of around 200 million migrant workers in China — greater than the population of Brazil — who have provided the flood of cheap labour underpinning the country’s formidable export engine and proliferation of China-made goods worldwide.


Yet the closure of tens of thousands of export firms on China’s seaboard has cost an estimated 10 million migrant workers their jobs in recent months, worrying Communist Party leaders who depend on strong growth to underpin their political legitimacy.

After decades of solid economic growth, China is facing falling demand for its products which has triggered factory closures, sparked protests and raised fears of popular unrest…

Click here for full article

Filed under: Migrant Workers

the curious PhD

So, I’ve decided to pursue for my love and passion for ‘rediscovering’ China by way of a PhD. So that’s another 3 years of study, although now I realise at this level, it’s not study. It’s an adventure where one separates oneself from the rest of the ‘real-er’ world and immerses in a reality much like seeking out a holy grail! This means having to resign from my beloved job at Republic Polytechnic. My first job, 6 years I had with them. And it’s coming to an end. But well, a bright new spark awaits.

And here’s my curious approach to deciding the area of research area. By way of really happening possible titles!

Here’s a selection of what I’ve been mulling on – all related to overseas-born Chinese and their relationship with the mainland.

* The New Mandarins
* Borrowing the East Wind
* The Great Firewall

Any thoughts? I know they’re really too broad for starters, but hey. A good title is a great part of the battle won!

Filed under: Uncategorized

Wondering out loud

As China ascends amidst the dust clouds of the world’s troubles today, I wonder aloud if the Chinese will slowly revert back to traditional/modern forms of Chinese dress. It could be anything from old kungfu suits, to the more recent ‘nationalism’ zhong shan zhuangs (see below)

Source – CCTV

As the world industrialized in the 19th, Western dress dominated along with the winds of change of power. I’m half certain the Chinese will somehow and someday revert/progress to a cuturally Chinese dress. Now I wonder if the rest of the world would to. that’ll make for interesting study. I’m not the only one who thinks so. This article harking back to 2002 already reported so. Let’s see.

“The popularity of Chinese-style clothing is a reflection of China’s economic prosperity and a return to more traditional cultural expressions.

On the surface, the trend owes its popularity to the charm of APEC leaders donning mandarin-style jackets in their photo session, pictures which went around the world. On a deeper level, it reflects the self-confidence and pride of Chinese people in the country’s political stability and economic development in recent years. Chinese-style clothing should continue to be popular for a few years to come.”

Filed under: Uncategorized

Holiday for Tibet ‘liberation’

Holiday for Tibet ‘liberation’

Mon, Jan 12, 2009
from Asia1

BEIJING – CHINA is likely to establish a holiday to mark what it calls the ‘liberation’ of Tibetan serfs, 50 years after the Dalai Lama fled into exile and China quashed a Tibetan uprising, state media said on Monday.

A meeting of the Regional People’s Congress in Lhasa this week will discuss the draft resolution to establish the holiday, the China’s official Xinhua news agency said on Monday. It did not give a date for the commemoration.

March is a politically significant month for Tibetans.

Exiled Tibetans claim March 10, 1959, as the day of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule. That year also marks the exile of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama from Tibet.
The Chinese government says ‘democratic reform’ in Tibet dates from March 1959, with the end of the theocracy of the Buddist lamas.

‘The Central government … quickly suppressed the rebellion, carried out democratic reform, brought down the theocratic feudal serf system, abolished feudal hierarchy, personal bondage and brutal penalties to liberate millions of serfs and slaves,’ Pang Boyong, the deputy director of the standing committee of the people’s congress, told a press conference in Lhasa this weekend.

Demonstrations by monks in Lhasa on March 10 last year escalated into deadly protests on March 14, when a Tibetan crowd attacked Han Chinese and Hui Muslim shops. That in turn triggered an uprising against Chinese rule by Tibetans across the plateau.

This March is also the 20th anniversary of a bloody crackdown on demonstrations in Lhasa in 1989.

A possible date for the commemoration would be March 28, the anniversary of the day in 1959 when the former Tibetan local government was formally dissolved and the Tibet Autonomous Region Preparatory Committee took power.

About 150,000 Tibetans now reside in India, many joining the Dalai Lama and a Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharmsala, India.

The regional people’s congress meeting will be attended by journalists from four neighbouring countries, Xinhua said separately, without giving further details. — REUTERS

Filed under: Tibet

Most people free to have more child

Most people free to have more child
By Guan Xiaofeng (China Daily)

Less than 40 percent of the population is restricted by the family planning policy to having one child, a senior official with the National Population and Family Planning Commission said yesterday.

While popularly referred to as the “one child policy”, the rule actually restricts just 35.9 percent of the population to having one child, Yu Xuejun, a spokesman with the commission, said in a Webcast on the government’s website (www.gov.cn).

Related readings:
Extra children could prove costly
Official: Family planning policy to stay
Population ‘faces risk of rebound’
China fires official for having too many children
‘One-child’ policy violators to be put on shame list
Except in Central China’s Henan Province, couples can have two children if they are both only children, he said.

In addition, more than 11 percent of the population, mostly minority groups, is free to have two or more children, he said.

In many rural areas, couples are allowed to have a second child if their first is a girl (the so-called “one-and-a-half children policy”). This applies to 52.9 percent of the population. For lack of a social security system, people usually depend on sons to support them when they grow old…

For full article, go here.

Filed under: Culture, Politics

Beijing’s New Year resolution – scrap polluting cars

Beijing’s New Year resolution scrap polluting cars
Source – Asia1
Friday, 2 Jan 2009.

BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing, beset by choking traffic and heavy air pollution, will take more than 350,000 high-polluting vehicles off inner city streets from Thursday, local media reported.

China’s capital has banned cars from the roads on one out of five weekdays based on the number of licence plates as part of a six-month trial in the wake of broader restrictions during the Olympic Games in August that cleared skies and eased congestion.

Drivers of high-emissions vehicles, known as “yellow-label” cars, would be fined 100 yuan ($21) if found to be driving within the city’s Fifth Ring Road, a highway on Beijing’s outskirts, after a three-month grace period, the Beijing News said.

The measure stands to take about 10 percent of the city’s cars off the road. Beijing currently has about 3.5 million registered cars.

The government had also drafted a compensation scheme that will give drivers up to 25,000 yuan ($3,600) if they proactively give up their cars during 2009, the paper said.

The city would also provide preferential loans to shipping and transport companies to upgrade their vehicle fleets to meet low-emission standards, the paper said, citing the city’s traffic bureau.

Beijing authorities have credited cleaner skies above the capital in recent months in part due to the traffic restrictions, as well as decreased emissions from shuttered factories in the city’s outskirts.

Car ownership along with rising incomes has skyrocketed in Chinese cities in recent years, posing head-aches for town planners already struggling to build roads and public transport to meet burgeoning urban populations

Filed under: Environment, Politics

2008 – A year of tragedy and triumph for Beijing

A year of tragedy and triumph for Beijing
By Kent Ewing

from the Asia Times Online

HONG KONG – The stunning pyrotechnical display that opened the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing in August is a fitting image to remember as China closes the book on 2008. A year that was rocked by trial and tragedy ultimately culminated in explosive triumph, with Beijing staging what was, by many accounts, the most successful Olympics ever.

The country reveled in its Olympic glory after the devastating winter storms with which the year had begun and the far more devastating earthquake that followed. And there was also lots of pre-Olympic anxiety and doubt as protests against China’s human rights record and stance on Tibet dogged the international leg of the Olympic torch relay and athletes worried about competing in Beijing’s foul air.

But the protests mercifully stopped once the torch arrived on Chinese soil, and the Beijing air magically cleared during the Games, thanks to a special traffic scheme and massive government-imposed factory shutdowns. After 17 flawlessly organized days of compelling athletic competition, the international protests had largely turned to praise. Beijing’s official coming-out party had been a marvelous success, and the Chinese nation and its worldwide diaspora could breathe a tremendous sigh of relief.

Now, of course, although that grand Olympic memory lives proudly on, it has been undercut by an economic crisis that began with high-rollers on Wall Street but may soon threaten social stability among ordinary Chinese.

On December 18, the Communist Party celebrated the 30th anniversary of the launch of former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms, which have propelled the country into the first rank of nations and generated double-digit economic growth in nine of the past 16 years. But China’s economic juggernaut is expected to slow to 7.5% growth next year, a level that authorities worry could spark social unrest as exports slow, factories close and angry migrant workers head home with little money and no hope.

Keeping a lid on social upheaval will be the main preoccupation of Chinese leaders in 2009, which is likely to be a year filled with more trial than triumph for China. The anniversaries alone that mark next year’s calendar indicate that there should be no shortage of drama and that potential for crisis is rife.

Consider this: the new year will bring (let’s celebrate with more Olympic-style pyrotechnics) the 60th anniversary of the birth of the People’s Republic of China, but it will also be (let’s worry with arrests of dissidents and, possibly, violent suppression) the 20th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown and the 50th anniversary of the flight of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s internationally recognized spiritual leader, from his homeland following its takeover by the Chinese.

While 2009 will not have an Olympic theme, brace yourself nevertheless for more fireworks – both actual and metaphorical.

Here for full article.

Filed under: Beijing OIympics, Media

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January 2009

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