Wandering China

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

Chinese ’Nationalistic’ Education Draws Protesters In Hong Kong [Bloomberg]

90,000 Hong Kongers say no to the imposition of Chinese ‘thought control’ on young ones starting from six years old. Anticipating a few steps ahead of the fifty years no change promise by the mainland?

For more check out

Thousands Protest China’s Plans for Hong Kong Schools (New York Times July 29, 2012)

From AFP TV,

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Chinese ’Nationalistic’ Education Draws Protesters In Hong Kong
By Rachel Evans
Source – Bloomberg, published July 30, 2012

Tens of thousands of parents, students and social activists marched through Hong Kong yesterday to oppose plans for national education lessons that detractors say will stifle independent thinking.

With many clad in black and white to symbolize the contrast between right and wrong and carrying placards stating “We don’t need no thought control,” demonstrators protested government plans to introduce the subject in state-run primary schools from September. The authorities will extend the classes, which aim to foster Chinese identity, to secondary school pupils from 2013 and phase in the lessons over three years.

The rally took place less than a month after pro-Beijing candidate Leung Chun-ying was inaugurated as the city’s chief executive. Government talks with opponents to delay the new curriculum collapsed over the weekend, the South China Morning Post reported in its Sunday edition. Textbooks will give a pro- Communist Party account of China’s history and political system, according to Willy Wo-Lap Lam, an adjunct professor of history at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Bloomberg, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Education, Government & Policy, Greater China, Hong Kong, Human Rights, Influence, Mapping Feelings, Media, Nationalism, New Leadership, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, , ,

China Move Reflects Sensitivity on Pollution [Wall Street Journal]

A group of protesters overturn a car near the local government office compound in the coastal city of Qidong, near Shanghai, in the eastern China province of Jiangsu on July 28, 2012. Source – Getty images

Local residents push over a police vehicle as they gather to protest against plans for a water discharge project in Qidong, China Saturday, July 28, 2012. The government in the city announced on its official website Saturday that the plans were scrapped amid opposition by local residents, who are concerned over potential pollution. Photo: AP

On the back of the earlier Shifang 什邡 protests against a copper smelting plant in Sichuan, another mass environmental protest sees the cancellation of a second Chinese industrial project. This time it’s in the eastern provinces as the coastal community of Qidong 启东 creates a successful outcry against extensive pollution problems with the pipeline a long simmering issue. Beyond a sensitivity on pollution, it seems both state and people have a new dynamic when it comes to seeing eye to eye; and it’s one that has caught the public eye.

They say a picture says a thousand words, and this site is packed with images taken from the clash.

For more, see China’s rapid industrialization fuels more public protests (USA Today, July 29, 2012) and from Chinese state media: Nantong government cancelled Japanese paper factory’s pollution-causing project (Global Times, July 29, 2012))



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China Move Reflects Sensitivity on Pollution
By Carlos Tejada
Source – Wall Street Journal, published July 29, 2012

BEIJING—The cancellation over the weekend of a second Chinese industrial project in a month following fierce environmental protests demonstrates the government’s growing sensitivity to China’s pollution problems.

Officials in the coastal community of Qidong in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu said Saturday that they would stop construction of a pipeline intended to dump wastewater from a Japanese-owned paper mill into the sea. Worries about pollution sparked protests early Saturday that the state-run Xinhua news agency said drew thousands. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Climate Change, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Infrastructure, japan, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Peaceful Development, People, Pollution, Public Diplomacy, Social, Soft Power, The Chinese Identity

In Singapore, Vitriol Against Chinese Newcomers [New York Times]

The New York Times takes a look at the paradox of rising ant-Chinese sentiment in Singapore with words like xenophobia being bandied about in the press. More than a third of residents in the globalised port-of-call Singapore are born outside its already population-dense shores while it ranks the third most sort after immigration destination for the affluent Chinese after Canada and the US (final page, see PDF report here) in 2012.

“Mainlanders may look like us, but they aren’t like us… Singaporeans look down on mainlanders as country bumpkins, and they look down on us because we can’t speak proper Chinese… ”quote by Alvin Tan, the artistic director of a local community theater company.

Certainly, cautious steps ahead. See Prickly points of a New York Times article (The Online Citizen, July 30, 2012)

for a glimpse of what one Singaporean Chinese feels about the newcomers.

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In Singapore, Vitriol Against Chinese Newcomers
by Andrew Jacobs
Source – New York Times, published July 26, 2012

Construction workers from mainland China at Renewal Christian Church in Singapore, which offers meals and English lessons to those far from home. Photo – New York Times

SINGAPORE — It was bad enough that Ma Chi was driving well above the speed limit on a downtown boulevard when he blew through a red light and struck a taxi, killing its two occupants and himself. It didn’t help, either, that he was at the wheel of a $1.4 million Ferrari that early morning in May, or that the woman in the passenger seat was not his wife.

But what really set off a wave of outrage across this normally decorous island-state is the fact that Mr. Ma, a 31-year-old financial investor, carried a Chinese passport, having arrived in Singapore four years earlier.

The accident, captured by the dashboard camera of another taxi, has uncorked long-stewing fury against the surge of new arrivals from China, part of a government-engineered immigration push that has almost doubled Singapore’s population to 5.2 million since 1990. About a million of those newcomers arrived in the past decade, drawn by financial incentives and a liberal visa policy aimed at counteracting Singapore’s famously low birthrate. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Chinese overseas, Culture, Education, Government & Policy, Greater China, Nationalism, New York Times, Overseas Chinese, Peaceful Development, Public Diplomacy, Singapore, Social, Soft Power, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, ,

The China8 Interviews: On Chinese media with Daniel Ang

Wandering China is pleased to release the second of the China8 series of interviews. China8 is where China’s perceived and presenting selves are discussed. This it hopes to achieve by looking closely at both China’s international and domestic coherence of its harmonious ascent. Ultimately, Wandering China hopes these perspectives will be helpful for anyone making sense of depending on how you see it, the fourth rise of the middle kingdom, or sixty odd years of consciousness of a new nation-state with a coherent identity emergent from a long drawn period of ideological strife.

On close examination it seems the Chinese are finding it increasingly difficult to bide their time. Laying low may have been the mandate in dealing multilaterally with the world from Deng’s point of view. However, without the superhero-charged idolatry of the monolith of party holding as much currency, legitimacy to rule China has for the first time in a very long while shifted to one that is based on performance indicators and this means that Chinese leaders now have both top-down and bottom-up pressure to perform. Sons of Heaven need not apply as China communicates a resurrection vaunted to be peaceful and harmonious.

Wandering China catches up with Daniel Ang, who shares with us his perspectives as both a lecturer on Chinese media from the vantage point of Singapore, and as a fellow overseas-born Chinese of the Chinese diaspora. On top of his teaching interests, Daniel is also a globe trotting food blogger and radio DJ on a well received Mandarin station. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Charm Offensive, China8 Interviews, Communications, Culture, Greater China, Influence, Internet, Nationalism, Overseas Chinese, Public Diplomacy, Social, Soft Power, The Chinese Identity

Kishore Mahbubani: Is China Losing the Diplomatic Plot? [Straits Times]

Keeping track of China’s diplomatic mistakes becomes particularly pertinent as the US awakens from its ‘geopolitical slumber with one eye already open.

In some ways it does reinforce the idea  the Chinese are finding it increasingly difficult to show they are willing to bide their time. Laying low is certainly something the Chinese are finding hard to do as China becomes politically pluralistic with voices resonating across all strata of society from levels of government to the military to citizen mass events gaining domestic and international traction. It also seems according to Mahbubani, that for the first time in a while as we expect its leadership change is that… ‘the challenge for the world now is that China has become politically pluralistic: no leader is strong enough to make wise unilateral concessions.’ – will China lose the expedience and efficacy it has long associated with its strong, central grip as a result?

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Is China Losing the Diplomatic Plot?
by Kishore Mahbubani
Source – Straits Times, published July 27, 2012

SINGAPORE – In 2016, China’s share of the global economy will be larger than America’s in purchasing-price-parity terms. This is an earth-shaking development; in 1980, when the United States accounted for 25% of world output, China’s share of the global economy was only 2.2%. And yet, after 30 years of geopolitical competence, the Chinese seem to be on the verge of losing it just when they need it most.

China’s leaders would be naïve and foolish to bank on their country’s peaceful and quiet rise to global preeminence. At some point, America will awaken from its geopolitical slumber; there are already signs that it has opened one eye.

But China has begun to make serious mistakes. After Japan acceded to Chinese pressure and released a captured Chinese trawler in September 2010, China went overboard and demanded an apology from Japan, rattling the Japanese establishment. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Foreign aid, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Soft Power, Straits Times, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, U.S., , , ,

Will China Build 82 Unneeded Airports By 2015? You Betcha. [Forbes]

Forbes: Chinese airports – Potential for growth or sinkhole? Gordon Chang on what can be described as binge spending as China ramps up to 230 airports, up from the existing 182. Chinese state media (Small airports to ride construction boom, China Daily, July 21, 2012) points out however, that this is paltry compared to the 19,000 in the U.S and 700 in Brazil. Some criticism is leveled at the losses made by 130 of the current airports as they collectively lost more than 2 billion yuan. It does seem China’s quest for connecting its peripheral frontiers and people through planes, trains and automobiles will continue to be relentless.

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Will China Build 82 Unneeded Airports By 2015? You Betcha.
by Gordon Chang
Source – Forbes, published July 22, 2012

On Friday, Li Jiaxiang, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, announced his country will build 82 new airports and expand 101 existing ones during the current five-year plan, the 12th, which ends in 2015.

By then, China will have 230 airports, up from the current 182, according to Huang Min, director of infrastructure at the National Development and Reform Commission.  Most of the new facilities will be feeder airports in the central and western portions of the country.  About 80% of the population will be within 100 kilometers of an airport by the middle of this decade.  Additional building is projected to increase that percentage nine points by 2020.

Does China need all these new airports?  Beijing justifies the ambitious building program on several grounds.  State media, for instance, points to the aviation industry’s three decades of double-digit growth and suggests that is just the beginning.  China’s aviation market, according to central government officials, has the biggest potential for expansion in the world.  State media notes that, in comparison, the U.S. has 19,000 airports.  Li Jiaxiang on Friday said even Brazil and South Africa have more of them than China.  And China’s airports are a booming industry.  Last year, they earned 4.6 billion yuan according to Mr. Li. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Domestic Growth, Economics, Forbes, Government & Policy, Infrastructure, Modernisation, Social, The Chinese Identity, , ,

A new chapter for Beijing’s libraries [China Daily]

With little foreign language books in tow, Beijing’s libraries go the way of vending machines to dispense Chinese culture against the wave of globalisation and digitisation.

These libraries debuted first in Shenzhen back in 2008 (Automated library machine debuts in Shenzhen, April 8, 20008) so it’s certainly come a long way with 460 produced so far.

For a PDF description of the machine by its makers Shenzhen Seaever Intelligent Technology Co, go here.

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A new chapter for Beijing’s libraries
By Zheng Xin
Source – China Daily, published July 17, 2012

A self-service library attracts a passer-by’s attention in Beijing recently. Containing more than 400 books, it allows users to borrow and return books 24-hours a day. Photo: Lu Ming / China News Service

Self-service libraries are becoming increasingly popular with Beijing residents, with 50 having sprung up across the city over the past year and 100 more are expected to open in the coming months.

The 24-hour service allows readers to choose from 20,000 books housed in giant automatic machines scattered across the capital.

And the convenience of the service has proved popular, with self-service libraries being the source of 31.63 percent of all books borrowed from public libraries in Beijing’s Chaoyang district since they were introduced last year. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: China Daily, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Education, Media, People, Social, The Chinese Identity

From Virginia Suburb, a Dissident Chinese Writer Continues His Mission [New York Times]

New York Times: missed out on this report earlier this year.Notable critic of China’s human rights record Yu Jie may be based in the US now, but like many overseas Chinese, maintains a desire to return to the mainland.

“Maybe in a couple years I’ll have a green card, and maybe I’ll become an American citizen… But I see my career and lifelong goal as achieving democracy and freedom in China. And so my goal is to eventually return to China.”

He also weighs in on the country’s leadership transition to come: “The country’s leader is simply a guy selected by a few of the most powerful families in China to work for them… It’s because they’re in this power scheme together, and because they benefit from it, and because the social conflict in China is a lot sharper now. To maintain the status quo, they’ll do whatever they can.”

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From Virginia Suburb, a Dissident Chinese Writer Continues His Mission
by Edward Wong
Source – New York Times, published February 25, 2012

The writer Yu Jie, his wife, Liu Min, and their son, Yu Guangyi, in Washington last month after China allowed them to leave. Living now in Fairfax, Va., Mr. Yu says he hopes to stay but sees his “lifelong goal as achieving democracy and freedom in China.” Photo – New York Times

FAIRFAX, Va. — If the place that the Chinese writer Yu Jie and his family live in nowadays, a modest house in this pleasant Northern Virginia suburb, seems ordinary, the story of what brought them here is anything but.

In January, Mr. Yu, one of the foremost critics of China’s leadership, left China after months of abuse, house arrest and round-the-clock surveillance by the state. At its worst, it was flat-out torture: in a detention cell, security officers bent back Mr. Yu’s fingers one by one, kicked him in the chest and held burning cigarettes close to his face, he said.

“If the order comes from above, we can dig a pit to bury you alive in half an hour, and no one on earth would know,” Mr. Yu said the head officer told him. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Democracy, Human Rights, Influence, Internet, Media, Politics, Public Diplomacy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S., , ,

China doubles loans to Africa to USD$20 billion [AsiaOne/AFP]

China has been the African continent’s largest investor since 2009 in my mind, for both resource and strategic reasons.  Trade amounted to US$166.3 billion last year and China has just made a pledge of a $20b credit line to Africa at the Beijing forum on China-Africa cooperation.

Despite competing claims – that on one hand, it made too aggressive an inroad causing friction with locals causing anti-Chinese sentiment to rise. And on the other, for politically treating African countries as equals. this means there are two polarised receiving ends to China’s policy of non-interference in its foreign policy.

I believe this is a key opportunity for China to set a clear benchmark on what they mean in being a responsible international leader. On paper, it seems, the ministerial conference seems set to fix existing problems, from inculcating social responsibility to its companies operating there to measures to expand out of the current unequal trade relationship.

If the wealth of the west in the colonial age was built on the back of the exploitation of Africa, will twenty-first century China prove to be different? Will it play the role of a fairer partner in its resource relationship with the second-largest and second-most-populous continent, by engaging in equivalent exchange instead of exploiter?

For more, see

President Hu: China to strive to open up new prospects for China-Africa strategic partnership (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation 2012)

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China doubles loans to Africa to $25 billion
Source – AsiaOne/AFP, published July 19, 2012

BEIJING – China said Thursday it would offer US$20 billion (S$25 billion) in new loans to Africa, underscoring the relationship’s growing importance, as Chinese companies agreed to operate more responsibly on the resource-rich continent.

Beijing has poured money into Africa over the last 15 years, seeking to tap into its vast natural resources, and China became the continent’s largest trading partner in 2009.

But its aggressive move into the continent has at times  -’caused friction with local people, with some complaining Chinese companies import their own workers, flout labour laws and mistreat local employees.’ Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: AFP, Africa, AsiaOne, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Economics, Europe, Finance, Foreign aid, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity

Malcolm Fraser: Obama’s China Card [Straits Times]

Straits Times: Malcolm Fraser discusses the tipping point of Australia’s great and powerful friends dilemma as it balances an increasingly unsteady ship of both strategic and economic impetus. Australia’s former prime minister of three terms also weighs in on the potential ‘baggage’ of the ANZUS treaty if today’s Darwin marine base turns out to be a prelude for tomorrow’s heavier burden.

‘I would sooner abrogate the Anzus Treaty with New Zealand and the US – that is, I would sooner end defence cooperation with the US – than allow nuclear missiles to be sited on Australian territory.. 

…Perhaps our best hope for stability and peace lies in China’s refusal to be provoked. The Chinese understand the game being played.’ Malcolm Fraser

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Malcolm Fraser: Obama’s China Card
By Malcolm Fraser
Source – Straits Times, published July 12, 2012

MELBOURNE – According to the United States Federal Reserve, Americans’ net worth has fallen 40 per cent since 2007, returning to its 1992 level. Progress towards recovery will be slow and difficult, and the US economy will be weak throughout the run-up to November’s presidential and congressional elections. Can any incumbent – and especially President Barack Obama – win re-election in such conditions?

To be sure, the blame for America’s malaise lies squarely with Obama’s predecessors: Bill Clinton, for encouraging the Fed to take its eye off financial-market supervision and regulation, and George W. Bush, for his costly wars, which added massively to US government debt. But, come Election Day, many (if not most) Americans are likely to ignore recent history and vote against the incumbent.

Given this, it would not be surprising if Obama and others in his administration were seeking non-economic issues to energise his campaign. National-security problems in general, and the challenge posed by China in particular, may be shaping up as just such issues. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Australia, Beijing Consensus, Beijing OIympics, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Economics, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, U.S.

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July 2012

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