Wandering China

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

Mao promoted perpetual struggle, Deng saved China from Chaos [Forbes] #RisingChina #Leadership #LeeKuanYew

Coming to the age of 90 this year, Lee Kuan Yew recollects the leadership change that kept China from falling apart – and to great effect.

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Mao promoted perpetual struggle, Deng saved China from Chaos
By Lee Kuan Yew
Source – Forbes Asia print edition, published July edition, 2013

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this is a scan of the article, please click to expand. Source – Forbes, July 2013

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Culture, Deng Xiaoping, Domestic Growth, Economics, Forbes, Government & Policy, Ideology, Influence, International Relations, Maoism, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity

How Mao created China’s capitalist revolution [Straits Times] #RisingChina #Reform #Mao

Reform made of sterner stuff… crossing China’s ideological chasm from the old to new.

One of the most interesting and paradoxical explanations originates with Mao, the very person who had such a destructive effect on China in the last decades of his life. By razing the edifice of old China as relentlessly as he did, Mao may have actually cleared the way for Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s subsequent reforms, thereby playing a role in China’s rebirth that Mao could never have imagined while alive.

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How Mao created China’s capitalist revolution
By razing China’s old value system, he cleared the way for Deng’s reforms
By Orville Schell And John Delury for the Washington Post.
Source – printed in Straits Times, published Jul 27, 2013

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A statue of Mao Zedong in Shenyang, Liaoning province. No leader in 20th-century China was more totalistic and unrelenting in attacking traditional culture than Mao. By force-marching Chinese society away from its old ways, he presented Deng with a vast construction site on which the demolition of old structures and strictures had been mostly completed, ready for reform and opening up. — PHOTO: REUTERS

IN HIS opening remarks at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, an annual meeting between high- ranking United States and Chinese officials, Vice-President Joseph Biden spoke about his first visit to China in 1976, the year that Chairman Mao Zedong died.

“It was already clear then,” he said last week, “that China stood on the cusp of remarkable change.”

That was 37 years ago, when China was still one of the poorest countries in the world – even after a century of experimentation with one formula after another for making the nation wealthy and powerful again.

It was by no means clear back then whether the incipient changes Mr Biden sensed would really take hold. Few imagined that by the early 21st century, China would be in a position to challenge the US economically, militarily and even in the contest for soft power.

So, after spending so many generations mired in a cycle of failed reform and revolution, how did China finally manage to chin itself up into its present period of prolonged economic dynamism?

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, China Dream, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Education, Government & Policy, History, Ideology, Influence, Maoism, Modernisation, Nationalism, New Leadership, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Straits Times, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

What to Make of Xi Jinping’s Maoist Turn [WSJ] #RisingChina #NewLeadership

Thoughts from the WSJ on Xi’s apparent Maoist turn.

…these Party editorials are intended for cadres, not citizens. The idea is for officials to sit up, take notice of their shortcomings and start working differently. Citizens aren’t being coerced or prepared for disappointment; it’s cadres who are being told to change.

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– To believe that a set of instructions would serve its dominant hegemonic purpose with full fidelity is a huge overstep. The range of publicly available party literature can be staggering, just rock up to any of the Xinhua bookstores. This was taken in Chongqing earlier in 2013.

Additionally, mass line in the English language does not carry the semantic gravitas of 群众路线. For more on the 群众路线 mass line , see 人民日报评论部:群众路线是“执政生命线” People’s Daily, June 18, 2013

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What to Make of Xi Jinping’s Maoist Turn
By Russell Leigh Moses
Source – Wall Street Journal China Realtime Report, published June 21, 2013

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by Tim O’brien

Is Xi Jinping lurching towards a Maoist revival?

With a number of Mao-like pronouncements emanating from Beijing in recent months, some observers of Chinese politics think he might be.

The most recent example is an editorial published earlier this week in the authoritative People’s Daily (in Chinese), which argues that the “mass line is the ruling lifeline” for the Communist Party.

In the days since, that phrase has proliferated through state media, with the official Xinhua news agency announcing on Thursday that the Communist Party had published, not one, but two new books on interpretations of “mass line” by everyone from Friederich Engels to Jiang Zemin.

The concept of a mass line harkens directly back to the Maoist era. It denotes the need for officials to get close to the masses, and to know their needs and demands intimately. References to “taking the mass line” have reappeared only sporadically in the years since reform took hold, as revolutionary visions were largely supplanted by slogans emphasizing China’s need for scientific development.

Xi himself took this new campaign high-profile in a videoconference meeting Tuesday (in Chinese), outlining the need for a crusade to educate Party members about the evils of the “Four Winds,” namely “formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and waste.” He argued that cadres “should focus on self-purification, self-improvement, self-innovation, self-awareness”—or, as he put it in a folksy way, “”watching from the mirror, grooming oneself, taking a bath and seeking remedies.”

Please click here to read the full article at the Wall Street Journal China Realtime Report.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Dream, Chinese Model, Communications, Corruption, Culture, Domestic Growth, Education, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Ideology, Influence, Maoism, Mapping Feelings, Media, Modernisation, Nationalism, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, Xi Jinping

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., , , , , , , , , , ,

Bo suspended from key Party post [China Daily]

Bo Xilai: Criminal or exemplar for straying too far from party lines? Not long after having been removed as Chongqing party boss, Bo Xilai has been expelled from China’s top ranks as a member of the 200-over strong central committee and 25-member Politburo. This marks the end of the chapter for the polarising figure for the red revival who famously battled corruption and now, falls ‘victim’ to it.

For more, see…

Bo Xilai’s Wife Suspected of Murder in China (Businessweek, April 10 2012) – Removal from the Politburo and Central Committee, which would come at a formal party meeting, is often a precursor to prison or detention. Among four other men removed from the Politburo outside regular Communist Party congresses since 1989, two were imprisoned and one, former Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, lived out most of the rest of his life confined to his home.

China People’s Daily Urges Cadres to Support Bo Xilai Suspension (Bloomberg, April 11 2012) – The Chinese Communist Party’s official People’s Daily urged cadres support the decision to suspend Bo Xilai from his senior party posts after his wife’s arrest on suspicion of murdering a British citizen.

Bo Xilai charged with violation of discipline [Video] (People’s Daily/CCTV)

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Bo suspended from key Party post
Source – China Daily, published April 11, 2012

Police reinvestigate death of British citizen Neil Heywood

As Comrade Bo Xilai is suspected of being involved in serious discipline violations, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has decided to suspend his membership of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau and the CPC Central Committee, in line with the CPC Constitution and the rules on investigation of CPC discipline inspection departments.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC will file the case for investigation. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Bo Xilai, Charm Offensive, China Daily, Chinese Model, Crime, Government & Policy, Maoism, Mapping Feelings, New Leadership, Politics, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Dimming of China’s ‘great red hope’ troubles offspring of the old guard [The Age]

Domestic cohesion under spotlight.

Too easy being blinded by China’s economic miracle: A clash with the old guard as they question the cost of authoritarian capitalism?

”Thirty years of opening and reform have achieved remarkable economic achievements but those brilliant achievements were followed by class polarisation, rampant corruption, a public spiritual vacuum, chaotic thinking, moral decline, prostitution, drugs, triads and so on…”  Ms Hu Muying president of the Children of Yan’an Fellowship.

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Dimming of China’s ‘great red hope’ troubles offspring of the old guard
John Garnaut, Beijing
Source – The Age, published February 13, 2012

THE waning of Bo Xilai’s political star in Chongqing has left the Communist Party’s conservative elders without a potential saviour who can turn around what they see as a deepening internal crisis.

Mr Bo, the Chongqing party boss, announced the sacking of his right-hand man, police chief Wang Lijun, on February 2, leading Mr Wang to later flee the city and spectacularly take refuge in the US consulate in Chengdu.

Days before Mr Wang’s escape, 1200 children of high party cadres gathered for their biggest-ever spring festival gathering at Beijing’s Heaven and Earth Theatre. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Australia, Beijing Consensus, Bo Xilai, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Corruption, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Finance, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Maoism, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, Nationalism, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, 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

Bo Xilai’s Actions Create Visibility of CCP’s Internal Struggle [NTD/Youtube]

Important for observers looking for clues if the Communist Party were to implode:

Sign of cracks within by threatening the central organisation or rather; signs of ultra-red nationalism?

Am inclined to think both. Threats of corruption seem the standard ruse to distract.

Cheng Xiaonong: “Corruption is only an on-the-table excuse for CCP’s handling of Bo and Wang. The real reason behind it is Bo’s challenging of CCP’s centralization. Bo broke the rules embodied by over-stepping the power line and other improper acts to the CCP.”

For more, see:
Financial Times: The humbling of Bo Xilai (Feb 13, 2012) to find out how Bo Xilai, one of few frontrunners for a seat of the party’s 9-member politburos standing committee got ‘finished’, perhaps by antagonising too many in the past for mooting for a move back to the culture of the Mao-era

And who’s to benefit from this?

On the opposite end of the red factioned Bo Xilai is Guangdong party secretary Wang Yang (despite the recent Wukan incident though open village democratic elections now start from his province). He seems one in the style of Deng, who favours more political reform to advance. See Want China Times: Bo Xilai’s misfortune could be Wang Yang’s opportunity (Feb 13, 2012)

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Transcript below:

Bo Xilai’s Actions Create Visibility of CCP’s Internal Struggle
Source – New Tang Dynasty, Youtube Feb 13, 2012

Chongqing Deputy Mayor Wang Lijun fled to US Consulate offices to seek asylum.

Former Chongqing police chief, Wang Lijun’s Feb 8th political asylum claim was rejected by U.S. Consulate in Chengdu. Wang was escorted by seven CCP senior officials to Beijing on the same day. Wang Lijun is reportedly under investigation by the CCP’s Central Discipline Inspection Commission. And CCP Central Committee has decided to make a full investigation on Bo Xilai, based on Wang’s report.

Cornered and desperate, Bo made repeated moves recently. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Bo Xilai, Chinese Model, Corruption, Domestic Growth, Influence, Maoism, Nationalism, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Soft Power, Straits Times, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Wandering China, Resounding Deng

Greetings friends, and a happy new year to you and family! 2012 seems an exciting year already. Do allow me to share my latest project.

Resounding Deng is the work of my brother and myself, two overseas-born Chinese rediscovering the imagination of China through first-hand experience.

Based on Deng Xiaoping’s UN General Assembly Speech, this journey reflects on Deng’s poignant earlier views of capitalism and how he eventually changed his mind for China to work its way back to great power status today.

Wandering China, Resounding Deng from Wandering China on Vimeo.

Filed under: Back to China, Beijing Consensus, Bob's Opinion, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Influence, International Relations, Maoism, Mapping Feelings, Media, Modernisation, Nationalism, Politics, Population, 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

Bo can do! One man does his bit to be the great will of China [The Age]

The Age reports on the poster-boy for China’s resurgent New Left, Bo Xilai, one of China’s emerging fifth generation leaders. Famous for attempting to re-invigorate China’s red movement – Red songs ring out in Chinese city’s new cultural revolution (Guardian, April 22, 2011), here’s a background brief on the Bo Xilai 薄熙来’s Chongqing Model from the East Asia Institute, Singapore. Download it here.

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Bo can do! One man does his bit to be the great will of China
John Garnaut
Source – The Age, published August 7, 2011

Chinese politician Bo Xilai. Photo: AFP

WANG Li started feeling edgy when her mother was not home by tea time. She called her mobile phone, the voice on the other end sounded calm and reassuring, but even so, she jumped in her car and sped through the winding Chongqing streets to find her.

Ms Wang’s mother, Chen Meirong had swapped her bus conductor’s job for a taxi, then a clothes shop and a restaurant. Now she had taken the leap into real estate.

Ms Wang parked at the Daisi Hotel and strode through the revolving doors, where she found her mother surrounded by 30 muscular men dressed in black. They sported shaven heads or crew cuts, and addressed each other as Big Brother. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 60th Anniversary, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communist Party 90th Anniversary, Culture, Domestic Growth, Environment, Influence, Maoism, Modernisation, Nationalism, New Leadership, Politics, Population, Reform, Social, Strategy, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Reformists fight revival of Maoism [Straits Times]

Will the revival of Maoism set contemporary China’s forward reform backwards? Will the capitalist road be once again be overwhelmed by Maoism as China accelerates into a culture of consumerism now that its great walls are open.

Ching Cheong discusses the implication if Premier Wen Jiabao fails in the ‘fight of his life’ to forestall the revival of Maoism. The Chinese did take a while to recover from the stumbling blocks of Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, amongst other things.

This article reveals that this revival is true, and real – ‘This revival has led to the building of a huge mausoleum dedicated to the late CCP leader Hua Guofeng, Mao’s hand-picked successor who was disgraced after the re-emergence of Deng Xiaoping following Mao’s death.’

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Reformists fight revival of Maoism
By Ching Cheong, Senior Writer
Source – Straits Times, published April 30, 2011

The revival of Maoism has led to the building of a huge mausoleum dedicated to Mao’s hand-picked successor Hua Guofeng, who was disgraced after the re-emergence of Deng Xiaoping. It is almost twice the size of Mao’s own memorial hall in Tiananmen Square (above). — PHOTO: REUTERS

CHINESE Premier Wen Jiabao is now engaged in the fight of his life – forestalling the revival of Maoism, which he argues has stifled political reform in China.

Recently, Mr Wen stuck his neck out by disclosing that two forces within the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have prevented people from speaking the truth.

In a private meeting last Saturday with Mr Ng Hong Man, an ex-delegate to the National People’s Congress (NPC) from Hong Kong, he pinpointed the ‘remnants of feudalism’ and the ‘evil legacies of the Cultural Revolution’ as the two forces. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Influence, Maoism, Nationalism, Politics, Population, Reform, Social, Straits Times

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Wandering China, Resounding Deng Slideshow

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Slideshow reflection on Deng Xiaoping's UN General Assembly speech in 1974. Based on photos of my travels in China 2011.

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A collaboration with my brother: Comparing East Asia's rural and urban landscapes through time-lapse photography.

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