Wandering China

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

Inside Story : Russia and China: Cementing ties [Al Jazeera Video] #ChinaRussia

Al Jazeera’s Inside Story on March 23 has a panel talk about Russia and China strengthening ties.

Optimistically speaking – we have two former giants demonstrating how two former foes can be at least in today’s terms, friends. This relationship hasn’t been without cycles of ups and downs. See China and Russia: Best frenemies forever? (Fortunate Magazine, March 28, 2013)

That they do so today whilst they rejuvenate themselves seems on paper, a synergistic pivot necessary for the times. A case for symbiotic realism perhaps.

Both members of BRIC with permanent seats on the UN security council, they share a long border, complement each other economically and it makes a lot of sense to form a tag team. That they largely share consensus on major international issues not beholden to the US, has also stirred into the symbolism of this combined charm offensive.

It is also noteworthy Xi Jinping already made an important visit to US as Vice President last year.

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Inside Story : Russia and China: Cementing ties
Source – Al Jazeera on Youtube, published March 23, 2013

As China’s Xi Jinping chooses Moscow for his inaugural state visit, we look at the ties that bind the two countries. Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, discusses with guests: Victor Gao, the director of China National Association of International Studies. He was former China policy advisor; Dimitry Babich, a political analyst at Russia Profile magazine; and Roderic Wye, a China analyst at Chatham House and senior fellow with the China Policy Institute at Nottingham University.

Filed under: Al Jazeera, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Economics, History, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Modernisation, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, SBS, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Xi Jinping

Chinese leader greeted with US protests [SBS]

At a time where China’s domestic political troubles are surfacing, to-be Chinese leader Xi Jinping continues being introduced to the world with his US visit now in the spotlight.

He arrived in Washington on Monday with an overarching purpose to advance the building of the China-US ties.

How will the man, famous for once uttering (prior to being International Relations-nuanced), “There are some bored foreigners, with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us [China]. First, China doesn’t export revolution; second, China doesn’t export hunger and poverty; third, China doesn’t come and cause you headaches, what more is there to be said?” fare on this charm offensive of the west?

For more official news, visit China’s daily coverage- Vice-President Xi in US, Ireland and Turkey.

Politics aside, consider checking out a couple of human interest stories below that paint a more synergistic picture.

Town ready to welcome return of special guest (China Daily, February 13, 2012) – ‘It was 27 years ago that Xi visited Muscatine, an agricultural center in the US heartland, when he led a delegation to learn about farming technology. The delegates were all given badges to wear sporting the town’s slogan: “Feeling Great”.’

And – The hog days are over, but Xi still has time for Iowa (The Age, February 16, 2012) that brings up the economic benefits of Xi’s relationship with Iowa. – ‘Iowa’s exports to China have grown to more than $US600 million ($A558 million) a year. The Chinese Vice-President insisted on adding Iowa to his jammed US itinerary to reacquaint himself with the small Midwest town he visited with a posse of Communist Party officials in 1985, ostensibly to study US techniques in agriculture.’

The SBS article comes with a useful and short primer on Xi Jinping’s roots (see video here).

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Chinese leader greeted with US protests
AAP
Source – SBS, published February 14, 2012

Police in Washington arrested activists during a visit by China’s vice president, as a teenage monk set himself on fire to protest China’s rule in the nation’s southwest, exile groups said.

The Washington activists unfurled a banner on a bridge reading “Tibet Will be Free” during the visit of China’s leader-in-waiting, Vice President Xi Jinping.

The activists, from the group Students for a Free Tibet, said they were later released after being issued citations with fines of about $250 each for trespassing and disorderly conduct.

The 19-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk, identified as Lobsang Gyatso, set  himself ablaze on Monday in Sichuan province’s restive Aba county, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and Free Tibet said.

The Washington-based ICT said police violently beat the monk as they extinguished the flames, before taking him into custody. It was not immediately clear whether he survived.

He was a monk at Aba’s Kirti monastery, a leading Tibetan Buddhist institution that has been the scene of repeated protests by Tibetans against what they say is religious and cultural repression by Beijing.

At least 20 Tibetans have set fire to themselves in the past year to protest what they see as a lack of rights under Chinese rule, leading Beijing to impose virtual martial law, according to residents and exiled groups.

Many have been monks from Kirti, which has been under virtual lockdown since a young monk named Phuntsog set light to himself and died last March, sparking mass protests there.

Government and police officials in Aba refused to confirm the latest attempt when contacted by AFP.

The spate of suicide attempts has led Beijing to impose virtual martial law in Tibetan-inhabited areas of China, residents and exiled groups have said.

China has accused overseas groups and Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama of fomenting unrest.

Tibetans have long chafed under China’s rule over the vast Tibetan plateau, accusing Beijing of curbing religious freedoms and eroding their culture and language, and these tensions have intensified over the past year.

But Beijing insists that Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and have benefited from improved living standards brought by China’s economic expansion.

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Democracy, Economics, Government & Policy, Influence, Infrastructure, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, SBS, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, U.S.

Repost and update: China’s Ghost Cities [Youtube/SBS]

Repost and update: Australia’s public service broadcaster SBS tackles the question of China’s overheated domestic economy.

Do these ghost cities hint at domestic growth or domestic waste? Do they allude to a paradigm sift in the Chinese mind? This is probably uncharacteristically ‘not’ frugal. Have they taken the ‘capitalist road’ too far and learnt to be comfortable with excess?

Professor Zhou Xiao Sheng, prominent Chinese sociologist sends a reminder in the video – ‘If it leads to polarisation, then reform has failed…’.

An honest question has to be asked here as it is now well known that China is unable to continue relying on infrastructure investments to spur its economy. It knows its previously lax approach to housing did not work. Genuine Chinese home buyers were quickly priced out of the market in a rapid property bubble upswing. With requirements of up to 50% deposits, genuine buyers sure had a lot to put at stake.

Tie that to the reality of overambitious construction forecasts and we have a strange situation.

64 million (correct as of April 2011) apartments empty while many Chinese youth can’t afford to buy a home (admitted here in state media), something some of them argue as a basic human right. Surely this is a sign of a growing social divide, as forewarned.

This is staggeringly, a number that easily dwarves the number of empty homes in the US (though not by ratio) at 16.8m  (Reuters data in 2009 revealed 1 in 9 homes then were unoccupied).

Unguided zeal more than a veneer of a booming consumer culture? Probably. All eyes on China to learn to make things better.
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Filed under: Australia, Back to China, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Infrastructure, Lifestyle, Modernisation, Population, Property, SBS, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

China’s Ghost Cities [SBS/Youtube]

Domestic growth or domestic waste alluding to a paradigm sift in the Chinese mind? This is probably uncharacteristically ‘not’ frugal. Have they taken the ‘capitalist road’ too far? Professor Zhou Xiao Sheng, prominent Chinese sociologist sends a reminder in the video – ‘If it leads to polarisation, then reform has failed…’ An honest question has to be asked here. With an increasing social divide fueled by an overheated economy, we have a paradoxical situation. The upswing due to the property bubble now cannot afford to burst, yet millions are left in squatter-like conditions whilst 64 million empty apartments stay unaffordable to those who need it most.

 ‘Vast cities are being built across China at a rate of ten a year, but they remain almost uninhabited ghost towns. It’s estimated there are 64 million empty apartments.’ (SBS Dateline, April 11, 2011)

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Inflation, Lifestyle, Politics, Reform, SBS, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Youtube

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