Wandering China

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

Chinese SUV safety recall [The Age]

Public diplomacy roadblock as one of two of Chery’s first vehicles for the Australian market hits a snag? Australia’s cheapest soft roader comes under scrutiny. Interesting to see how Aussie netizens react to the news that the Chinese SUV Chery J11 SUV is set for further recalls over crash safety fears. Here is a sample of the comments that came with the online report; from the understanding to the dubious.

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Are you really surprised? I mean really? Would you buy a car from a country who doesn’t even value the life of their own people?

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Yeah, I am actually quite surprised. How many other car companies would replace significant parts of the seats and the center console? It shows that Chery is dead serious about breaking into this market, and that they know that the bottom end, bargain basement of the market is wide open, now that KIA and Hyundai have crept up in price.

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I’m dubious about Chinese cars in general, and this only re-inforces my doubts. It’s a simple case of getting what you pay for. A car is not something to skimp on – if you want to save money you’re better off buying a decent second-hand car than a no-frills new car that’s just learning the ropes of producing cars for western markets. Most likely the Chinese will get the hang of it sooner rather than later – Japan did, and Korea are just about there – but right now you couldn’t give me a Chinese car, unless I needed a boat anchor.

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I never tire of this quote: “The only people who buy cars like this have no interest in driving and consequently aren’t very good at it”. It’s reassuring to know that when a Chery driver crashes into me, i’m going to come off considerably better (well, unless i’m on my motorbike)…

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Chinese car safety recall
Matt Campbell
Source – The Age, published September 28, 2011

Chery J11 SUV has been recalled after poor ANCAP testing. Photo – The Age

Chinese car brand Chery has issued its second recall in as many months, this time over crash safety fears for the J11 SUV.

The J11 SUV has been recalled because: “The side impact capabilities of the vehicle may not adequately protect the occupants in the event of an accident”.

The recall affects 1664 vehicles and is a similar problem to the one that forced a recall of Chery’s J1 city car last month. Read the rest of this entry »

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Filed under: Australia, Automotive, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Economics, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Nationalism, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Soft Power, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Transport

Panda babies have the cute market cornered [The Age]

Panda diplomacy central?

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Panda babies have the cute market cornered
Source – The Age, published September 28, 2011

A group of giant panda cubs napping at a nursery in the research base of the Giant Panda Breeding Centre in Chengdu, in south-west China's Sichuan province. Photo: AFP

A giant panda breeding centre in China has shown pictures of its new crop of cute babies.

The giant panda breeding centre in Chengdu, in south-west China’s Sichuan province, started with just six pandas in 1987 and now has more than 100.

The centre looks after red pandas and other endangered Chinese animals as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Influence, International Relations, Media, Nationalism, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Soft Power, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Yongnian, Zheng: China’s future knowledge system [Lianhe Zaobao Singapore]

Insightful – stop copying from Western systems: Professor Zheng Yongnian from Singapore’s East Asia Institute shares his thoughts on whether China is capable of developing its own contemporary knowledge system in the future.  ‘Chinese characteristics’ is a term commonly bandied about with political utility; especially so with foreign policy. It looks like now this idea is taking root and becoming ubiquitous in Chinese thinking. Perhaps this is the interesting subtext – Will it lead to more of a case of us and them by demarcating quite clearly where the bipolar boundaries lay; and for the rest of the world to take sides? Or will we find equilibrium as a result?

This piece is originally in Chinese (see below). I find there are two central arguments in his reflection. The first is rooted in how contemporary Asian societies share a similar predicament – they are either pretending to be Western or shaped by the relics of colonisation.  In short, they are guided by a metaphorical textbook from the West, and unwittiling bound by the scaffolding and world-view the textbook suggests. Second, China’s great missing link in its great leap forward is that despite the May 4th movement which felt like a liberation; it ultimately was a huge endorsement for the Western method. He moves on to highlight as China focuses on a utilitarian micro-research phase, it is bypassing the ‘grand discussion stage’ which served the West so well. He reckons China’s knowledge base has not gone through the great progress of minds such as Marx, Weber and Durkheim, Adam Smith. As such this prevents the Chinese from being able to look at the bigger picture, independent of both the merit and baggage of a system not indigenous to the Chinese.

Thanks dad for the heads up!

** Google translate does a pretty good job of translating the article below – grammar and syntax aside. 🙂

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郑永年:中国知识体系建设的未来
by Zheng Yongnian 郑永年
Source – Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报网, published September 26, 2011

本栏上周论述了中国为什么缺失自己的知识体系的问题。当然,在亚洲社会,缺少知识体系也不只是中国的问题,各国都是如此。近代社会科学是西方建立的。这并不是说,亚洲各国不能建立自己的社会科学,只是说在历史上没有能够建立社会科学。日本最有条件建立自己的社会科学。明治维新之后,日本成为亚洲第一个近代化的国家。其很多制度都是学习西方的。但很显然,日本各方面的制度,包括政治、经济和社会,和西方的制度相差甚远。道理很简单,尽管所有这些制度形式学自西方,但运作则在日本自己的文化环境中。日本是假装称“西方国家”的亚洲国家。

这里面有很多因素,例如日本本身学习西方的努力;日本在战略上高度依赖于西方;日本经济和西方经济之间的高度依赖性。但最主要的是,日本只有“西化”的努力,而没有建立自己社会科学的努力。当然,在这个背后则是日本的知识界被西方所消化,尤其是美国,这样的一个事实。尽管日本也有很多社会科学家意识到西方的知识体系不能解释自己,但力量很微薄。更多的社会科学家选择的是简单地接受西方的知识体系。

亚洲其他国家在知识体系上也都被西方所“殖民”。近代之后成长起来的学者(尤其是精英学者)都是受西方教育的,他们没有意识来改造西方知识体系,更无意识来确立自己的知识体系。当然,在这些国家,也有一些学者有这个意识,但他们是绝少数。不过,除了日本,即使这些国家的学者拥有这样的意识,也没有能力来这样做。规模很重要,很小的社会很难建立起自己的知识体系。 Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Education, Environment, Government & Policy, Greater China, History, Influence, International Relations, Lianhe Zaobao, Media, Nationalism, People, Politics, Population, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Victoria targets China’s wine thirst [The Age]

Genius move in economic interdependence? Victoria adopts a new ‘wine export strategy’ to ride on China’s booming middle class and its appetite for quality produce. According to this report, China currently boasts the fastest growing demand for alcohol in the world; growing at 17% in the past half decade. Its worth? $112 billion. Victoria has some work to do.

‘Victorian wine exports to Hong Kong and China totalled $42 million last financial year. Victoria is also keen to take advantage of China’s growing appetite for dairy products, with the Chinese government adopting a five-year goal to more than double average consumption of dairy products for primary school students.’

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Victoria targets China’s wine thirst
Josh Gordon, Beijing
Source – The Age, published September 27, 2011

THE state government has launched a new ”wine export strategy” to take advantage of China’s booming appetite for top-quality produce linked to the rise of the middle class.

Under the plan, 410 million Chinese consumers are expected to watch four 30-minute episodes of The Wine Tour on China’s main TV channels, with a $200,000 contribution from Victorian taxpayers and a $400,000 contribution from Australian exporters.

Premier Ted Baillieu last night hosted a dinner to showcase Victoria’s finest wines, beef, dairy and seafood, attended by business and culinary elite, including representatives from China’s largest supermarket, major retailers, exporters and Australian food producers. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Australia, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, International Relations, Lifestyle, Population, Public Diplomacy, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade

Locke’s lifestyle and new mission [Global Times]

Curious: American ambassador to China Gary Locke gets into the spotlight again. I often find the comments section in online papers more engaging a read. In this case, these two caught my eye – one for what it takes to keep big business going, the other about envy. And the Global Time’s take? – A US ambassador becoming a political star in China cannot be interpreted as US respect for China.

Thursday, September 22, 2011 2:57 PM

Hard to find anything to agree with in this article. It reeks of envy.

# E Mueller
Friday, September 23, 2011 12:56 AM

It’s obvious that Mr. Locke’s ‘simple’ behavior is part of a calculated public relations (PR, or in common language, propaganda) offensive by the US. The enitre political establishment in the US serves the economic and financial elite. The Congress and President design legislation to promote big buisness interests and when legislators and members of the executive branch and other officials leave office they take up posts in private business – often in areas closely related to the sectors that previously they were ‘regulating.’This ‘revolving door,’ phenomenon as it has been called, highlights the close interconnection between the government and business elites in the US. This interconnection and interpenetration are not legally defined as ‘corruption’ and yet, if corruption means that policies are skewed by financial gain, then the entire US system is corrupt to the core because its raison d’etre is to serve business rather than the citizens as a whole. US officials generally don’t take bribes and they publicly disclose their incomes and so on, but the government itself exists to serve business interests and in turn the members of the government are well served by those business interests. So while individual officials might appear very ‘down to earth’ and ‘simple,’ the overall reality is much more complex.’

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Locke’s lifestyle and new mission
Source – Global Times, published September 22, 2011

The attention Gary Locke has received as the new US ambassador to China is far more than his role deserves. Besides his attitude toward many aspects of the bilateral relationship, his personal life has aroused fierce discussion among the Chinese public. He flew economy class, carries a backpack and buys coffee with discount vouchers. His normal image has won him praise from some Chinese media.

It is reminiscent of the discussion over US Vice President Joe Biden dining in a cheap restaurant in Beijing. Some Chinese media’s expectations of their officials shine through in these comments.

It would not be bad if these actions were covered by the media, whilst keeping a level head. It loses value when Locke’s every move is packaged by the media as being part of the class of US officials. Some journalists like to romanticize what they see out of a lack of knowledge and may hold Locke up as a mirror for Chinese officials. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Chinese overseas, Culture, Democracy, Economics, global times, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, Nationalism, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, U.S.

Global Counterterrorism Forum: Nations to battle terrorism [China Daily]

“We should step up counterterrorism cooperation and dialogue on the basis of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination,” Yang Jiechi – reminding world leaders how it’s simple (repeating the party stance) – scratch each other’s backs as equals; and that without development, everything comes to naught.

For Hillary Clinton’s remarks, go here. 

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Nations to battle terrorism
By Zhang Yuwei
Source – China Daily, published September 23, 2011

NEW YORK – The Global Counterterrorism Forum, a new multilateral counterterrorism body that include China, India, Russia, the United States and the European Union, was formally launched on Thursday in New York.

The forum, currently co-chaired by the US and Turkey, is a major initiative within the Obama administration to build international support in dealing with terrorism and build global political will.

Forum members are expected to announce at least $60 million in support of counterterrorism efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Daily, Chinese Model, Chinese overseas, Culture, Environment, Foreign aid, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, military, Modernisation, Peacekeeping, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Chinese investors ‘can help create jobs’ in the US [China Daily]

Engagement: economic interdependence as hedging strategy?

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Chinese investors ‘can help create jobs’ in the US
By Lan Lan and Chen Weihua
Source – China Daily, published September 21, 2011

The new US Ambassador Gary Locke delivering a speech to US business leaders in Beijing on Tuesday. Feng Yongbin / China Daily

BEIJING – The US ambassador to China said his top priority is to support President Barack Obama’s job-creating efforts by two means: increasing Chinese investment in the United States and expanding American exports.

“Creating more jobs for Americans is the foremost priority of the Obama administration,” said Gary Locke, the former US commerce secretary, who took the new post in August.

“We will help Chinese companies and entrepreneurs better understand the benefits and ease of investing in the US by establishing factories, facilities, operations and offices,” Locke said in Beijing on Tuesday in a speech to US business leaders. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Daily, Chinese Model, Chinese overseas, Economics, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Overseas Chinese, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Social, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S.

China to Launch Space Station Test Module Next Week [Space]

Ponder: it looks like Tiangong’s (see Pausing for Tiangong, Space Daily August 19, 2011) not too far away.

A time to reflect beyond the state and terrestrial territory – the time for the politics of space has arrived with three nations having the ability to send people into orbit. Future extraterrestrial disputes to come?

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China to Launch Space Station Test Module Next Week
by Clara Moskowitz, SPACE.com Senior Writer
Source – Space, published 20 September 2011

China is developing its first full-fledged space station, called Tiangong (Heavenly Palace). Early tests of China’s skills at rendezvous and docking, shown in this artist's illustration, are set to begin in 2011. CREDIT: China Manned Space Engineering Office

China will launch a test module for its first space station next week between Sept. 27 and Sept. 30, state media reported today (Sept. 20).

The unmanned module, called Tiangong-1 (which means “Heavenly Palace”) will test autonomous docking procedures and other space operations in preparation for China’s plan to build a 60-ton space station by the year 2020.

The Chinese Long March 2F rocket set to launch Tiangong-1 has already been rolled out to its launch platform at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China’s Gansu Province, according to state-run news service Xinhua. [Photos: China’s First Space Station] Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Domestic Growth, Education, Greater China, Infrastructure, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, military, Nationalism, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Research, Soft Power, space, Strategy, Technology, Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Transport

Let’s wage war on tainted food [China Daily]

Implosion? If this gets out of hand, then perhaps China’s strategic mistake is not in its foreign policy but in failing to prevent its citizens from getting poisoned by ‘gutter oil’. A recent crackdown in Zhejiang, Shandong and Henan discovered more than a hundred tonnes of ‘re-used’ ‘gutter oil’ seized. Looking deeper, what kind of socio-economic pressures that are causing a situation where ‘substandard cooking oil recycled from waste illegally collected from restaurant gutters or sewage drains’ becomes used for making a living?

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Let’s wage war on tainted food
by Chen Weihua
Source – China Daily, published September 19, 2011

From New York to Baghdad to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, terror is often associated with bombs, whether they are tied to a human body or implanted in a laser-guided missile.

In China, the kind of fear people feel is much more subtle and much less bloody. It occurs when people shop in wet markets and grocery stores or eat in restaurants or at food stands.

The recent police crackdown on the “gutter oil” ring in Zhejiang, Shandong and Henan provinces is just the latest reminder of such fear. More than 100 tons of “gutter oil” was seized and 32 people were arrested. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: China Daily, Chinese Model, Corruption, Crime, Culture, Disaster, Domestic Growth, Economics, Food, Health, Infrastructure, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, People, Population, Resources, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Hero pig of China’s earthquake is cloned [Telegraph]

China’s favourite swine Zhu Jianqiang, survivor of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake gets cloned. Could this be another icon for Chinese willpower? From the pig’s efforts to survive  ‘by chewing charcoal and drinking rainwater’ to the efforts to clone it , it sounds like a compelling narrative there already.

For more on Zhu, check out the youtube video below –

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Hero pig of China’s earthquake is cloned
A heroic pig who survived more than a month buried under rubble after the 2008 earthquake in China’s Sichuan province has been successfully cloned, according to a report Sunday.
Source – Telegraph, published September 18, 2011

File image of Zhu Jianqiang Photo: REUTERS

Scientists in the southern city of Shenzhen performed the experiment on Zhu Jianqiang, or “Strong-Willed Pig”, and produced six offspring with DNA identical to their dad, who was hailed as a national hero following his harrowing ordeal, the Sunday Morning Post reported.

The births over the past few weeks of six piglets happened even though Zhu had been castrated before the quake, suffered severe trauma from being buried for 36 days, and is five years old – or about 60 in human terms.

“But the wonderful pig surprised us again,” Du Yutao, the leader of the cloning project, told the Post. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Culture, Disaster, Domestic Growth, Nationalism, Natural Disasters, Population, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, The Independent

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