Wandering China

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

The curse of China’s big city warlords [Straits Times]

Straits Times: A Singaporean perspective on strong Chinese local leaders as double-edged swords.

It has not gone unnoticed by observers that the fall of Bo, 63, means that the last three most senior leaders disgraced in China were kingpins in major cities. “Probably it is not accidental,” said professor of political science Wang Jianwei from the University of Macau. Chen Xitong controlled Beijing city, a position regarded as local even though it is based in the capital, until his fall in 1995. 

Bo Xilai is finally expelled from the party since the drama caught public eye in Feb earlier this year. Here is a selection of headlines from domestic and international press.

Official announcement from Xinhua: Investigations have found that Bo seriously violated Party disciplines while heading the city of Dalian, Liaoning Province, and the Ministry of Commerce and while serving as a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and as Party chief of Chongqing Municipality… Bo abused his power, made severe mistakes and bore major responsibility in the Wang Lijun incident and the intentional homicide case of Bogu Kailai.Bo Xilai expelled from CPC, public office, September 28, 2012

BBC: Under China’s system the Communist Party controls the media, the police, the prosecutors and the courts. The party is not subject to outside checks and balances. That’s why Mr Bo has been dealt with, by the party, in secret. The courts will now simply confirm the party’s decisions about how to punish him. Bo Xilai: China leaders try to put scandal behind them, September 30, 2012

See also – BBC timeline of events here.

Reuters agency: “Last night, one of the core members of the ruling party’s leadership was suddenly turned into a demon,” said one commentary on “Red China”, a far-left Chinese-language website that has issued a stream of commentary defending Bo. China leaders show unity after expelling Bo, September 29, 2012

New York Times: In his brief statement, posted Saturday evening on Tumblr, the younger Bo wrote: “Personally, it is hard for me to believe the allegations that were announced against my father, because they contradict everything I have come to know about him throughout my life. Although the policies my father enacted are open to debate, the father I know is upright in his beliefs and devoted to duty.” Chinese Ex-Official Snared in Scandal Is Defended by His Son, September 30, 2012

Telegraph:“With such a political aspect to it, you cannot judge this case solely on a legal basis,” said Pi Yijun, a law professor at China’s Law and Political Science university. “The sentence took into account his evidence on Bo’s case, and also the likely reaction of the public. The general public liked Wang and the campaigns he ran, which hit at the mafia. It was mostly intellectuals who were unhappy with him because of the illegal way he went about his job,” he added.Bo Xilai scandal: police chief Wang Lijun sentenced to 15 years, September 24, 2012

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The curse of China’s big city warlords
Strong local leaders a ‘double-edged sword’ for the central government
by By Peh Shing Huei China Bureau Chief News Analysis
Source – Straits Times, October 1, 2012

CHONGQING: Bo Xilai was expelled from the party last week. — PHOTO: AP in Straits Times, 2012

BEIJING – In recent years, as his star shone in south-western Chongqing city, Bo Xilai enjoyed an online nickname – ping xi wang, or Prince Who Pacifies the West.

It was the title of famous Qing Dynasty warlord Wu Sangui. But the moniker was also an early sign of trouble for Bo, who was purged last week.

Wu was a rogue general who declared an independent kingdom in 1678, and such unilateral breakaways – perceived or true – do not sit well with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Read the rest of this entry »


Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Bo Xilai, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Corruption, Culture, Democracy, Law, Media, Nationalism, New Leadership, Politics, Reform, Straits Times, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, , , ,

Gold mooncakes raise suspicions of corruption [Xinhua]

The Chinese referent has been based on the moon for the longest time. From the lunar calendar to the lunar-orbiting satellite aptly named Chang’E after the moon goddess to the pop culture hit 月亮代表我的心 (with subtitles)- literally the moon represents my heart perhaps it’s no surprise there are always updates to the recurring theme.

In Chinese lore, mooncakes once performed the role as ingenious mass media with hidden messages to rally against Mongol rule during the fourteenth century. A cultural practice that has taken many forms in folklore over four millennia through various myths, the Chinese used the mooncake to gather into a collective crouching stance.

Centuries on, the mooncake festival continues to be celebrated today. Depending on your point of view, it is also known as the mid-autumn festival and celebrated for a host of reasons.

Xinhua performs the role of fourth estate by illuminating one of 52 unacceptable practices 中国共产党党员领导干部廉洁从政若干准则 on what some in China’s public sphere 2.0 see as an insidious, self-serving albeit well-meaning update on delicate grey line between guanxi and corruption.

A jewelry store staff member shows off a pair of moon cakes made of gold in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province Tuesday. Photo: CFP Source – Global Times, 2012

See – Gold moon cakes not about the glitter (Global Times, September 26, 2012)

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Gold mooncakes raise suspicions of corruption
by Hu Tao and Yuan Ruting
Source – Xinhua, published September 28, 2012

BEIJING, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) — Gold mooncakes made their debut in the gift sector ahead of China’s back-to-back autumn holiday but suspicions of corruption have been raised.

Made of pure gold, the mooncake-shaped artifact witnessed good sales on the eve of China’s traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake Festival.

“Most of the buyers are groups of clients of companies and enterprises who have bought gold mooncakes as a gift,” said a shop assistant in a department store in Xuanwumen in downtown Beijing on Friday. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Corruption, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, History, Law, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Social, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, xinhua, , , , , , , ,

China anger as Japan buys island & signs US missile defence deal [Russia Today]

Perspective of Sino-Japanese tension from China’s northern neighbours with a view from Japan-based James Corbett, editor of the Corbett Report website as US missile defence deal is signed – in name to watch over North Korea…

Latest update
China’s ‘unleashing’ of its fishing boats toward the area by lifting a moratorium. Diaoyu Islands fish are Chinese (Global Times, September 27, 2012)

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China anger as Japan buys island & signs US missile defence deal
Source – Russia Times on Youtube, published September 17, 2012

Anti-Japanese protests have swept China, as the volatile dispute over who owns a series of islands escalates. The fallout over the archipelago dispute has been widening between Tokyo and Beijing since Japan decided to bypass China and buy the territories from private investors. This comes as Washington and Tokyo agreed to put a second anti-missile defence radar in Japan, claiming it’ll be focused on deterring North Korean aggression. But James Corbett, editor of the Corbett Report website who lives in Japan thinks the system will be deployed for all the wrong reasons.

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Diaoyu Fishing Boat Incident 2010, East China Sea, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, japan, Mapping Feelings, Media, military, Nationalism, North Korea, Peaceful Development, Politics, Russia, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S., , , , , , , , ,

An Aircraft Carrier of One’s Own [Foreign Policy]

With her sister ship now a floating integrated resort, the Varyag is reborn as Liaoning, almost eight years after she arrived in Chinese docks and 16 years after being bought for USD$20m.

September 25, 2012 marks her re-emergence as the symbolic flagship of Chinese maritime power at a time when China needs to assert its legitimacy to defend what it sees as national sovereignty.

Though in no position to match American naval projection due to its limited range and lack of combat readiness, it nevertheless marks a giant leap forward. Not quite a flexing of abrasive hard power yet, but certainly a symbolic referent for those on the Chinese side in Sino-Japanese tension, or potential focal point for Chinese nationalism.

Incidentally, the Chinese news reports are describing their carrier as 航母 (hang mu), a shortened version of 航空母舰 – literally translated – mother of the fleet.

Here is a CCTV report that paid particular attention on the mother ship’s combat readiness. It was most interesting hearing about the intense selection process for the crew. Unfortunately the 30min video is in Mandarin with no subtitles.

Further reading:

Light reading – Q&A about aircraft carrier “Liaoning ship” (PLA Daily in the People’s Daily, September 27, 2012)

Photo Gallery –  China’s first aircraft carrier “Liaoning” (China Military Online in the People’s daily, September 26, 2012)

Xinhua (September 26, 2012) News Analysis: Aircraft carrier-equipped China can better maintain world peace

China’s Ministry of Defense said the newly named Liaoning aircraft carrier would “raise the overall operational strength of the Chinese navy” and help Beijing to “effectively protect national sovereignty, security and development interests”. In fact, the aircraft carrier, refitted from a ship bought from Ukraine, will have a limited role, mostly for training and testing ahead of the possible launch of China’s first domestically built carriers after 2015, analysts say. ANALYSIS | China aircraft carrier a show of force vs Japan (Interacksyon, September 26, 2012)

Just as Liaoning the province was created when existing northeastern provinces and municipalities were merged and integrated into a more powerful whole in 1954-55, so too “Liaoning” the carrier integrates a mix of building blocks into a warship that has the potential to bolster China’s regional influence—and also to force China’s leaders to confront perhaps the most complicated naval diplomacy questions in the PRC’s history. Introducing the ‘Liaoning’: China’s New Aircraft Carrier and What it Means (China Real-time Report by the Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2012)

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An Aircraft Carrier of One’s Own
After much struggle, China finally has the massive naval vessel it always wanted.

Source – Li Tang, Xinhua, in Foreign Policy Magazine, 2012

China finally has its very own — ostensibly functional– aircraft carrier, named Liaoning. As Andrew Erickson and Gabriel Collins explain in a recent article for FP, the Chinese had to overcome multiple obstacles, and “All [those watching the Liaoning] must have felt the weight of history on their shoulders as they witnessed the unfulfilled ambitions of their civilian and military predecessors. This milestone was a long time coming.” The Liaoning was originally the Varyag, a Soviet vessel that was purchased by China from Ukraine. After years of retrofitting, as of Sept. 25 the Liaoning is finally entering service in the People’s Liberation Army Navy, but its capabilities are largely unproven and sea tests of the ship have stayed close to its home port in Dalian. Above, the Liaoning appears at the Dalian shipyard before being commissioned. (Foreign Policy, September 26, 2012)

Please click here to access the rest of the gallery.

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Diaoyu Fishing Boat Incident 2010, Domestic Growth, East China Sea, Foreign Policy Magazine, Government & Policy, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, japan, Liaoning, Mapping Feelings, Media, military, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Russia, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Technology, Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Varyag, , , , , , , , ,

Sinopec in sewage dump controversy [Global Times]

On the democratisation of information in domestic China (or having learnt to act quicker than public sphere 2.0): Global Times spares no quarter on the latest environmental incident.

In fact the expose started from the state-owned CCTV. This article sheds light on the state-owned Sinopec‘s alleged misdeeds dumping industrial sewerage through flood channels in Guangdong province.

Sinopec, headquarted in Beijing was established in 1998 with a registered capital of RMB 182 billion, according to its website. The Group was ranked fifth in the Fortune Global 500 in 2011 and 2012.

This same report appears in the People’s Daily, it comes with a video segment if you have a few minutes to spare.

Lü Dapeng, a Sinopec spokesperson, leapt to the company’s defense, telling the Global Times that “our preliminary investigation shows that the issue is merely a problem of design.”

“What the local environmental protection authority has found could be a problem that may occur in the future, not something Dongxing has already done.”

– – –

Sinopec in sewage dump controversy
by Bai Tiantian
Source – Global Times, published September 27, 2012

A subsidiary of the nation’s oil refinery giant Sinopec has been found to have been discharging industrial sewage through flood channels into a nearby river in Guangdong Province, State broadcaster CCTV reported.

The China Petroleum & Chemical Zhanjiang Dongxing Company has been circumventing environmental inspections by pumping unprocessed sewage through flood tunnels into the Nanliu River without treating it, according to the report aired Wednesday.

The plant was also caught replacing sewage samples with tap water to cheat an online supervision system, in an effort to fudge the results of the real-time pollution control network monitored by the local government, the CCTV report said. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, CCTV, Censorship, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Democracy, Environment, Government & Policy, Infrastructure, Media, Politics, Pollution, Reform, Resources, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, , , , , ,

Social entrepreneurship takes off in China [BBC]

Using Hong Kong as an exemplar, the BBC looks at the challenges and opportunities for social entrepreneurship in China if they get their relation with the central government right – thus providing a delicate and hopefully well-received return to the socialist aspect of the Chinese intention. Deng once promised that the mountains and rivers of socialist China will never change colour. In a way, this presents an opportunity for the state to work with creative ideas from its own stable in bringing a green and health-conscious update to its socialist motivation, now that it can afford to. It synergizes two aspects of the Chinese mind – the updated climb for financial gain, and the collectivist memory to do good as a way to harmonise one’s actions. Marry the two and it may just be a potent force. Will it step forward with a subsidy?

With the Solar Cooker for example, one can only marvel at the energy savings and the favours it will do the environment if 700m rural folk make the switch from solid fuels. The challenge of course, for any social enterprise is long-term adaptation. Solar’s great but it is weather-dependent, but at least there’s an option. Getting that option to stick is the next hurdle.

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Social entrepreneurship takes off in China
by Juliana Lu, Hong Kong Correspondent
Source – BBC, published September 23, 2012

We realised that in order to reach all the people who have this need, we would have to scale in a big way. And the only way to do that sustainably is by generating sustainable profits” Source – Catlin Powers, One Earth, 2012

Seven years ago, Hong Kong natives Legward Wong and Jeff Ng decided to set up a small business to tackle what they believed to be a big social problem.

In traditional Chinese culture, the elderly were revered for their wisdom and contribution to their community.

After decades of raising children and working to support the family, they used to be able to look forward to their golden years of being pampered by the younger generation. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: BBC, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Culture, Domestic Growth, Environment, Government & Policy, Green China, Lifestyle, People, Philanthropy, Pollution, Population, Poverty, Reform, Resources, Social, Social Entrepreneurship, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, , , , , , ,

Foxconn Plant Closed After Riot, Company Says [New York Times]

Taiyuan,  Shaanxi province: On the back of a string of suicides beginning in 2010 that gave the Taiwanese-owned Foxconn (one of the largest employers of Chinese with more than 1.1 million of them on payroll) its public image and internal practices a beating, just as the iPhone 5 is launched. An unfortunate convergence of economic imperative and global production networks perhaps, as the free market demands a product that is priced right for a competitive worldwide market. In China it is the displaced migrant worker who facilitates SIRI being a part of affluent networked societies. There are 79,000 workers in the Taiyuan plant. After 2,000 workers rioted, state media reported 5,000 police were despatched to restore order.

Foxconn cited police as saying 40 people were taken to hospital and a number were arrested, while the state-run Xinhua news agency added that three people were in serious condition.

Source – 5,000 police sent to quell mass Foxconn brawl (ABC News Australia, September 25, 2012)

Authorities in the northern city of Taiyuan sent 5,000 police to restore order after what the plant’s Taiwanese owners Foxconn Technology Group said was a personal dispute in a dormitory that erupted into a mass brawl.

Foxconn China plant closed after 2,000 riot (Reuters, September 12, 2012)

When a major new product such as the iPhone 5 is heading to stores, even more stress is put on that fast-growing manufacturing chain. Apple sold 5 million iPhones over the weekend (up from 4 million for the first weekend of sales for the iPhone 4S), and could sell 10 times that amount by the end of the quarter that closes December 31. Meeting that demand has required an epic buildup of materials, infrastructure, and labor, all while satisfying Wall Street’s need for bigger, more historic profits.

Riots, suicides, and other issues in Foxconn’s iPhone factories (CNet, September 25, 2012)

An English-language domestic report from Xinhua is also available here
40 Injured in Foxconn Brawl by NewsLook

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Foxconn Plant Closed After Riot, Company Says
By David Barboza and Keith Bradsher
Source – New York Times, published September 24, 2012

Workers cleaned up glass from the broken windows of a security room at an entrance of the Foxconn Technology plant in Taiyuan on Monday.
Source – New York Times, 2012.

SHANGHAI — Foxconn Technology, a major supplier to some of the world’s electronics giants, including Apple, said it had closed one of its large Chinese plants Monday after the police were called in to break up a fight among factory employees.

A spokesman said some people had been hurt and detained by the police after the disturbance escalated into a riot involving more than 1,000 workers late Sunday.

The company said the incident was confined to an employee dormitory and “no production facilities or equipment have been affected.” It said the cause of the disturbance was still under investigation. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Domestic Growth, Economics, Foxconn Suicides 2010, Greater China, Human Rights, Mapping Feelings, Media, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), Modernisation, People, Poverty, Social, Taiwan, Technology, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, U.S., , , , , , , , ,

How to prepare for a China crash [The Age]

The Age (readership est. 600k, established 1854 in Victoria, Australia, owned by Fairfax Media): China Bears preparing for the Chinese slowdown by remixing investment baskets.

It was forseen that continued double digit growth on the back of three decades was not sustainable. In any case, lest is forgetten, the mantra for this running five-year plan isn’t to get quick rich anymore, readjusting China’s sights for the longer term. And that means those wishing to make money from China’s return as a global leader need to make informed adjustments too.

In November last year we published a boldly titled special report, The Coming China Crash. It made the argument that Chinese growth was being driven by investment rather than consumption and that the situation bore a striking resemblance to that of Japan in the late 1980s. And we all know how that ended. Nathan Bell

– – –

How to prepare for a China crash
by Nathan Bell
Source – The Age, published September 24, 2012

For years, China was the flavour of the month. So popular were its attractions that the Rudd government had enough time to stitch together a new mining tax and the Gillard government to unstitch it. Yes, it’s been that long.

When faced with economic difficulties, the United States could first rely on Alan Greenspan to make money cheaper, and then on Ben Bernanke to make it free.

Australia had its very own “put” based on China. No matter what went wrong in Gondwanaland, the industrialisation of the world’s most populous nation would dig us out of a hole by paying us to dig more holes on its behalf. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Australia, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Influence, Infrastructure, Media, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Soft Power, Strategy, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, , , , , , , ,

Questioning attitude pivotal: giving Chinese think tanks valuable answers [China Daily Europe]

China Daily: A glimpse into the thinkers and acquirers of the complex vein of Chinese data.

More on the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (now 31 research units strong, run directly by the State Council and established in 1977) here.

Recently, Fan Jida, an associate professor at CAG, surveyed 210 officials at director-general level to identify the top 10 key economic issues facing the 18th National Congress of the CPC. More than 70 percent pointed to the real estate sector, while 69 percent said food safety should be improved. Small and medium-sized enterprises drew the least attention – just 11 percent.

“China has about 50,000 officials at this level and we surveyed 210 for one questionnaire. Who else could invite so many top leaders to give their views at the same time?” said Fan. In this way, Fan and his fellow researchers are able to gauge which topics are the most important.

– – –

Questioning attitude gives think tanks valuable answers
By Hu Yongqi
Source – China Daily, published September 20, 2012

Institutions play a vital role in getting data, reports Hu Yongqi.

In the main building of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in downtown Beijing, Xu Jin and his colleagues were preparing to move to a new office. Everything was packed, except for a mountain of questionnaire papers and publications.

“The cities and the rural areas are different, and the interior is different from the coastal areas. So we have to go to these places to investigate the characteristics of the local workforce. It’s the only way to acquire precise data.”
Xu Jin, deputy director of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics
Source – China Daily, 2012

In the past two months, researchers have collected 4,000 copies of a questionnaire about the workforce in Shanghai and the provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu. The papers were safely locked up in a meeting room, along with some other publications, to ensure they weren’t lost in the move that had brought chaos to the offices. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Danwei, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Environment, Finance, Government & Policy, Media, Modernisation, New Leadership, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Research, Resources, Science, Social, Strategy, , , , ,

Islands dispute needs a dose of reality [China Post]

From the Taiwan’s leading English-language paper (with 400,000 readers) China Post: toward a middle path and how this generation’s leaders still lack a common language on the Diaoyu dispute.

Japan should acknowledge that there is a dispute over the ownership of the islands. This does not mean giving up its own claim, or indeed the control that it has over them. But the first step to the resolution of a problem is the recognition of its existence.

Japan and China should then hold talks about their dispute. China’s claim is rooted in history, and it is by no means trivial. But, as they say, possession is nine-tenths of the law, and Japan has actually possessed these islands for most of the last century, so an international court may well rule in Tokyo’s favor.

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Islands dispute needs a dose of reality
By Frank Ching
Source – China Post, published September 19, 2012

“Our generation is not wise enough to find a common language on this question,” Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said in 1978 about his country’s territorial dispute with Japan. “Our next generation will certainly be wiser. They will certainly find a solution acceptable to all.”

In the meantime, Deng proposed, the two sides should jointly develop the area’s rich economic resources.

Thirty-four years later, there is still no common language on the disputed Diaoyu — or Senkaku — islands. In fact, the situation has reached critical proportions, with protests breaking out in dozens of cities across China over the Japanese government’s decision to nationalize the islands. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Diaoyu Fishing Boat Incident 2010, East China Sea, Economics, Environment, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, japan, Law, Mapping Feelings, Media, military, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Soft Power, Strategy, Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, , , , , , , , , , ,

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