Wandering China

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

Beijing’s Haidian district Rooftop Villa floors residents [Straits Times] #RisingChina #RooftopVilla

Faux mountain on an apartment block: Another reminder why China needs a sterner hand to govern, perhaps.

For more see also:

Beijing professor builds illegal mountain villa on rooftop of apartment block (CNN, August 13, 2013)

plus

Illegal Rooftop Villa in Beijing Reveals China’s Culture of Impunity (Time, August 14, 2013)

‘It was an abode worthy of a James Bond villain, but was ultimately bested by a foe slightly less charismatic than the British secret agent — Chinese planning regulations. The faux-rock villa complete with trees, patios and karaoke studio situated on a Beijing apartment-building roof will soon be torn down after a demolition order was issued by the city’s urban-management department. Zhang Biqing, who built the illegal 800-sq-m structure from plastic and resin, told the BBC on Tuesday that he would comply. However, critics allege that far from being merely an eccentric folly, the case demonstrates an ingrained culture of legal impunity for China’s wealthy elite.’

Source - CNN, 2013

Source – CNN, 2013

– – –

Rooftop villa floors residences
By Ho Ai Li
Source – Straits Times, published August 18, 2013

20130818-082514.jpg

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Crime, Culture, Domestic Growth, Government & Policy, Influence, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, Social, Straits Times, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity

More than minerals | Chinese trade with Africa keeps growing; fears of neocolonialism are overdone [Economist] #RisingChina #Africa

Other powers have had their chance to shine to help the cradle of civilisation stand up. Unfortunately some find it hard to divorce the  imposition of ideology from economics. China seems to be able to do this better and true to form of the lingering narrative of middleman – its focus remains on trade and investment. Also see – China’s independent foreign policy of peace.

Africans are far from being steamrollered. Their governments have shown a surprising assertiveness. The first person to be expelled from Africa’s youngest country, South Sudan, was a Chinese: Liu Yingcai, the local head of Petrodar, a Chinese-Malaysian oil company and the government’s biggest customer, in connection with an alleged $815m oil “theft”. Congo kicked out two rogue commodities traders in the Kivu region. Algerian courts have banned two Chinese firms from participating in a public tender, alleging corruption. Gabonese officials ditched an unfavourable resource deal. Kenyan and South African conservationists are asking China to stop the trade in ivory and rhino horn.

 – – – 

More than minerals | Chinese trade with Africa keeps growing; fears of neocolonialism are overdone
NAIROBI print edition
Source – The Economist, published Mar 23rd 2013

Source - Eyevine, in the Economist

Source – Eyevine, in the Economist

A GROUP of five tourists from Beijing passes low over Mount Kenya and into the Rift Valley in their private plane before landing on a dusty airstrip surrounded by the yellow trunks and mist-like branches of fever trees. They walk across a grassy opening where zebras and giraffes roam, snapping pictures while keeping an eye out for charging buffaloes. When they sit down at a table, they seem hungry but at ease. “Last year I went to the South Pole with some friends,” says one of two housewives, showing off iPhone pictures of a gaggle of penguins on permafrost.

Source - Africa Research Institute, IMF

Source – Africa Research Institute, IMF

Chinese are coming to Africa in ever greater numbers and finding it a comfortable place to visit, work in and trade. An estimated 1m are now resident in Africa, up from a few thousand a decade ago, and more keep arriving. Chinese are the fourth-most-numerous visitors to South Africa. Among them will be China’s new president, Xi Jinping, who is also going to Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo on his first foreign outing as leader.

The origin of China’s fascination with Africa is easy to see. Between the Sahara and the Kalahari deserts lie many of the raw materials desired by its industries. China recently overtook America as the world’s largest net importer of oil. Almost 80% of Chinese imports from Africa are mineral products. China is Africa’s top business partner, with trade exceeding $166 billion. But it is not all minerals. Exports to Africa are a mixed bag (see chart). Machinery makes up 29%.

Please click here to read the entire article at the Economist. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Africa, Beijing Consensus, BRIC, Charm Offensive, China Dream, Chinese Model, Chinese overseas, Corruption, Crime, Economics, Economist, Education, Ethnicity, Finance, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Ideology, Influence, Infrastructure, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Migrant Workers, Modernisation, Overseas Chinese, Peaceful Development, Population, Poverty, Precious Metals, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Resources, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, The Economist, Trade

Death Row Interviews [BBC, 2012] #RisingChina #DeathRow

This program ran across two important periods in defining how  China sees the point of no return. 

With an updated outlook in 2011, it shed 13 crimes from its list of the unpardonable.  This series would have captured this transition with a source of personal narratives that would otherwise never would never see light of day. In some ways this program demonstrated a willingness of the state to give some latitude toward intense self-examination. No longer running, Interviews Before Execution first aired in 2006 and covered 226 interviews with death row inmates until 2012.

Also, see

Why China Executes So Many People (The Atalantic, May 11, 2013)
The Bureau Investigates – The dead talking (March 13, 2012)
NBC’s Behind the Wall: Chinese TV show ‘Interviews before Execution’ stirs controversy (March 13, 2012)

– – –

Death Row Interviews
Source – BBC on Youtube, Published on 16 May 2013

Every Saturday night in China, millions gather around their televisions to watch Interviews Before Execution, an extraordinary talk show which interviews prisoners on death row.

In the weeks, days or even minutes before they are executed, presenter Ding Yu goes into prisons and talks to those condemned to die. Combining clips from the TV show, never-before-seen footage of China’s death row and interviews with a local judge who openly questions the future of the death penalty in China, This World reveals a part of China that is generally hidden from from view.

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, BBC, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Dream, Chinese Model, Communications, Corruption, Crime, Culture, Democracy, Education, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Ideology, Mapping Feelings, Media, Modernisation, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity

Rules shouldn’t be made to be broken – Shanghai [Global Times] #RisingChina #CivilisedSociety

There is still some way to go before Beijing consensus and civilised society go hand in hand. How the new leaders set an example is vital.

‘...following a rule is not considered a matter of pride in China. Many people think of rules as an obstacle to surmount rather than a positive social norm that can protect us from danger, chaos or unfairness, and moreover, contribute to the establishment of a lawful society. Hence, breaking a rule is regarded as a way to cut corners and save hassle. In this case, for example, the customers brought their own cart because they didn’t want to bother moving the heavy water from a supermarket trolley to their own cart. Sadly, they didn’t think of the possible consequences of their action.’ Zhang Yu

For instance, smokers are still aplenty in restaurants across all the Chinese cities I’ve traveled to. This is despite a ban since 2011 that still sees regular violators today. On occasion a waitstaff would try to dissuade the smokers but upon revelation of their party (actual or perceived) status,  the service staff always take a step back, the smoking continues. See – New Smoking ban effective in China (Xinhua, May 2, 2011) That said in 2009 – nearly 8% of Chinese revenue came from tobacco-related taxes and profits.

– – –

Rules shouldn’t be made to be broken
By Zhang Yu
Source – SHANGHAI – Global Times, published July 3, 2013

20130704-070255.jpg
Illustration: Lu Ting, Global Times

Last month, at a supermarket in Shanghai’s Jiading district, a 66-year-old woman was struck and killed by an overloaded pushcart on an inclined moving walkway. The pushcart, which was brought into the supermarket by two customers, lacked the safety devices all supermarket trolleys have that automatically lock the wheels onto walkways. As 15 boxes of bottled water were loaded onto the cart, it plunged rapidly down the walkway after the men lost control of it.

A shocking detail of this case was the fact that not only are these carts forbidden to be used in the supermarket, but the security guard on duty noticed the cart beforehand. He tried to dissuade the men from taking the moving walkway, but after they insisted, the guard gave in, finally leading to the tragedy.

This is a classic case of rules being ignored and flouted, eventually leading to a tragedy that could so easily have been prevented. But I don’t want to assign all the blame to the two customers who used the cart or to the security guard who let them in. The deeper problem lies in our society which lacks a basic respect for rules, whether it’s a supermarket regulation or a national law.

Please click here to read the entire article at the Global Times.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, China Dream, Chinese Model, Crime, Culture, Domestic Growth, Education, global times, Government & Policy, Ideology, Infrastructure, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, Peaceful Development, Politics, Population, Reform, Social, The Chinese Identity

Prices climb as police crack down [China Daily] #RisingChina #DrugTrade

Revealing China’s attempt to choke the supply of the drug trade as it progresses along the wheels of urbanisation, having just crossed the halfway mark.

Police have raided 141 drug-manufacturing dens, seized 1,432 tons of drug-making ingredients and shut down nearly 350 entertainment venues for being affiliated to the illegal drug trade, said the ministry.

For more, see

Yunnan worst hit by drug trafficking in China (China Daily, March 2013)

Indeed, there are lessons for China to be learnt by looking at the US attempt.

P.s. I suppose the subtext of choosing a photo of Lhasa instead of one of Yunnan which was too obvious not to remark on… Lhasa is not mentioned once in the article.

– – –

Prices climb as police crack down
By An Baijie
Source – China Daily, published by June 27, 2013

20130627-071527.jpg

Police set fire to confiscated drugs in Lhasa, the Tibet autonomous region, on Wednesday, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Palden Nyima / China Daily

Nationwide effort to get illegal substances off street successful

Drug prices in illegal markets have increased by an average of 35 percent due to an anti-drugs campaign initiated by police, the Ministry of Public Security said on Tuesday.

The nationwide campaign that was initiated three months ago to crack down on the illegal drug trade has caused a shortage in supply in black markets, the ministry said in a news release.

The cost of drugs, including heroin, has soared by an average of 35 percent, and the price of methamphetamines, better known as “ice”, has increased by 40 percent.

“Suspects have said it has become very difficult to buy drugs,” the news release said.

Police have arrested nearly 57,000 suspects in around 50,000 cases on illegal drug-related charges, according to the ministry.

Please click here to read the entire article at China Daily.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Dream, Chinese Model, Crime, Culture, Domestic Growth, DrugTrade, Government & Policy, Ideology, Influence, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, Peaceful Development, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, The Chinese Identity, Trade

China’s Xi harks back to Mao in party ‘cleanup’ [AP] #RisingChina #Corruption

The exemplary clean up is inevitable with every leadership change – how far down the root it goes is the question that remains unanswered – will there be no sacred cows this time?

– – –

China’s Xi harks back to Mao in party ‘cleanup’
by GILLIAN WONG
Source: Associated Press Mobile, published June 20, 2013

In this June 18, 2013 photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, China's President Xi Jinping addresses a conference on the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China's (CPC) campaign aimed at boosting ties between CPC members and the public, in Beijing. China’s leadership wants to show a cynical public that it’s modernizing and serious about graft, but it appears to be favoring a top-down ideological campaign - with study sessions, self-criticism and propaganda - over imposing real checks on power. That worries many observers, not only because they doubt it will work, but because the tactic appears to be ripped out of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong’s playbook. Photo - AP Photo/Xinhua, Liu Jiansheng

In this June 18, 2013 photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, China’s President Xi Jinping addresses a conference on the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) campaign aimed at boosting ties between CPC members and the public, in Beijing. China’s leadership wants to show a cynical public that it’s modernizing and serious about graft, but it appears to be favoring a top-down ideological campaign – with study sessions, self-criticism and propaganda – over imposing real checks on power. That worries many observers, not only because they doubt it will work, but because the tactic appears to be ripped out of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong’s playbook. Photo – AP Photo/Xinhua, Liu Jiansheng

BEIJING (AP) – China’s new leader Xi Jinping is commanding wayward Communist Party cadres to purify themselves of corruption, and he’s summed it up in a pithy slogan as Mao Zedong might have done: Look in the mirror, take a bath.

China’s leadership wants to show a cynical public that it’s modernizing and serious about graft, but it appears to be favoring a top-down ideological campaign – with study sessions, self-criticism and propaganda – over imposing real checks on power. That worries many observers, not only because they doubt it will work, but because the tactic appears to be ripped out of the playbook of Mao, the founder of Communist China.

“Winning or losing public support is an issue that concerns the Communist Party’s survival or extinction,” Xi said in a message via teleconference Tuesday to top party cadres gathered in groups in their provinces and cities nationwide.

Please click here to read the full article at AP Mobile.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, AP, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Corruption, Crime, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Ideology, Influence, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Reform, Social, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity

China’s former railways minister stands trial for corruption [Xinhua] #RisingChina #Corruption #Transport

Doing what has to be done to demonstrate that no ivory tower exists in the management of Rising China’s  arteries, at least for now at the ministerial level. Liu Zhijun 劉志軍, despite being head of China’s second most powerful ministry capable of some level of unilateral decision making (arguably, after the military )

Interesting his fact-file is still available on the Chinese government official portal.

For more, please see:

– Former railways minister seeks leniency on corruption charges (South China Morning Post, June 10, 2013)

– Chinese former minister Liu Zhijun’s trial on corruption charges begins (Guardian, June 10, 2013)

And a blast from the past – two years ago

– China’s railway minister under investigation over “disciplinary violation” (Xinhua, Feb 12, 2011)

– – –

China’s former railways minister stands trial for corruption
Source – Xinhua, published June 9, 2013

Video grab shows China’s former railways minister Liu Zhijun being brought into the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing, capital of China, June 9, 2013. Liu stood trial in the court on Sunday on charges of bribery and abuse o

Video grab shows China's former railways minister Liu Zhijun being brought into the Beijing Second Intermediate People's Court in Beijing, capital of China, June 9, 2013. Liu stood trial in the court on Sunday on charges of bribery and abuse of power. Source - Xinhua, by Gong Lei)

Video grab shows China’s former railways minister Liu Zhijun being brought into the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing, capital of China, June 9, 2013. Liu stood trial in the court on Sunday on charges of bribery and abuse of power. Source – Xinhua, by Gong Lei)

BEIJING, June 9 (Xinhua) — China’s former railways minister Liu Zhijun stood trial in a court in Beijing on Sunday on charges of bribery and abuse of power.

According to the indictment by the Second Branch of the Beijing People’s Procuratorate, Liu took advantage of his position and helped 11 people win promotions and project contracts, and accepted 64.6 million yuan (10.53 million U.S. dollars) in bribes from them between 1986 to 2011.

During his tenure as the railways minister, Liu is suspected of helping Ding Yuxin and her relatives to win cargo transportation and railway construction contracts. He also helped them in the acquisition of shares in a bullet train wheel set company and with enterprise financing, by breaking regulations and applying favoritism, which allowed Ding and her family to reap huge profits, according to the indictment.

Please click here to read the full article at Xinhua. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Corruption, Crime, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Greater China, Ideology, Influence, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, New Leadership, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Resources, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Technology, The Chinese Identity, Transport, xinhua

Why China Executes So Many People [The Atalantic] #RisingChina #Ideology #CapitalPunishment

The title might provoke as it fails to provide a wider sense of reference to execution rates per capita to qualify ‘so many people’. Portraying China with such negative headline bias is not the smartest trick in the book.

China has six times more people at least. Social stability perhaps does not carry much semantic weight until one has visited and stepped foot into China. Managing people on such a scale requires a firmer hand in some areas, with a lighter touch on other areas.

Yet, it simply shows the song remains the same.

Through antiquity, the elite class functioned above the law – reform here will remain difficult, but policies are set in the right direction. The challenge remains in eliminating the culture of downstream beneficiaries to support one’s own ascension in modern Chinese society.

And just like the old days the everyday people have to wait their turn outside petition areas or outside the gates of official walls if they want to express their claims the old way – many times they do this with critical mass and with notable effect. Of course, social media is the new public opinion outlet today.

However its approach of getting to the root is time-tested, and goes some way to explain the numbers. This usually means eliminating a whole chain as far as possible.

In 2011, China  made efforts to amend the number of capital crimes from 68-55.

– – –

Why China Executes So Many People
by Zi Heng Lim
Source – The Atlantic, published May 10,2013

Suspects listen to their verdicts at a court in Kunming, Yunnan province, November 6, 2012. Photo source (Reuters)

Suspects listen to their verdicts at a court in Kunming, Yunnan province, November 6, 2012. Photo source (Reuters)

Zhang Jing has only seen her husband four times in the past four years. This Thursday, it will have been be exactly two years since they last met.

And she may never see him again.

That’s because Zhang’s husband, Xia Junfeng, a former street vendor in the northeastern city of Shenyang, was sentenced to death in 2011 for stabbing to death two chengguan, who are much-maligned city management inspectors responsible for enforcing law and order.

The sentence is now under final review by the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing. If approved, Xia will not be able to appeal and will be executed.

Please click here to read the full article at the Atlantic Mobile.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Corruption, Crime, Domestic Growth, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Ideology, Mapping Feelings, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Population, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Atlantic, The Chinese Identity

Rat Meat Sold as Lamb Highlights Fear in China [New York Times] #RisingChina #FoodSafety

Evidence not all Chinese are positioned to participate in China’s rise as part of a collective leap.

Food safety and environmental protection face the same problem that although regulatory capacity has expanded, there’s been no fundamental change for the better… The fact that the police have become involved shows how serious the problems still are.” Mao Shoulong, professor of public policy at Renmin University in Beijing

To read the actual Ministry of Public Security report please go here (In Chinese)
公安机关集中打击肉制品犯罪保卫餐桌安全

– – –

Rat Meat Sold as Lamb Highlights Fear in China
By Chris Buckley
Source – New York Times, published May 3, 2013

HONG KONG — Even for China’s scandal-numbed diners, inured to endless outrages about food hazards, news that the lamb simmering in the pot may actually be rat tested new depths of disgust.

In an announcement intended to show that the government is serious about improving food safety, the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday that the police had caught a gang of traders in eastern China who bought rat, fox and mink flesh and sold it as mutton. But that and other cases of meat smuggling, faking and adulteration featured in Chinese newspapers and Web sites on Friday were unlikely to instill confidence in consumers already queasy over many reports about meat, fruit and vegetables laden with disease, toxins, banned dyes and preservatives.

Sixty-three people were arrested and accused of “buying fox, mink and rat and other meat products that had not undergone inspection,” which they doused in gelatin, red pigment and nitrates, and sold as mutton in Shanghai and adjacent Jiangsu Province for about $1.6 million, according to the ministry’s statement. The report, posted on the Internet, did not explain how exactly the traders acquired the rats and other creatures.

“How many rats does it take to put together a sheep?” said one typically baffled and angry user of Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblog service that often acts as a forum for public venting. “Is it cheaper to raise rats than sheep?”

Please click here to read the full article at its source.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Bird Flu, China Dream, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Corruption, Crime, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Government & Policy, Health, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Poverty, Reform, Resources, The Chinese Identity

To Renminbi Or Not to Renminbi? [Foreign Policy]

Foreign Policy ponders China’s intent and capabilities using the yardstick of major global reserve currency as litmus test for its arrival as genuine global power.

In my mind the question feels like this – Will top-down stability prioritising China drop the bicycle, adopt a paradigm shift, pick up the surf board and embrace the complicit volatility of internationalisation? How will it fare being influenced by the knitty gritty of another’s backyard just when it’s getting used to being the influencer?

There are three degrees of RMB internationalization. First, China and its major trading partners transact in RMB; this has been happening since 2009. The next step is widespread third-party usage of the RMB in financial and trade transactions. In other words, only when parties undertaking transactions unrelated to China regularly use the RMB will it truly be an international currency. For the RMB to take the final step and become a global reserve currency, central banks around the world would have to maintain sizable holdings of RMB to insure against their own financial risks. In other words, the RMB would become a so-called safe-haven currency the way that the dollar and the yen are today.

Victor Shih is an assistant professor at Northwestern who investigates the political economies of developing countries and how politics affect economic outcomes in China. His personal blog is available here (last updated in 2011, he is far more active on his Twitter account these days)

Susan Shirk is chair of the 21st Century China Program and Ho Miu Lam Professor of China and Pacific Relations at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UC San Diego. She is also behind the books Changing Media, Changing China and China: Fragile Superpower

– – –

To Renminbi Or Not to Renminbi?
Why China’s currency isn’t taking over the world.
by Victor Shih and Susan Shirk
Source – Foreign Policy, October 18, 2012

Source – Foreign Policy, 2012

As China moves up the economic pecking order, it has been trying to promote its currency, the renminbi (RMB), as an alternative to the U.S. dollar. The Chinese government has ambitious plans for establishing offshore centers where companies can raise RMB funds, internationalizing its currency, and possibly enabling the RMB to supplant the dollar as the global reserve currency. The U.S. dollar isn’t the only global reserve currency — countries also keep some of their foreign exchange reserves in euros and yen — but it has been the dominant one since the 1944 Bretton Woods conference.

During Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Republican nominee Mitt Romney repeated his promise to label China a “currency manipulator” on his first day in office. The heated rhetoric on China in the debate, and throughout the campaign, over which candidate would be tougher on China’s currency manipulation and other unfair trade practices reflects Americans’ anxieties about the relative standing of the U.S. and Chinese economies, and it suggests that a shift to the RMB would resonate deeply in U.S. domestic politics. However, despite the bluster, the dollar will remain dominant.

Americans benefit from the dollar’s hegemony: Because the world needs dollars, the U.S. government and American consumers can borrow at a lower cost. By conducting transactions in their own currency, U.S. companies reduce the hassle and the risk of sudden shifts in exchange rates. Americans also hold their heads a bit higher knowing that even with a struggling economy, governments all over the world still view the United States as the most reliable country for protecting their foreign exchange reserves. As the title of economist Barry Eichengreen’s 2011 book puts it, it is an “exorbitant privilege” that Americans have come to take for granted. If the RMB supplants the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency, the world financial system will hum to the tunes of China, and U.S. fiscal and economic policies will become more constrained by international pressures, including the threat of a sharp currency depreciation. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Communications, Crime, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Modernisation, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, Trade, U.S., Yuan, , , , , , ,

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