Wandering China

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

Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall

ahhoodroad-jan2017-200dpi

Tucked away in a secondary road in Balestier is the former Sun Yat Sen Villa. Just over a hundred years ago, it was the Southeast Asian (Nanyang) headquarters for Sun Yat Sen’s revolutionary activities with the Tong Meng Hui secret society.

The funds and support he raised here with the Tong Meng Hui had a role to play in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty – marking the end of millennia of dynastic rule in China with the Xinhai Revolution in 1911. The Republic of China was established, Asia’s first. It had a western style parliamentary system although that didn’t last long.

Few Singaporeans, nor northern mainland Chinese know about the existence of this place which in our minds, a glaring blindspot.

First, it makes for a worthwhile visit to understand that Singapore’s relationship with China goes back a longer way than Deng-Lee relations, or the post-LEE post-Terrex new normal. Second, that Singapore had a hand in the birth of modern China. Sun Yat Sen visited Singapore nine times between 1900 and 1911. The villa was gazetted as a national monument in October 1994 and is now known as the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall.

Altitude: 200feet / 60m

#NeverForget Singapore’s #SeaState
Shot with the DJI Mavic Pro

Filed under: History, International Relations, Public Diplomacy, Singapore, Uncategorized, , , ,

Survey: Singapore’s response to China’s rise: Online Media and the formation of public opinion

It has been a while – – –

Greetings readers *especially if you are from/based-in Singapore – if you have a few moments to spare, I appreciate your input for an online survey. Your inputs are deeply appreciated as it will provide important data for this twenty-first century update of modern Singapore’s response to China’s rise.

>>> Please click here to proceed to the survey hosted on surveymonkey.com

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Research Objective in a nutshell: To study the impact of online media / web 2.0 on how people in Singapore form opinions about China’s rise.

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This survey should take about 15-20 minutes to complete. There are 38 questions in total, the majority of which are either multiple choice or based on a rating scale. Inputs will be collected and analyzed after the questionnaire closes on [June 15, 2014]. Responses are collected anonymously and will used solely for research purposes.

Please visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/mp/policy/privacy-policy/ for more on privacy policy.

Filed under: Communications, Education, International Relations, Media, Politics, Singapore, , , , , , ,

Leader who struck a chord with China [Straits Times] #RisingChina #Singapore

– Lee Kuan Yew is Singapore’s world-class asset at understanding the Chinese mind.

He had once suggested to a Chinese leader in having English as the dominant language. Would China do the same? The answer was no surprise, it was no. It was unrealistic for Lee then made it clear it was a serious handicap. Imagine competing against Chinese competition when fluency in English no longer remains a key advantage.

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Leader who struck a chord with China
Lee Kuan Yew could get China’s attention, but it will be tough for tiny Singapore to find comparable successors to fill his big shoes
By John Wong, For The Straits Times
Source – Straits Times September 18, 2013

20130919-082752.jpg
Mr Lee (on podium, right) with Chinese Premier Li Peng at a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People during his nine-day visit to China in September 1988, when he also met Chinese President Yang Shangkun, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Zhao Ziyang and paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. — PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

CHINA has published many books about former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. One written by Chang Zheng in 1996 bears this interesting title, Lee Kuan Yew: A Great Man In A Small Country (Xiao Guo Wei Ren). In politics and international power relations, does “size” matter at all?

Deng Xiaoping, a “five- footer”, had struck Mr Lee as “a giant among men” when they first met in 1978. Mr Lee has since openly stated that Deng was the most impressive leader he had ever met.

Viewed from a different angle, Singapore is a tiny city-state while China is a huge continental- sized country. The two also have inherent political, economic and social differences. Yet, they have developed strong bilateral relations, thanks to the efforts of both Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Deng.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Dream, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Ethnicity, Ideology, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Singapore, Soft Power, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Singapore Strike: The Full Story [Wall Street Journal] #Singapore #RisingChina

The Chinese bus-driver strike is Singapore’s first real strike in decades.

Push has become pull. Along with China’s rise and more self-assured place in the world, more Chinese are turning to a sojourn from the mainland for a better economic future.  This recent surge in numbers has solidified the overseas Chinese presence overseas, now accounting for easily over fifty million.

Above, Singapore’s historical strike data from 1946 to 2009. In this chart, man-days lost refer to the total number of working days lost annually due to industrial action. It is calculated by multiplying the duration of industrial actions (in days) with the number of workers that were affected. Source - Ministry of Manpower, Singapore

Above, Singapore’s historical strike data from 1946 to 2009. In this chart, man-days lost refer to the total number of working days lost annually due to industrial action. It is calculated by multiplying the duration of industrial actions (in days) with the number of workers that were affected. Source – Ministry of Manpower, Singapore

The contrast with China’s >100,000 mass incidents yearly shows a stark difference in approach.

The Chinese tolerate a certain level of dissent, Wukan is a good example.

In this case, I believe the drivers simply felt they ran out of viable options and decided to go for broke, and go straight to the decision makers just like they would back home.

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Singapore Strike: The Full Story
By WSJ Staff Reporter Chun Han Wong

This story of a strike by Chinese bus drivers in Singapore offers a close-up look at a major issue facing the Southeast Asian city-state today: The growing number of migrant workers who underpin Singapore’s economy and the social tensions that their presence can generate. 

What happened over two days in late November 2012 rattled the foundations of Singapore’s economic success – its business-friendly governance and industrial harmony – and prompted a robust response from the government.

The strike, a rarity in Singapore, resonated across Asia, where other countries are grappling with a growing dependence on foreign labor, too. And it provided a window into ordinary lives seldom-seen: the migrants who fan out from China in search of a fatter paycheck abroad.

How to balance the need for new workers from overseas with the preservation of established ways, presents a major dilemma that policymakers and citizens will wrestle with for years to come.

Please click here to read the entire article at the Wall Street Journal online.

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, China Dream, Chinese Model, Culture, Economics, Education, Ethnicity, Government & Policy, Greater China, Human Rights, Influence, International Relations, Modernisation, Peaceful Development, Public Diplomacy, Singapore, Social, Soft Power, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Wall Street Journal

Opinion: Coming to terms with China’s rise [Straits Times] #RisingChina #InternationalRelations

An Australian + Singapore perspective on the concert of nations in the contemporary multipolar status quo.

Asad Latif with a book review of Australia National University Professor Hugh Whites’s The China Choice: Why We Should Share Power.

This is a thought-provoking book by a first-rate strategic intellectual. Still, some of White’s observations are questionable. Referring to the Monroe Doctrine – under which America reserved for itself a pre-eminent role in the Western Hemisphere that excluded sharing power with others – he implies that China could have a comparable doctrine in Asia. Asad Latif

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Coming to terms with China’s rise
America has three choices – resist China’s rise, withdraw from Asia, or agree to share power
By Asad Latif For The Straits Times
Source – Straits Times, published August 17, 2013 (subscription required)

From left: Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi, Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns at the end of the 5th United States and China Strategic and Economic Dialogue last month. Officials from the two world powers met to discuss their countries’ relationship. — PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The China Choice: Why We Should Share Power
Hugh White
publisher Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, 191 pages

WAR between America and China is a clear and sufficient danger, the Australian strategic thinker Hugh White warns in this book. Both countries are formulating their military plans and building their forces specifically with the other in mind.

They are competing to garner support from other Asian countries. Ominously, they are viewing regional disputes such as in the South China Sea as terrains of rivalry.

Since a major Asian war could be the worst in history, the United States – the region’s preponderant power today – should avoid the calamity. So should China, which is fast catching up with America economically and capable of translating this power into military clout.

However, unlike the US, China does not see itself as the only great power in the international system. It does not seek to oust America from Asia, as America seeks to contain it in Asia. Hence, it is up to Washington to make overtures to Beijing that would prevent a catastrophic war.

Please click here to access the entire article at the Straits Times online (subscription required). Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Australia, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Communications, Government & Policy, Hard Power, Ideology, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Modernisation, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Singapore, Soft Power, Straits Times, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S.

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

Why Indonesia Can Only Wait for Rain as Riau Burns and Singapore Chokes [Jakarta Post] #Singapore #Indonesia #Haze

A test of interconnectedness – the neighbors are a direct and critical cog of Singapore’s regional production and resource network. There is little deviation along the compass point when fingering the transnational capitalists or lamenting at political rhetorical ellipse. Anticipating wind patterns before the burn should have been a smarter way to do the inevitable; and for leaders to be a step ahead.

Further reading:

Burning Borneo Causes Worldwide Concern (June 22, 2013)

Singaporeans Slam Leaders for Not Ordering Work Halt Amid Smog (June 22, 2013)

Interestingly enough, the notion that Singapore is part of China persists…

Haze puts S’pore on map, millions surprised to find it there (Business Times, June 22, 2013 by Joyce Hooi)

THE world reacted with incredulity yesterday when it discovered what a “Singapore” was. Some clues to the existence of the city-state began emerging on Wednesday, when millions of orders for respiratory masks began crashing Amazon’s servers.

“I’ve seen that word before on one or two orders, you know?” an e-retailer told The Business Times yesterday. “But I got like a million orders from these Singaporeanese this week, and I thought, ‘boy, the air in China must be getting a lot worse’.”

Some, however, have expressed doubt at its existence. “I can’t see it on Nasa’s website of satellite images. There’s a patch of white smoke where people say it should be,” a forum member on Reddit said.

And in perhaps getting to the root…

Indonesia names Sinar Mas, APRIL, among eight firms behind Singapore haze (Eco Business, June 21, 2013 by Jessica Cheam)

+

See: The guilty secrets of palm oil: Are you unwittingly contributing to the devastation of the rain forests? (The Independent, May 2009)

It’s an invisible ingredient, really, palm oil. You won’t find it listed on your margarine, your bread, your biscuits or your KitKat. It’s there though, under “vegetable oil”. And its impact, 7,000 miles away, is very visible indeed.

The wildlife-rich forests of Indonesia and Malaysia are being chain-sawed to make way for palm-oil plantations. Thirty square miles are felled daily in a burst of habitat destruction that is taking place on a scale and speed almost unimaginable in the West.

When the rainforests disappear almost all of the wildlife – including the orangutans, tigers, sun bears, bearded pigs and other endangered species – and indigenous people go. In their place come palm-oil plantations stretching for mile after mile, producing cheap oil – the cheapest cooking oil in the world – for everyday food. Martin Hickman for the Independent, 2009

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Why Indonesia Can Only Wait for Rain as Riau Burns and Singapore Chokes
Source – Jakarta Post, published June 21, 2013

20130622-113111.jpg

Motorcyclists drive through the smog in Dumai, Riau on June 21. (Reuters Photo)

Indonesia has accepted international praise for its deforestation legislation but has failed to invest in its enforcement, two top environmental groups said on Friday as fires continued to burn through protected peatlands in Sumatra.

The Ministry of Forestry lacks the resources to police the million of hectares of forest protected under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s acclaimed deforestation moratorium, Greenpeace Indonesia said. Fires in Riau province have burned for nearly a week, blanketing portions of Sumatra, Malaysia and Singapore in a thick cloud of smog.

More than 140 hotspots have been observed in satellite images across Sumatra and Kalimantan since the start of the week. Environmental activists and the ministry disagree over the number of hotspots burning in protected forests. Environmental groups estimated that number was close to 70. The ministry said fires were reported in only “five or six” protected forests.

“It’s nowhere near 50 percent,” said ministry spokesman Sumarto.

Please click here to read the full article at the Jakarta Post.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: ASEAN, Climate Change, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Government & Policy, History, Ideology, Indonesia, Influence, Infrastructure, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Peaceful Development, Politics, Population, Resources, Singapore, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade

China Update: Corruption crackdown, slower growth and Singapore [An Abundant World] #RisingChina #Corruption

China bull James White on the prospect of transiting into a mixed model – Singapore style.

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China Update: Corruption crackdown, slower growth and Singapore
By James White
Source – An Abundant World, published May 30, 2013

Back at the start of the year I wrote a bullish synopsis of the outlook for China in 2013 and 2014. It seemed to me that growth would accelerate in 2013 from the lows of August 2012 to towards 9%. It also seemed, to me, that inflation would be very subdued and allow growth to be robust for a 24 month period before any move to aggressive tightening was made. Three or four months later I remain confident about subdued prices and the outlook for 2014. But clearly the outlook for the current year has weakened dramatically. The question is why?

Obviously, I don’t fall into the China bear camp. There’s still substantial growth to come in China. But undoubtedly, activity is not as robust as I suspected it would be.

The answer for me is the corruption crackdown and it’s fallout.

Please click here to read the full article at An Abundant World.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Corruption, Domestic Growth, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Ideology, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Singapore, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Trade

New licensing scheme for news websites that reach 50,000 people a month [Straits Times] #Singapore #IntelligentNation2015

So with all the high speed cables promising high-speed connectivity due international envy, gate keeping was optimistically kept low key in public headspace.

This happening then, was a matter of when.

It may affect only those with a set amount of visitors, but it also means a broader range of hotbeds for public opinion have to toe some kind of line. Even those out in the fringes. Especially and traditionally more so for those in the power centre.

Singapore’s clockwork orange narrative thus extends to the digital frontier as it sets new standards in agenda setting reach. The image of a relatively harmonious and compliant workforce continues into the knowledge economy, now rubber stamped and enforceable by policy.

It seems increasingly to look like this – an overarching climate that says the tree is growing rapidly to adapt to global changes already, don’t try to shake it, too much. Public opinion online is more and more privilege to be taken with trepidation.

This, perhaps is the big reveal for their Intelligent Nation 2015 masterplan. Or a sudden jam brake. One of its big goals? 90% of the population on broadband. However, this happens at a time of its first strike alongside two public demonstrations, both a first in living memory. Last time it happened during its adolescent years as a nation the government struck down hard. As a young adult now, if you excuse the analogy, it will find it extremely hard to shake off the memories of those formative years.

Leave no stone unturned, and this might be a message that resonates with the Chinese.

Further reading – [PDF] REALISING THE iN2015 VISION – iDA, 2009

And

iN2015 Masterplan – An Intelligent Nation, A Global City

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20130529-051742.jpg

New licensing scheme for news websites that reach 50,000 people a month
By Tessa Wong
Source – Straits Times, published May 28, 2013

From June 1, websites that regularly report Singapore news and have significant reach will require individual licences to operate.

Currently, most websites are covered automatically under a class licence scheme. But the Media Development Authority (MDA) will require websites to be individually licensed once they meet two criteria.

These are: if they report an average of at least one article per week on Singapore’s news and current affairs over a period of two months, and have at least 50,000 unique visitors from Singapore each month over a period of two months. The individual licenses have to be renewed every year.

Under the new framework, these sites must also put up a performance bond of $50,000, similar to that required for niche TV broadcasters.

Announcing the ruling on Tuesday, the MDA said the move would place such sites on a “more consistent regulatory framework” with traditional news platforms like newspapers and television stations, which are individually licensed.

The licence makes clear that online news sites are expected to remove content that is in breach of MDA standards within 24 hours, once notified to do so.

This material could cover content that is against the public interest, public security, or national harmony.

When the MDA deems that a site has met the criteria for individual licensing, it will issue a formal notification and work with the site to move it to the new framework.

Ten sites currently fit the media regulator’s criteria, of which seven are run by Singapore Press Holdings.

The 10 are: straitstimes.com, asiaone.com, businesstimes.com.sg, omy.sg, stomp.com.sg, tnp.sg, zaobao.com as well as the sites for Today newspaper, ChannelNewsAsia and Yahoo News.

Filed under: Charm Offensive, Communications, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Education, Ideology, Influence, International Relations, Internet, Mapping Feelings, Media, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, People, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Singapore, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Asia will resist U.S. efforts to contain China, says Singapore diplomat [Washington Times] #RisingChina #SinoAmerican #Contaiment

Note – article comes from the Washington Times October 2012…

It remains to be seen how Ashok Kumar Mirpuri is faring in the context of a much clearer Asian pivot already in place stirring up potential pincer proxy conflicts in the East and South China Sea.

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Asia will resist U.S. efforts to contain China, says Singapore diplomat
By Ashish Kumar Sen
Source – The Washington Times Sunday, October 14, 2012

Asian nations will resist any U.S. attempts to block the rise of China, as Washington pursues a new strategy in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Singapore’s former ambassador in Washington.

“I think if the United States re-engages Asia to contain China it won’t work because countries in Asia won’t sign on to containment,” Chan Heng Chee said in a phone interview from Singapore.

“We don’t want another Cold War. The United States should not ask Asian countries to choose. You may not like the results if you ask countries to choose.”

Please click here to read the full article at the Washington Times.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Communications, Culture, East China Sea, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, Nationalism, New Leadership, Overseas Chinese, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Singapore, Soft Power, South China Sea, 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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