Wandering China

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

Rolling out the red carpet as Chinese tourism takes off #TheAge #China #Tourism #Australia

Australia continues to surf along to China’s rise. Apart from providing the physical and energy resources China needed as it powered through infrastructure mode, the Aussie education and tourism sectors now benefit directly from China’s booming middle class. Australia offers a stable environment not too far a flight away; with fresh air and healthy produce in abundance.

The experience here also helps expand their world view. The first culture shock that crossing the road isn’t a matter of life and death is a powerful worldview changer. Exposure to fresh organic produce make many lament on the reliability of agricultural produce back home. That tourism here offers a level of service even the most elite would could not get access to back home, offers strong lessons too.

From this vantage point, this scenario will continue to grow with great momentum. Keeping growth at a manageable pace with the Australian environment is the next challenge.

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Rolling out the red carpet as Chinese tourism takes off
By Philip Wen and Matt O’Sullivan
Source – The Age, published January 26, 2013

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

XIONG LAN grew up poor in post-cultural revolution China atop the vast Tibetan Plateau in the country’s remote north-west.

Today, she is halfway through a remarkable 50-day sojourn around Australia, hoping to take in the best Australia’s east coast has to offer.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Having crossed Sydney, regional New South Wales and Canberra off her list, she is boarding a tour bus headed for the Great Ocean Road on Victoria’s surf coast.

”The architecture of the buildings in Sydney and Melbourne are like works of art,” enthuses Xiong, who owns a business in Qinghai province’s largest city, Xining.

”And what they say about Australia is true, it really has natural beauty.”


A group of Chinese tourists travel on a bus tour of the Great Ocean Road. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

While Qinghai, like the rest of China, has made huge economic strides since opening up its economy, it is disadvantaged by its geographic isolation and remains one of the poorest provinces in China. Until recently, it may still have been rare for ordinary Qinghai natives to undertake a holiday of this magnitude.

Please click here to read the rest of the article at its source.

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Filed under: Australia, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Chinese New Year, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Influence, Lifestyle, Peaceful Development, People, Public Diplomacy, Social, Strategy, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Challenge China #PhilippineDailyInquirer #China #Philippines #SouthChinaSea

A Filipino perspective the latest update of the South China Sea flashpoint.

The big title ‘Challenge China’ can be interpreted as quite a proclamation. The Philippine Daily Inquirer is the country’s most widely read broadsheet. It has 260,000 readers. The Philippines consists of over 90 million people.

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Challenge China
Source – Philippine Daily Inquirer, published January 28, 2013

The government’s decision to challenge China’s expansive claims to the South China Sea by invoking the arbitration provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) is both unexpected and overdue. Many simply assumed that the government’s legal option (its so-called third track of resolving the conflict in territorial and maritime claims, after political means and diplomatic measures) meant filing a case before the right court; in this case, the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, or Itlos, in Hamburg, Germany. At the same time, the clear and compelling arguments for the Philippine case fed a growing impatience for legal action; why was the Department of Foreign Affairs taking so long?

Officially, the DFA answer is that it wanted to try all other avenues for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in claims. “Having exhausted all possible initiatives, we feel the time to act is now. If we do not act now, we will be in default,” was the second item in the prepared Q & A list the DFA distributed on the day it announced the legal action. But it is no secret that the administration needed the time, not only to prepare its case, but to study its legal choices carefully.

On initial view, it seems that the government has chosen well. Lawyer Harry Roque, an expert in international law and a Socratic gadfly in Philippine politics, praised the action, in particular the framing of our case: “credit goes to the Solicitor General [Francis Jardeleza] because our submission of claims is crafted in a manner that will exclude all of China’s reservations,” he wrote in a commentary published in these pages.

What the government has done is to begin the proceedings of ad hoc arbitration (the third of four possible means of resolving disputes involving Unclos)—essentially calling on China to co-form an arbitration panel to resolve only one aspect of the dispute: claims about waters and the continental shelf. (The Unclos does not apply to conflicting claims involving islands.) As the DFA explained: “China’s nine-dash line claim encompasses practically the entire West Philippine Sea (WPS). We must challenge the unlawful claim of China under their nine-dash line in order to protect our national territory and maritime domain.”

After the DFA handed a note verbale explaining the legal action to the Chinese ambassador in Manila, the Chinese embassy predictably reiterated the official Chinese position that the conflicting claims be resolved through bilateral talks. “The Chinese side strongly holds [that] the disputes on South China Sea should be settled by parties concerned through negotiations,” an embassy statement read.

But China only insists on direct negotiations in those disputes where it sees itself as enjoying an advantage. That makes any attempt to resolve the conflict over claims subject to Beijing’s increasingly assertive exercise of its new superpower status, rather than a reasoned discourse over legal and historical evidence.

When China suffers from a disadvantage, however, multilateral dispute-resolution mechanisms become an option. In its dispute with Japan over a handful of islands in the East China Sea, which the Japanese call Senkaku and the Chinese Diaoyu, for example, Tokyo enjoys the distinct advantage of possession. To counter this advantage, Beijing filed a submission before the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (another Unclos forum) just last month seeking information “concerning the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles in part of the East China Sea.”

This is the same commission that declared early last year that the massive Benham Rise (in potentially oil-rich waters to the east of Luzon) is officially a part of the Philippines.

Whether Beijing will agree, in the Philippine case, to the arbitration procedure outlined in the very Law of the Sea which anchors its submission in the Japanese dispute remains to be seen. It seems to have learned its lessons from the example of the other superpower, the United States, in dealing selectively with multilateral forums. To be sure, the arbitration provisions under the so-called Annex VII themselves allow for compulsory proceedings; Article 9 includes the principle that “Absence of a party or failure of a party to defend its case shall not constitute a bar to the proceedings.”

With this legal challenge, the issue, finally, is joined.

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Communications, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, military, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Philippines, Soft Power, South China Sea, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Birds, dams and people: biodiversity in China #TheConversation #China #Biodiversity #Yangtze

To further power up its western frontier China needs to take bold moves to buff up its up self reliance. Often controversial as the magnitude of change can be discomforting, Australia could perhaps provide some tips on how to do so a little more harmoniously.

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Birds, dams and people: biodiversity in China
By Wendy Wright
Monash University Australia
Source – The Conversation, published Jan 28, 2013


Four major hydroelectric projects are planned for the upper Yangtze River valley. Photo by Steb Fisher

The 2012 China Ecological Footprint Report has highlighted the cost to biodiversity of China’s rapid economic development.

Biodiversity in China is under pressure because of loss of habitat. In our study area on the upper Yangtze River, this is exacerbated by a series of proposed dams. Four large hydro-electricity schemes, each involving the construction of a large dam, are planned for this section of the river, known as Jinshajiang. When complete, an 800km section of the river forming the border between Sichuan and Yunnan will be affected. The total capacity of the four schemes is 42,460 MW, much greater than the capacity of the Three Gorges Dam.

Dramatic changes in the ecosystems of the area are likely to occur as a result of permanent flooding. The Baihetan hydroelectricity project is by far the largest of the four. This area has a relatively poor regional economy and most of the population has an income below national and provincial poverty lines. Agriculture is the main economic activity for the local population and substantial food and silk resources are grown in the area. Most of the people are from the Yi Minority Nationality. The Yi people typically farm the higher elevation areas, which are more marginal in productivity.

Click here to read full article at its source.

Filed under: Agriculture, Beijing Consensus, Climate Change, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Green China, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, People, Population, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Throwing open the doors #GlobalTimes #China #MigrantWorkers #Hukou

In some ways, this is an example of China feeling for the stones to cross the river. The elite are aware it needed to improve its compact with the bedrock of the Chinese revolution, its resilient and often vocal rural peasants. They are after all, a massive part of China’s 180,000 or so mass incidents.

That they are given a direct and growing semblance of contribution toward policy making, is a step forward. How this is enhanced by the new leadership remains to be seen.

Hukou restrictions have become less of a barrier when moving around China for work. Its impact on the wider socio-economic net at popular host cities is also significant though. Access to quality healthcare, welfare is a matter of application; given limited trained human resources, not infrastructure nor intention. I learnt this from a well travelled migrant worker from Yunnan.

Together rapidly growing cities have the propensity to grow out of hand as I saw on my visits. The pollution generated by the sum total of all that growth, has generally not been well managed. Clean water is increasingly hard to find. To compound that, China’s empty forts of ghost cities will be filled soon enough. after all it only just passed the mark of 50% urbanisation. A positive however, is its pervasive use of solar power all around.

The rise of public opinion as agent for change cannot be understated. The alternative voice online is now a rather powerful force. The government is learning to respond. As its consciousness as the fourth estate takes hold, its increasingly self reflexive and critical domestic media, should not be overlooked either.

As China rises it may be rather important to keep an eye on how it rejuvenates itself internally. Standing up rather quickly from a long slumber, what it does to keep its internal qi healthily flowing will make all the difference in its ability to pull off the China Dream.

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Throwing open the doors
By Liu Linlin
Source – Global Times, published January 25, 2013


Source – Global Times: Deputies to the Xi’an People’s Congress, Shaanxi Province, raise their hands Wednesday to approve the reports including the work report presented by the city government. Photo: CFP

Cheng Junrong has come a long way since his peers, mostly migrant workers, voted for him into the National People’s Congress (NPC) as a deputy five years ago. Over the last five years he has analyzed amendments to laws and proposals to various government agencies, but at the end of last year he retired, having reached the mandatory five-year limit.As a migrant worker, he has lived through the difficulties imposed by the household registration, or hukou system, and he’s witnessed what it’s like to receive unfair payments caused by problems with labor laws.

When he saw his suggestions included as amendments to the Labor Law, he was encouraged and handed over more proposals to improve the working conditions of migrant workers, one of the most disadvantaged groups in the country.

“The construction of modern society needs a huge amount of migrant labor. But if their welfare or payments can’t be settled, there will be huge crisis in the future,” Cheng said.

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Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Environment, Government & Policy, Green China, Human Rights, Influence, Infrastructure, Internet, Mapping Feelings, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), Modernisation, Nationalism, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, People, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Social, Strategy, The Chinese Identity

China Has Hipsters, Too #TheAtlantic #China #counterculture #hipster

The Atlantic on China’s wenyi qingnian (文艺青年). Like the hipsters, this too is counter-culture subgroup made possible by urban affluence and social latitude. Both seem postmodern responses to the old positivist worldview.

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China Has Hipsters, Too
By Monica Tan, Tea Leaf Nation
Source – The Atlantic, published November 10, 2012

It’s happened all over the world, and it’s happening in China, too. As the country’s middle class swells in number — and its people discover the pleasures and disappointments of a life spent pursuing material comfort — there has come the emergence of a distinct counter-culture. In Chinese, they are the wenyi qingnian (文艺青年), or wenqing for short, literally meaning “cultured youth.” It’s China’s closest equivalent to the alternately beloved and reviled English word, “hipster.”

What does a typical “cultured youth” look like? Baidu Baike, China’s version of Wikipedia, contains an entry on the term that quotes writer and musician Guo Xiaohan: “I’m a very typical wenyi qingnian. I like poetry, novels, indie music, European cinema, taking pictures, writing blogs, cats, gardening, quilting, making dessert and designing environmentally friendly bags.”

They are twee, nostalgia-driven, and hipster-ish, with a dash of poet. Spiritual at heart, yet living in a very secular, money-driven modern China, wenqing are marked as highly individualistic, romantic, cultural connoisseurs…

Click here to read the rest of the article at its source.

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Environment, Human Rights, Influence, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Media, Peaceful Development, Population, Social, The Atlantic, The Chinese Identity

Auditors help recoup stolen housing funds #Audit #Housing #Corruption #China #ChinaDaily

Clearing the pipes and hopefully plugging this hole. The perhaps ‘chronic’ enculturation of consolidation for future generations reaping China’s unrelenting growth rate for the past decades will prove to be the harder paradigm for change.

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Auditors help recoup stolen housing funds
By Wang Huazhong
Source – China Daily, published January 17, 2013

China’s top auditing authority announced on Wednesday the recovery of around 2.7 billion yuan ($428.57 million) that was embezzled from affordable housing funds in 2011.

Authorities have also canceled about 7,000 households’ rights to stay in the housing, according to a report released by the National Audit Office.

China has been working to build subsidized houses for low-income earners due to widespread complaints about housing costs. The government plans to build and renovate 36 million houses during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15).

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Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Corruption, Culture, Uncategorized

MOR rails against ticket plug-in chaos #China #SpringFestival #Rail #Global Times

China Daily on the new online dynamic of getting a train ride home during China’s most important time of year.

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MOR rails against ticket plug-in chaos
By Zhang Zihan and Li Cong
Source – Global Times, published January 21, 2013

Web browser providers have denied earlier reports that they had been ordered to stop providing plug-ins for buying train tickets, which the Ministry of Railways (MOR) said had caused a huge amount of traffic to flood its online ticketing system ahead of the Spring Festival travel rush.

“So far, we haven’t received any request from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), and our plug-in is running as usual,” Li Ping, a public relations officer from Kingsoft, a software provider, told the Global Times on Sunday, refuting a report from China National Radio.

China Central Television also reported that other browser providers including Maxthon and Qihoo 360 all denied receiving orders from MIIT, while the ministry has not yet responded.

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Filed under: Automotive, Beijing Consensus, Censorship, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Government & Policy, Infrastructure, Modernisation, People, Population, Reform, Social, The Chinese Identity, Transport

Behind China’s Roaring Solar Industry #GreenChina #Solar #HarvardBusinessReview

Harvard Business Review: ‘China’s National Energy Administration announced its intention to add 10 gigawatts of solar power capacity in 2013.’

The time to cross great divides and collaboratively develop a sustainable, profitable development model for Green China to come. The travels around China’s east coast, periphery and centre have revealed early seeds sown – solar heating and panels were a dime a dozen atop rooftops even in China’s far flung out frontiers. Perhaps, like a good tennis stroke, a good follow through; with sensible business minds, is needed to convert more of its burgeoning middle class into proponents of renewable energy.

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Behind China’s Roaring Solar Industry
by Michael J. Silverstein |
Source – Harvard Business Review, published Jan 11, 2013

Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that Chinese solar stocks had soared based on market expectations that demand in China for alternative energy will increase given the Chinese government’s increasing solar capacity targets. Earlier this week, China’s National Energy Administration announced its intention to add 10 gigawatts of solar power capacity in 2013, more than twice its current level. According to Barron’s and others, China has already begun implementing its ambitious plan to increase installations. It previously approved the Golden Sun initiative for the first half of this year and committed prodigious amounts of government cash to the sector.

China has also begun offering subsidies for rooftop solar projects. These aren’t controversial production-side subsidies (of the kind that have been challenged as contravening international trade agreements) but rather incentivizing domestic subsidies intended to help Chinese citizens and organizations to purchase solar systems at an affordable price. This week, the share price of Trina Solar Ltd. the nation’s third-biggest maker of solar panels, jumped to the highest level in five months even as that of LDK Solar Co. rallied 7.7 percent.

Although some commentators may see this uptick in China’s solar investments (and equity values) as an intriguing short term phenomenon, we at The Boston Consulting Group believe it reflects a public commitment on the part of China’s government to embrace clean energy sources and to seek economic growth that is less energy dependent, as well as these profound long-term trends:

Please click here to read the rest of the article at the source.

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Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Climate Change, Collectivism, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Government & Policy, Green China, Influence, Infrastructure, Lifestyle, Population, Reform, Science, Technology, The Chinese Identity,

Hire a Great Chinese Engineer by Impressing His Girlfriend’s Mom #China #Culture [Harvary Business Review Blog]

Into the Chinese mind: The Harvard Business Review with a salient human interest story about some examples of what stirs the Chinese hierarchy of needs for forward motion – the family unit and how they evaluate reputation.

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Hire a Great Chinese Engineer by Impressing His Girlfriend’s Mom
by Doug Raymond
Source – Harvard Business Review, published January 10, 2013

I thought hiring good engineers would be easy when I launched my startup, Julu Mobile, in Shanghai in early 2011. After all, China produces 600,000 engineering graduates each year, and as a former Google product manager I thought knew how to attract them.

However, I soon learned that hiring the best and brightest would be a lot harder than I thought. In my Silicon Valley experience, the best engineers look for audacious challenges, because the bigger the challenge, the greater their chance to prove themselves and reap the correspondingly larger rewards. Joining a startup company early is an exciting opportunity and potential path to glory for them.

In China, I have found that a different mindset dominates. When I started recruiting talent for my new company, before candidates asked about our strategy, they asked how much money we had. They wanted to know what my plans were for IPO. One candidate told me that he expected “a seven-figure package” (in US dollars). While there was some interest in our plans for China’s mobile market, their primary concerns were economic and reputational: how could I prove to them that they would become rich, and that our company would be famous? I don’t blame them for being skeptical of my tiny start-up, but I was struck by how much more risk-averse my prospects were than those engineers I’d worked with in Silicon Valley. Over the next months, I began to understand why. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Finance, Mapping Feelings, People, Social, Technology, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, , , ,

Special Report: China’s military hawks take the offensive #China #Hardpower [Reuters]

The world will need some time to get used to increased expressions of Chinese freedom of speech: If anything, this marks the end of coherent, centralised  propaganda that some may be used to and discounts the fact that China is after smart power today, combining hard and soft power to build comprehensive national leverage. China was always about 1.3 billion narratives and now the multipolarity within are increasingly seeing the light of day.

“There appears to be a discord between this peaceful rise language and the comments from senior PLA officers,” said Li of the U.S. Naval War College. “There is no doubt about that.”

Will it result in unilateral action by these ‘hawkish’ military leaders? Unlikely. The compact between the role chairman of the Central Military Commission and the PLA, set in stone since the Deng days, is too strong to break.

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Special Report: China’s military hawks take the offensive
By David Lague
Source – Reuters Hong Kong, published January 17, 2013

'An aerial photo shows the Chinese marine surveillance ship Haijian No. 51 (L) cruising as a Japan Coast Guard ship Ishigaki sails near Uotsuri island, one of the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea in this file photograph by Kyodo September 14, 2012.' Source - Reuters

‘An aerial photo shows the Chinese marine surveillance ship Haijian No. 51 (L) cruising as a Japan Coast Guard ship Ishigaki sails near Uotsuri island, one of the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea in this file photograph by Kyodo September 14, 2012.’
Source – Reuters

(Reuters) – It was supposed to be a relaxed evening for a group of senior international military chiefs. Gathered at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, they had changed out of uniform for dinner and discussion.

China’s Lieutenant-General Ren Haiquan took the podium in a room overlooking the Yarra River last October 29 and began diplomatically enough. But as he neared the end of his speech, he went on the offensive.

“Some people” had ignored the outcome of World War Two and were challenging the post-war order, he told counterparts from 15 other nations. It was a pointed reference to Japan’s claim over islands in the East China Sea that Beijing insists are Chinese. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Communications, East China Sea, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, military, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, South China Sea, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, , , , , , , , ,

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January 2013

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