Archive for October, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fifth Plenary Session: “a Hard-Earned and Efficient Political System”

Main Link: http://opinion.people.com.cn/GB/13074231.html

The Fifth Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Central Committee emphasized the adherence to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, upholding the party’s leadership, the role of the people as the masters of their country, the organic unity of government work and the rule of law, the active and prudent promotion of political restructuring, and the continuous advancement of the socialist political system, self-improvement, and development (党的十七届五中全会强调:“坚持中国特色社会主义政治发展道路,坚持党的领导、人民当家作主、依法治国有机统一,积极稳妥推进政治体制改革,不断推进社会主义政治制度自我完善和发展”),

He Dongting (何东汀), apparently a journalist, writes in a People’s Daily (人民网) commentary of October 28, adding that it was very important that these conditions be reiterated at this critical stage of China’s reform and opening, and socialist modernization.

Throughout the history of China’s development, people with lofty ideas – 仁人志士, rén rén zhì shì – *) had given the strife for the road of modern democracy a lot of tries, but in the end, they failed, as they didn’t correspond with China’s conditions, and the fundamental interests of the Chinese people. The facts show that only under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, can the people at large gain political power, and only with the establishment of the socialist system can China really leap from thousands of years of authoritarian [or despotic] rule to historical democratic policies.

He’s article suggests that from the policies of reform and opening, reforms had included reforms and improvements of the socialist political system – 改革开放初期,党就明确提出要推行改革和完善社会主义政治制度,全面推进包括政治体制改革在内的伟大变革.

The goal of reforms of the political system were to promote what is beneficial and to abolish what is harmful (兴利除弊 xīng lì chú bì), writes He, to unfold the advantages of the socialist system and not to lose them, to promote the healthy development of socialist democracy rather than to pursue [or dangle after, 追随] western political patterns. To copy the western political system as a universal one, to give up the hard-earned and efficient political system would result in the destabilization of China’s socialist cause’s foundations, the people’s position as the masters of their country, and the unity of the country and the people.

Only if we stick to this path, the reform of the political system will move into the correct direction, national prosperity and national juvenation, the happiness of the people and social harmony can be reliably guaranteed, and only if we move along the correct political direction, actively and steadily promote the political system’s reforms, seize the opportunities and seek development, the great goals of a comprehensively and moderately prosperous society and a modern socialist country can be achieved (只有坚持这条道路,政治体制改革才会有正确的方向,国家富强、民族振兴、人民幸福和社会和谐才会有可靠的保障;只有沿着正确的政治方向,积极稳妥地推进政治体制改革,抢抓机遇,谋求发展,全面建设小康社会和社会主义现代化强国的伟大目标才能够实现),

writes He Dongting.

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Note
*) 仁人 (én rén) actually means a benevolent person, and 志士(zhì shì) amounts to a person of ideals and integrity. Nevertheless, the combination of these four characters appears to be rather deprecative. Obviously, he doesn’t refer to Liu Xiaobo and other political prisoners, but I read this People’s Daily commentary as an effort to reach those who don’t support the party line on dissidents.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sino-Japanese SNAFU in Hanoi: “Full Responsibility”

There’s nothing particular to say about the meeting between Chinese chief councillor Wen Jiabao (温家宝) and Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan, because the meeting didn’t take place, during the meeting of East Asian leaders in Hanoi. Then again, a lot needs to be said about why it didn’t take place. While this is, naturally, all the fault of the Japanese side, the Chinese side spares no pains to explain this natural law to the rest of the world in more detail.

Chinese deputy foreign minister Hu Zhengyue (胡正跃) accused “the Japanese side” of having constantly spread views to the press which violated China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity (日方在东亚领导人系列会议期间通过媒体不断散布侵犯中国主权和领土完整的言论), writes Fenghuang Net (Phoenix, the internet platform of the Hong Kong-based Phoenix satellite television station). In addition, the content of the talks between the Chinese and Japanese foreign ministers had been incorrectly spread, too*) , thus damaging the appropriate atmosphere for a meeting between Wen and Kan. The Japanese side had to bear the full responsibility for the consequences, said Hu. Japanese media had reported that during the talks between the two foreign ministers, Yang Jiechi and Seiji Maehara, both had agreed that talks about oil and gas development on the East China Sea should be resumed (日本媒体29日报道,中国外交部长杨洁篪跟日本外相前原诚司当天上午会见时,双方同意将恢复关于东海油气田开发问题的谈判), according to Fenghuang. A spokesperson of the Chinese delegation who attended the foreign ministers’ meeting then said that this coverage was completely out of accordance with the facts. Rather, Yang had said that Japan should continue to work together with China (与中方相向而行), to create the atmosphere and conditions for a consensus for a consensus in principle on the East China Sea issues (外交部长杨洁篪当时表示,日方应与中方相向而行,为落实东海问题原则共识创造气氛和条件).

A Mainichi Daily News article suspects that China had been quietly preparing to call off the talks from the outset. On the other hand, the suddenness of the cancellation could also mean that Chinese leaders were out of step when it comes to their Japan policy.

[All that said, JR believes that the Yellow Emperor is simply a bit frustrated and wants to see some new faces when meeting his tributaries next time.]

In another report, quoting Kyodo, Mainichi Daily News reports that Wen Jiabao had assured Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak – in trilateral talks – that his country would continue to supply rare earth minerals to the world.

Obviously, if this report should, at any point in time, turn out to be completely out of accordance with the facts, the Japanese side will have to bear the full responsibility.

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Note
*) The Fenghuang report doesn’t seem to be explicit about actual leaks from the Japanese government to the press here – 散布 (sàn bù) should be translated as “to spread” or “to disseminate” in this context, and while the Chinese anger seems to be aimed at the Japanese foreign minister, the dissemination is simply blamed on the Japanese side (日方) – it could be read as an accusation which includes the Japanese press, just as well.
The mortal sin of the Japanese, in the eyes of the Chinese delegation, seems to be that Japanese diplomatic authorities have partnered with other nations and stepped up the heat on the Diaoyu island issue (Hu Zhengyue as quoted by Agence-France Press, AFP). That the Chinese delegation criticizes Tokyo for talking about the Senkaku (Diaoyu) issue with other governments than Beijing would also suggest that Beijing did actually try the same approach some time earlier this year, on its South-East-Asian neighbors back then. The Financial Times reported in August that China had apparently told Vietnam and other stakeholders not to discuss South China Sea issue among themselves, but only bilaterally with Beijing.

Related
Strategic Commodities, October 26, 2010
No multilateral Negotiations, no Internationalization, Asia Sentinel, October 11, 2010
Kan and Wen “agree to mend bilateral ties”, Mainichi Daily News (Kyodo), Oct. 10, 2010
Rare Earth no Bargaining Chip, People’s Daily Online, October 8, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Patriots Amalgamated

About forty dissidents in China have been put under house arrest since Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, according to international human rights organizations quoted by Germany’s weekly Die Zeit. In addition to Liu Xiaobo’s wife Liu Xia, other dissidents, civil rights attorneys, activists, authors and relatives of victims of the 1989 crackdown are kept in their homes. China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), also quoted by Die Zeit, estimates that the number of intellectuals and activists under house arrest is at 100. According to CHRD, the focus is on signatories to the Charter 08, defenders of civil rights, and independent scientists. CHRD’s list includes the names of Liu Di (an internet activist), Yu Jie (the author of a critical book on chief state councillor Wen Jiabao, published in Hong Kong), and Ding Zilin, leader of the Mothers of Tian An Men organization.

Several websites disliked by Chinese nationalists and Chinese authorities were attacked by hackers, including the Nobel Peace Prize website, with some of the websites not accessible or readable afterwards, writes Die Zeit.

China’s benefits from globalization are immense, Christoph Bertram, in another Die Zeit article, wrote a few days earlier. Still, China didn’t understand the process of globalization. It’s recent approaches to international politics, Beijing abandoned its policy of showing a cooperative attitude – in the past, even the slogan “Peaceful Rise”had appeared to be too provocative in the view of some of China’s leaders. The new attitude both boosted a general uneasiness about China, and limited appreciation even for legitimate Chinese concerns. But above all, writes Bertram, political globalization couldn’t be separated from economic globalization. External impacts on what used to be “internal affairs” were unstoppable.

The Middle Kingdom can’t stop this process either. At the most, it can, in agreement with others, shape the process. Beijing can’t demonstrate this insight better than by allowing Liu Xiaobo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize by himself in Oslo on December 10,

writes Bertram.

Sinologist, translator, and poet Wolfgang Kubin, himself not shy of strong words of criticism – “The Chinese publishing industry is [in the sense that profit is everything] degenerated” – is apparently unhappy about how the western press covers China (as quoted by Die Zeit a week ago:

“What I see is that all [Chinese] students here, except those who buy in here as “dissidents”, all stand on the side of the [Chinese] state. That’s what the western press has achieved: the amalgamation of all patriots worldwide.”
(“Was ich feststelle, ist, dass alle meine Studenten, mit Ausnahme derer, die sich hier als ‘Dissidenten’ einkaufen, auf der Seite des Staates stehen. Und das hat die westliche Presse erreicht: den Zusammenschluss aller Patrioten auf der Welt.”)

His criticism of Chinese literature didn’t hurt Kubin’s image in China. His criticism of the press outside China (it’s hardly only the western press that hurt nationalist feelings) probably won’t, either.

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Related
Wolfgang Kubin: “Nothing New to the Table, Paper Republic, November 7, 2009
Something to Learn from Australia, April 25, 2008
“Die Diskussion ist völlig überhitzt”, Deutschlandradio / china.org.cn, April 24, 2008

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Future Horrors: Trapped in a Chinese Labor Camp

Be very afraid, suggests this 2030 prophecy, courtesy to the cultural unit of Citizens against Government Waste (CAGW).

“Of course we own most of their debt”, a professor (an updated Fu-Manchu, suggests Frog in a Well) tells a rejoicing Chinese audience, explaining why the American empire perished, as did Greece, Rome, or the British Empire, and adds a pitiful and contemptuous bit of laughter: “Ha, ha, ha, so now they work for us.”

Grandma is going to crap her pants when the sealed fate of her grandchildren dawns on her. Only Sarah Palin can save the American Empire.

Only Sarah Palin can save the American Empire.

Only Sarah Palin can save the American Empire.

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Related
A Sordid and Twisted Connection, Granite Studio, October 27, 2010
Barack Obama, a Choice out of Fear and Hope, November 5, 2008
Citizens against Government Waste, Wikipedia

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Huanqiu Shibao: Imperialism Thwarted on all Fronts

The Japanese media are maliciously belittling the Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed railway (恶意贬低沪杭高铁), referring to it as a Shinkansen knock-off or shanzhai version (新干线山寨版) Huanqiu Shibao reports. The malicious Japanese media come in the shape of the Sankei Shimbun (产经新闻) as quoted by Huanqiu’s correspondent Wang Huan (王欢) today. According to Huan, Sankei Shimbun writes that the high-speed CRH380A train which takes passengers from Shanghai to Hangzhou (Zhejiang Province) within 45 minutes and was excessivley praised by the Chinese as “home-made” (中国人“标榜”新型CRH380A列车为“国产”), was in fact imitated from Japan in terms of technology and design (不论技术还是外形设计,都在“模仿”日本). While it was an investment for further economic growth within the Shanghai-Zhejiang region, it didn’t help to stop growing social disparities, Wang quotes the Japanese paper. Wang’s report contains two photos, one of the Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed train (沪杭高铁), and one of the Shinkansen (新干线) respectively. The connection between Shanghai and Hangzhou was officially inaugurated on Tuesday.

Meantime, Chinese diplomacy defeats American efforts to open a war-crimes investigation (战争罪行调查) against the Myanmar (Burmese) military government by lobbying the higher ranks of the United nations and European governments, Huanqiu Shibao quotes the Washington Post and Agence-France Press (AFP). AFP, according to the Huanqiu report, cites misgivings among Myanmar’s Asian neighbors concerning stability.

Coverage of South Korean reports of October 24 (quoted today, October 27, by Huanqiu Shibao) that American aircraft carrier battle groups won’t take part in further US-South Korean exercises in the Yellow Sea for the rest of the year completes the paper’s victory messages of Wednesday. However, such exercises were to continue after the end of this year, Huanqiu quotes a military commander. The paper also quotes the Foreign Policy website of October 25 as citing Pentagon officials saying that this announcement was no concession to China (并不是对中国让步).

As usual, the Huanqiu articles come without links to online articles  it refers to. The Washington Post report on the Chinese lobbying taking the steam out of the U.S. initiative for an international probe into possible war crimes by Burma’s military rulers can be found here.

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Related
High-Speed Rail in China, Wikipedia
Human Rights in Burma, Wikipedia
U.S.-South Korea aircraft carrier drill delayed, Reuters, October 25, 2010
“Not to Placate China”, Foreign Policy, October 25, 2010
Shanzhai Shandong Cars, October 26, 2009
China “Harmony” Electric Multiple Unit Train, Sept. 29, 2009

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rare Earth Elements: Strategic Commodities?

China’s response seemed to take an especially nefarious turn when it apparently suspended its export of rare-earth minerals, the Economist wrote on September 24 this year, which are vital to making electronics components used in everything from handheld gadgets to cars. The alleged – semi- or unofficial – Chinese stop of rare earth minerals to Japan was said to be part of China’s reaction to the arrest of Chinese fishermen by Japan in September.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, a historian and a columnist with the Telegraph‘s international business editor, noted on August 1 that

The United States and Europe have been remarkably insouciant about supplies of rare earth minerals so crucial to frontier technologies, from hybrid engines to mobile phones, superconductors, radar and smart bombs.

Lack of strategic planning by the West has allowed China to acquire a world monopoly on this family of seventeen metals. Assumptions that Beijing would never risk its reputation as a global team player by abruptly strangling supply have proved naive.

China’s export controls on such minerals began some three years ago, in 2007, writes China Radio International‘s (CRI) German service. From 2009 to 2010, the export contingency went down by 40 per cent. The radio station quotes Wang Yong, a Beijing University professor, as saying that such controls were legal:

China’s export contingency for rare earths is in accordance with the WTO rules. The 1994 WTO agreement was amended with clauses concerning environmental protection. Therefore, sustainable development and a comprehensive use of global resources is emphasized. Also, the WTO advocates free trade. But clauses for state security and stable balances of payment were also defined. Therefore, export of the technologies and products in question can be put under control. America’s high-technology export controls are an example.

Chinese export controls on reare earths could be helpful for importers, CRI quotes Wang Yong. As prices were rising, companies which so far considered exploitation unprofitable would invest more in developments of their own, and with their own interests in mind, the countries in question would speed up the process.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) quotes – unnamed – companies which depend on such minerals as complaining that Chinese authorities wanted to force them to relocate their production to China, as access to the minerals was easier there. The American Chamber of Commerce, the FAZ writes, issued a call on the G20 heads of state and government which refers to an “acute threat of free access to rare earths – the use of such elements for industrial policy goals or other goals was banned – the WTO prescribed free access and the absence of quotas. The FAZ adds the point – see previous paragraphs – that restrictions aiming at environmental protection was indeed in accordance with WTO rules.

The Chinese government plans to afford Baotou Steel Rare-Earth with a monopoly for light rare earths, while China Minmetals and Chinalco would focus on medium-heavy and heavy rare-earth minerals in Jiangxi province, according to the FAZ.

Meantime, Evans-Pritchard (see second paragraph) reminds his readers that

[r]are metals are not in fact very rare. Large amounts exist in the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Russia, Sweden, Vietnam, and above all Greenland with a third of the world’s known reserves.

However,

[w]hat is rare is to find them in viable concentrations. The metalurgy is complex. The frequent presence of radioactive Thorium complicates matters. Extraction is capital intensive.

All the same, Pritchard Evans, or so suggests the final paragraph of his article, would rather continue to depend on China’s mineral reserves. That’s not terribly original. If as much as recent coverage suggests is at stake, broader global supplies should be made available. If these minerals are so vital for so many industries, the capital-intensity of extraction should be no convincing argument. And given that the global reserves aren’t unlimited – in many places, genuine environmental concerns are likely to weigh heavily -, technological innovation should also contribute to reducing the global dependence on – more or less – “rare earths”.

Meantime, existing, but defunct mines could help to broaden supplies.

Through the early 1970s, the Mountain Pass  mine, about an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, was the world’s largest  supplier of rare earth elements (REE), writes the Washington Independent.  What could hamper a re-animation is that much of the know-how is no longer available.

Yaron Vorona, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security’s Technology and Rare Earth Metals Center, cited an April 2010 Government Accountability Office report that says it could take 15 years to develop a U.S. rare earth industry,

writes the Washington Independent.

South African, Canadian, and Australian companies are all racing to develop their own mines, Blake Hounshell wrote on the Foreign Policy blog on September 23. But the economic rewards were questionable, he quoted the New York TimesKeith Bradsher:

“One potential threat,” Hurst warns, “is that, while China’s reduction in export quotas is currently causing prices to go up, if China were to turn that around and bring prices back down, this could potentially put these and other companies out of business even before they become fully operational.”

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Related
Rare Earth Element, Wikipedia

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Net Nanny: China Experts, China Experts, China Experts

[Update/Notice: Mr. Heffermehl's position in short can be found in comment #1, next to this post. The following paragraphs mereley reflect Nanny's views -- October 24,  JR.]

Net Nanny: Experts are the Solution

Net Nanny: Experts are the Solution

Comrades:

today, I want to commend Fredrik S. Heffermehl. He is a westerner (Norwegian) who really understands China. I understand that Mr Heffermehl researched the decisions of the Peace Nobel Prize carefully and comes to the conclusion that —-

[Note/Update: This paragraph as follows  must not be attributed to Mr Heffermehl, but to the China Daily article it links to. Mr Heffermehl didn't refer to Liu Xiaobo as a "criminal", and didn't go into any detail about him - he has no issues with this year's nobel laureate, but with the Nobel Committee's nomination processes and criteria. For more details, see comments underneath - JR]
—- to award Liu the peace prize is inappropriate. Liu advocates that “China should be a colony for another three centuries” and “China should be divided into eighteen nations.” He is by no means the “peace champion” in Nobel’s will, but rather a criminal who has long been instigating subversion of state power.

Besides, the Committee is full of politicians! This politicization of the Committee, is, of course, very dangerous. This is my suggestion for your review and adherence, Comrades: make contact with the Norwegian government and tell them what will happen if they continue to disbehave, and if they keep trying that excuse that the Nobel Committee would be “independent”. To be constructive, you should also let them know what they can do to make the committee more useful.

The answer to this latter question has, of course, been answered by our correct leadership before. As Comrade Jiabao said on the Sixth China-EU Business Summit in Brussels on October 6:

China is a friend indeed and I believe the entrepreneurs here all know it (在座的企业家心里很清楚,中国够朋友).

Dear Comrades, as all of us who unvaveringly uphold the banner of socialist democracy for another century, as Comrade Deng Xiaoping stipulated, and the Three Represents of Chairman Jiang Zemin, too, that stipulate that politics and entrepreneurship are inseparable (in China, that is) know very well, Comrade Jiabao has recently made statements that are unnecessarily ambiguous. But in his speech in Brussels, he said something very important! Western entrepreneurs all know the truth, that China is a true friend. Provided that they have invested substantially in our righteous country, or depend on business with us in whichever way, they will understand very clearly what a dangerous criminal Liu Xiaobo is!

In short, entrepreneurs who understand China must be appointed to the Nobel Peace Committee. It would be good for Norway, and save them a lot of trouble.

People like Mr Heffermehl and, in this case, comrade Jiabao, too, have shown the Nobel Peace Committee the way already. Experts must become members of the Commission. In every case which involves China, this will require China experts, China experts, China experts.

Bring it home to those barbarian Vikings. I’m awaiting your status report (by red head mail) before the end of next week.

Shikezhunbeizhe!

Net Nanny

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Related
China’s Primacy of Politics, July 3, 2010

Note
This post reflects the picture of Mr Heffermehl as it comes across through Chinese media. It doesn’t intend to suggest that his actual criticism and recommendations would necessarily be invalid.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Informatization in Vast Territories: “Free Tibet” lends a Hand

Tibetan students in Qinghai province protested again on Thursday against policies to extend the use of Chinese language in classes, Reuters reported on Thursday, quoting the London-based Free-Tibet group. Also according to Free Tibet in London, some 2,000 students protested in Chabcha county in Tibet. According to a BBC report on Monday, the protests which had entered their second week have so far been staged in the provinces of Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan. Some Gonghe County (共和县) residents (Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, 海南藏族自治州) told the BBC’s Chinese website that they had heard about demonstrations, but didn’t know anything specific about them. The demonstrations, according to the reports, involve middle schools (藏文中学的学生), merely or among others. According to Free Tibet in London, the first demonstrations took place in Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s (黄南藏族自治州) Tonren County (同仁县), also known as Rebkong in Tibetan.

There seem to be no confirmations or other reactions on official websites yet, such as Tongren People’s Government website. However, the Global Times‘ English edition quotes a Tongren county spokesman today as saying that there had been a peaceful protest on Tuesday morning, and also adds unofficial accounts of other protests. On Tuesday, October 19, when the first demonstrations – according to Free Tibet London – began, the county’s government website reported that

Qinghai Province is a vast territory with sparse population, difficult communication, and the speeding up informatization (信息化) is of particular importance (青海省幅员辽阔,地广人稀,交通不便,加快信息化建设具有特殊而重要的意义).

Tsering Woeser, a researcher and blogger in Beijing with Tibetan ancestry, had difficulty gathering information about the protests in Tibet because of a frequently paralyzed internet (网络 .. 瘫痪了), but writes that she was able to keep herself informed about the main developments.

More than two months ago, tens of thousands of people in Guangdong took to the street to stand up for their Cantonese language, Woeser writes, and muses:

The scenes are similar, but I don’t know if the outcomes will be similar, too. This will therefore require further observation. (当然,也由此想到两个多月前,在广州,有上千广东人走上街头挺粤语。广东人挺粤语,藏人挺藏语,看上去场景相似,却不知结局似乎也相似,故而需要进一步的观察。)

In summer this year, both in mainland China’s Guangdong province, and in Hong Kong, demonstrators had protested against a proposal by Ji Kekuang (姬科况, or 姬科礦, or 姬科… – JR), a member of the CPPCC Guangzhou committee, had advocated a reduction of Cantonese language usage in favor of Standard Chinese or putonghua, and Guangzhou’s municipal committee moved along, proposing that Guangzhou TV’s most popular channels start broadcasting in the central government-designated national language of Putonghua, also known as Mandarin, rather than in Cantonese.

Woeser’s blog entry seems to suggest that Ji Kekuang’s initiative was doomed as soon as it saw the day of the light. If the Tibetan students’ protests will be heeded too is, at best, an open question.

“I think they are causing a disturbance without reason. I understand it has been organised by the Dalai Lama to target the Olympics”, the BBC quoted “one man” (no nationality given) in Lanzhou on Monday.

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Related

High Peaks, Pure Earth, October 2010 (Archive)
Free Tibet homepage
“That also applies for Wang Lixiong” (zap zap jé), October 16, 2009

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