Wandering China

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

北京簋街 汉族餐饮店与藏族摊贩群殴 Ai Weiwei films Beijing street brawl [Youtube/Al Jazeera]

China is difficult to govern. Intercultural misunderstandings as such perhaps do not get as much light of day as they should. It highlights the income divide, one perhaps stratified by ethnicity or failure to subscribe to the dominant narrative.

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Ai Weiwei films Beijing street brawl
Video shows fight between Tibetan vendors and Han workers in China’s capital.
Source – Youtube, published May 12, 2013

Text below from Reuters – May, 13, 2013

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei posted a dramatic video on Sunday showing a violent brawl in the streets of Beijing.
Ai wrote on Twitter that the fight broke out after Han Chinese restaurant owners destroyed a stall run by Tibetan street vendors. Witnesses later told Reuters that security workers refused to allow the vendors to set up shop outside the restaurant.
There are a reported 10,000 Tibetans living in Beijing, and Han Chinese make up 92 percent of China’s population.

Filed under: Ai Weiwei, Al Jazeera, Beijing Consensus, Censorship, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Government & Policy, Mapping Feelings, Peaceful Development, People, Social, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, Youtube

Inside Story : Russia and China: Cementing ties [Al Jazeera Video] #ChinaRussia

Al Jazeera’s Inside Story on March 23 has a panel talk about Russia and China strengthening ties.

Optimistically speaking – we have two former giants demonstrating how two former foes can be at least in today’s terms, friends. This relationship hasn’t been without cycles of ups and downs. See China and Russia: Best frenemies forever? (Fortunate Magazine, March 28, 2013)

That they do so today whilst they rejuvenate themselves seems on paper, a synergistic pivot necessary for the times. A case for symbiotic realism perhaps.

Both members of BRIC with permanent seats on the UN security council, they share a long border, complement each other economically and it makes a lot of sense to form a tag team. That they largely share consensus on major international issues not beholden to the US, has also stirred into the symbolism of this combined charm offensive.

It is also noteworthy Xi Jinping already made an important visit to US as Vice President last year.

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Inside Story : Russia and China: Cementing ties
Source – Al Jazeera on Youtube, published March 23, 2013

As China’s Xi Jinping chooses Moscow for his inaugural state visit, we look at the ties that bind the two countries. Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, discusses with guests: Victor Gao, the director of China National Association of International Studies. He was former China policy advisor; Dimitry Babich, a political analyst at Russia Profile magazine; and Roderic Wye, a China analyst at Chatham House and senior fellow with the China Policy Institute at Nottingham University.

Filed under: Al Jazeera, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Economics, History, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Modernisation, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, SBS, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Xi Jinping

101 East – China: Broken Dreams [Al Jazeera]

Al Jazeera ponders the problem of Chinese social equality in its rising ant tribe class. Running time: 24minutes.

Uniquely Chinese problem or problem with paradigms meeting? Just one generation of growing pains into this new paradigm shift from absolute monolithic collectivism to deliberative authoritarian capitalism, the cross-pollination is far from complete.

Especially so perhaps, when it has to mesh with embedded familial values and long-running notions of state in a hyper compressed time/space of just 30 years of modernisation, reform and breaking out of its Great Wall mentality. Only one generation into this new paradigm shift, China has accelerated into an immensely competitive environment domestically. Paying fees to attend job fairs, and competing with over 9 to 10 million peers for the college examinations yearly. There are explicit teething problems such as the antiquated Hukou (reform under way), but therein perhaps – lies implicit opportunity for a grand redesign.

Perhaps a more useful takeaway is – what will the rise of this ant tribe 蚁族 (click for New York Times report) amount to?

How will they evolve into a new muscle in China’s consciousness? Ant tribes could very well be the foundation for the nucleus of the future Chinese work force.

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101 East – China: Broken Dreams
by Fauziah Ibrahim
Source – Al Jazeera, published August 24, 2012

Many young Chinese are losing faith in China’s economic miracle. Even though the country is poised to overtake the US in the next decade as the world’s largest, fewer Chinese feel they share the prosperity. 101 East explores the disillusionment. Al Jazeera, August 24, 2012

Filed under: Al Jazeera, Ant Tribe, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Confucius, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Influence, Infrastructure, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), New Leadership, Peaceful Development, People, Politics, Population, Reform, Resources, Social, The Chinese Identity, Trade, , , , , , , ,

‘Goodbye to China, country of contradictions’ [Al Jazeera]

A follow-up on the ‘China expels a correspondent’ story – hearing it from the horse’s mouth.

Al Jazeera: 5 years and 400 reports later, Melissa Chan shares her memories of China after having her press credentials revoked.

‘China is a country of contradictions. One minute you marvel at the speedy transformation, the new wealth, the great hope of many. Another minute, and in this case powerfully felt because it can all happen in one day, you’re disgusted by the corruption, the systemic problems of a one-party authoritarian state, and the trampling of individual human rights and dignity.’

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‘Goodbye to China, country of contradictions’
Al Jazeera’s ex-Beijing correspondent says she covered country honestly and equitably, after having credentials revoked.
by Melissa Chan
Source – Al Jazeera, published May 13, 2012

Melissa Chan, China correspondent since 2007, filed nearly 400 reports during her five years in the country. Source – Al Jazeera

Earlier this week, I left China after five years as an Al Jazeera English correspondent following the decision by the government to revoke my press credentials. At a subsequent Foreign Ministry press briefing, spokesman Hong Lei did not provide a public explanation, only saying that “foreign journalists should abide by Chinese laws and regulations”. But I have not broken any laws. And I believe I have tried to cover China as honestly and equitably as one can. As I say goodbye to China, I think back to some of the issues and people we’ve covered.

I’d like to start with a good memory of China. It was late morning in the autumn of 2009, and our team was on our way to an interview out in the countryside north of Chongqing in central China. We’d driven through many villages before, but something about the bustle of this village compelled us to slow down our car and hop out for a look. Everyone seemed so happy. There was a festive atmosphere, as if it was Chinese New Year. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Al Jazeera, Beijing Consensus, Censorship, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Government & Policy, Great Firewall, Influence, Media, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

China expels a correspondent [New Yorker]

New Yorker: Soviet-era strategy sticking out like a sore thumb? Amidst China’s peaceful development message, it has kicked out a foreign correspondent for crossing ‘unspecified out of boundary markers’. Al Jazeera reporter Melissa Chan has been kicked out of China, the first journalist to be made to leave since 1998. Check out Melissa Chan’s Twitter account here to verify her position. Also, for a state media perspective see the Global Times (in Mandarin) commentary on the matter here.

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Posted by Evan Osnos
Source – New Yorker, published May 8, 2012

China is moving backwards. In fifteen years of studying and writing about this place, I’ve rarely had reason to reach that conclusion without one qualifier or another dangling off the end of the sentence—qualifiers that leave room, for instance, for “halting progress” or “mixed signals.”

But this week the evidence is unambiguous: for the first time in thirteen years, China has kicked out a foreign correspondent. In doing so, it revives a Soviet-era strategy that will undermine its own efforts to project soft power and shows a spirit of self-delusion that does not bode well for China’s ability to address the problems that imperil its future.

Melissa Chan, an American citizen who had been the longtime correspondent for Al Jazeera English, was scheduled to board a flight out of Beijing on Monday, after the foreign ministry did not renew her visa. It has also rejected Al Jazeera English’s applications to appoint a new correspondent, so the network is closing its China bureau. It’s not entirely clear what prompted the government to eject Chan from China; the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, where Chan was the secretary this year, said the government had “expressed unhappiness with the general editorial content on Al Jazeera English and accused Ms Chan of violating rules and regulations that they have not specified.” Chinese officials were also angered by a documentary aired on the network last year, the club said; that program had investigated labor camps in which prisoners were said to be producing goods for sale around the world. (The Club says Chan played no role in producing the piece.)

Among China watchers, there is no shortage of praise for Chan’s work. “She served as a voice for the voiceless, often putting herself in dangerous positions to get stories of injustice out in the open,” Charlie Custer wrote on his blog, ChinaGeeks. Her peers know her as passionate and intrepid in covering stories that Chinese authorities do not want covered. When police put the wife of Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo under house arrest (she has never been accused of a crime), Chan documented efforts to make contact. She has covered corruption and unrest and the central government’s persistent failure to close illegal “black jails” set up by local police to silence critics. The Times says Chan is believed to be the first accredited correspondent to be kicked out since the expulsion of a Japanese reporter in October, 1998.

What’s more, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club says that Chan’s case is part of a trend in which twenty-seven foreign reporters have been made to wait for more than four months for visa approvals in the past two years. In six cases, the club said, foreign reporters were told that their applications had been rejected or delayed “due to the content of the bureaux” or the applicant’s previous coverage of Chinese affairs.

Over that same two-year period, China’s Xinhua news agency has opened a state-of-the-art newsroom at the top of a skyscraper in Times Square, for CNC World, the agency’s twenty-four-hour news channel, which seeks to “present an international vision with a Chinese perspective.” That vision just got a lot harder to sell.

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Al Jazeera, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Democracy, Education, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Influence, Mapping Feelings, Media, New Yorker, Overseas Chinese, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity

King Cobra and the Dragon [Al Jazeera]

Al Jazeera investigates the argument that the Chinese are a divisive force in Zambia as anti-Chinese rhetoric seems to be the fashionable tool for political leverage nowadays, from the US to Africa.

But the reality seems to be this – where the West refrains from making friends, China steps in. China has little qualms working with countries deemed as rouge states in its continued mission to find oil and resources, fast.

China’s focus in Africa is not a recent occurrence however. Sin0-African trade has exploded ten times to an excess of $100b in the last ten years.

Outside commentators too paint this relationship as one of colonialism. They forget colonialism is something the Chinese detest for they had suffered under such a regime before.

To say that China are colonists is too simplistic an argument.

They have vested interests yes, and it is hard to argue otherwise that their interest in Africa is one of self-interest as a starting point. How they manage and communicate that interest in the form of public diplomacy is something the Chinese have to work on.

The dichotomy here is this – on one end we seem to have the West promoting ‘civilizing missions’ on ‘behalf’ of Africans. On the other, we have activities of ‘amoral Chinese’ who do not adopt trade and investment practices wholly compliant with neo-liberalism.

Perhaps they should be asking the Africans themselves first before forming conclusions based on media representations and not first-hand knowledge.

From my studies, it seems the reception of the Chinese vary throughout the African continent but to take a myopic view that the Chinese are stamping a leaf from Western-styled colonialism is too much of a blanket value judgement.

I for one would love an opportunity to travel to Africa to see for myself.

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King Cobra and the Dragon
As China increases its economic ties in Africa, has the continent entered a new era of colonialism?
People and Power
Source – Al Jazeera, published Jan 05, 2012 

China’s increasing engagement with Africa has become a subject of great controversy. The country’s commercial interests in Africa have been called a new form of colonialism by some in the West, but many Africans say that China is a better partner than Europe or the US. But what is the reality in the African nations with the longest standing links to China?

People and Power sent Sino-French academic Solange Chatelard and filmmaker Scott Corben to Zambia during the presidential elections in September 2011 to investigate whether Africa has entered a new era of colonialism with Chinese firms maltreating workers and devouring the continent’s natural resources.

Thousands of Chinese have settled in Zambia and opened businesses, but relations have not always run smoothly. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Africa, Al Jazeera, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Foreign aid, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Overseas Chinese, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade

China cautions ‘outside forces’ on sea issue [Al Jazeera]

China’s never quite liked outsiders minding their business but it needs to keep in line with its proclaimed peaceful development, at least for the time being. However that doesn’t seem to mean that China will tolerate  hidden agendas. Here’s Premier Wen making it clear to ‘outside forces’ its wishes for regional determinism when it comes to the South China Sea.

This includes dangling a 25 billion loan carrot embedded in friendly consultation and discussions by countries directly involved, where ‘outside forces should not, under any pretext, get involved.’

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China cautions ‘outside forces’ on sea issue
Wen Jiabao sounds warning against interference in dispute with neighbours over potentially oil-rich South China Sea.
Source – Al Jazeera, published November 18, 2011

Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, has said “outside forces” had no excuse to get involved in a complex dispute over the South China Sea.

Wen, who spoke on Friday at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, gave a veiled warning to the US and others not to interfere in the sensitive issue.

But he also struck a softer line during the ASEAN summit by offering loans and saying China only wanted to be friends. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Al Jazeera, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, military, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Strategy, Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

China’s Dirty Secrets by Stephen McDonell [Al Jazeera]

Al Jazeera investigates if China is sacrificing its environment and people to feed its growing economic power, priming efficiency over care for its people…
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China’s Dirty Secrets
Stephen McDonell, Al Jazeera
Source – Youtube, published Feb 4, 2011
China’s juggernaut economy is the envy of the world, but at what cost to the country’s people and environment? 101 East investigates.

Filed under: Al Jazeera, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Climate Change, Disaster, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Lifestyle, Media, People, Politics, Pollution, Resources, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Protesters burn police vehicles in China [The Age]

Associated Press: Guangdong, China’s hotbed of manufacturing and the province that should more accurately known as the world’s factory. Unrest seems to have become more frequent (or perhaps media scrutiny simply more intense) – eyewitness accounts speak of unrest against the authorities over ill treatment of migrant workers. None of such reports in either Xinhua or China Daily. An Al Jazeera article that might be interesting – Security tight in riot-torn South China city (Al Jazeera, June 14, 2011) which states – ‘Residents of Xintang said they had been told not to go out at night or transmit photos of the unrest online.’  More to investigate.

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Protesters burn police vehicles in China
Source – The Age, published June 14, 2011

There are reports that Chinese police cars were smashed by protestors. Photo: AP

Protesters in southern China’s manufacturing hub torched emergency vehicles in an outburst of anger against police abuse of migrant workers, eye-witnesses said.

Sunday night’s rioting followed three days of steadily growing unrest in the town of Xintang in Guangdong province, the centre of China’s crucial export industry. Accounts of the violence have been sparse in state-controlled media, but the official Xinhua News Agency says a government team has been sent to the area to quell rumours surrounding the unrest.

While violent protests in China have become frequent over the past decade, recent weeks have seemed particularly turbulent. The vast region of Inner Mongolia last month saw its biggest street demonstrations in two decades, while a man angry over land seizures set off three home-made bombs at government buildings in a southern city, killing three people and wounding at least nine others. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Al Jazeera, AP, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Human Rights, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), People, Politics, Population, Reform, Social, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

China mulls immigration changes [Youtube]

China has long been a source of emigration to the rest of the world but as China becomes more prosperous, it has become a place to migrate to for work. The world is cross-pollinating its people at an unprecedented rate, and I hope to good longer term effect. Al Jazeera casts its eye on African immigrants to China as it drafts up its first ever immigration law. Guangzhou’s Africa Town now boasts 20,000 Africans.

Filed under: Africa, Al Jazeera, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Culture, Economics, Education, Environment, Influence, International Relations, Migrant Workers, People, Population, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, Youtube

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