Wandering China

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

Special Report: Why China’s film makers love to hate Japan [Reuters] #RisingChina #ScarTissue

Sino-Japanese relations are riddled with scabs aplenty, and flesh wounds run viscous and deep.

Chest thumping over Japan’s real and imagined threats are not new, they have run deep since proto-nationalism in the late 1800s.

They have paid a huge cost for failing to stand up to Japan, many times in living memory for many. They will not want a repeat of losing and then having to foot the victor’s repair bill, stripping itself of means to rebuild.

Of wider note then was Chinese resistance against foreign domination that culminated in the Battle of Peking. The guns ablazing Eight-Nation Alliance made China pay them $335 million (over $4 billion in current dollars) plus interest over a period of 39 years in 1901. It is hard to find breakdowns and how much goes to, who online. However, I found them in a visit to Sun Yat Sen’s former HQ in Singapore.

The world has to be realistic. There is no reason to believe the Chinese are preparing to be defeated on this one. Give and take on smaller issues yes, but when it comes to territorial disputes, I think no chance will be given. Its maritime force is not battle tested, and will itch for battle test-worthiness.

As for the central message behind the article below, it is noteworthy how China conducts its domestic charm offensive, through making cultural capital one of its to eight priorities for this phase of rise.

Perhaps it is unsurprising the us and them perceptual tendency is being amplified by broadcast media. Only this time it isn’t one-message fits all push propaganda like the Mao era. This is now a plethora of choice with 1.3b individuals with a developing sense of identity.

The state is going all out to build an effective dominant ideology stemming intertextually through a massive media ecology on a scale the world has never seen. And through that, the modernist Chinese identity is adapting contemporary values as China’s rise and place in the world shapes its view of itself, and how it sees itself in the world. One only has to visit China and just spend a day channel surfing, to see for oneself.

The tensions and the propaganda go far beyond the current spat. Underneath it all lies a struggle for power and influence in Asia between China and Japan – and political struggles within China itself. Many China watchers believe Beijing’s leaders nurture anti-Japanese hatred to bolster their own legitimacy, which is coming under question among citizens livid over problems ranging from official corruption to rampant environmental pollution. David Lague and Jane Lanhee Lee

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Special Report: Why China’s film makers love to hate Japan
By David Lague and Jane Lanhee Lee
Source – Reuters, published Hengdian, China | Sat May 25, 2013

20130527-070649.jpg

(Reuters) – Shi Zhongpeng dies for a living. For 3,000 yuan ($488) a month, the sturdily built stuntman is killed over and over playing Japanese soldiers in war movies and TV series churned out by Chinese film studios.

Despite his lack of dramatic range, the 23-year-old’s roles have made him a minor celebrity in China. Once, Shi says, he perished 31 times in a single day of battle. On the set of the television drama “Warning Smoke Everywhere,” which has just finished shooting here at the sprawling Hengdian World Studios in Zhejiang Province, he suffers a typically grisly fate.

“I play a shameful Japanese soldier in a way that when people watch, they feel he deserves to die,” Shi says. “I get bombed in the end.”

For Chinese audiences, the extras mown down in a screen war that never ends are a powerful reminder of Japan’s brutal 14-year occupation, the climax of more than a century of humiliation at the hands of foreign powers.

Japanese foreign-policy scholars say more than 200 anti-Japanese films were made last year.

Please click here to read the full report at Reuters.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Communications, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Education, Entertainment, Government & Policy, Ideology, Influence, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, International Relations, japan, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Media, military, Modernisation, Nationalism, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Reuters, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Chinese investors become responsible in Latin America – study

Better days ahead.

Credit to a press wire for positive reporting on China where and when it is due.

Read the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) study here.

Thanks to ChinaSouthAmerica for the heads up.

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Chinese investors become responsible in Latin America – study
By Megan Rowling
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation, published – Thu, 9 May 2013

20130517-080857.jpg

Pelicans gather as fishermen unload anchovies from ship at north Peru port of Chimbote. Peru, world’s top fishmeal exporter, sells anchovies as fishmeal for pigs in China. Picture December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Chinese investors in Latin America are showing greater awareness of the social and environmental impacts of their business activities, and have started applying standards to make trade more sustainable, a research report said on Thursday.

The study from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) looked at investment by Chinese state-owned enterprises in Peru, Brazil and Chile, in the mining, agriculture and forestry sectors. China is expected to overtake the European Union to become Latin America’s second-largest trade partner next year, after the United States, it noted.

“While Chinese companies have often been accused of performing worse in terms of sustainability than their foreign and domestic counterparts, evidence for this is far from conclusive,” said Emma Blackmore, the report’s lead author.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Economics, Government & Policy, Ideology, Influence, International Relations, Latin America, Mapping Feelings, Media, Peru, Reuters, Soft Power, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity

Africans in China [Reuters Africa Journal/Youtube]

2009 charm offensive rewind.

Reuters: On CCTV International presenter Vimbayi Kajese and other Africans taking the pioneering leap to compete and leverage on the Chinese model. The same report also highlights the intercultural bridges being formed.

CCTV9 is China’s state-run English-language international news channel.

At a recent summit of Chinese and African leaders, China promised to double aid to Africa. The strong relationship means more and more Africans are moving to China to exploit business opportunities. A Reuters Africa Journal report by Maxim Duncan and Jimmy Guan. Reuters Africa Journal, 2009

Filed under: Africa, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Education, Influence, Internet, Media, Modernisation, Peaceful Development, People, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reuters, Social, Soft Power, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, , , , , , , , , ,

China ups lobbying game, but faces key tests in U.S., Canada [Reuters]

China Inc: Lobbying via guanxi over invasion a la tour group – how China is starting to coerce its geopolitical economic strategy a little differently? Reuters takes a close look at Chinese attempts to buy American.

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Insight: China ups lobbying game, but faces key tests in U.S., Canada
By Paul Eckert and Rachelle Younglai and David Ljunggren
Source – Reuters, published Wed Aug 22, 2012 

(Reuters) – Back in the day, before the U.S. Congress tore apart China’s proposed multi-billion dollar deals with Western companies one after the other, Beijing’s lobbying left little to the imagination.

China’s Washington embassy blasted out form letters to every U.S. lawmaker when it was upset with Congress, warning of grave damage to Sino-American relations, congressional aides recall.

One aide to a senator, who was being courted by arch rival Taiwan, was told by visiting Chinese officials “that all trade between your state and China will come to a screeching halt!” Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Canada, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Finance, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Reuters, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S., , , , , , , ,

Chinese leaders pick stability over reform [The Age]

From the Age: Setting the tone for the new five-year plan starting 2012, China’s National Peoples’ Congress (Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao address the country’s annual parliamentary session for the last time) moots for the cautious yet flexible approach. Arguably however, the ‘grand show’ of the National Peoples’  Congress is said to be less important than the National Party Congress in October. Indicators should be clearer then.

According to this report, reforms for rising income gaps, food safety, and energy preservation are to take a back seat for the next generation of leaders to tackle come 2013.

For more, see

China Daily – China sets 2012 growth target at 7.5 percent (March 6, 2012) –

“We aim to promote steady and robust economic development, keep prices stable, and guard against financial risks by keeping the total money and credit supply at an appropriate level, and taking a cautious and flexible approach,” Wen Jiabao in his annual work report to the National People’s Congress (NPC).

– – –

Chinese leaders pick stability over reform
Wei Gu
Source – The Age, published March 6, 2012

China's reforms won't get much of a lift this year. Photo - The Age

Wei Gu is a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews

Wen Jiabao didn’t throw any curveballs in his last government report as Chinese premier. Instead, his opening speech for China’s annual national parliament meeting focused on economic continuity. That gives a clear sign that big reforms will have to wait for the next generation of leaders, who take over in early 2013. By then, the cost of the necessary changes may be higher.

Wen’s speech, which will help set the tone for the Five Year Plan that starts in 2012, delivered some big numbers. China’s GDP growth goal was lowered modestly to 7.5 percent from 8 percent, and its inflation target kept stable at 4 per cent.

The fiscal deficit was targeted at 1.5 percent of GDP, up slightly from 2011 to reflect more spending on housing and welfare. All worthy but unexciting revelations. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Environment, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Influence, Mapping Feelings, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Resources, Reuters, Social, Strategy, The Age, The Chinese Identity, Trade, Yuan

Russia, China veto U.N. draft backing Arab plan for Syria [Reuters]

Russia and China in a concert of power deeming the U.N. Arab-European draft resolution for Syria inappropriate to promote peace in the Middle East country.

Employing a double veto, the two permanent members of the Security Council managed to prevent any substantive measure being taken.

Wider question: Indicators are pointing that high prices and scarcity are what is driving Syrians to revolt as the civil war gets bloodier with 350 deaths to date. Who and what is driving the regime change? Russia ( a strong ally to the Syrian government) and China (perhaps reflective of their Independent Foreign Policy of Peace whenever/wherever it applies) argue that more consultations are needed. China’s stand is clear – they’re not in agreement of forced regime changes citing the ensuing complexity of the Libyan example. They are reportedly of the belief that changes of regime have to be decided by the local people, not external powers.

See Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin explanation in the People’s Daily here. (update on Feb 7, 2011)

In response, US envoy Susan Rice has declared this act as ‘unforgiveable‘ (see Al Jazeera report).

For one, this is another example of a post-US-led unipolar world where power is more widely distributed.

For more on how the Chinese represented this event, see Russia, China use double veto to block UN draft on Syria by Xinhua, Feb 5 2011.

China's Ambassador Li Baodong (front) votes during a UN Security Council meeting on an Arab-European draft resolution on Syria backing an Arab League plan which demands a regime change in the Middle East country, New York February 4, 2012. Photo: China Daily / Agencies

Against this backdrop it may also be useful to consider this report – China: Rise of Asia signals greater balance (China Daily, Feb 5 2011) China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun at the 48th Conference on Security Policy in Munich February 4, 2012 argues that  ‘the rise of Asia represents greater balance in the international power structure’. He further reinforced the idea that the development of East and West is not a zero-sum game in his speech titled “Working Together for Peace, Stability and Development of Asia.”

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Russia, China veto U.N. draft backing Arab plan for Syria
By Louis Charbonneau and Patrick Worsnip
Source – Reuters, published Sat Feb 4, 2012

(Reuters) – Russia and China vetoed on Saturday a U.N. resolution that backed an Arab plan calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to quit, stalling global efforts to end his bloody crackdown on unrest after hundreds were reported killed in the city of Homs.

The high-level diplomatic setback came after world leaders and Syrian opposition activists accused Assad’s forces of a massacre in a sustained shelling of Homs, the bloodiest episode in 11 months of upheaval in the pivotal Arab country.

Russia and China joined in a double veto of a Western- and Arab-driven resolution at the U.N. Security Council endorsing the Arab League plan for Assad to hand power to a deputy to make way for a transition towards democracy. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Communications, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Jasmine Revolution, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reuters, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity

Glitzy new AU headquarters a symbol of China-Africa ties [Reuters]

Strategic update: While the US ‘patently’ denies its intentions to build a military base in Philippines (see US Seeks Military Ties, Not Base, in Philippines, ABC News Jan 27 2012), China solidifies its position in Africa by funding the symbolic $200 million AU headquarters.

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Glitzy new AU headquarters a symbol of China-Africa ties
By Yara Bayoumy
Source – Reuters, published January 29, 2012

A traditional dancer wearing a Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic flag performs during the inauguration of the new African Union (AU) building in Ethiopia”s capital Addis Ababa, January 28, 2012. photo – Reuters

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Standing on what was once Ethiopia’s oldest maximum security prison, the new African Union headquarters funded by China is a symbol of the Asian giant’s push to stay ahead in Africa and gain greater access to the continent’s resources.

Critics point to an imbalance in what they see as the new “Scramble for Africa”. But the prospect of growing Chinese economic influence is welcomed by African leaders, who see Beijing as a partner to help build their economies at a time when Europe and the United States are mired in economic turmoil.

And Africans are hoping for more Chinese largesse. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Africa, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Economics, Influence, International Relations, Media, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reuters, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Trade, U.S.

Tension simmers in blockaded China village after land protest [Reuters]

The social price of land grabs: Villagers in the Southern China city of Wukan protest against local government attempts to ‘secretly’ sell off their farmland to developers.

Issues arising such as China’s land reforms do suggest they need examination at the micro level; in particular, getting honest people to perform reform on local levels . I have witnessed personally my ancestral village literally half-built due to funds embezzeled by local officials.

A picture paints a thousand words: the photo below is a rare glimpse into the Chinese mind seldom perpetuated in western popular culture. Once injustice occurs, they will are not afraid to gather. With a little momentum and critical mass, we’ve seen them revolt and topple dynasties, not unlike Western liberal societies.

A demonstration in the centre of Wukan village, in south China's Guangdong province Photo: Malcolm Moore, Telegraph

For more, see

China must end land grabs amid protests over death in custody (Amnesty International, December 15 2011)

Chinese villagers protest over custody death (Financial Times, December 14, 2011)

Wukan siege: Chinese officials ‘hold village to ransom’ – Chinese officials have ratcheted up pressure on the rebel village of Wukan, as it entered its fourth day of a police siege, by allegedly ransoming four men who were seized from the village last week. (The Telegraph, December 15, 2011)

Empty police station in Wukan, with pic of Xue Jinbo, dead villager, posted on the gate
(also by Malcolm Moore, 14 December 2011)

** Latest update: seeds of democracy + rare signs of government relenting to citizen mobilization?
China village ends protests after government compromise [Telegraph, December 21, 2011)
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Tension simmers in blockaded China village after land protest
James Pomfret
Source – Reuters, published December 14, 2011

(Reuters) – Thousands of residents of a south China village rallied on Wednesday in defiance of police who sealed off the area to contain a long-running feud over land grabs and anger over the death of a village leader in police custody.

The death of Xue Jinbo, 42, fanned tension in the small pocket of export-dependent Guangdong province and came after riot police fired water cannons and tear gas on Sunday to disperse thousands of stone-throwing villagers on the coast of the booming province.

Residents of Wukan village say hundreds of hectares of land have been acquired unfairly by corrupt officials in collusion with developers. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Corruption, Crime, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Human Rights, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, People, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Reuters, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

China orders artist Ai Weiwei to pay $2.4 mln for “tax evasion” [Reuters]

‘Tax evasion’: argued here  to mean updated muzzler to handle internal dissent.

The dissident artist with a wide international appeal has often crossed the line of what the ruling party can tolerate when it comes to direct criticism. Ai Weiwei comes to the fore again after being released in June; reminding the world about the 15 million yuan fine slapped on him as he is set a 15 day deadline.

Apparently being told by authorities not to speak to foreign media, post messages on Twitter or leave Beijing for a year after his release, he’s already done two out of three on a regular basis.

“It appears that the government is set to destroy him, if not economically then at least by setting up the stage to later arrest him for failing to pay back taxes,” Songlian Wang, research coordinator for Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

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China orders artist Ai Weiwei to pay $2.4 mln for “tax evasion”
By Sui-Lee Wee | BEIJING
Source – Reuters, published November 1 2011

(Reuters) – China has ordered dissident artist Ai Weiwei to pay 15 million yuan (1.4 million pounds) in back taxes and fines allegedly due from the company he works for, Ai said on Tuesday, a case supporters said was part of Beijing’s efforts to muzzle government critics.

The 54-year-old artist, famous for his work on the “Bird’s Nest” Olympic Stadium in Beijing, was detained without charge for two months this year in a move that drew criticism from Western governments. He was released in late June.

Ai told Reuters he received the notice from the tax authorities that described his title as the “actual controller” for Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., which has helped produce Ai’s internationally renowned art and designs. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Ai Weiwei, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Human Rights, Influence, Media, People, Politics, Population, Reform, Reuters, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

US Republican Presidential Candidate: Romney sharpens attack on China’s economic policies [Reuters]

Wither China-US relations? Although campaign rhetoric tends to stay as rhetoric, the ever-so cyclical China-bashing is on the rise again as the U.S. sorts out its leadership plans despite the tightly woven economic interdependence.

It’s perhaps no surprise that there’s been a bit of a ping-pong match recently.

Here’s an article from party mouthpiece Xinhua ‘China bashing no cure for U.S. economic woes’ (September 7, 2011) that is reflective of a media-savvy China quite content to hit back, “Although old-fashioned and ill-advised, the former Massachusetts governor’s China-bashing rhetoric seemed contagious… China bashing has become a handy tool of U.S. politicians, especially in electoral campaigns or times of economic difficulties… Such mud-slinging tactics may work in the U.S. society…”

This line clinches it for me.

“blaming China for U.S. economic woes will only allow U.S. politicians to hide behind this false excuse, relieving them of their responsibility to take bold action to tackle the problems.”

Seems like a pretty confident China delivering a rhetorical soft power ‘low-blow’ to agitate the U.S.

Over at the Wall Street Journal – ‘China Bashing Is All the Rage – But No Antidote’ (October 14, 2011), “Let’s all blame China. The latest episode of U.S. China-bashing is a Senate measure that would call on the White House to impose unilateral and broad-based tariffs against countries with “misaligned” currencies.”

And the clincher here?

Beijing is not pleased. The People’s Bank of China has been guiding the yuan lower versus the U.S. dollar since the U.S. Senate approved the bill.”

– – –

Romney sharpens attack on China’s economic policies
by Bill Rigby
Source: Reuters, published October 14, 2011

SEATTLE, Oct 13 (Reuters) – U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday threatened trade sanctions against China if the world’s No. 2 economy does not halt what he said was currency manipulation, unfair subsidies and rampant intellectual property theft.

“On day one of my administration I would designate China as a currency manipulator,” Romney told to Microsoft Corp employees, in some of his toughest language yet against China.

“I would apply countervailing duties on Chinese goods where they have stolen intellectual property or where their currency manipulation is killing American businesses and jobs unfairly,” he said at the software giant’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, near Seattle. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Modernisation, Nationalism, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Reuters, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, U.S., Yuan

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