Wandering China

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

China in Space: How long a reach? [Economist] #RisingChina #Space

China: from emancipation of the mind to rocking it up in space. There’s the bright side. Sputnik had a hand in triggering the rise of the internet. What will this round of the space race yield?

Click here  to head to the 64th International Astronautical Congress 2013 online.

For more, see: BBC – China to launch 60sqm space station by 2023


Source – BBC, 2013

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How long a reach?
The International Astronautical Congress is meeting in Beijing. But what, exactly, does China want from outer space?
Source – Economist, published Sep 28th 2013 |Originally from the Print Edition

Image source -Dave Simmonds

THE Soviet Union in 1961. The United States in 1962. China in 2003. It took a long time for a taikonaut to join the list of cosmonauts and astronauts who have gone into orbit around Earth and (in a few cases) ventured beyond that, to the Moon. But China has now arrived as a space power, and one mark of this has been the International Astronautical Federation’s decision to hold its 64th congress in Beijing.

The congress, which is attended by representatives of all the world’s space agencies, from America and Russia to Nigeria and Syria, is a place where eager boffins can discuss everything from the latest in rocket design and the effects of microgravity on the thyroid to how best an asteroid might be mined and how to weld metal for fuel tanks.

All useful stuff, of course. But space travel has never been just about the science. It is also an arm of diplomacy, and so the congress serves too as a place where officials can exchange gossip and announce their plans.

And that was just what Ma Xingrui, the head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and thus, in effect, the congress’s host, did. He confirmed that an unmanned lunar mission, Chang’e 3, will be launched in the first half of December. This means, if all goes well, that before the year is out a Chinese rover will roam the surface of the Moon. It will collect and analyse samples of lunar regolith (the crushed rock on the Moon’s surface that passes for soil there). It will make some ultraviolet observations of stars. And it will serve to remind the world that China intends—or at least says it intends—to send people to the Moon sometime soon as well.

Please click here to read the entire article at the Economist.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Aviation, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Dream, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Economist, Government & Policy, History, Influence, Infrastructure, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Modernisation, Peaceful Development, Public Diplomacy, Resources, space, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Technology, 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.

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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

Course teaches Chinese women how to marry ‘elite’ foreigner in 90 days [SCMP] #RisingChina #

Service or opportunism?

Buying a stairway to marital dreams set to be more common as China’s burgeoning young and middle class seek material wealth but are encumbered by being time poor. That many are the product of the one-child policy cannot be discounted in this analysis. They are each, their parental line’s only shot at continuity. Also pertinent and a huge point of difference is to remember that what is a norm to many in the West such as meeting someone at the bar or party, is still a foreign concept to many.

For more –
1st Shanghai Love & Marriage Expo Held 2012-01-16 By the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau

Parents are a critical gatekeeper of the dating game – it is not surprising to find parents at the forefront of their only child’s shot at lifelong companionship. This can be the case in overseas Chinese communities too. There are simply some Chinese characteristics that have more to do with shared enculturation than perceptions of nationality.

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Course teaches Chinese women how to marry ‘elite’ foreigner in 90 days
Shanghai company offers training classes for women seeking elite Westerner husbands
By Ernest Kao
Source – SCMP, published May 31, 2013


Couples find marital bliss at a mass wedding in Hangzhou, but others may need some help. Enter: Seek-a-Husband training. Photo: Reuters

Droves of women from across China flocked to Shanghai’s Love and Marriage Expo this month in hopes of learning a tip or two about how to get hitched.

But Liang Yali, founder of the Seek-a-Husband Training Programme, has been teaching such skills in the metropolis for years.

Ninety days – that’s all it will take for her training programme to teach single women how to find – and marry – that laowai (expatriate) knight in shining armour, Liang purported, in an interview with the Modern Express newspaper.

After a 1½-month courtship, Liang managed to find the American husband of her dreams – you know, the “honest, considerate type” who happens to be a general manager at some big multinational corporation. The two are now happily married.

Please click here to read the full article at the South China Morning Post

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: China Dream, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economist, Education, Finance, Government & Policy, History, Ideology, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Peaceful Development, Population, Reform, Social, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity

Can China’s leaders revive the economy and reform it at the same time? [Economist] #RisingChina #EconomicReform

To keep feeding the stuff of legend: both economic reform and revival needed to keep China on course for its current set of plans?

Stimulus does not need to be at odds with reform. Cutting taxes or increasing social spending would both stimulate the economy and help rebalance it towards consumption and services

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Can China’s leaders revive the economy and reform it at the same time?
Hong Kong
Source – Economist print edition, published May 28, 2013


EVERY economy, like every story, has two sides: supply and demand. The supply side of China’s economy is the stuff of legend: 767m workers, perhaps $20 trillion-worth of machinery, buildings and other kinds of capital, combined with rapidly advancing techniques and technologies, many of them assimilated from abroad. This combination of labour, capital and know-how dictates how much the economy can produce. But whether it actually does produce all it can depends on the other side of the economy—the demand side—which reflects the spending decisions of consumers and investors. The supply side sets the scene; the demand side provides the drama.

Sadly, demand is recovering more slowly than expected. Figures released this week showed somewhat disappointing growth in fixed-asset investment and industrial production last month, following a similarly underwhelming first quarter. Economists who were expecting growth of 8-8.5% this year are now projecting something closer to 7.5%.

But as the drama darkens, the scene may also be shifting. A meeting of the State Council, China’s cabinet, on May 6th outlined a long list of structural reforms designed to improve the supply side of the economy. Some of the reforms, such as extending the value-added tax to services, are already under way. Others, such as liberalising capital flows, will reach fruition only gradually. The reforms are also in keeping with pronouncements by former leaders like Wen Jiabao, who liked to talk the reform-talk. But the new agenda “goes far beyond Wen-era platitudes in its boldness and specificity,” argues Andrew Batson of GaveKal Dragonomics, a consultancy in Beijing. The “walk-to-talk” ratio is improving, he believes.

Please click here to read the full article at the Economist.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Economist, Finance, Government & Policy, Ideology, Influence, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, Nationalism, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Trade

China turns against official extravagance #BBC #China #Prohibition

BBC: China taking steps to turn against wilful and opulent use of public money.

“It is very normal to have a banquet with over 10 courses. Some have 15 to 20. I’ve seen one where there were so many dishes they had to be stacked three-high.” Shanghai’s Hotel Industry Association Huang Tiemin
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China turns against official extravagance
By John Sudworth
Source – BBC, published February 6, 2013

Source - BBC: Such was the extent of officials' spending on luxuries that the clampdown is said to have depressed share prices in high-end liquors.

Source – BBC: Such was the extent of officials’ spending on luxuries that the clampdown is said to have depressed share prices in high-end liquors.

Shanghai’s Hotel Industry Association is, you would think, naturally a conservative kind of organisation.

It represents more than 50 five-star hotels, which cater for the city’s rich and powerful elite.

The association’s president, Huang Tiemin, is himself a top hotelier and a card-carrying member of the Communist Party.

Please click here to read rest of the article at its source.
Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, BBC, Charm Offensive, ChinaUS Focus, Collectivism, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economist, Government & Policy, Influence, Mapping Feelings, New Leadership, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Social, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity

Chen Guangcheng: The great escape [The Economist]


Chen Guangcheng accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke (R) at a hospital in Beijing Photo: REUTERS

The narratives of fallen princeling and blind activist converge to change the complexion of the Chinese meta narrative. Or so it seems. Recent media glare has been nothing short of intense.

Trending like wildfire in both traditional and new media, Bo Xilai and now Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) are certainly making headlines in a landscape where Chinese soft power and its national image seems to be taking a global hit.

Has the CCP’s grip on power and control of information facing an unprecedented challenge since 1989? Perhaps things have gotten out of hand in an unsteady transition to a new generation of leadership, encumbered by legacies on one hand, and suspicion on the other.

Is the party finally showing a vulnerability not seen in decades? China’s Great Firewall of censorship is now on overdrive as all manner of search terms have been banned – to the extent of Chen’s surname, which is one of the most common of Chinese surnames.

A previously successful message illuminated by the headlights of economic growth now sees new challenges. This in some ways was to be expected. As China opened up and learnt the ways of connectivity with networked societies, it had to learn to cross the river of old paradigms of building great walls one stone at a time.

Whatever way it goes, this is an interesting twist to China’s policy of non-intervention as it pushes its definition of  domestic out of traditional boundaries to signal transnational reactions to whatever it sees as a domestic affair – translating to its people and territory as it demanded the US to return Chen, seen here as an act of petulance over dissent. The nationalistic Global Times postures the Chinese position clear in ‘Chen and embassy should not delude themselves‘.

In a nutshell –
One blind dissident once characterized for bringing international attention to forced late-term abortions reveals the Chinese sleight of non-intervention.

The Party has never taken kindly to those who criticize its methods (Ai Weiwei took up the spotlight last year) and there are no indicators of that changing.Chen, who really punctured the utility of its one-child policy in the international press pissed them off leading to his house arrest. When he escapes, they get even more pissed off – behaving without the nuances of its peaceful co-existence paradigm and it really showed.

What is also emerging as a pattern, is that Chen, like Wang Lijun (in the Bo Xilai case), both sought refuge in American embassies in times of adversity. As it is, Chen is now back in Chinese hands after high-level talks despite wanting to go to the US. And, all this is concurrent with the fourth round of the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing.

To follow the story…

Two very different characters rewriting China’s script (CNN, May 2, 2012)

China urges US to stop misleading the public after harboring Chen Guangcheng (China Daily/Xinhua, May 2, 2012)

China denounces US as dissident Chen leaves embassy (AsiaOne/Reuters, May 2, 2012)

Chen Guangcheng left US embassy ‘after family threats’ (BBC, May 2, 2012)

Chen Guangcheng: America shows a naivity that beggars belief (Telegraph, May 2, 2012)

Activist Chen Guangcheng is in a new bid to leave China, baulking at high-level deal (The Australian, May 3, 2012)

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Chen Guangcheng: The great escape
by J.M.
Source – Economist, published May 2, 2012

THE STORY of how Chen Guangcheng, a 40-year-old blind villager, escaped through the prison-like security cordon surrounding his home and ended up hundreds of miles away in Beijing under American diplomatic protection will long be recounted as one of the most dramatic episodes in America’s dealings with China over human rights. After six days at the American Embassy, Mr Chen left “of his own accord”, the two governments said, to receive medical treatment in a Beijing hospital. Mr Chen, it was reported, would stay in China and be allowed to attend university. A subsequent report from Associated Press stated that Mr Chen left the embassy after threats were made against his wife. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Censorship, Charm Offensive, Cheng Guangcheng, Chinese Model, Democracy, Economist, Government & Policy, Great Firewall, Human Rights, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Peaceful Development, People, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S.

Ai [Weiwei] is out [Economist]

China’s cultural capital turning on itself? 80 days and he’s out. What a story that has gained much media traction worldwide. Ai Weiwei’s freedom seems to have been returned to him. Perhaps the proof in the pudding is to see the artwork he churns out after this experience – how much of Ai Weiwei’s mind can be ‘reformed’ by the authorities? Looking at his track record, it looks unlikely.. In any case here’s an interesting and comprehensive site documenting the case of Ai WeiweiThe Guardian reports here.  – Ai Weiwei released from detention with the tagline – China’s best known artist, looking thinner after 81 days in detention, says ‘I’m fine … I’m on bail. Please understand‘ (Guardian, June 22, 2011)

The Wall Street Journal offers an explanation for the release here –

The narrative in much of the West is that Ai Weiwei was detained because he was a critic of the Chinese government. International human rights organizations insist that this was one of those cases where the international community successfully stood up to Beijing, and that Ai’s freedom was due in direct measure to the force of global opinion. They point to museums and exhibitors who signed letters and staged exhibitions, and the continued complaints by officials interacting with their Chinese counterparts and raising Ai’s case as an irritant in relations with Beijing. (Why Ai Weiwei was let go, Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2011)

Perhaps not surprisingly, the China Daily’s report was only three paragraphs long, which I can sum up here –

BEIJING – The Beijing police department said Wednesday that Ai Weiwei has been released on bail because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from… The decision comes also in consideration of the fact that Ai has repeatedly said he is willing to pay the taxes he evaded, police said… The Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., a company Ai controlled, was found to have evaded a huge amount of taxes and intentionally destroyed accounting documents, police said. (China Daily, June 22, 2011)

– – –

Ai is out
by J.M
Source – Economist Blogs, published June 23, 2011

Photo - Economist

AMID their most intense crackdown on dissent in several years, the Chinese authorities have given a rare hint of softening in the case of one prominent activist, Ai Weiwei. Late at night on June 22nd, looking a little thinner after nearly three months in detention, the bearded and still portly artist returned home. Mr Ai’s freedom, however, is unlikely to mean any let-up in China’s wider efforts to silence critics.

Officially, Mr Ai is “on bail”. China’s state-owned news agency, Xinhua, said in a three-sentence dispatch that he had been freed because of his “good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from” (he has diabetes and high blood pressure). Mr Ai had also “repeatedly” said he was willing to pay taxes he had allegedly evaded. Chinese police like to use accusations of economic crimes to lock up dissidents. Mr Ai himself has refused to give details of his detention or comment on the charges, saying he was “on probation” and could not talk. Promises of silence are often a condition of release.

It may not be a coincidence that China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao, was due to start a tour of Hungary, Britain and Germany two days later. Mr Ai’s arrest had aroused widespread criticism from Western governments. China has occasionally released dissidents as a way of smoothing the way for important diplomatic exchanges. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Ai Weiwei, Art, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Economist, Human Rights, Influence, International Relations, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

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