Wandering China

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

Journalist’s Call for ‘de-Americanized World’ Provokes Alarm in U.S., Fart Jokes in China [Foreign Policy] #RisingChina #deAmericanization

Kneejerks to Xinhua Op-Ed  that does not represent broader Chinese views.

The op-ed hit something of a sweet spot for shutdown-traumatized Americans, touching on, as Max Fisher at the Washington Post put it, “the dual American anxieties that we are letting down the rest of the world and that China is finally making its move to replace us as the global leader.”

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Journalist’s Call for ‘de-Americanized World’ Provokes Alarm in U.S., Fart Jokes in China
by Liz Carter
Source – Foreign Policy, published October 16, 2013

As fears mounted this week about a possible (and now, it seems, averted) U.S. government default, the U.S. press stumbled upon an Oct. 13 editorial in Xinhua, China’s largest news agency, calling for a “de-Americanized world” in light of Washington’s fiscal dysfunction. News outlets including CBSUSA Today, and Bloomberg picked up the editorial, while the Los Angeles Times ran a story with the headline “Upset over U.S. fiscal crisis, China urges a ‘de-Americanized world.'” CNBC emphasized that Xinhua was a “government voice,” and that the editorial was “government propaganda” intended for local readers. The op-ed hit something of a sweet spot for shutdown-traumatized Americans, touching on, as Max Fisher at the Washington Post put it, “the dual American anxieties that we are letting down the rest of the world and that China is finally making its move to replace us as the global leader.”

But what much of the coverage failed to mention is that the article appeared on Xinhua with the byline Liu Chang, indicating that the editorial more likely represents the views of Liu (who is identified simply as a “Xinhua writer”) and his colleagues rather than China’s top leaders, or “China” itself.

Please click here to read the entire article at Foreign Policy.

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Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Dream, Communications, Culture, Foreign Policy Magazine, Ideology, Influence, Internet, Media, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Soft Power, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), U.S., xinhua

Can chaos theory teach us anything about international relations? [Foreign Policy] #InternationalRelations

Chaotic systems, the butterfly effect and underlying patterns of human interactions and international relations.

Today, most theorists have more modest goals. Chaotic systems are extremely difficult to predict in the long run, but they’re also not entirely random – as Lorenz observed – and with enough detailed information, patterns emerge allowing short-term predictions to be made, though always with a degree of uncertainty. As Kalev Leetaru told me recently discussing the GDELT events database, “Most datasets that measure human society, when you plot them out, don’t follow these nice beautiful curves,” he says. They’re very noisy because they reflect reality. So mathematical techniques now let us peer through that to say, what are the underlying patterns we see in all this.”

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Can chaos theory teach us anything about international relations?
By Joshua Keating
Source – Foreign Policy, published Thursday, May 23, 2013

This year marks that 50th anniversary of the branch of mathematics known as chaos theory. Appropriately enough for a field of study premised on the idea that seemingly insignificant events can have large and unpredictable consequences, the eureka moment of chaos is generally considered to be a short dense paper titled “Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow” published on page 130 of volume 20 of the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences in 1963.

As James Gleick writes in his very entertaining history, Chaos: Making of a New Science, “In the thousands of articles that made up the technical literature of chaos, few were cited more often than “Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow.” For years, no single object would inspire more illustrations, even motion pictures, than the mysterious curve depicted at the end, the double spiral that became known as the Lorenz attractor.”

The paper’s author, Edward Lorenz, was an MIT mathematician working on an early computer weather modeling simulation. One day in 1961, in an effort to save time waiting for his vacuum tube-powered Royal McBee computer to run the program, Lorenz started his simulation from the middle, manually entering in data from an earlier simulation, but crucially, rounding a six decimal point number to three decimal points in order to save space. What Lorenz found after returning from a coffee break was that these tiny, seemingly arbitrary changes in his initial inputs had led to vastly different outcomes in the weather models he created.

As Gleick writes, “Lorenz saw more than randomness embedded in his weather model. He saw a fine geometrical structure, order masquerading as randomness.” Lorenz, who died in 2008, would later become best known for coining the metaphor of the “butterfly effect” to describe systems that are extremely sensitive to their initial conditions.

Please click here to read the full article at Foreign Policy.

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Filed under: Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Foreign Policy Magazine, Government & Policy, History, Ideology, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

What China and Russia Don’t Get About Soft Power [Foreign Policy] #RisingChina #Softpower

Joseph Nye who coined the term soft power critiques China and Russia’s yielding of it.

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What China and Russia Don’t Get About Soft Power
Beijing and Moscow are trying their hands at attraction, and failing — miserably.
By Joseph Nye
Source – Foreign Policy, published April 29, 2013


Photo- FP

When Foreign Policy first published my essay “Soft Power” in 1990, who would have expected that someday the term would be used by the likes of Hu Jintao or Vladimir Putin? Yet Hu told the Chinese Communist Party in 2007 that China needed to increase its soft power, and Putin recently urged Russian diplomats to apply soft power more extensively. Neither leader, however, seems to have understood how to accomplish his goals.

Power is the ability to affect others to get the outcomes one wants, and that can be accomplished in three main ways — by coercion, payment, or attraction. If you can add the soft power of attraction to your toolkit, you can economize on carrots and sticks. For a rising power like China whose growing economic and military might frightens its neighbors into counter-balancing coalitions, a smart strategy includes soft power to make China look less frightening and the balancing coalitions less effective. For a declining power like Russia (or Britain before it), a residual soft power helps to cushion the fall.

The soft power of a country rests primarily on three resources: its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority). But combining these resources is not always easy.

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

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Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Foreign Policy Magazine, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Nationalism, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Russia, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S.

Will China Ever Be No. 1? #ForeignPolicy #China #No1 #LeeKuanYew

Perhaps the question is when, how, and where China wants to be no. 1.

Does China want to be number 1? Why not? From the bottom up standpoint, yes perhaps, and overtly so. The top-down view may differ – a less overt behind the scenes position up top may be desired. Why be number 1 and become a target board? One should stop to ponder the wisdom why China’s name in Chinese reads Middle Kingdom, not Top Kingdom or Centre Kingdom.

However, getting these two views to find consensus with biding time will only get more difficult because of cross pollination with the us and them affliction.

China has collective memory of the rising and ruling power dynamic, this race to the top is cyclical. I doubt the Chinese leadership lose sleep over this ‘race’.

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Will China Ever Be No. 1?
If you want to know the answer, ask Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew.
by Graham Allison, Robert D. Blackwill
Source – Foreign Policy, published February 16, 2013

Image Source - Foreign Policy

Image Source – Foreign Policy

Will China continue to grow three times faster than the United States to become the No. 1 economy in the world in the decade ahead? Does China aspire to be the No. 1 power in Asia and ultimately the world? As it becomes a great power, will China follow the path taken by Japan in becoming an honorary member of the West?

Despite current punditry to the contrary, the surest answer to these questions is: No one knows. But statesmen, investors, and citizens in the region and beyond are placing their bets. And U.S. policymakers, as they shape the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia, are making these judgments too. In formulating answers to these questions, if you could consult just one person in the world today, who would it be? Henry Kissinger, the American who has spent by far the most time with China’s leaders since Mao, has an answer: Lee Kuan Yew.

Lee is the founding father of modern Singapore and was its prime minister from 1959 to 1990. He has honed his wisdom over more than a half century on the world stage, serving as advisor to Chinese leaders from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping and American presidents from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. This gives him a uniquely authoritative perspective on the geopolitics and geoeconomics of East and West.

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Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Foreign Policy Magazine, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Reform, Singapore, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S.

Weapons of Mass Urban Destruction [Foreign Policy]

Is China’s return to superpower status predicated on the same conditions as America? America ascended as a new-found identity with recent memory of empire. This is, according to some historians, China’s fourth rise as a world power. In a sense, it has four times as much experience in its collective memory.

Foreign Policy has Peter Calthorpe, architect and thinker on sustainable building paint broad dystopian brushstrokes. Perhaps as a fundamental starting point, Calthorpe leaves out the difference in scale in comparing the two – Self-inflicted, or regulated depending on how you see it, or otherwise, China has four times more mouths to feed, and the article sees little emphasis on what it is getting right with its green efforts (Nat Geo, 2011: Can China go Green?). Anyone who has been to Hangzhou for example, will see where they have got it right. The challenge is to replicate that model consistently.

China has just about the 80th densest population in the world.

At around 140/km2 it also has 4 times the number of individuals than the United States, with both about the same in terms of land area.

The US is 178th with about 34/km2.

Singapore where I was born has the 2nd largest population density for an independent country with about 8,000/km2 – it’s a sardine can compared to those numbers.

Maybe this provides a clue into Chinese long-term thinking –  what are the empty forts/cities (Daily Mail, 2011) around China are for? Classic 36 strategem misdirection. Fair assessment perhaps if China is a developed country. It isn’t. Half developed at best at the moment , based on just a urbanisation benchmark. Perhaps China’s push to develop inland to re-route its socio-economic arteries hasn’t caught his attention yet. This frame of thinking in the piece assumes that China is simply going to build more rings around its existing cities.

If anything, due to China’s high population density, the Chinese urban reckoning will be even more severe than America’s. Already, traffic in Beijing is frequently at a standstill despite the incredible pace of road construction (a “solution” akin to trying to lose weight by loosening your belt). The situation is so dire that Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai are using a lottery to allocate a limited number of vehicle registrations. In August 2010, a 60-mile traffic jam stopped a highway outside Beijing for 11 days. There’s a reason no high-density city has ever been designed around the car: It simply doesn’t work. Peter Calthorpe

China in my mind, simply isn’t done rechanneling, yet. Looking at the speed policy translates to fiscal, infrastructural manifestations in China, China’s weakness is weak policy with insufficient foresight bearing in mind the global condition and neighbourly concerns.

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Weapons of Mass Urban Destruction China’s cities are making the same mistake America made on the path to superpower status. By Peter Calthorpe | SEPT/OCT 2012 Source – Foreign Policy, published August 13, 2012

Image Source – Foreign Policy, 2012

In the last five years, China has built 20,000 miles of expressways, finishing the construction of 12 national highways a whopping 13 years ahead of schedule and at a pace four times faster than the United States built its interstate highway system. Over the last decade, Shanghai alone has built some 1,500 miles of road, the equivalent of three Manhattans. China’s urban population is projected to grow by 350 million people by 2020, effectively adding today’s entire U.S. population to its cities in less than a decade. China has already passed the United States as the world’s largest car market, and by 2025, the country will need to pave up to an estimated 5 billion square meters of road just to keep moving.

China’s love affair with the car has blossomed into a torrid romance. In April, nearly a million people poured into the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition to coo over the latest Audis, BMWs, and Toyotas. But China is in danger of making the same mistakes the United States made on its way to superpower status — mistakes that have left Americans reliant on foreign oil from unstable parts of the world, staggering under the cost of unhealthy patterns of living, and struggling to overcome the urban legacy of decades of inner-city decay.

The choices China makes in the years ahead will have an immense impact not only on the long-term viability, livability, and energy efficiency of its cities, but also on the health of the entire planet. Unfortunately, much of what China is building is based on outdated Western planning ideas that put its cars at the center of urban life, rather than its people. And the bill will be paid in the form of larger waistlines, reduced quality of life, and choking pollution and congestion. The Chinese may get fat and unhappy before they get rich. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Environment, Foreign Policy Magazine, Government & Policy, Influence, Infrastructure, Media, Peaceful Development, Politics, Pollution, Population, Property, Reform, Social, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S., , , , , , , , , ,

An Aircraft Carrier of One’s Own [Foreign Policy]

With her sister ship now a floating integrated resort, the Varyag is reborn as Liaoning, almost eight years after she arrived in Chinese docks and 16 years after being bought for USD$20m.

September 25, 2012 marks her re-emergence as the symbolic flagship of Chinese maritime power at a time when China needs to assert its legitimacy to defend what it sees as national sovereignty.

Though in no position to match American naval projection due to its limited range and lack of combat readiness, it nevertheless marks a giant leap forward. Not quite a flexing of abrasive hard power yet, but certainly a symbolic referent for those on the Chinese side in Sino-Japanese tension, or potential focal point for Chinese nationalism.

Incidentally, the Chinese news reports are describing their carrier as 航母 (hang mu), a shortened version of 航空母舰 – literally translated – mother of the fleet.

Here is a CCTV report that paid particular attention on the mother ship’s combat readiness. It was most interesting hearing about the intense selection process for the crew. Unfortunately the 30min video is in Mandarin with no subtitles.

Further reading:

Light reading – Q&A about aircraft carrier “Liaoning ship” (PLA Daily in the People’s Daily, September 27, 2012)

Photo Gallery –  China’s first aircraft carrier “Liaoning” (China Military Online in the People’s daily, September 26, 2012)

Xinhua (September 26, 2012) News Analysis: Aircraft carrier-equipped China can better maintain world peace

China’s Ministry of Defense said the newly named Liaoning aircraft carrier would “raise the overall operational strength of the Chinese navy” and help Beijing to “effectively protect national sovereignty, security and development interests”. In fact, the aircraft carrier, refitted from a ship bought from Ukraine, will have a limited role, mostly for training and testing ahead of the possible launch of China’s first domestically built carriers after 2015, analysts say. ANALYSIS | China aircraft carrier a show of force vs Japan (Interacksyon, September 26, 2012)

Just as Liaoning the province was created when existing northeastern provinces and municipalities were merged and integrated into a more powerful whole in 1954-55, so too “Liaoning” the carrier integrates a mix of building blocks into a warship that has the potential to bolster China’s regional influence—and also to force China’s leaders to confront perhaps the most complicated naval diplomacy questions in the PRC’s history. Introducing the ‘Liaoning’: China’s New Aircraft Carrier and What it Means (China Real-time Report by the Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2012)

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An Aircraft Carrier of One’s Own
After much struggle, China finally has the massive naval vessel it always wanted.

Source – Li Tang, Xinhua, in Foreign Policy Magazine, 2012

China finally has its very own — ostensibly functional– aircraft carrier, named Liaoning. As Andrew Erickson and Gabriel Collins explain in a recent article for FP, the Chinese had to overcome multiple obstacles, and “All [those watching the Liaoning] must have felt the weight of history on their shoulders as they witnessed the unfulfilled ambitions of their civilian and military predecessors. This milestone was a long time coming.” The Liaoning was originally the Varyag, a Soviet vessel that was purchased by China from Ukraine. After years of retrofitting, as of Sept. 25 the Liaoning is finally entering service in the People’s Liberation Army Navy, but its capabilities are largely unproven and sea tests of the ship have stayed close to its home port in Dalian. Above, the Liaoning appears at the Dalian shipyard before being commissioned. (Foreign Policy, September 26, 2012)

Please click here to access the rest of the gallery.

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Diaoyu Fishing Boat Incident 2010, Domestic Growth, East China Sea, Foreign Policy Magazine, Government & Policy, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, japan, Liaoning, Mapping Feelings, Media, military, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Russia, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Technology, Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Varyag, , , , , , , , ,

[China’s] Unliveable Cities: China’s megalopolises may seem impressive on paper, but they are awful places to live. [Foreign Policy]

Foreign Policy: associate editor Isaac Fish on China’s monolithic ‘model of endless fractal Beijings’. One one hand, this penchance for megalopolises seem to be emblems for party legitimacy, one couched in projecting national identity at the expense of social utility.

A compelling read especially since Fish has physically been to 21 of 22 provinces and all of the Autonomous Regions. This overarching proposition echoes China’s vice minister of construction Qiu Baoxing who lamented in 2007, “It’s like a thousand cities having the same appearance.”

Perhaps this identifies the trapping of the model of Chinese characteristics.

Three decades of supercharged catching up after a century of humiliation. The twentieth century it spent trying to find an ideological fit amidst civil war, and then reform and systemically imposed ideological homogeneity. But all along, hung the spectre of 5,000 years of leftover memories of the grandiose, ones that perhaps the everyday Chinese too cling onto – and it is this image state media is constantly churning, through cultural capital in its well-funded tv programmes and film – one it recognises as a pillar industry in its current five-year plan.

And… massive building projects have always been a hallmark of the Chinese dynasties rising in power back through antiquity. Today they will keep doing the same, and  they expanded on this to help others do likewise. Their building of parliamentary buildings and sports stadiums as part of foreign aid to African nations in exchange for keys for access to their natural resources as an example.

On the other hand – outside the penchance for the grandiose, it was only until recently that images that represented China bore the individual’s narrative. The advert that ran in Times Square in 2011 is a case in point. The messages the American audience derived from that however, is another long discussion.

So for a long time, the messages sent to both domestic and foreign audience were of largely based on Chinese symbolism – from its inventions, scholarship and , to the Great Wall and Forbidden Palace.

Also consider what’s left factoring in the knowledge lost through the books burnt and cultural artefacts destroyed or misplaced through dynastic attempts at centralisation and the prior communist model. So, what they are left with are remnant, selected works that continue to exist in the mainstream as they had utilitarian purpose in organising the state in its affairs of governance and framework for high culture.

All that said, one only has to tune into Chinese television programmes to see that with their great cities, the Chinese people are becoming increasingly conversant, cognizant of the ways of the world. The difference is the discourse seldom exists outside the overriding system of stability as fewer and fewer want to give up the economic benefits they are reaping. They have, like many developed populaces, participants in the progress trap.

So the proposition that Fish poses at the end of his article is pertinent. How will the Chinese, and the party that leads them figure out how to work together to make all this come to equitable fruition, and thus magnificent?

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Unliveable Cities
China’s megalopolises may seem impressive on paper, but they are awful places to live.
by Isaac Stone Fish
Source – Foreign Policy Magazine, published August 13, 2012

Source – Foreign Policy

In Invisible Cities, the novel by the great Italian writer Italo Calvino, Marco Polo dazzles the emperor of China, Kublai Khan, with 55 stories of cities he has visited, places where “the buildings have spiral staircases encrusted with spiral seashells,” a city of “zigzag” where the inhabitants “are spared the boredom of following the same streets every day,” and another with the option to “sleep, make tools, cook, accumulate gold, disrobe, reign, sell, question oracles.” The trick, it turns out, is that Polo’s Venice is so richly textured and dense that all his stories are about just one city.

A modern European ruler listening to a visitor from China describe the country’s fabled rise would be better served with the opposite approach: As the traveler exits a train station, a woman hawks instant noodles and packaged chicken feet from a dingy metal cart, in front of concrete steps emptying out into a square flanked by ramshackle hotels and massed with peasants sitting on artificial cobblestones and chewing watermelon seeds. The air smells of coal. Then the buildings appear: Boxlike structures, so gray as to appear colorless, line the road. If the city is poor, the Bank of China tower will be made with hideous blue glass; if it’s wealthy, our traveler will marvel at monstrous prestige projects of glass and copper. The station bisects Shanghai Road or Peace Avenue, which then leads to Yat-sen Street, named for the Republic of China’s first president, eventually intersecting with Ancient Building Avenue. Our traveler does not know whether he is in Changsha, Xiamen, or Hefei — he is in the city Calvino describes as so unremarkable that “only the name of the airport changes.” Or, as China’s vice minister of construction, Qiu Baoxing, lamented in 2007, “It’s like a thousand cities having the same appearance.”

Why are Chinese cities so monolithic? The answer lies in the country’s fractured history. In the 1930s, China was a failed state: Warlords controlled large swaths of territory, and the Japanese had colonized the northeast. Shanghai was a foreign pleasure den, but life expectancy hovered around 30. Tibetans, Uighurs, and other minorities largely governed themselves. When Mao Zedong unified China in 1949, much of the country was in ruins, and his Communist Party rebuilt it under a unifying theme. Besides promulgating a single language and national laws, they subscribed to the Soviet idea of what a city should be like: wide boulevards, oppressively squat, functional buildings, dormitory-style housing. Cities weren’t conceived of as places to live, but as building blocks needed to build a strong and prosperous nation; in other words, they were constructed for the benefit of the party and the country, not the people. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Corruption, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Foreign Policy Magazine, Government & Policy, Influence, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, Nationalism, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, People, Politics, Pollution, Population, Poverty, Property, Resources, Social, Soft Power, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, , , , , , , ,

The Startling Plight of China’s Leftover Ladies [Foreign Policy]

Foreign Policy ‘The Sex Issue Special Report’: the emerging Sheng Nu (剩女) problem in focus as China’s new socio-economic dynamic and high GDP growth translates to what is translated as ‘Leftover Ladies‘. In some ways, it has some equivalence with the West’s ‘Bridget Jones’ meme.

A survey by the All-China Women’s Federation found in 2010 that ‘more than 90 percent of male respondents agreed that women should marry before age 27 or risk being forever undesired.’

That said, China is a country where ‘118 boys were born for every 100 girls in 2010, and by 2020 the number of men unable to find partners is expected to reach 24 million.’

Does it make sense that there should be any women left over? This report attempts to shed some light.

Further reading for local insights: My Chinese teacher discusses leftover men (Shanghaishiok, November 25, 2010) provides an interesting Venn diagram to explain the phenomenon.

Teacher Li's take on leftover women... and leftover men. Source - Shanghai Shiok, 2012

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The Startling Plight of China’s Leftover Ladies
China’s men far outnumber women. So why is it so hard to find a good husband?
by Christina Larson
Source – Foreign Policy Magazine, MAY/JUNE 2012 edition

Source - Foreign Policy, 2012

The Spicy Love Doctor was running late. A well-heeled crowd one recent Sunday afternoon had packed into the second-floor lounge of Beijing’s Trends Building — home to the publishing offices of several glossy magazines, including the Chinese editions of Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Harper’s Bazaar — to hear Wu Di, a contributor to China’s Cosmopolitan and author of an alluring new book, I Know Why You’re Left. The poised, professional crowd, outfitted in black blazers, leather boots, and trendy thick-framed glasses, was composed mostly of women in their mid-20s to mid-30s — prime Cosmo readers and all there waiting patiently to hear Wu, who typically charges $160 an hour for “private romance counseling,” explain their surprising plight: being single women in a country with a startling excess of men. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Foreign Policy Blogs, Foreign Policy Magazine, People, Population, Sheng Nu, Social, The Chinese Identity

Is Mike Wallace the reason Chinese leaders don’t give interviews? [Foreign Policy]

Is Lifetime Achievement Emmy awardee Mike Wallace the reason why Chinese leaders do not give interviews? Indeed 4th-generation leader Hu, since taking over as President in 2003 again and again provides only written interview answers to the foreign press and has never granted a free ranging interview. Is this the cause?

Check out the Youtube video below for the interview in question.

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Is Mike Wallace the reason Chinese leaders don’t give interviews?
by Isaac Stone Fish
Source – Foreign Policy Blogs, published April 9, 2012

Hu Jintao, China’s president for the last decade, is the first leader of China since the Empress Dowager Cixi (who died in 1908) to refuse to speak with foreign press. Chiang Kai-Shek gave interviews, Mao Zedong pontificated to Edgar Snow; Deng Xiaoping joked with foreign reporters while expounding on his pragmatic philosophy.  Even Hua Guofeng, Mao’s short-lived successor, chatted with a British journalist. China’s current premier Wen Jiabao has sat down with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria twice for a relatively gentle round of questioning but the top leader, and the other members of China’s ruling council the Politburo Standing Committee, have stayed silent.

More than any other reporter, Mike Wallace, the charmingly aggressive 60 Minutes correspondent who passed away this Saturday at the age of 93, may be the reason for Hu’s reticence. A sit-down with Wallace was rarely a pleasant experience for world leaders — particularly autocrats: he lectured Yassir Arafat on violence, challenged Vladmir Putin on democracy, and suggested to Ayatollah Khomeini that he might be a lunatic and a ‘disgrace to Islam.’ But his 2000 interview with former Chinese President Jiang Zemin may have played a role in convincing Jiang’s successor of the value of keeping his mouth shut.

In contrast to Hu, Jiang was a flashy (for a Chinese leader) former Shanghai Party secretary, who sang karaoke on state visits and recited the Gettysburg address to foreigners. He told Barbara Walters in 1990 that the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre was “much ado about nothing,” and Lally Weymouth in 1998 that “I really don’t know what kind of threat China poses” to India. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Foreign Policy Blogs, Foreign Policy Magazine, Hu Jintao, Mapping Feelings, Media, Politics, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

The myth of Chinese exceptionalism [Foreign Policy]

Foreign Policy magazine: An engaging counter to the ‘peaceful rise’ (now officially communicated as ‘peaceful development’ to counter the semantic implication of the word ‘rise’) and ‘harmonious ascendancy’ message to the world.

Associate Professor Wang Yuan-Kang talks about the 3 myths of Chinese exceptionalism.

His key thrust? A look back at Chinese history indicates a foreign policy sensitivity relative to its power and ability for power projection. Brace for impact? Tao-guang-yang-hui – 韬光养晦 comes to mind. My two cents remain: It’s all in the timing for the Chinese.

That said whilst history provides useful reminders China’s increased responsibility as an international leader of interconnected global production networks suggests that the Chinese need deft soft power strategies to manoeuvre and complement hard power.

Also from Foreign Policy, the article Riding the Dragon: From the Norwegian Coast Guard to Israeli drone technicians, 8 surprising winners of China’s massive military buildup by Trefor Moss is useful to provide a wider framework to understand the effects of China’s perceived hard power.

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The myth of Chinese exceptionalism
Posted By Stephen M. Walt
Source – Foreign Policy, published March 6, 2012

Note: I’ve posted several times on the question of Sino-American relations. Today I feature a guest post by Yuan-kang Wang of Western Michigan University, who offers an interesting analysis of what China’s past behavior might tell us about its future course.

By Yuan-kang Wang:

As a regular visitor who enjoys reading this blog, I thank Steve Walt for the invitation to contribute this guest post on the relationship between Chinese power, culture, and foreign policy behavior.

Steve (and others) have written about American exceptionalism. It won’t surprise you to learn that China has its own brand. Most Chinese people — be they the common man or the political, economic, and academic elite — think of historical China as a shining civilization in the center of All-under-Heaven, radiating a splendid and peace-loving culture. Because Confucianism cherishes harmony and abhors war, this version portrays a China that has not behaved aggressively nor been an expansionist power throughout its 5,000 years of glorious history. Instead, a benevolent, humane Chinese world order is juxtaposed against the malevolent, ruthless power politics in the West.

The current government in Beijing has recruited Chinese exceptionalism into its notion of a “peaceful rise.” One can find numerous examples of this line of thought in official white papers and statements by President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, and other officials. The message is clear: China’s unique history, peaceful culture, and defensive mindset ensure a power that will rise peacefully. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Foreign Policy Blogs, Foreign Policy Magazine, Government & Policy, History, Influence, International Relations, military, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S.

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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 //
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