Wandering China

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

China VP to co-chair talks in Singapore

Further solidifying of Singapore’s vision from a long-time ago that synergy and alignment with China was vital, if not essential for the coming years.

China VP to co-chair talks
By Lee Siew Hua
Source – Straits Times Aug 23, 2009

Chinese Vice- Premier Wang Qishan (above) begins a four-day visit here on Sunday at the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng.

The two will co-chair talks to review and chart new directions for a pair of Singapore-Sino megaprojects – the Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-city.

The flagship Suzhou project – in its 15th year – serves as a model for Chinese industrial parks.

With Singaporean and Chinese officials developing the park, it is a venue for both sides to learn from each other.

Singapore shares its development experience, which is adapted to Chinese conditions.

The newer Tianjin venture has been progressing since November 2007, when a pact was signed to build an eco-city in the Chinese port city. Involved are Singapore’s Ministry of National Development and several agencies, including the Housing Board and Land Transport Authority.

Mr Wang, 51, will also co-chair the sixth Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation with DPM Wong, said a statement from three Singapore ministries on Saturday.

The council is a platform to boost political ties and economic links. Mooted by Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong in 2002 when he was prime minister, it was launched in 2003.

One new aspect will be a working lunch hosted by SM Goh in his role as the Monetary Authority of Singapore chairman.

He and Mr Wang will discuss the global economic crisis, with ministers on both sides joining them.

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Filed under: International Relations, Singapore

Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew rebuts NMP’s notion of race equality

Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew spoke up in parliament for the first time in a while , since 2007 in fact on pressing issues in governance. Not easy to handle this one, the Chinese are in fact ‘accidental’ invaders of a land native to our Malay friends, and it’s getting worse with the influx of mainland Chinese threatening to seriously damage the status quo, at least in these early parts of assimilation.

MM rebuts NMP’s notion of race equality
Constitution requires Government to give Malays special position, he says in House debate
By Clarissa Oon
Source – Straits Times 20 August 2009

IN A rare intervention in Parliament, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew rose yesterday to ‘bring the House back to earth’ on the issue of racial equality in Singapore.

Spelling out the Government’s approach to the treatment of different races, he pointed out that the Constitution of Singapore itself enjoins the Government to give Malays a ‘special position’, rather than to ‘treat everybody as equal’.
He rebutted as ‘false and flawed’ the arguments by Nominated Member of Parliament Viswa Sadasivan calling for equal treatment for all races.

On Tuesday, Mr Viswa had tabled a motion for the House to reaffirm its commitment to principles in the National Pledge when debating national policies.

A total of 14 MPs spoke on the motion over the past two days. The wide-ranging and vigorous debate ended with Parliament accepting an amended version of Mr Viswa’s motion proposed by People’s Action Party MP Zainudin Nordin, and modified slightly by MM Lee.

Mr Zainudin’s amendment was to acknowledge the progress Singapore has made in nation building, while Mr Lee’s was to highlight the principles in the Pledge as aspirations.

While present at almost every Parliament sitting, the last time Mr Lee rose to speak was in April 2007 during a furore over ministerial pay increases.

He told the House yesterday that he had not planned to weigh in on the debate over the Pledge, but was moved to do so by Mr Viswa’s remarks on the hot-button issue of race.

In a lengthy speech on Tuesday, the NMP had expressed pride in Singapore’s inter-racial harmony and principle of equal opportunity for all races.

However, he questioned if the Government was sending out mixed signals by emphasising racial categories, for example, through ethnic self-help groups.

MM Lee declared that the assumption of equal treatment for all races is ‘false and flawed’, and ‘completely untrue’.

To ‘remind everybody what our starting point is’, he pointed to the racially tense period of the 1960s, the circumstances in which the Pledge had been written.

Singapore had just been thrown out of Malaysia. The Malays in Singapore were feeling particularly vulnerable, unsure if the Chinese majority here would treat them the way the Malay majority in Malaysia had treated the Chinese minority there.

Because of such a backdrop, the Pledge crafted by then Culture Minister S. Rajaratnam took pains to emphasise principles that would be ‘regardless of race, language and religion’.

Mr Lee also drew the House’s attention to Article 152 of the Constitution, which makes it the Government’s responsibility to ‘constantly care for the interests of the racial and religious minorities in Singapore’.

In particular, it states that the Government must recognise the special position of the Malays, ‘the indigenous people of Singapore’, and safeguard their political, economic and educational interests.

Mr Lee contrasted Singapore’s approach with that of the United States, where despite a 1776 declaration that ‘all men are created equal’, blacks did not get the right to vote until a century later, and racial segregation continued well into the 20th century.

For Singapore to reach a point where all races could be treated equally ‘is going to take decades, if not centuries’, he said bluntly.

For this reason, he sees the Pledge not as an ‘ideology’, as Mr Viswa put it, but as an ‘aspiration’.

Mr Viswa had also wondered if Singapore had got the balance right between prosperity and the happiness of its citizens, and if it had done enough to strengthen its democratic fundamentals.

Education Minister Ng Eng Hen, who spoke after MM Lee, provided a detailed response, spelling out how the Government’s record over the past 50 years had been entirely in the spirit of the Pledge.

‘Far from compromising these ideals in the pursuit of economic gro-wth, we have been defenders of these ideals in building a nation,’ he said.

Policies are debated openly in Parliament, and the Government is accountable to the people at every election, he said.

He noted that Mr Viswa’s model of a multi-party democracy, more opinionated media and politically active universities was drawn from other democratic models in the West.

In Asia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand have elements of these models too.

But he questioned if those places had done better than Singapore, and said it was not self-evident that their models would work here.

More important than high-flown rhetoric in pledges and anthems was the reality on the ground, in the lives that citizens led, he maintained.

He agreed with the NMP that Singapore must move with the times.

However, Dr Ng said: ‘We must not do so unthinkingly, but consider carefully each step forward, carving our own path towards a better society and a more vigorous economy.’

Filed under: Culture, International Relations, Singapore

China, S’pore to deepen cooperation

20 years after ‘first contact’. Symbolic on many fronts. Singapore always knew China was the way and braced for impact from the time Mandarin became formalised and dialects almostly eliminate, taught Confucianism in its primary school syllabus, and always knew, that China’s rise was profitable, but ultimately, inevitable. So much so alignment on so many fronts have been made, from a long time ago. Such was the vision of Lee Kwan Yew.

China, S’pore to deepen cooperation
Next year will mark 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties
By Sim Chi Yin, China Correspondent
Source – Straits Times 20 August 2009

BEIJING: China and Singapore will explore new areas of cooperation next year as they mark the 20th anniversary of their diplomatic ties, Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping told Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo yesterday.

Noting that bilateral relations are in good shape, Mr Xi said: ‘We will use that as an opportunity to further push the comprehensive development of our relationship and foster new areas of practical cooperation.’

Mr Yeo, who is on an eight-day official visit to China, called on the Chinese leader at the grand Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing.

Congratulating Singapore on its recent National Day celebrations, Mr Xi said the country’s achievements over the past 44 years have been remarkable.

‘Singaporeans have worked very hard to promote political stability, economic prosperity and social harmony,’ he noted.

Mr Xi, China’s sixth ranked leader, is seen as likely to succeed President Hu Jintao at the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s 18th national congress in 2012.

Mr Yeo, who arrived on Tuesday, agreed with Mr Xi that bilateral ties were very good.

He said his meetings in China this week would firm up preparations for two upcoming visits by Chinese leaders to Singapore.

Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan is due in the Republic next week for a series of bilateral economic meetings, including the 6th session of the China-Singapore Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation.

Mr Hu is expected in town, along with other world leaders, when Singapore hosts the Apec Leaders’ Meeting in November.

In his talks with Mr Xi yesterday, Mr Yeo reiterated Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s invitation for the Chinese leader to visit Singapore, said a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement (MFA) issued yesterday.

Mr Lee had made that invitation in November 2007 when he met Mr Xi, who told him he had been to Singapore four times previously and picked up useful tips.

Mr Xi and Mr Yeo also agreed that both countries should work together to strengthen Asean-China relations, said the statement.

Earlier yesterday, in a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, Mr Yeo said Mr Wang’s visit to Singapore would go beyond bilateral ties to include a session for discussing the global financial crisis, to be hosted by Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Both foreign ministers also discussed Mr Hu’s participation at the Apec Summit, said the MFA statement.

On Tuesday, Mr Yeo had called on former Chinese foreign minister Li Zhaoxing, who now heads the Chinese legislature’s foreign affairs committee.

Mr Yeo flew to the western province of Qinghai last night. He will take the high-altitude train from Qinghai’s capital Xining to Lhasa in Tibet today. He is scheduled to meet local leaders in both provinces.

The Qinghai-Tibet railway, which cuts through deeply frozen earth on the Tibetan plateau, is an engineering feat that was completed in mid-2006.

Mr Xi termed Mr Yeo’s planned visit to Qinghai and Tibet a ‘very in-depth programme’. He added with a smile that while he had been longing to go on that train ride, Mr Yeo was getting there first.

Filed under: International Relations, Politics, Singapore

China not main enemy: Ma

My my. This is about to unfold a great beholding.

China not main enemy: Ma
AFP
18 August 2009
Source – Straits Times

TAIPEI – TAIWAN’S President Ma Ying-jeou said on Tuesday that forces of nature rather than China might be the island’s main enemy in the future after Typhoon Morakot killed more than 120 people.

‘In the future, the armed forces of this country will have disaster prevention and rescue as their main job,’ he told reporters.

‘From now on, disaster prevention and rescue will be taken into consideration when the military drafts its military strategy, manpower structure, budget, and equipment.’

‘Now our enemy is not necessarily people across the Taiwan Strait but nature,’ Mr Ma said.

Mr Ma made the remarks amid public anger over the government’s slow response to the devastation caused by Typhoon Morakot after it struck on August 8.

Taiwan and China are still technically at war despite a dramatic improvement in cross-strait ties after Mr Ma came to power last year.

Mr Ma announced that his government would purchase 15 rescue helicopters at a cost of US$300 million (S$435 million) to boost the rescue capabilities of Taiwan’s airborne police unit.

He said the money would come from the budget originally set aside for the army, which calls for buying 60 UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters to replace its aging UH-1H fleet.

The president said he had decided to create a national disaster prevention agency to take over crisis management, replacing the National Fire Agency.

He also said the military would undertake intensive disaster response training. — AFP

Filed under: International Relations, Taiwan

Money talks in China deal

Another reason why as long as China grows, Australia grows, and how it may not even be much of a help though they’ve got a Prime Minister who speaks and understands the Chinese; well. these economics of international relations… economically synergistic but with madly plastic faces blinded by the dollar bills, and bragging rights.

Money talks in China deal
Mathew Murphy and Michelle Grattan
August 19, 2009
Source – The Age

AUSTRALIA will supply $50 billion worth of liquefied natural gas to China over the next 20 years in the nation’s biggest ever trade deal.

In a clear sign that diplomatic tensions have not undermined economic dealings between the nations, state-owned PetroChina has agreed to buy 2.25 million tonnes of LNG a year from the huge Gorgon project off the West Australian coast.

The deal came as Foreign Minister Stephen Smith yesterday confirmed that China had cancelled a vist from a senior official in retaliation for Australia granting a visa to exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer.

The two countries have also been in dispute over iron ore prices and the detention of Australian Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu over bribery allegations.

But Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, who attended the signing of the LNG deal in Beijing, spoke glowingly of the bilateral economic relationship.

”This agreement is testimony to the strength of Australia’s continuing trade and investment relationship with China,” he said. ”As China continues to develop as a modern global industrial and commercial powerhouse, Australia is committed to walking with it on its remarkable journey.”

He said the deal would provide a significant boost to Australia’s gross domestic product.

Under the deal, ExxonMobil will supply China with 2.25 million tonnes of LNG a year from Gorgon, Australia’s biggest natural resources venture.

It comes on top of a deal struck by Shell – a partner in the Gorgon joint venture, along with Chevron – to sell 2 million tonnes of LNG a year to China.

And in a sign of China’s insatiable demand for LNG, PetroChina is in talks with Woodside to receive up to 3 million tonnes a year over 20 years from its proposed project in the Browse Basin off the north-west coast of Australia.

Mr Ferguson’s presence at the signing gives the clearest indication yet that the Federal Government will give final environmental approval for the project. Environment Minister Peter Garrett is expected to sign off on it next month.

In Parliament, Mr Smith acknowledged that his decision to grant Rebiya Kadeer a visa led to China cancelling a visit to the Pacific Islands Forum by Vice-President for Foreign Affairs, He Yafei. He was replaced by a lesser official.

Chinese authorities had made it ”very clear to Australian officials that they were most unhappy with her visit,” he said.

The Chinese describe Ms Kadeer as a terrorist, but Mr Smith said he had concluded there was no basis for denying her entry and that she had visited in a private capacity.

China was furious that a film about Ms Kadeer was screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival, despite its intense lobbying to have it pulled and the festival boycotted by other Chinese films.

Mr Smith said Australia regretted China’s response but could not rule out further action.

”These difficulties need to be managed carefully,” he said, referring to the cases of Ms Kadeer and the detained Mr Hu. ”If, of course, China takes any further action in response to our decision, that will be for us a matter of regret but we will deal with that sensibly.” Recalling that Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull had said previously that the Government should stand up to China, Mr Smith said: ”We did on the Rebiya Kadeer issue.”

Shadow foreign minister Julie Bishop said it was ”abundantly clear the Government has hopelessly mismanaged the relationship with China”.

Defence analyst Hugh White said: ”Clearly the Chinese are disappointed in Kevin Rudd and irritated over the Government’s handling of a range of issues. But this doesn’t threaten the fundamental dynamics of the relationship. There is too much at stake for both sides.”

Filed under: Australia, Economics, International Relations, Politics

Death sentence upheld for China fraudster: state media

Never thought of the figures when it comes to China’s iron fist when it comes to the death penalty, and here’s one source. “China executes more people than the rest of the world combined, with the nation last year putting to death more than 1,700 people out of a global total of almost 2,400, according to Amnesty International.” That’s rather staggering – that’s 71% of the world total. But man, what a scam. Read on.

Death sentence upheld for China fraudster: state media
Mon, Aug 17, 2009
AFP
Source – AsiaOne

BEIJING – A court in eastern China has upheld the death sentence handed to an entrepreneur convicted of embezzling 970 million yuan (S$205 million) in a deer-breeding scam, state media said Monday.

The high court in Anhui province upheld the punishment for Tang Yanan, who convinced tens of thousands of people to send him money for a breeding centre for deer, which are prized in China for their horns, the Beijing News said.

Tang was first convicted by a local court in December 2008 of fraud and falsifying documents when he bilked up to 49,000 investors in seven Chinese provinces and regions, the report said.

Investigators have been unable to recover over 300 million yuan of the funds, leading at least one investor to commit suicide and prompting widespread calls for an investigation.

Deer horns are ground into powder and used in a variety of Chinese herbal medicines, including aphrodisiacs.

According to earlier press reports, Tang’s company, the Wanwuchun Rural Technology Company, promised people high returns on their investment. A breeding centre was set up, but many investors never got their money back.

Twenty other people were convicted for their involvement in the scam.

China executes more people than the rest of the world combined, with the nation last year putting to death more than 1,700 people out of a global total of almost 2,400, according to Amnesty International.

As China does not publish full data on the death penalty, rights groups say the number of people executed could be far higher.

Filed under: Culture, Politics

English still 1st language in Singapore.

With Singapore’s push to massively populate strategically for the future, more and more friends from the mainland have arrived on the sunny island set in the sea. With China’s growing biceps of cultural and ecomonic capital, Singapore’s had to adapt and align a future shone by the Chinese sun. So, all things Chinese have become rather important in the island state.

But. Here’s a timely reminder by Singapore’s founding father that new residents ought to learn English. It’s quite far from the truth on the ground though. Spent a few weeks home in Singapore and witnessed for myself what was previously hearsay and anecdote – Chinese shop assistants insisting on talking to my Malay and Indian friends in Mandarin. Despite my friends repeatedly speaking in English.

I’ve had a personal experience ordering ice cream at Swensons, and the server from the mainland had no idea what the words ‘ice cream’ meant. It’ll take some time, but I do reckon Singapore’s social harmony could do a boost with foreign talent/workers who make the effort to harmonize and integrate, and speak the common tongue of the peoples of Singapore. Harmony is the key, not imposition.

English still 1st language
It will be decisive for career advancement for all, says MM Lee
By Clarissa Oon & Goh Chin Lian
Source – Straits Times Online 17 August 2009

ENGLISH will remain Singapore’s master language even as the country nurtures more bilingual talents who can do business with China, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said on Thursday. ‘The command of English is a decisive factor for the career path and promotion prospects of all Singaporeans.

‘For Chinese Singaporeans and those who want to study Chinese, Mandarin will be an added economic advantage with a thriving economy in China for many years to come,’ he said.

Even new residents from China know they will not go far without an adequate grasp of English, he added. ‘And they are pushing their children to master English, otherwise they will be disadvantaged in getting places in our good schools and universities, and in getting scholarships and eventually jobs.’

However, he drew the line at making it a requirement for permanent residents and new citizens to be fluent in English. ‘We cannot make (the requirements for residency) so onerous that they will not come, for example, by requiring permanent residents or new citizens to be fluent in English, which even some existing citizens are not.’

His remarks at a constituency dinner follow a recent debate in The Straits Times Forum pages on whether Mandarin is slowly replacing English as the language on the streets, and its consequences for Singapore’s multiracial society.

One ST reader, Ms Amy Loh, wrote how Geylang has evolved from a racially mixed, multilingual area into an enclave for new residents from China, with a growing prevalence of Chinese-only shop signs.

Another letter writer, Mr Samuel Owen, said it is becoming increasingly difficult to order in English in some Chinese restaurants and shops because many workers from China cannot speak English. While agreeing that Mandarin proficiency was important to Singapore society, Mr Owen urged the Government to strike a balance between that and English as a lingua franca.

MM Lee called on Singaporeans to give the new arrivals from China some time to adapt to life here. ‘It is not easy to adjust to a different society, multiracial, multilingual, multi-religious, with different customs and ways of life,’ he said.

People also need to be circumspect about the Government encouraging Singaporeans to speak more Mandarin and take scholarships to study in China’s top universities

Said MM Lee: ‘Do not be misled by the emphasis on Chinese language and culture… It does not mean we are displacing English as our working and common language, our first language.’

Filed under: Culture, International Relations, Singapore

Obama takes guessing out of US-China ties

Here’s a powerful analysis by the Straits Times US bureau chief Chua Chin Hon. It comes a bit late as it took a while to retrieve this article, and is related to the US-China talks that happened last month. Not too long ago I talked about how China was always the whipping boy in the global context. Today it’s proving time and time again that few dare to overtly agree to disagree, when it comes to China. Even the big guns of the US have to plan what they say carefully to the Chinese.

Obama takes guessing out of US-China ties
Stress on cooperation, solidarity and mutual respect good for stability
By Chua Chin Hon, US Bureau Chief
Source – Straits Times July 29 2009

A UNITED States president’s transition from candidate to commander-in-chief can be an unpredictable process. But one consistent trend in the post-Cold War era is the way they all ‘mellow’ on their China policy, ditching their fiery campaign rhetoric in favour of pragmatic policies.

Candidate George W. Bush, for instance, called China a ‘strategic competitor’ in 2000. President George W. Bush sang a different tune, especially in the aftermath of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Mr Bush’s predecessor Bill Clinton famously criticised George H.W. Bush for ‘coddling’ dictators from Baghdad to Beijing during the 1992 presidential campaign, only to become in later years a vocal advocate of engaging China via trade. Mr Clinton was instrumental in helping the mainland gain admission to the World Trade Organisation.

President Barack Obama is not only following in his predecessors’ footsteps, but seems to be making the transition from candidate to chief diplomat faster, and with minimal fuss.

In his first major speech on China on Monday, the presidential candidate who had once castigated the Bush administration for not being tougher on Beijing’s trade and currency policies was nowhere to be seen. In his place was a pragmatist statesman who stressed cooperation, solidarity and mutual respect. What this speedier transition means, observers said, is that both governments can spend less time second-guessing each other, a development that will hopefully create a more stable relationship in the near future.

Mr Obama directly addressed a nagging question that must be on the mind of some Chinese leaders.

‘Let us be honest: We know that some are wary of the future. Some in China think that America will try to contain China’s ambitions; some in America think that there is something to fear in a rising China,’ Mr Obama told a gathering of over 200 top officials at the opening session of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington this week.

‘I take a different view. I believe in a future where China is a strong, prosperous and successful member of the community of nations; a future when our nations are partners out of necessity, but also out of opportunity.’

Mr Dennis Wilder, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, told The Straits Times that Mr Obama’s speech would likely be well-received in Beijing.

‘US presidents haven’t always talked about a ‘strong’ China in the past,’ said Mr Wilder, who served as senior director for East Asian affairs on the US National Security Council in the last three years of the Bush administration. ‘(Mr Obama) also makes a clear statement that he doesn’t view China as something to fear. (Beijing) will concentrate on that particular part of the speech.’

In the US, experts say there is growing acceptance of the kind of pragmatic China policy as espoused by Mr Obama. But it remains to be seen if cooler heads will indeed prevail in a future spat with China, be it over a new food scare or trade issue.

Many will no doubt point to the weakened US economy and China’s growing clout as the real reasons for Mr Obama’s conciliatory remarks. After all, China already holds US$800 billion (S$1.15 trillion) worth of US treasury bills, and is expected to buy more as Washington issues more debt to finance its economic stimulus programme.

That may be so, but the tone of Mr Obama’s speech also suggests a shift in the way Washington approaches its old divisions and quarrels with Beijing. Instead of complaining about the ballooning trade deficit and the value of the Chinese currency, for instance, Mr Obama encouraged the Chinese to spend more and further open up its market to American goods.

Significantly, the US President also distinctly framed all the key issues on his agenda with China – economic development, climate change, clean energy, transnational threats – in terms of ‘mutual interests’ and ‘global challenges’, rather than mere American pre-occupations. This approach will clearly go down well with Beijing.

State councillor Dai Bingguo, the No. 2-ranking official in the visiting Chinese delegation, said the two countries are in ‘the same big boat’ despite the huge cultural and social differences that separate them.

But rhetoric will need to be matched with resolve. Chinese diplomats are fond of reminding journalists that one should pay as much attention to deeds as words. So Mr Obama’s next move on China will be closely watched and measured against Monday’s speech.

Almost as important as actions will be the sort of personal relationship Mr Obama strikes up – or does not – with Chinese leaders. Beijing will have no trouble understanding where Mr Obama is coming from on an intellectual basis, but the issue of ‘personal trust’ still matters to the Chinese leadership.

In that regard, former President Bush has set a high bar. His unwavering determination to attend the Beijing Olympics despite fierce criticisms from rights groups at home and abroad is well remembered in Beijing. A meeting between Mr Obama and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao on the sidelines of April’s G-20 Summit was described as ‘business- like’.

Said Mr Wilder of Brookings: ‘Every American president finds his own way in foreign policy. Mr Obama needs to get a certain level of comfort with China. That’s certainly one of the challenges he faces.’

Filed under: International Relations

China opens up with new media strategy

China’s media is now powering up, in both size and dexterity. Along with its growing sensibility in international relation finesse, its handling of the media has developed too. What used to be a losing battle explaining itself to the sharpened, awfully one-sided analysis by foreign media is changing. China’s media is increasingly becoming a nimble machine, a far cry from the deadset giant target it used to be. As powerful as the world’s transnational media corporations are (mostly owned by the West), we must not forget 1 out of 4 people in the world are Chinese, and whose media do you think these Chinese will listen to, and be influenced by? Couple with this new strategem to intercept rogue thoughts about China, we are definitely on the brink, the cusp, of the brand new way China is seen.

related – read about China’s ‘media aircraft carrier here’. Also, check out an earlier story about China’s growing open-ness when it dealt with the Xinjiang unrest here.

China opens up with new media strategy
Used during major crises, system aims to get its side of the story out fast
By Grace Ng, China Correspondent
Source – The Straits Times, Tuesday 11 August 2009

BEIJING: Set up press centres. Check. Inundate journalists with information. Check. Monitor all news and Internet opinions. Check.

Faced with mounting media pressures to be more open, Beijing has instituted a six-step routine to get its side of the story out quickly and beat the rumour mill.

Dealing with a more inquiring home audience and a legion of foreign journalists asking tough questions, it has used this system to handle crises like the recent riots in the north-western province of Xinjiang, a media strategy adviser to the State Council, or China’s Cabinet, said yesterday.

Dr Steven Dong Guanpeng said the government will set up press centres speedily, churn out enough press briefings to ‘keep journalists busy with good information so that they would not get busy with rumours’, and continually post news updates online, among other measures.

Other steps include registering journalists upon arrival, setting up a database with media contacts, and collating all news and Internet opinions on the event.

The director of Tsinghua University’s Global Journalism Institute, who trains officials on media management, was explaining China’s new media strategy to the Foreign Correspondents Club of China yesterday.

The country earned some praise for allowing foreign media unprecedented access to the city of Urumqi to cover the clashes between Han Chinese and the Uighur minority group last month – after Beijing was slammed by the international community for locking reporters out of Tibet after riots erupted there last year.

Seen by some as an apologist for Beijing, Dr Dong – a former CCTV presenter – commended Xinjiang officials for ‘doing a good job’ in engaging the media by holding 21 press conferences in a single week.

Beijing’s ultimate aim by being more open at home and pushing its state media to set up branches overseas, say observers, is to steer the global news agenda to be more in its favour.

Dr Dong did not spell that out but hinted that foreign media reports on China were, to the Chinese, ‘still not satisfactory’. He said: ‘We know some negative coverage is natural…that’s what we should work on.’

Beijing has used its new media-handling standard operating procedure during major events and crisis situations, such as last year’s Beijing Olympics and the Sichuan earthquake.

The next time a crisis strikes, ‘we will stick to the same way and do the same thing’, Dr Dong predicted. He dated the roots of this new wave of openness to Beijing’s botched handling of the Sars outbreak, which was a turning point.

Like other observers, he noted that while China had invited foreign journalists into Tibet ‘only quite a while after the riots’ last year, the media was allowed into Xinjiang on the same day.

That, he said, helped make international coverage of the Xinjiang riots much more objective compared to that on Tibet.

But he added – without going into detail – that ‘lots of things remain terrible’ and he was upset by some of the coverage.

He criticised the domestic press for being slower than the major foreign news groups in covering the Xinjiang story.

That handicapped China’s effort to tell its own story to the international audience, he said. Beijing, he argued, needs to pump in far more resources to give Chinese state media a stronger voice worldwide.

Beijing has been discussing this move to have its state media ‘go international’ since 2001, said Dr Dong. Of late, it has reportedly put in some 45 billion yuan (S$9.5 billion) to relaunch China’s four key official media arms. Dr Dong, who refused to confirm those reports, suggested that it was ‘a media-created figure’.

But there is no doubt that Beijing is serious about boosting state media’s global reach and credibility, especially as Chinese netizens are increasing acting as watchdogs on the official version of news stories.

Last year alone, 84 officials – or about one-third of those hunted down by China’s army of netizens through ‘human flesh search engines’ – were sacked after their wrongdoings were exposed online.

All that means Beijing will have to become more nimble in its media management, said Dr Dong. But already, he claimed, the space for journalism in China now is bigger than at any point in China’s history.

Filed under: Media, Strategy

China’s Strategic Intentions and Goals

This is potentially very useful for my study as the Americans dissect and perceive the China threat. Discussed in a congress hearing in 2000 (yes it’s from a while again, but pertinent, no less), the Americans have the benefit of Dr. Michael Pillsbury’s wisdom in understanding two critical phrases in the Chinese political lexicon – 稻光养晦 (Tao Guang Yang Hui) which I have covered repeatedly in my rants, and (Bu Chu Tou), literally not sticking your head out. Have a read of this masterful art of discernment which I quite wholeheartedly agree with. Also, note the para in italics that basically sums it all up – stirring your enemy, in the face, is an extremely silly strategy that the Chinese are highly unlikely to pursue.

For further reading, also check out ‘The Chinese Way’ in the Indian Defence Review.

CHINA’S STRATEGIC INTENTIONS AND GOALS
HEARING BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Source – http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/security/has173000.000/has173000_0.htm
Date of Access – 05 August 2009

ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS | SECOND SESSION

HEARING HELD
JUNE 21, 2000

STATEMENT OF DR. MICHAEL PILLSBURY, VISITING SENIOR FELLOW, INSTITUTE FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES, NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY

Dr. PILLSBURY. Thank you, Chairman Spence and members of the Committee, for this invitation to testify on the subject of China’s strategic intentions and goals.

My testimony today is going to be drawn from these two long, thick, heavy books published by the National Defense University, which collects 600 quotations from more than 200 Chinese military authors. I am even going to try to teach you some Chinese expressions the Chinese government itself uses to address the topic of the hearing today: What China’s Strategy and Intentions Are.

I think many of you have been to Beijing. You know that there are many toasts to friendship between the United States and China. They will talk about moving toward partnership. One of the Chinese expressions is just three words. It is worth learning sometime. You might want to say it. It is ”bu chu tou.” It means ”don’t stick your head up,” and Deng Xiaoping said this after the Soviet Union collapsed and a lot of other Communist Chinese leaders said to him, we are now number one of the Communist parties in the world. We need to assume world leadership of the Communist movement now that the Soviets are collapsed and are gone. This is China’s destiny. And he said, ”bu chu tou.” the meaning is, let’s not get out in front, let’s not draw the attention of the chief hegemon of the world who brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union. That is, the United States.

A second expression that Deng Xiaoping drew from almost 3,000 years ago, ”tao guang yang hui.” There is no way to translate it into English. It means to put your brightness in your quiver behind your back and then to nourish your capabilities secretly. The official Chinese translation is ”bide our time and build up our capabilities.”

Here, too, the notion is don’t attract attention from the Americans.

A young Chinese scholar put this in a rather fascinating article a few years ago when he said about China’s long-term strategic intentions, he said, our big dangerous period is not the present time. China will face its true dangerous decade from 2020 to 2030. I know Americans think next quarter, next year, what is going to happen; thinking ahead 20 years sounds pretty presumptious. The author said by 2020 the Americans are going to catch on with the idea that China is surpassing America’s economy. We will be bigger than the Americans in our world economic power and other measures of power as well, but by then we here in China will not be ready yet for what the Americans will try to do to us. And what is that to do? To dismember China and break up China and try to contain China. It is an interesting concept. We need to keep the Americans, you might say, happy and not perceiving a challenge and especially not a threat from China.

If I had to nominate for you the most important priority that the Chinese have for their long-term strategic intentions, it is not to provoke a reaction to China’s economic growth or the growth in Chinese power, and they have many ways of doing this. And actually it is in some ways a benign intention. We might say the same thing about ourselves.

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

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