While Americans embrace their reinstated confidence in both economics and international affairs, China seems to be going the opposite direction.
Deng probably hoped future Chinese leaders would be humble and restrained, keep a low profile, and instead of broadcasting China’s ambitions or showing off China’s economic or military muscles, quietly focus on overcoming China’s weaknesses, such as economic development. In international affairs, Deng probably would have liked to see China avoid acting like an aggressor. Instead, he would have preferred China shun either causing any international conflict or serving as a leader of any faction within an international conflict.
When Deng passed away in 1997, China was still in its first decade of economic reform and its per-capita gross domestic product was less than $800, so the kind of restrained policy approach he advocated made perfect sense. No one knows how long Deng intended for this policy guidance to last. But Deng’s successors, from Hu Yaobang to Hu Jingtao (they aren’t related), pretty much followed Deng’s policy guidelines until President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012.
No More Humility and Restraint
It seems President Xi has abandoned Deng’s strategic policy guidelines. On the domestic front, he focused on ensuring his power by purging many political rivals through the anti-graft movement. In October, he was declared the “core” leader of the Chinese Communist Party, a title last used by Chairman Mao.
He coined the term “China dream” to counter “American dream.” While “American dream” is about any hard-working individual living to his or her full capacity in a free society, “China dream” means Chinese people can only live a better life by subjecting themselves to the Communist Party’s absolute rule. Under President Xi, the Chinese government has ruthlessly cracked down on dissidents, including Chinese nationals and foreigners, and China has become a much less friendly place to foreign investors and companies.
On the foreign policy front, China doesn’t lay low any longer. President Xi has been very vocal about China’s ambitions. He seems to believe that China’s rise to replace the United States as the next superpower is unstoppable and the time is now.
He sees at least two trends in his favor. First, there’s a consensus within the Chinese leadership and public opinion that the 2008 economic crisis has produced long-lasting devastating effects to the West: most countries in Europe are still struggling economically while the United States has experienced a very timid recovery. Since China emerged from the 2008 economic crisis relatively unscathed, many people, including Xi, believed that free market economics have reached their end and it’s time to adopt the Chinese-style authoritarian mercantile economic model. Thus, China should replace the United States to set a new economic order.
Second, based on a misguided belief that the world is a better place when the United States gives up its power and authority in a global system established since World War II, President Obama has been ready and willing to acquiesce America’s leadership in international affairs in the last eight years. President Xi quickly sized up president Obama as a weak leader, and sought to expand China’s influence and challenge America wherever opportunities rise. Read the rest of this entry »
Chinese President Xi Jinping made statements last month demanding a “new trend toward socialist family values” in China.
Xi made the comments at a conference “to honor model families” in December, according to Xinhua, defining “socialist family values” as “love for the nation, family and one another, devotion to progress and kindness, and mutual growth and sharing.” His New Year’s Eve address appeared to promote more of the same, demanding the Chinese people “work harder” to aid the Communist Party’s progress both nationally and globally.
“As long as our 1.3 billion-plus people are pulled together for a common cause, as long as the Party stands together with the people and we roll up our sleeves to work harder, we will surely succeed in a Long March of our generation,” Xi reportedly said in his address.
He made clear that the values he seeks to see Chinese families promote are indivisible from Communist Party edicts, reminding listeners that “law is virtue put down in words, and virtue is law borne in people’s hearts.”
Xi reportedly urged “fostering a belief in law, the rule of law and rules, and guiding people to voluntarily assume their statutory duties, as well as responsibilities for society and family.”
The Chinese Communist Party propaganda outlet The People’s Daily reported that Chinese citizens online “responded enthusiastically to President Xi Jinping’s New Year’s address, equally impressed by the content and inspirational phrasing of the speech.”
The Chinese media outlets’ emphasis on family values are contrasted with Western-style popular culture on the pages of the Global Times, another English-language propaganda outlet. While China’s president has repeatedly dwelled on “socialist family values” in recent speeches, the Times has decried reality show participants and celebrity divorcees as indicative of a trend of immaturity among young Chinese people. Read the rest of this entry »
Oil Drilling ‘Ban’ Still Allows Production Outside America
“This is so egregious, it’s perfectly revealing of the fact that Obama as he leaves the White House, he’s trying to nail everything to the floor so it can’t be moved. Of course, it can be moved. First of all, he’s interpreting this 50, 60-year-old law, in a wildly different way. It was intended to protect the feeding areas of the walrus. It was supposed to be specific, narrow, small tracks, not this gigantic locking away.”
“Second, they can’t even defend it in its own terms. The idea that because we’re not going to drill here, the oil and natural gas is not going to be produced, is ridiculous. It’s going to end up being produced in Nigeria, places all over the world, where the standards — environmental standards and protections — are infinitely less than they are in the U.S. So even in terms of the environment, you’re increasing the danger. It’s very obvious that all they’re trying to do is prevent American production of hydrocarbons, and it’s futile. The Indians and the Chinese are opening a coal-fired plant every week. It is not going to stop. What we don’t do, they will do. What we are doing is exporting jobs, exporting the waste, and exporting the danger.”
Source: National Review
The reaction among the United States’ strongest allies in Asia — Japan and South Korea — was more severe, however, as local stock markets plunged.
Patrick Brzesk reports: As news of Donald Trump’s shocking presidential win was reverberating around the world Wednesday, media coverage in China was oddly scant — and not by accident.
“I think Trump is the tragedy of the American people. How did he win? It must be a scam. Now I think cats and dogs can be president!”
— Sina Weibo user Zhonghua Junlon
China’s censors had issued advance orders to media outlets to restrict coverage of the U.S. democratic contest. All websites, news outlets and TV networks were told not to provide any live coverage or broadcasts of the election and to avoid “excessive” reporting of the story, a source who was briefed on the official instructions told the South China Morning Post.
“In Tokyo, and across the Japanese archipelago, the election also was a sensation. TV stations in Japan rapidly rejigged schedules Wednesday afternoon to continue coverage of the U.S. election as the reality of a Trump presidency became apparent, while the Tokyo stock market crashed as the yen soared against a weakening dollar.”
In response, coverage of Trump’s upset was carried only as a secondary story across the Chinese media landscape, with most outlets highlighting a meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Vladimir Putin instead.
China’s foreign ministry also stopped short of issuing congratulations to Trump in the immediate aftermath of the decision, instead stating: “China is closely following the U.S. presidential election, and expects to maintain healthy Sino-U.S. relations with the new government.” (Chinese President Xi Jinping was also making calls elsewhere: he rang outer space to congratulate the astronauts aboard China’s recently launched Shenzhou 11 spacecraft, wishing them “a victorious return.”)
The press restrictions were part of Beijing’s usual strategy of limiting the Chinese public’s exposure to Western ideas and democracy. Instead, censors told Chinese media to report “in a timely manner” on any embarrassing scandals during the election and to criticize “in depth” any perceived political abuses.
“2016 looks like it may be a turning point in world history with first Brexit and now this. I’m hoping 2016 doesn’t go down as the beginning of the end.”
— A manager at a major Japanese entertainment company, who spoke on condition of anonymity
To that end, the People’s Daily ran an editorial on the eve of the election saying that the current cycle had “undeniably revealed the dark side of so-called democracy in the U.S.” The paper, which is the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, described the presidential contest as dark, tasteless, chaotic and nothing more than a “meaningless farce.” A similar editorial controlled by Xinhua said the election was “an expression of all of the American political system’s flaws.”
As Trump’s victory began to circulate around Chinese social media late Wednesday (local time), the response was a mix of surprise, schadenfreude and amusement.
Sina Weibo user Zhonghua Junlong said of the result: “It shows that the U.S. government and democracy have weakened. And at the same times it provided our country with a prosperous opportunity — it will make China more powerful.”
A user named Fangsi de qingchun weighed in with a more democratic-leaning reaction: “I think Trump is the tragedy of the American people. How did he win? It must be a scam. Now I think cats and dogs can be president!”
A Pew Research poll conducted in October showed that Clinton was the slim favorite of most Chinese, but an SCMP poll published earlier this week suggested that Trump was viewed somewhat more favorably in China than anywhere else in Asia. Read the rest of this entry »
In China, friends and family of the deceased may have to do without a special form of funeral entertainment: strippers
Primatologist alerted me to this item from WSJ’s Real Time China Report. Hopefully before those Communist Chinese government party-killers crush this unique tradition, we can convince our Hong Kong Bureau Chief to attend one of these events in person? In the meantime, Te-Ping Chen and Josh Chin have it covered:
“The point of inviting strippers, some of whom performed with snakes, was to attract large crowds to the deceased’s funeral – seen as a harbinger of good fortune in the afterlife. ‘It’s to give them face,’ one villager explained. ‘Otherwise no one would come'”.
Te-Ping Chen and Josh Chin: According to a statement from the Ministry of Culture on Thursday, the government plans to work closely with the police to eliminate such performances, which are held with the goal of drawing more mourners.
Pictures of a funeral in the city of Handan in northern Hebei province last month showed a dancer removing her bra as assembled parents and children watched. They were widely circulated online, prompting much opprobrium. In its Thursday statement, the Ministry of Culture cited “obscene” performances in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, as well as in Handan, and pledged to crack down on such lascivious last rites.
“This has severely polluted the local cultural life. These troupes only care about money. As for whether it’s legal, or proper, or what effect it has on local customs, they don’t think much about it.”
— China Central Television
In the Handan incident earlier this year, the ministry said, six performers had arrived to offer an erotic dance at the funeral of an elderly resident. Investigators were dispatched and the performance was found to have violated public security regulations, with the person responsible for the performing troupe in question detained administratively for 15 days and fined 70,000 yuan (about $11,300), the statement said. The government condemned such performances for corrupting the social atmosphere. Read the rest of this entry »
— China Digital Times (@CDTimes) February 9, 2015
Clifford Coonan reports: A state-run Chinese newspaper has run a commentary condemning the terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine, but at the same time underlined how the incident exposes the dangers of press freedom.
“Even after China officially determines their terrorist nature, Western mainstream media puts quotation marks when describing these bloody assaults as ‘terrorist,’ saying that it is a claim of the Chinese government. This always upsets Chinese people.”
“We notice that many Western leaders and mainstream media outlets highlighted their support for press freedom when commenting on the incident. This remains open to question,” ran the commentary in the Global Times newspaper, part of the group that publishes the official Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily.
“It’s inspiring that mainstream opinion worldwide supports Paris. But if the West can be milder in expressing cultural clashes and consider the feelings of many others, it would be very rewarding and respectable.”
China’s media are all state-controlled and content is heavily censored, and the ruling Communist Party keeps a tight grip on dissenting views and rejects calls for greater press freedom, saying it is Western core value.
“If the West thinks of globalization as an absolute expansion and victory of certain values, then it is in for endless trouble.”
The attack should make Western governments and media rethink their approach to press freedom when it comes to causing conflict with other cultures. Read the rest of this entry »
China’s old guard leftists are a loose network of officials and former officials, sons and daughters of party veterans, and ardently anti-Western academics and journalists. They look back to the precepts of Marx, Lenin and especially Mao to try to reverse the effects of China’s free-market policies and the spread of values anathema to party tradition.
HONG KONG — Chris Buckley and Andrew Jacobs reporting: They pounce on bloggers who dare mock their beloved Chairman Mao. They scour the nation’s classrooms and newspapers for strains of Western-inspired liberal heresies. And they have taken down professors, journalists and others deemed disloyal to Communist Party orthodoxy.
China’s Maoist ideologues are resurgent after languishing in the political desert, buoyed by President Xi Jinping’s traditionalist tilt and emboldened by internal party decrees that have declared open season on Chinese academics, artists and party cadres seen as insufficiently red.
“Never allow singing to a tune contrary to the party center, Never allow eating the Communist Party’s food and then smashing the Communist Party’s cooking pots.”
— Xi Jinping
Ideological vigilantes have played a pivotal role in the downfall of Wang Congsheng, a law professor in Beijing who was detained and then suspended from teaching after posting online criticisms of the party. Another target was Wang Yaofeng, a newspaper columnist who voiced support for the recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and then found himself without a job.
“It’s a golden period to be a leftist in China. Xi Jinping has ushered in a fundamental change to the status quo, shattering the sky.”
— Zhang Hongliang, a prominent neo-Maoist
“Since Xi came to power, the pressure and control over freethinkers has become really tight,” said Qiao Mu, a Beijing journalism professor who was demoted this fall, in part for publicly espousing multiparty elections and free speech. “More and more of my friends and colleagues are experiencing fear and harassment.”
Two years into a sweeping offensive against dissent, Mr. Xi has been intensifying his focus on perceived ideological opponents, sending ripples through universities, publishing houses and the news media and emboldening hard-liners who have hailed him as a worthy successor to Mao Zedong.
In instructions published last week, Mr. Xi urged universities to “enhance guidance over thinking and keep a tight grip on leading ideological work in higher education,” Xinhua, the official news agency, reported.
In internal decrees, he has been blunter, attacking liberal thinking as a pernicious threat that has contaminated the Communist Party’s ranks, and calling on officials to purge the nation of ideas that run counter to modern China’s Marxist-Leninist foundations. Read the rest of this entry »
Clifford Coonan reports: A state-run Chinese newspaper has slammed Sony’s North Korean-baiting comedy The Interview, which it pulled after a cyberattack, saying it was evidence of Hollywood’s “senseless cultural arrogance”.
“Any civilized world will oppose hacker attacks or terror threats. But a movie like The Interview, which makes fun of the leader of an enemy of the U.S., is nothing to be proud of for Hollywood and U.S. society.”
An editorial in the Global Times newspaper, part of the group that publishes the official Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily, said making a comedy about the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was “tasteless” and “nothing to be proud of.”
China is North Korea’s only significant ally. China supported the North during the Korean War (1950-53) and aid from Beijing has probably kept the North Korean economy going since it lost the support of the Soviet Union following its collapse in the early 1990s.
“No matter how the U.S. society looks at North Korea and Kim Jong Un, Kim is still the leader of the country. The vicious mocking of Kim is only a result of senseless cultural arrogance.”
However, relations have been strained since the North decided to go ahead with its nuclear weapons program against China’s wishes.
The editorial ran as North Korea said accusations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that it was involved in a cyberattack on Sony Pictures were “groundless slander” and that it was wanted a joint probe into the incident with the US.
“Any civilized world will oppose hacker attacks or terror threats. But a movie like The Interview, which makes fun of the leader of an enemy of the U.S., is nothing to be proud of for Hollywood and U.S. society,” ran the commentary. Read the rest of this entry »
No Respect: Trash-Talkin’ Chinese Media Delivers Epic POTUS Smackdown in Wake of Historic U.S. Midterm Ass-WhoopingPosted: November 6, 2014
A mouthpiece of the Chinese Government has described President Obama as ‘insipid’ and claims U.S. voters are sick of his ‘banality’.
The state-run Global Times has published an editorial deriding the leader a few days ahead of his visit to the growing economic and military powerhouse.
It stated: ‘Obama always utters “Yes, we can,” which led to the high expectations people had for him. But he has done an insipid job, offering nearly nothing to his supporters.
The criticism comes in the wake of a crushing defeat in the Midterm elections worse even than the most pessimistic forecasts of the Democrats‘ strategists, with the Republicans now in control of both the upper and lower Houses of Congress. Read the rest of this entry »
The FBI video describes Chinese intelligence officers plying the young American with cash and luxury liquor, and appealing to his fascination with China.
For Quartz, Lily Kuo writes: Chinese state media are accusing an “unnamed foreign country” of recruiting spies at Chinese universities and through popular blogs and social media. This week, a series of news reports claim that unsuspecting Chinese, some of them as young as16 years old, are being lured into working for foreign intelligence agents.
“…an unnamed foreign country recruited at least 40 people in 20 provinces to give military secrets to an agent whose online alias was Feige or ‘Flying Brother.'”
The reports seem to be a response to a short documentary posted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations last month, telling the story of a 28-year-old Michigan native, Glenn Duffie Shriver who says he was was recruited to spy for the Chinese while living in Shanghai, and was eventually caught by US authorities. The FBI video describes Chinese intelligence officers plying the young American with cash and luxury liquor, and appealing to his fascination with China. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING — William Wan writes: A curious thing happened two weeks ago as China was preparing celebrations for the 120th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth. One of the main events — a symphony of favorite Communist songs at the Great Hall of the People — got an abrupt name change.
No longer would it be called “The Sun is Reddest, Chairman Mao is Dearest.” Instead, all traces of China’s founding father were quietly scrubbed from posters, ticketing Web sites and programs, and the show repackaged as a more generic New Year’s gala called “Singing the Motherland’s Praises.”
Even decades after his death, there is uncertainty about how to tackle the legacy of the man who cemented the party’s grip on power but was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions, disastrous policies and brutal purges.
At the heart of that ambivalence is a debate over China’s future. Die-hard leftists are pushing for the country’s new leaders to revive Mao’s teachings as a path to stronger nationalism, economic equality and party legitimacy. Meanwhile, liberals say the time has come not only for economic reforms and other new paths forward, but also for an honest assessment of China’s troubled past.
“Mao has never left China’s political stage,” said Guo Songmin, a well-known leftist commentator. “Now all sides want to use him to influence China’s political direction.”
BEIJING — Jane Perlez and Martin Fackler report: China sent fighter jets on the first patrols of its new air defense zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea on Thursday, the state news agency, Xinhua, said.
The patrols followed announcements by Japan and South Korea that their military planes had flown through the zone unhindered by China.
The tit-for-tat flights between China on one side and South Korea and Japan on the other heightened the tensions over the East China Sea where China and Japan are at loggerheads over islands they both claim.
The airspace in the new zone announced by China last week overlaps a similar zone declared by Japan more than 40 years ago. Both zones are over the islands known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.
China has said that noncommercial aircraft entering the zone without prior notification would face “defensive emergency measures.”
China would take “relevant measures according to different air threats” to defend the country’s airspace, Xinhua reported.
Olivia Rosenman reports: The machine boiling the water for that cup of Russian Caravan tea might just be a Trojan horse, according to Russian authorities who claim that kettles imported from China are bugged, using unsecured wifi networks to send data to Chinese servers.
According to the report, which was translated by UK based tech publication The Register, local authorities last week examined kettles and irons and found chips in 20 to 30 appliances imported from China.
Earlier this week reports emerged that Russia has gifted treat bags stuffed with spyware to the world’s leaders at the September Group of 20 summit. Phone chargers and USB thumb drives were revealed to be “suitable for undercover detection of computer data and mobile phones”, according to an investigation ordered by Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, and reported in Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera. Read the rest of this entry »
Probably not the smartest move ever.
China doesn’t have the same record of killing foreign enemies overseas that Russia does. But it has a large enough overseas network and piles of cash that it could get the job done if it needed to.
Just ask Naw Kham what happened after the Mekong River Massacre.
The bodies of the Chinese, the crew of two cargo boats, were found badly mutilated on the Thai side of the river in early October 2011. The killings, the worst slaughter of Chinese citizens abroad in recent memory, angered the Chinese public. Chinese investigators insist that Mr. Naw Kham was the mastermind of the murders. Read the rest of this entry »
The Irish Times reports that Fang Binxing, the lead architect behind China’s “Great Firewall” who has been widely deplored by netizens, has resigned his position as
the president of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications:
“A serious illness has made me unable to stay up working late into nights any longer. I couldn’t shoulder the dual responsibilities of doing research and administration like I did before,” he told an audience of graduates in June, and his retirement came into effect last week.
Local reports say Mr Fang (53) has cancer.
IT MUST be worrying to China’s leadership that some of the largest outbreaks of urban unrest in recent years have occurred in some of the country’s most prosperous cities. The most recent example, in the port city of Ningbo, involved thousands of people facing off with riot police in a protest over plans to expand a chemical factory in the city. After three days of sometimes-violent demonstrations, the city government announced on October 28th that it was halting the project (as the Associated Press reports). For now at least, the protests appear to be subsiding.
They were triggered by the same middle-class fears that inspired large-scale demonstrations in the port cities of Xiamen in 2007 and Dalian last year. All related to projects involving the manufacture of paraxylene, a toxic chemical, which protesters believed would pollute the environment. Ningbo’s, however, were unusual for their violence and their proximity to a political event of huge importance to the Communist Party. On November 8th the party will convene its 18th congress in Beijing. So determined is it to prevent disruption of this event, and of a meeting right after it which will endorse sweeping changes to the country’s leadership, that taxis in Beijing are even said to have been ordered to disable the mechanisms that allow passengers to open rear windows. A Chinese newspaper, the Global Times, says this is because officials do not want people throwing dissident leaflets out of them. (Many drivers have not complied.)
The party is particularly nervous this year as the country’s economic growth slows and members of the new middle class become more anxious about their prospects in the years ahead. Even the official media sometimes hint at this. Another Chinese newspaper, the China Daily, reported recently on a survey of Beijing residents that was conducted by a government-sponsored think-tank in the capital. Only 1% of respondents said their quality of life had greatly improved in recent years, while one-fifth said it had improved slightly. More than one-third said they felt no change, and more than 40% said their lives were worse…
- Unrest Roils China’s Burgeoning Middle Class (realclearpolitics.com)
- After Protests, Chinese City Halts Chemcial Plant Expansion (world.time.com)
- Protests lead Beijing to halt petrochemical plant expansion (qz.com)
- Chinese activists clash with police during protest over lethal chemical production (PHOTOS) (rt.com)
- Wen Jiabao intervened to end Ningbo unrest: dissident website (wantchinatimes.com)
- Protests in China Get a Boost from Social Media (businessweek.com)
- China steps carefully with protesting middle class (dailystar.com.lb)