Wandering China

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

Bo can do! One man does his bit to be the great will of China [The Age]

The Age reports on the poster-boy for China’s resurgent New Left, Bo Xilai, one of China’s emerging fifth generation leaders. Famous for attempting to re-invigorate China’s red movement – Red songs ring out in Chinese city’s new cultural revolution (Guardian, April 22, 2011), here’s a background brief on the Bo Xilai 薄熙来’s Chongqing Model from the East Asia Institute, Singapore. Download it here.

– – –

Bo can do! One man does his bit to be the great will of China
John Garnaut
Source – The Age, published August 7, 2011

Chinese politician Bo Xilai. Photo: AFP

WANG Li started feeling edgy when her mother was not home by tea time. She called her mobile phone, the voice on the other end sounded calm and reassuring, but even so, she jumped in her car and sped through the winding Chongqing streets to find her.

Ms Wang’s mother, Chen Meirong had swapped her bus conductor’s job for a taxi, then a clothes shop and a restaurant. Now she had taken the leap into real estate.

Ms Wang parked at the Daisi Hotel and strode through the revolving doors, where she found her mother surrounded by 30 muscular men dressed in black. They sported shaven heads or crew cuts, and addressed each other as Big Brother. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 60th Anniversary, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communist Party 90th Anniversary, Culture, Domestic Growth, Environment, Influence, Maoism, Modernisation, Nationalism, New Leadership, Politics, Population, Reform, Social, Strategy, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

CPC epic film eyes box-office record [Xinhua/China Daily]

China has updated its take on propaganda. Officially they see it as the business of historical film (epic films to the media). But more aptly in commercial terms,  red-themed movies, a merger of political doctrine and commercial success.

It has been two years after their first red-themed film The Founding of the Republic (建国大业), one described by the Daily Telegraph as ‘an epic film marking the 60th anniversary of China’s Communist revolution and starring almost 200 of its best-known stars…’ and known for celebrating 60 years of the founding of the PRC. Many of the star-studded cast had elected to waive their fee for the film, perhaps evidence of a nationalistic/ethnic pride as actors from all over Greater China all took part.

Today the China Film Group Corporation boasts its latest work, ‘The Founding of a Party’ (建党伟业) to commemorate 90 years of the Communist Party. They expect 13 million to watch, with box-office sales of 420 million yuan. One might ask, why would anyone pay to go watch propaganda, especially with China’s information savvy.

Maybe the answer is, they care about how China looks to the world.

– – –

CPC epic film eyes box-office record
Source – China Daily, published June 15, 2011

Crew members of the movie The Founding of a Party pose for a photo in a news conference in Shanghai, June 9, 2011. Photo – Xinhua

BEIJING – The Founding of a Party, an epic film to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), is expected to set a new box-office record.

The 140-minute film features an all-star cast and follows the market-oriented model set by its sister edition, The Founding of a Republic, released in 2009 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of People’s Republic of China.

Jiang Defu, marketing manager of China Film Group Corporation, producer of the two films, says as theRepublic attracted an audience of 13 million and box-office sales of 420 million yuan (about $64.8 million), he expects the Party to double that box-office receipts and reach an audience of 30 million.

That would be a new record, as the current record is held by Aftershock, released in 2010 with box-office sales of 660 million yuan. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 60th Anniversary, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Daily, Chinese Model, Chinese overseas, Culture, Domestic Growth, Ethnicity, History, Influence, Media, Nationalism, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Taiwan, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

60th Anniversary: Communist China marks 60th year

So, 60 years have passed since Mao Zedeong established the People’s Republic of China. What’s pertinent about this report is the focus on China reasoning how only socialism can work for China, and how opening up and reform will continue as China seeks to firmy establish its re-ascendancy as a world power. As Napoleon once described after visiting China two hundred years ago, “That is a sleeping dragon. Let him sleep! If he wakes, he will shake the world.” The world most certainly is watching now. 

Quotable Quotes – “Today a socialist China that faces the future is standing tall and firm in the East.” President Hu Jintao 

60th Anniversary: Communist China marks 60th year

Source – BBC News 1 October 2009


China has been staging mass celebrations to mark 60 years since the Communist Party came to power.

The day started with vast lines of tanks, soldiers and missile launchers parading through the capital Beijing.

Later, in Tiananmen Square, there was a spectacular fireworks show and a concert of patriotic songs and dancing.

However in Nepal, police detained more than 70 Tibetan exiles who marked the day with a protest against Chinese rule in Tibet.

‘Bright future’

National Day is an annual highlight for the Chinese government, but extra effort has been made to mark the 60th anniversary.

Celebrations began in the morning, with troops firing cannons and raising the red national flag, while President Hu Jintao, wearing a black Mao Zedong-style tunic, looked on.

He was joined by his predecessor Jiang Zemin, Premier Wen Jiabao and other senior leaders.

Mr Hu, speaking from the same spot where Mao had stood 60 years ago to formally proclaim the founding of the People’s Republic of China, claimed his country had a bright future.

“Today a socialist China that faces the future is standing tall and firm in the East,” he declared.

“The development and progress of the new China over the past 60 years fully proved that only socialism can save China, and only reform and opening up can ensure the development of China,” Mr Hu told the crowd.

After his speech, there was a two-hour parade of 8,000 soldiers, tanks and missiles – including long-range nuclear missiles and other home-grown weapons.

The military show was followed by a colourful parade, with singers and dancers in elaborate costumes moving in exact unison, reminiscent of the Olympic opening ceremony last year.

National sports hero Liu Xiang and taikonaut Zhai Zhigang, as well as other Chinese celebrities, rode through the crowds on brightly decorated floats.

Giant portraits of all China’s communist leaders were paraded through the square.

Even the weather co-operated with the celebrations; cloud-seeding the day before brought overnight showers to disperse the smog and bring in clear skies.

High security

Some 30,000 people were invited to watch the events, but others were encouraged to stay at home and watch the festivities on TV to “avoid complications”.

Security was tight, and armed police in body armour were at major road junctions in the capital, with snipers spotted on buildings along the parade route on Chang’an Avenue.

Roads were blocked off, the international airport closed and the subway disrupted.

Filed under: 60th Anniversary, BBC

60th Anniversary: What history teaches about toppled regimes — Ching Cheong

Quotable Quotes – “as long as the prairie (of discontent) is there, no one knows which spark can start the fire…

What history teaches about toppled regimes
Ching Cheong
Straits Times
Source – The Malaysian Insider

SEPT 29 — China’s leaders are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on Thursday.

No expense has been spared for a grand parade to showcase China to the world, just as no effort has been spared to keep the Chinese capital safe and secure from “all unstable elements”.

A “security moat” will bar undesirable or dubious characters from entering Beijing from neighbouring provinces and regions — Hebei, Liaoning, Shandong, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Tianjin.

The authorities’ concern is understandable, especially following the outbreaks of social and ethnic unrest in recent months. Indeed, in the run-up to Thursday, there had in fact been open discussion of the possibility that these events may portend the collapse of communist rule.

In July, the Guangdong-based Southern Metropolitan Daily ran an article on some common features in the collapse of dynasties.

One such feature, it said, involved emperors believing that they could survive any crisis so long as they controlled the army and therefore commanded force.

“Whenever this mentality emerged, the emperor’s days were numbered,” the article observed.

Another feature was that the fall of a dynasty was often triggered by an accidental incident or a seemingly inconsequential event. This was especially so whenever there was widespread public discontent.

Said the article: “In fact, numerous failures might have preceded some seemingly accidental incident succeeding in toppling a regime.

“In the people’s hearts, every effort counted. If it did not succeed here and now, it could succeed there and then.”

The Southern Metropolitan Daily article concluded by saying “as long as the prairie (of discontent) is there, no one knows which spark can start the fire”.

A month later, the Outlook magazine published by the official Xinhua news agency, ran an article by Zuo Fengrong, a research fellow at the Central Party School, entitled “Drawing Lessons From The 1977 Soviet Union”.

While Zuo did not explain why he picked 1977, it was the year that the then-Soviet Union celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Russian Revolution in October 1917. China will be marking its own 60th National Day on Thursday, in effect the culmination of the Chinese revolutions of the 20th century.

In his article, the researcher noted that the Soviet Union had attained a level of prosperity in 1977 that it had never seen before. Yet under the pretext of preserving stability, its leaders refused to undertake any reforms.

“Leonid Brezhnev thought everything was alright. He… never tolerated divergent views. Dissenters were locked up in psychiatric hospitals. High-handed ideological control and news censorship stifled innovation and the Soviets’ cultural and spiritual lives ground to a halt,” Zuo wrote.

He went on to point out that by 1977, the Soviet Communist Party had become the vehicle of a special privileged class. Instead of serving the people, Soviet officials ruled them instead. Corruption, nepotism and cronyism were the order of the day.

Needless to say, a similar culture of corruption, nepotism and cronyism also exists in today’s China.

Zuo concluded: “The 1970-80s were a rare stable and prosperous period in Soviet history. Yet it was only superficial. Stability turned into stagnation and the country lost its ability to re-invent itself. This finally led to the unexpected collapse of the Soviet empire.”

A week after Zuo’s article appeared, the Central Party School magazine Study Times published an article analysing the fate of the descendants of senior officials of the Tang Dynasty, which once gave China its golden age.

Essentially, the account showed that none of the descendants came to a good end. The writer concluded: “Even in feudal times, senior officials could not ensure that their descendants enjoyed ever-lasting prosperity, although they themselves had made great contributions to the country.”

“That is why (first-generation Chinese leader) Mao Zedong’s reminder to senior cadres that they should keep a close watch on their own children is so timely and important,” the author said.

There was no mention of modern-day China in this or any of the other articles. But the allusions were unmistakable. — The Straits Times

Filed under: 60th Anniversary, The Malaysian Insider

60th Anniversary: The dragon marks its peaceful rise — Ron Matthews & Wang Di

Having a look at China’s good side is getting increasingly difficult. Much like how celebrities are pretty susceptible to picky and meticulous over-thinking interpretations by the general public, China has had its fair share of detractors. This article provides a good summary of the good that China has been doing in ensuring it is keeping to its promise of a harmonious ascendancy.

Quotable Quotes – “For instance, China’s “official” 2009 defence budget, at US$70.3 billion (RM246 billion), is only 10 per cent of what the US spends. Moreover, China’s offensive capability is far inferior to that of the US. China’s navy probably cannot sustain naval operations beyond 160km from its shores, its combat aircraft are less than half the number of America’s, and much of its artillery is antique by Western standards.

The dragon marks its peaceful rise
Ron Matthews & Wang Di
The Straits Times
Source – The Malaysian Insider 1 October 2009

SEPT 30 — Two events will once again focus the world’s attention on the Middle Kingdom.

The first is that China’s growth rate for this year is slated to hit 8 per cent, suggesting the country will be among the first of the mega-powers to recover from the global financial crisis.

The second will be tomorrow’s sight of China’s biggest and most impressive military parade in a decade, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

Both events will inevitably fuel concerns about China’s power. However, China views its rise as a peaceful one. Beijing’s challenge is to project a soft rather than hard image of its power.

China’s economic power is the result of its unparalleled growth, averaging 9.5 per cent per annum over the past three decades. As a result of this growth, the country has been able to increase its defence expenditure by 17 per cent in each of the last four years.

Reflecting this substantial expansion in defence expenditure, China’s military power has undergone an impressive transformation, carrying with it the potential to destabilise the world order. China now has the world’s biggest standing army, with more than 2.25 million soldiers and a broad array of advanced military platforms, including nuclear-powered submarines. The country is also in the process of acquiring aircraft carriers.

Unsurprisingly, China’s rising hard power is seen as a threat. The United States, in particular, is nervous of China’s burgeoning military capability and strategic reach.

But is this fear justified? There is room for doubt.

For instance, China’s “official” 2009 defence budget, at US$70.3 billion (RM246 billion), is only 10 per cent of what the US spends. Moreover, China’s offensive capability is far inferior to that of the US. China’s navy probably cannot sustain naval operations beyond 160km from its shores, its combat aircraft are less than half the number of America’s, and much of its artillery is antique by Western standards.

China is aware of the international anxieties engendered by its growing military strength, and needs to communicate the purpose and nature of its military “modernisation” programme.

Progress has been made on this front. In June, defence consultative talks between Beijing and Washington were resumed, and last month the two countries held maritime safety talks to reduce incidents such as the recent naval confrontation in the South China Sea.

China’s Defence Ministry has also launched a Chinese and English website to give an unprecedented amount of information on the country’s military capability. The country is also seeking to counterbalance its hard power with a focus on soft power projection, the ultimate goal being to create the image of a benign China.

For instance, in the area of maritime territorial disputes, it proposed to shelve disputes and engage in joint developments in 1978, providing the basis for the path-breaking preliminary agreement with Japan last year to jointly explore gas fields in the East China Sea. China has also cooperated with neighbouring countries in non-traditional security areas such as drug trafficking, piracy, terrorism, money laundering and cyber crimes.

The country has also sought to become a good international citizen. It has taken part in peacekeeping operations in international hot spots. In December last year, it sent three ships to the Gulf of Aden to combat piracy in the waters off Somalia. China acted in response to a United Nations Security Council request for assistance. Significantly, it was the Chinese navy’s first mission beyond the Pacific.

China provides a large amount of overseas aid, both economic and technical. By the end of 2005, it had completed 769 projects in Africa, most of which were associated with sustainable development.

The country has begun two other major programmes to expand its soft power. One is the establishment of the Confucius Institutes. The other is the launch of what has been described as a “media aircraft carrier” aimed at the hearts and minds of a global audience. The Chinese government has pumped 45 billion yuan (RM23 billion) into supporting four key state-run news organisations — China National Radio, China Central Television (CCTV), People’s Daily and the Xinhua News Agency — to expand the country’s influence. There are also plans to launch an international news channel with round-the-clock global news coverage, rather like a Chinese version of the Arab network Al-Jazeera.

China’s desire to cultivate the image of a benign and responsible state is likely to curtail any use of its hard power. Therefore, the country’s rise should be viewed positively. — The Straits Times

Filed under: 60th Anniversary, The Malaysian Insider

60th Anniversary: China goes Hollywood

Quotable Quotes – “While revolutionary leader Mao Zedong is the star of the film – and of most of the other TV shows and stage productions – the theme of ‘Jianguo Daye”, as China battles current day economic crisis and social unrest, is national unity.

China goes Hollywood
China’s 60th anniversary
Source – The Straits Times 28 September 2009

BEIJING – CHINA is going Hollywood for the communist state’s 60th birthday. Dozens of films, TV mini-series and shows are hitting screen and stage, with a sweeping all-star epic taking the country by storm.

‘Jianguo Daye’ (The Founding of a Republic) is hard to miss. The film, which cost 30 million yuan (S$6.23 million) to make, is on a record 1,700 screens nationwide and Tinseltown-style ads are everywhere.
More than 170 of China’s most beloved actors and directors – Zhang Ziyi, Chen Kaige, Jet Li and Jackie Chan, to name a few – lent their skills to the project, which was the brainchild of the king of Chinese cinema, Han Sanping.

While revolutionary leader Mao Zedong is the star of the film – and of most of the other TV shows and stage productions – the theme of ‘Jianguo Daye”, as China battles current day economic crisis and social unrest, is national unity.

The two-hour blockbuster tells the story of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – a coalition of ‘democratic’ parties, artists, scientists and intellectuals who voted to create the People’s Republic.

Mr Han – the boss of China Film, the country’s biggest movie producer and distributor – says he has created a new style of propaganda film, in which Mao and Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek are more realistic, human characters.

In one scene, we see Mao, the ‘Great Helmsman’ himself, completely drunk after a major battlefield victory.

While the film may draw older moviegoers wanting to relive the events of 1949, the stars have been recruited to lure younger viewers like 21-year-old student Fu Qiang, who raved about the film after a recent screening in Beijing.

‘Every person in China should see this film,’ he said.

‘The most important thing is not the star power, really – even if that helps bring in the money. This film will boost a feeling of patriotism in China. Plus, it’s a great way to celebrate National Day.’ Wang Yu, a retiree in her 60s, said the film was ‘truly authentic’.

‘It shows how the revolution in China came to pass – it started out weak and gained strength – and explains the time when the Communist Party rallied the people to liberate the country,’ she said. — AFP

Controversial artist Ai Weiwei, whose work is often censured by the communist government, sees the film differently – as yet another piece of blatant propaganda by a regime that has hardly changed in six decades.

He suggested the stars – who were not paid for their work – had been pressured or felt obliged to take part, as otherwise ‘they knew they would miss out on future opportunities’.

‘The director (Han) is a very powerful man in the film industry. This nation has become more and more like a crime family – the Mafiosi control everything and so they can either make you or break you,’ he told AFP in an interview.

No matter what the politics behind getting the film made, it is sure to be a massive hit.

Luisa Prudentino, an expert on Chinese cinema, says the ‘Jianguo Daye’ formula will be the model for future propaganda films.

‘This allows the authorities to counter Hollywood’s growing influence here by making blockbuster films that make money while also getting their message across to the masses in a more glamorous way,’ she said.

The other major production on offer is ‘Road to Revival”, a two-and-a-half-hour Broadway-style musical that takes the audience on a journey from the Opium Wars to the present day, glorifying the re-emergence of China as a world power.

State television’s main channel has also ‘gone red’ with ‘Jiefang’ (Liberation), a 50-part mini-series that tells the story of Mao’s victory over the Nationalists, complete with bloody battle scenes. — AFP

Filed under: 60th Anniversary, Media, Politics

60th Anniversary: China at age 60: from pariah to world power

SO. the PRC is turning 60 in modern terms. In reality, I reckon it celebrates 5000 years of continuous civilization.

Quotable Quote – “The so-called ‘workshop of the world’ is a global leader in research and development – China, Japan and the United States accounted for nearly 60 percent of all patent requests filed in 2007.”

China at age 60: from pariah to world power

By Joelle Garrus | Reuters
Source – AsiaOne 24 September 2009

BEIJING, CHINA – Sixty years ago, as Mao Zedong declared the founding of a new communist nation, China was backward and isolated.

Today, it is a world power with sweeping influence – it is financing America’s debt, snapping up access to natural resources in Africa and Latin America, and making its voice heard on major diplomatic issues.

his remarkable transformation – to be celebrated on October 1, communist China’s 60th birthday – occurred thanks to a radical change in tactics at the midway point in the PRC’s history, after three turbulent decades of Maoism.

‘A big part of the first 30-year period can be regarded as lost decades for China,’ explained Ren Xianfang, an analyst at IHS Global Insight in Beijing.

But then as the rest of the world was in ‘great transition’, moving towards market-based economies and privatisation, Beijing embraced a ‘policy shift to economic and political pragmatism’, Ren said – and everything changed.

A country that was once seen as a pariah, stuck between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and which barely gained United Nations membership in 1971, slowly emerged from its isolation.

In 1978, Beijing agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Washington. Then, under paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, it launched a programme of economic reforms that opened up the country to foreign investment.

Francoise Lemoine, a China expert at the Research Centre for International Economics (CEPII) in Paris, says the country’s authorities quickly understood how to reap the benefits of the new world order.

‘China is opening up at a time when other countries are ready to move their intensive manual labour activities offshore,’ the French economist told AFP.

‘China knows how to take advantage of this new globalisation, of the worldwide movement of capital and goods, and is claiming its rightful place in this new global division of labour.’

When Mao and his communists took power in October 1949, China was emerging from the ravages of civil war with the Nationalists, who fled to Taiwan, and Japanese occupation.

The country’s gross domestic product had sunk to levels not seen since 1890 – its 500 million people were largely poor, illiterate and working the land to survive.

Lemoine said the first 30 years in the history of communist China – typified by the devastating fallout of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution – were nevertheless not a total waste.

The country made ‘progress in terms of hygiene, health and education – most young people now have access to a basic education,’ she said.

Today, China is the world’s third-largest economy, the biggest exporter on the planet and has the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves, at a whopping 2.13 trillion dollars, 800 billion of which is held in US Treasury bonds.

Beijing is one of five veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council, participates in key international negotiations on Iran’s disputed nuclear programme, and hosts the six-party talks on North Korea’s atomic drive.

The country is seen as key to resolving the deadly conflict in the western Darfur region of Sudan, where China has major oil interests, and its stance on climate change is considered an essential piece of the global warming puzzle.

Its military is catching up with the West in leaps and bounds, and China is only one of three countries, along with the United States and the former Soviet Union, to have ever put a man in space.

The so-called ‘workshop of the world’ is a global leader in research and development – China, Japan and the United States accounted for nearly 60 percent of all patent requests filed in 2007.

It is the world’s most populous nation, at 1.3 billion people, but barely eight percent remain illiterate. While the rich-poor divide is still of great concern, far fewer people are considered destitute.

Some experts say China has, 60 years on, finally acquired power and influence commensurate with its size, but others caution that it has not yet achieved ‘superpower’ status, in part due to the Communists’ iron grip.

‘The country is just an emerging power that is still facing lots of uncertainties in its ascent,’ Ren noted.

‘One major obstacle… is that China has yet to be accepted by the world as a leadership charting world values and ideology, which will require drastic political reforms in the country – and that is unlikely to come to pass soon.’

Hu Xingdou, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, agreed, saying such reforms were needed to eliminate any fears about a ‘China threat’.

‘The doubts about China will only fade with the development of a democratic, constitutional political system, and once it adopts the values of mainstream civilisation,’ Hu said.

Filed under: 60th Anniversary, Politics, Straits Times

Follow me on Twitter



July 2020

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,242 other followers

East/West headlines of Rising China

East/West headlines of Rising China

About Wandering China

Click to find out more about this project

Support //WC

Support Wandering China now - buy a Tee Shirt!

Be a champ - Support Wandering China - buy a Tee Shirt!

The East Wind Wave

China in images and infographics, by Wandering China

China in images and Infographics, by Wandering China

Wandering China: Facing west

Please click to access video

Travels in China's northwest and southwest

Wandering Taiwan

Wandering Taiwan: reflections of my travels in the democratic Republic of China

Wandering China, Resounding Deng Slideshow

Click here to view the Wandering China, Resounding Deng Slideshow

Slideshow reflection on Deng Xiaoping's UN General Assembly speech in 1974. Based on photos of my travels in China 2011.

East Asia Geographic Timelapse

Click here to view the East Asia Geographic Timelapse

A collaboration with my brother: Comparing East Asia's rural and urban landscapes through time-lapse photography.

Wandering Planets

Creative Commons License
Wandering China by Bob Tan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at Wanderingchina.org. Thank you for visiting //
web stats

Flag Counter

free counters
Online Marketing
Add blog to our directory.