Wandering China

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

Why China Executes So Many People [The Atalantic] #RisingChina #Ideology #CapitalPunishment

The title might provoke as it fails to provide a wider sense of reference to execution rates per capita to qualify ‘so many people’. Portraying China with such negative headline bias is not the smartest trick in the book.

China has six times more people at least. Social stability perhaps does not carry much semantic weight until one has visited and stepped foot into China. Managing people on such a scale requires a firmer hand in some areas, with a lighter touch on other areas.

Yet, it simply shows the song remains the same.

Through antiquity, the elite class functioned above the law – reform here will remain difficult, but policies are set in the right direction. The challenge remains in eliminating the culture of downstream beneficiaries to support one’s own ascension in modern Chinese society.

And just like the old days the everyday people have to wait their turn outside petition areas or outside the gates of official walls if they want to express their claims the old way – many times they do this with critical mass and with notable effect. Of course, social media is the new public opinion outlet today.

However its approach of getting to the root is time-tested, and goes some way to explain the numbers. This usually means eliminating a whole chain as far as possible.

In 2011, China  made efforts to amend the number of capital crimes from 68-55.

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Why China Executes So Many People
by Zi Heng Lim
Source – The Atlantic, published May 10,2013

Suspects listen to their verdicts at a court in Kunming, Yunnan province, November 6, 2012. Photo source (Reuters)

Suspects listen to their verdicts at a court in Kunming, Yunnan province, November 6, 2012. Photo source (Reuters)

Zhang Jing has only seen her husband four times in the past four years. This Thursday, it will have been be exactly two years since they last met.

And she may never see him again.

That’s because Zhang’s husband, Xia Junfeng, a former street vendor in the northeastern city of Shenyang, was sentenced to death in 2011 for stabbing to death two chengguan, who are much-maligned city management inspectors responsible for enforcing law and order.

The sentence is now under final review by the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing. If approved, Xia will not be able to appeal and will be executed.

Please click here to read the full article at the Atlantic Mobile.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Corruption, Crime, Domestic Growth, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Ideology, Mapping Feelings, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Population, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Atlantic, The Chinese Identity

China Has Hipsters, Too #TheAtlantic #China #counterculture #hipster

The Atlantic on China’s wenyi qingnian (文艺青年). Like the hipsters, this too is counter-culture subgroup made possible by urban affluence and social latitude. Both seem postmodern responses to the old positivist worldview.

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China Has Hipsters, Too
By Monica Tan, Tea Leaf Nation
Source – The Atlantic, published November 10, 2012

It’s happened all over the world, and it’s happening in China, too. As the country’s middle class swells in number — and its people discover the pleasures and disappointments of a life spent pursuing material comfort — there has come the emergence of a distinct counter-culture. In Chinese, they are the wenyi qingnian (文艺青年), or wenqing for short, literally meaning “cultured youth.” It’s China’s closest equivalent to the alternately beloved and reviled English word, “hipster.”

What does a typical “cultured youth” look like? Baidu Baike, China’s version of Wikipedia, contains an entry on the term that quotes writer and musician Guo Xiaohan: “I’m a very typical wenyi qingnian. I like poetry, novels, indie music, European cinema, taking pictures, writing blogs, cats, gardening, quilting, making dessert and designing environmentally friendly bags.”

They are twee, nostalgia-driven, and hipster-ish, with a dash of poet. Spiritual at heart, yet living in a very secular, money-driven modern China, wenqing are marked as highly individualistic, romantic, cultural connoisseurs…

Click here to read the rest of the article at its source.

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Environment, Human Rights, Influence, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, Media, Peaceful Development, Population, Social, The Atlantic, The Chinese Identity

China’s Public Confidence Crisis [The Atlantic]

Mysterious disappearance or a symptom of the trappings of instant gratification – the speculations are rife in both traditional and new media? So, where did China’s future leader go the past week?

Yesterday, an article Xi cited in public statement, but rumours persist by Peh Shing Huey in the Straits Times provided a pertinent quote. Indeed, it was only Thursday that Xi’s re-appearance was a citation in state media, a public appearance for the first time in 12 days.

Until he appears in person, the rumours will persist. This message is unlikely to calm nerves. Analyst Zhang Ming from Renmin University, on Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping

And finally, after ‘disappearing’ from public view for a week, China’s Vice-President Xi Jinping in public appearance (BBC, September 15, 2012). During this time, Xi cancelled meetings with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

See also from the standard wires – China’s presumed next leader, Xi Jinping, reappears in public (Associated Press/Fox News)

 A source to the Straits Times had revealed that all this time, Xi had simply injured his back while swimming.

During this period of absence however, searches for Mr Xi’s name on China’s micro-blogging sites were blocked, adding fuel to the cauldron of speculation. A lesson for Chinese identity management for both domestic and foreign audience, surely – that disappearances by leaders-elect make digital pressure cookers for public opinion in transnational networked society.

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China’s Public Confidence Crisis
Brian Killough, U.S. Air Force military fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Source – The Atlantic, published September 14, 2012

The mysterious disappearance of presumed next leader Xi Jinping has many Chinese worried about how much they can trust their government.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (right) and the Republic of Korea’s Ambassador to China celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, on August 30, 2012. (Reuters)

The approaching change in leadership from President Hu Jintao to Vice President Xi Jinping seemed to be going smoothly until the vice president started missing high-level meetings. Since then, rumors have been flying over the causes for the missed meetings. These rumors include a back injury, a car wreck, a heart attack, and a minor stroke. On the other hand, another source claims that Xi Jinping is in good health but is “orchestrating unprecedented political reforms.” Regardless of the real reason, Internet access and a burgeoning middle class have ensured that there is a substantial demand for information, government accountability, and transparency from the Chinese population.

In Chinese culture, citizens are expected to be loyal to their government, but there is also reciprocity expected from the nation’s leaders. The “Mandate of Heaven” is an ancient and well understood cultural philosophy in China that posits, among other things, the emperor’s (leader’s) virtue determines his right to rule, and no one dynasty (party) has a permanent right to rule. In the months leading up to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CCP), we have seen the scandal surrounding Bo Xilai and his wife’s conviction in the murder of businessman Neil Heywood, earthquakes, and mine disasters. More recently, the dispute with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands has angered Chinese citizens and could lead them to perceive the government as weak. In a time when party officials would desire to make this generational leadership transition seamless and sure, the feeling from Beijing is anything but harmonious.

Why would the CCP leadership choose to handle the current questions about Xi Jinping in this manner? Is there a real concern over the public’s perception of his ability to rule if has a serious health issue? Chinese leadership has been sensitive to this perception in the past. In 1966, Chairman Mao swam across the Yangtze River during a time of leadership uncertainty to prove his fitness to lead. At the very least, there seems to be a national “loss of face” for missing meetings with foreign dignitaries. At twelve days and counting since Xi Jinping’s last appearance, the world outside the Middle Kingdom may get some insight into the health of the communist regime by observing how the Chinese people’s confidence in party leadership is affected by the CCP’s handling of recent events and Xi Jinping’s disappearance. While there does not seem to be any danger of a popular uprising based on these current events, public confidence in national leadership has been negatively affected. For example, although he believed the absence to be “quite normal,” Professor Hu Xingdou from the Beijing Institute of Technology criticized the lack of transparencyin a recent interview. On the internet, government censors have removed critical posts and questions within minutes and blocked searches for most common references to the stories and rumors surrounding the disappearance. Today, state media said Xi Jinping expressed condolences to the family of a senior CCP official who died last week. However, he has not made an appearance and the party has given no explanation for his absence. The demands for governmental transparency are growing and those demands, alone, are a small step in the process toward a more open and representative form of government for the Chinese people.

This article also appears at CFR.org, an Atlantic partner site.

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Censorship, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Government & Policy, Influence, Mapping Feelings, Media, New Leadership, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Atlantic, The Chinese Identity, , , , ,

An Astounding Article in ‘Global Times’ [The Atlantic]

Interesting view from the Atlantic, an American literary and cultural commentary magazine: is Chinese state media capable of journalistic integrity aware of the power inequalities or is this just a play on foreign sensibilities? The usually ultra (dare I say?)-nationalistic Global Times uncovers car crash hush-up in Beijing.

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An Astounding Article in ‘Global Times’
James Fellows
Source – The Atlantic, published March 19, 2012

(See update below.) As soon as you can, try this link to an article on the site of the state-run and usually very nationalist Global Times newspaper in China. It is hard to believe that the story will stay up very long. (And if it does, that will say something surprising in itself.) Here is the way it looks as of around 9am Tuesday, March 20 China time – although I see from the dateline that it’s been up for a while already:

Here’s the reason this matters: it concerns a spectacularly horrible fatal car crash over the weekend in Beijing. At around 4 in the morning, a Ferrari driven at high speed along the Fourth Ring Road crashed and burned, killing its driver and seriously injuring two women in the car. The Chinese social-media-sphere has been full of speculation about who was in the car, how “connected” they might be, what kind of people (top officials’ children?) end up with Ferraris, whether the story will be hushed up, and so on. In short, every exposed raw nerve created by the gaping economic and power inequalities of today’s China was touched by this episode.

And for Global Times to say that the story is being hushed up! It is like Fox News undertaking an expose of Bush v. Gore or the business interests of Clarence Thomas’s wife. This is at face value brave, possibly reckless, and without doubt extremely interesting. Here is a screen shot of the end of the story as of right now.  After the jump, a text version of what the story says. Thanks to BB in Beijing for spotting it. And I say, with none of the usual sarcasm, that I am very impressed by what this part of the Chinese state media has done in this case. (Seriously, read this story! It’s amazing.)

UPDATE: Some of my China-sophisticate friends say I am overreacting to this, and that an English-language story like this is meant strictly to play to foreign sensibilities. Perhaps, and perhaps I am quickly misreading these events. But — if that is so, why are English-language broadcasts on CNN or BBC blacked out whenever they mention “sensitive” topics? Why do the English-language China Daily and Global Times usually present such a chipper “harmonious society” face? I don’t know — I’m just saying that this is different from what I am used to seeing as the for-foreign-consumption face of Chinese news, from the state-run media.

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Beijing OIympics, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Corruption, Crime, Culture, Democracy, global times, Government & Policy, Influence, Mapping Feelings, Media, Nationalism, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Social, The Atlantic, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S.

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