Wandering China

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

Chinese bus drivers in Singapore tossed aside after strike [China Labor Bulletin] #RisingChina #Singapore #OverseasChinese

It appears overseas Chinese workers are spared no quarter in a foreign land with a Chinese-majority complemented by a foreign workforce that takes up >20% of the island’s population –

There are at least one million foreign workers in Singapore, making up about one third of the total workforce. They are primarily employed in construction, transport, manufacturing and services, in other words the low-paid and dangerous jobs Singaporean citizens are reluctant to do.

Check out the 2011 CLB research report ‘Hired on Sufferance‘ here.

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Chinese bus drivers in Singapore tossed aside after strike
Source – China Labour Bulleting, published 3 July, 2013

In November 2012, around 180 Chinese bus drivers employed by the state-controlled Singapore Mass Rapid Transit Corp (SMRT) staged a highly publicised strike over pay and living conditions.

The Singapore authorities adopted a zero tolerance approach to what it claimed was a disruption of essential services in the city and arrested five of the alleged strike organizers. They were later sentenced to up to six weeks in jail before being deported back to China. Another 29 drivers were deported without trial almost immediately after the strike.

China Labour Bulletin Director Han Dongfang talked to one of the 29 deported drivers, surnamed Jiang, soon after he returned to China. They discussed the reasons for the strike, the response of the Singaporean government to it and the harsh reality of being a Chinese migrant worker in a city that sees you merely as a resource to be exploited and discarded when no longer useful.

Please click here to read the entire article at the China Labor Bulletin.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, China Dream, Chinese Model, Chinese overseas, Culture, Economics, History, Human Rights, Ideology, Influence, International Relations, Law, Mapping Feelings, Overseas Chinese, Singapore, Soft Power, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

China solar panel duties imposed by EU [BBC] #RisingChina #Solar #TradeWar

A free market on whose terms – is this really a fruitful solution or does it simply carve out more finely the edges to the us and them narrative.

This kills off a Chinese pet project in one flex of foreign and economic policy, one the Chinese state has been happy to fund and use as the spear tip in their economic incursions abroad.

They thought wrong about what the world wanted.

In their minds, value and efficiency were probably paramount, thinning margins no barrier to demands from markets in the West. Famously, only one dollar goes out if every Levi’s jeans made goes to the worker, and little more to the factory.

The authors of the free market are not prepared to truly shake its center and make it competitive globally. it seems demarcation by regionalism is the new cool in the semantic range of what free means. Of course it pleases business as it restores margins designed to feed an expected and established standard of living.

The Chinese now know there is divergence in consensus across the notion of global village, despite economic interdependence as a big player in global production networks – – – what free market means to them is little more than subtext to hypocrisy now. Despite bailing out Europe more than once and financing growth by sheer Chinese demand in so many areas, this is their reply.

In one act of posturing, the West gains an upper hand as it nips away at the supply carts of the Chinese green technology vanguard.

One thing is for sure as to what the Chinese will not do. Especially in this day and age.

They will react.

But, it is easy to hide intent behind words. Some taunting outside the walls of the foe’s gates will probably suffice now.

For more, see…

The US and the EU are clearly redefining their economic strategy, trying to defend their energy companies from Chinese competition. But some European partners seem uncertain what to do.

Germany won’t accept losing significant trade with China, and even Washington’s closest European ally, Britain, is worried about the consequences of these possible measures against China.

The EU Commission doesn’t seem to be really interested in the first two aims of renewable sources, environmental protection and energy diversification, but just willing to boycott Chinese production through an alliance with US. All these point to an old question: Is the “free market” really free?

Sino-EU solar trade war is lose-lose choice By Andrea Fais
Global Times OP-ED , June 4, 2013

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China solar panel duties imposed by EU
Andrew Walker
Source – BBC, published 4 June 2013


BBC World Service Economics correspondent
How likely is a trade war? China is certainly angry about the tariffs and there is a lot of trade at stake – 21bn euros worth in 2011, according to the European Commission. But anti-dumping actions are an everyday feature of the global trade landscape. There has been an average of more than 200 a year. They are perfectly legal under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, provided they follow the WTO’s procedures. Indeed China is a fairly big user of anti-dumping actions itself. The European Commission’s plan to start the anti-dumping duty tariff relatively low, and then increase it later, looks like a negotiating tactic. If the Chinese firms were prepared to undertake to charge a sufficiently higher price, the Commission could accept that. The duties are provisional at this stage and they could be removed if the EU countries decide to do so in December. That is a possibility. So the heat is on now, but there are still opportunities to extinguish the trade fires.

Andrew Walker

The anti-dumping case is the biggest undertaken by the European Commission

The European Commission has announced it is imposing temporary anti-dumping levies on Chinese solar panel imports.

It comes despite opposition from Germany and other European Union members, and amid fears it could spark a trade war.

Please click here to read the full article at the BBC website.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: BBC, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Climate Change, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Environment, Europe, European Union, Finance, Foreign aid, Government & Policy, Green China, Ideology, Influence, International Relations, Law, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Resources, Soft Power, Solar, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, U.S.

Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader #China [New York Times]

As a student of the media, it is hard to ascertain intention from simply reading off representative lines of text in articles. Unless one has a direct face-to-face interview with the author and amongst other things, a complete understanding of the editorial process,  political economy of the transnational media institution involved, it’s at best, an informed guess. Interpreted by Chinese communities I am in touch with as part of a continuum of China gesturing in a time of Sino-US leadership transition, the consensus seems to be one of 顧全大局 – keep the eye focused on the big picture, general situation and present conditions.

New York Times: From David Barboza, correspondent for the NY Times based in Shanghai since 2004. Fact illuminating or complicating the Chinese fog of war ahead of the  leadership change scheduled to take place on Nov 8 at the 18th National Congress? I don’t think the Chinese people are overly concerned for the wider Chinese socio-economic headspace has other priorities, but for a non-Chinese audience this may take some deliberating.

Will this diminish Wen’s residual power as the Chinese central authority reconfigures itself? Also – this comes at a time when questions are being asked if Hu Jintao will step down from his chairmanship of the Central Military Commission (see Hu Jintao likely to quit as head of China’s military: analysts by the Want China Times, October 15, 2012)

The article scarcely reveals the methods behind their investigations, based on ‘[a] review of corporate and regulatory records‘. Incidentally, this story is repeated all over Australia’s state broadsheets via the agencies and was trending on Twitter when news broke. Below is what I found on my feed.

Screen capture from my Twitter Feed. Hashtag #Wenjiabao is trending at the moment. David Barboza who wrote the article was ‘credited’ by FT’s David Pilling as bringing the NYTimes website down in China.

In response, China’s Great Firewall was cranked up with a retaliatory posture, with its 500m plus  internet users now unable to search for keywords relating to Wen and NYT (save for those who utilise proxy servers to ‘tunnel’ through the wall – China condemns NY Times Wen Jiabao wealth story ‘smear’ (BBC, October 26, 2012)

On China’s Twitter-like weibo platforms, keywords such as Wen Jiabao and the New York Times are blocked. Mr Wen’s name, like most other Chinese leaders, has always been a screened keyword.

Some netizens did manage to post the article despite heavy and rapid censorship. A Sina Weibo user tweeted about the article from Kawagoe city in Japan, but his post was removed after 11 minutes.

Here’s an interesting comment on the NY Times article which piqued my interest. Fair comment, or victim of  information intertextuality and access gone wild?

It looks like ousted Chongqing leader Bo Xilai has eventually got to fight back. Revelations about Wen Jiabao family’s hidden fortune have been timed to coincide with expulsion of Bo Xilai from top legislature that stripped him of his MP immunity, which means he’s now facing a biased trial and harsh imprisonment, if not worse. With the revelations Bo Xilai and his supporters landed a devastating blow straight at the top of China political establishment. Adding to the drama the long awaited change in China’s secretive and closed leadership is looming only few days away. Wondering whether this is just the first and last retaliatory blow from someone who has given up all hopes and deems to be doomed. I would bet that Mr. Bo Xilai keeps ready some more bunker-busting ammos in store and signaled loud an clear that he’s now ready to use all of them in his last-stance fight. If my bet is right things in China in the very near future will get quite interesting. Comment on article by Mario from Italy

If found true however, will this fall under the list 52 “unacceptable practices” (不准 – 中国共产党党员领导干部廉洁从政若干准则 in full)? Introduced in 2010 to fight widespread corruption after an initial trial that started in 1997, the code of ethics has a special emphasis on indirect corruption – when officials abuse power to benefit not themselves directly, but their relatives. The code explicitly names ‘spouses, children, in-laws and other relatives’ as unacceptable beneficiaries depending on transaction.

According to a Shanghai cable in 2007 that Wikileaks got its hands onto – “Wen is disgusted with his family’s activities, but is either unable or unwilling to curtail them.” Swimming in a sea of driftwood collateral corruption, if you will.

For a wider perspective – check out A rising pitch against corruption [Straits Times, March 8, 2010] – that examined China’s ever-lingering problem – corruption. The issue has brought down many Chinese institutions in the past – 3% of the GDP being siphoned off sounds like no small number. Back in 2010, Wen Jiabao spoke at the National People’s Congress, stressing that failure to ‘check corruption will have a ‘direct bearing’ on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) grip on power.’ This article then argued that it is not China’s modern capitalist leanings that have fueled today’s problems. Rather, it feels that it was Mao who “created a privilege-based political system that lies at the heart of China’s contemporary corruption woes.” Beyond that the fine line between guanxi and gifting as a significant cultural paradigm Chinese, diasporic or not, subscribe to makes the western interpretation of corruption hard to impose.

 And here’s a two-year rewind with Inflation, corruption could hurt China: Wen (The Age/AFP, October 3, 2012). In an interview with Fareed Zakaria on GPS, he said, “I do have worry for the management of inflation expectations in China… And that is something that I have been trying very hard to manage appropriately and well, because I believe corruption and inflation will have an adverse impact on stability of power in our country.”

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Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader
by David Barboza
Source – New York Times, published October 25, 2012

Many relatives of Mr. Wen became wealthy during his leadership. Source – New York Times, 2012

BEIJING — The mother of China’s prime minister was a schoolteacher in northern China. His father was ordered to tend pigs in one of Mao’s political campaigns. And during childhood, “my family was extremely poor,” the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, said in a speech last year.

But now 90, the prime minister’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, not only left poverty behind — she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show.

The details of how Ms. Yang, a widow, accumulated such wealth are not known, or even if she was aware of the holdings in her name. But it happened after her son was elevated to China’s ruling elite, first in 1998 as vice prime minister and then five years later as prime minister. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Bo Xilai, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Corruption, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Great Firewall, Influence, Internet, Law, Maoism, Media, New York Times, Peaceful Development, Politics, Poverty, Public Diplomacy, Reform, 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., , , , , , , , , , ,

No joke, China job creator for US [China Daily]

In a time of economic interdependence and global production networks, perhaps this not a surprise? 20,000 jobs may not amount to much in terms of alleviating the 7.8% unemployment rate however (data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, correct as of September 2012).

China Daily: On the divisiveness of transient, cyclical, amnesiac political rhetoric amplifying the gap between true events and self-serving narrative, although this article does not point out that the special report was published in May 2011.

Commissioned by the Center on U.S.-China Relations of the Asia Society and the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States Woodrow Wilson international Center for scholars An American Open Door? Maximizing the Benefits of Chinese Direct Investments (click for full PDF) was published by Rosen and Hanemann.

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No joke, China job creator for US
By Tom McGregor
Source – China Daily, published October 10, 2012

During election season, US presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have hit the campaign trail bashing China to win over American voters. Democrat and Republican Party politicians seem to be competing in the “who will be toughest on China if elected” contest.

In all likelihood these attacks may be nothing more than empty rhetoric, which would be forgotten shortly after Election Day. However, the American electorate should also take another factor into consideration. Chinese foreign direct investment in the US had been creating jobs, despite a gloomy domestic economy in the past few years.

According to a study conducted by the Kissinger Institute on China and Asia Society, Chinese-owned firms created nearly 20,000 American jobs in the past five years, when jobless figures remained at or above 8 percent. It’s possible China helped boost job growth in September as the unemployment rate dipped to 7.8 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Daily, Chinese Model, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Influence, Intellectual Property, International Relations, Law, Mapping Feelings, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S., , , , , , , ,

The curse of China’s big city warlords [Straits Times]

Straits Times: A Singaporean perspective on strong Chinese local leaders as double-edged swords.

It has not gone unnoticed by observers that the fall of Bo, 63, means that the last three most senior leaders disgraced in China were kingpins in major cities. “Probably it is not accidental,” said professor of political science Wang Jianwei from the University of Macau. Chen Xitong controlled Beijing city, a position regarded as local even though it is based in the capital, until his fall in 1995. 

Bo Xilai is finally expelled from the party since the drama caught public eye in Feb earlier this year. Here is a selection of headlines from domestic and international press.

Official announcement from Xinhua: Investigations have found that Bo seriously violated Party disciplines while heading the city of Dalian, Liaoning Province, and the Ministry of Commerce and while serving as a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and as Party chief of Chongqing Municipality… Bo abused his power, made severe mistakes and bore major responsibility in the Wang Lijun incident and the intentional homicide case of Bogu Kailai.Bo Xilai expelled from CPC, public office, September 28, 2012

BBC: Under China’s system the Communist Party controls the media, the police, the prosecutors and the courts. The party is not subject to outside checks and balances. That’s why Mr Bo has been dealt with, by the party, in secret. The courts will now simply confirm the party’s decisions about how to punish him. Bo Xilai: China leaders try to put scandal behind them, September 30, 2012

See also – BBC timeline of events here.

Reuters agency: “Last night, one of the core members of the ruling party’s leadership was suddenly turned into a demon,” said one commentary on “Red China”, a far-left Chinese-language website that has issued a stream of commentary defending Bo. China leaders show unity after expelling Bo, September 29, 2012

New York Times: In his brief statement, posted Saturday evening on Tumblr, the younger Bo wrote: “Personally, it is hard for me to believe the allegations that were announced against my father, because they contradict everything I have come to know about him throughout my life. Although the policies my father enacted are open to debate, the father I know is upright in his beliefs and devoted to duty.” Chinese Ex-Official Snared in Scandal Is Defended by His Son, September 30, 2012

Telegraph:“With such a political aspect to it, you cannot judge this case solely on a legal basis,” said Pi Yijun, a law professor at China’s Law and Political Science university. “The sentence took into account his evidence on Bo’s case, and also the likely reaction of the public. The general public liked Wang and the campaigns he ran, which hit at the mafia. It was mostly intellectuals who were unhappy with him because of the illegal way he went about his job,” he added.Bo Xilai scandal: police chief Wang Lijun sentenced to 15 years, September 24, 2012

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The curse of China’s big city warlords
Strong local leaders a ‘double-edged sword’ for the central government
by By Peh Shing Huei China Bureau Chief News Analysis
Source – Straits Times, October 1, 2012

CHONGQING: Bo Xilai was expelled from the party last week. — PHOTO: AP in Straits Times, 2012

BEIJING – In recent years, as his star shone in south-western Chongqing city, Bo Xilai enjoyed an online nickname – ping xi wang, or Prince Who Pacifies the West.

It was the title of famous Qing Dynasty warlord Wu Sangui. But the moniker was also an early sign of trouble for Bo, who was purged last week.

Wu was a rogue general who declared an independent kingdom in 1678, and such unilateral breakaways – perceived or true – do not sit well with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Bo Xilai, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Corruption, Culture, Democracy, Law, Media, Nationalism, New Leadership, Politics, Reform, Straits Times, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, , , ,

Gold mooncakes raise suspicions of corruption [Xinhua]

The Chinese referent has been based on the moon for the longest time. From the lunar calendar to the lunar-orbiting satellite aptly named Chang’E after the moon goddess to the pop culture hit 月亮代表我的心 (with subtitles)- literally the moon represents my heart perhaps it’s no surprise there are always updates to the recurring theme.

In Chinese lore, mooncakes once performed the role as ingenious mass media with hidden messages to rally against Mongol rule during the fourteenth century. A cultural practice that has taken many forms in folklore over four millennia through various myths, the Chinese used the mooncake to gather into a collective crouching stance.

Centuries on, the mooncake festival continues to be celebrated today. Depending on your point of view, it is also known as the mid-autumn festival and celebrated for a host of reasons.

Xinhua performs the role of fourth estate by illuminating one of 52 unacceptable practices 中国共产党党员领导干部廉洁从政若干准则 on what some in China’s public sphere 2.0 see as an insidious, self-serving albeit well-meaning update on delicate grey line between guanxi and corruption.

A jewelry store staff member shows off a pair of moon cakes made of gold in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province Tuesday. Photo: CFP Source – Global Times, 2012

See – Gold moon cakes not about the glitter (Global Times, September 26, 2012)

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Gold mooncakes raise suspicions of corruption
by Hu Tao and Yuan Ruting
Source – Xinhua, published September 28, 2012

BEIJING, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) — Gold mooncakes made their debut in the gift sector ahead of China’s back-to-back autumn holiday but suspicions of corruption have been raised.

Made of pure gold, the mooncake-shaped artifact witnessed good sales on the eve of China’s traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake Festival.

“Most of the buyers are groups of clients of companies and enterprises who have bought gold mooncakes as a gift,” said a shop assistant in a department store in Xuanwumen in downtown Beijing on Friday. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Corruption, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, History, Law, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Social, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, xinhua, , , , , , , ,

Islands dispute needs a dose of reality [China Post]

From the Taiwan’s leading English-language paper (with 400,000 readers) China Post: toward a middle path and how this generation’s leaders still lack a common language on the Diaoyu dispute.

Japan should acknowledge that there is a dispute over the ownership of the islands. This does not mean giving up its own claim, or indeed the control that it has over them. But the first step to the resolution of a problem is the recognition of its existence.

Japan and China should then hold talks about their dispute. China’s claim is rooted in history, and it is by no means trivial. But, as they say, possession is nine-tenths of the law, and Japan has actually possessed these islands for most of the last century, so an international court may well rule in Tokyo’s favor.

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Islands dispute needs a dose of reality
By Frank Ching
Source – China Post, published September 19, 2012

“Our generation is not wise enough to find a common language on this question,” Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said in 1978 about his country’s territorial dispute with Japan. “Our next generation will certainly be wiser. They will certainly find a solution acceptable to all.”

In the meantime, Deng proposed, the two sides should jointly develop the area’s rich economic resources.

Thirty-four years later, there is still no common language on the disputed Diaoyu — or Senkaku — islands. In fact, the situation has reached critical proportions, with protests breaking out in dozens of cities across China over the Japanese government’s decision to nationalize the islands. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Diaoyu Fishing Boat Incident 2010, East China Sea, Economics, Environment, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, japan, Law, Mapping Feelings, Media, military, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Soft Power, Strategy, Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, , , , , , , , , , ,

Ana Palacio: The Next Task for China’s New Leaders [Straits Times]

Ana Palacio, a former Spanish foreign minister shares her thoughts on areas the new Chinese leadership should be paying attention on.

First, China’s state of flux despite its ‘outward appearance of monolithic resolve.’ Second, the growing demands of the stratification and divides of Chinese society. Third, its conduct of foreign policy.

It is, therefore, little surprise that China’s policies are widely regarded as a reflection of former Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping’s call for a strategy of “hiding our light and nurturing our strength.” Ana Palacio

However, if that is her assessment of the wider interpretation of Deng’s call, then therein lies another problem – because the saying defers to good form, and not misdirection.

Read up more about Ana Palacio here at Project Syndicate.

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Ana Palacio: The Next Task for China’s New Leaders
by Ana Palacio for Project Syndicate
Source – The Straits Times, Global Perspectives, published September 21, 2012

BEIJING – On a recent fact-finding trip to China, organised by the European Council on Foreign Relations, I began with the assumption that the country’s biggest challenge revolved around the need to promote domestic consumption in order to maintain rapid economic growth. By the end of the trip, what had emerged was a complex picture of Chinese assertiveness and uncertainty, poise and anxiety.

Although impending, the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is shrouded in mystery. While the congress is presumably set for October, the exact dates remain unknown, as does much about the internal process and preparatory discussions.

For much of this year, there seemed to be one certainty in the coming leadership transition: the CCP’s new general secretary would be Xi Jinping, a man whose political vision could be elaborated in well under 30 seconds. But Xi’s mysterious vanishing act, in which he dropped from public view for almost two weeks in September – after abruptly canceling meetings with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the prime minister of Singapore (rare occurrences for the protocol-fixated Chinese leadership) – has stirred more speculation. It has also fueled concerns about whether so secretive a leadership can effectively govern the world’s second-largest economy. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Corruption, Democracy, Domestic Growth, East China Sea, Economics, Europe, European Union, Government & Policy, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, Law, Media, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Resources, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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