When business is going fine, CCP cadres are partners. When it’s going less well, they are mongrels [who] shoot their own people.
Global Voices had an article a few days ago, on Chinese TV’s (CCTV) New Year’s Gala show, broadcast last Thursday night local time. It’s often been said that the show is losing its former luster. That may be true. But I seem to be getting some hunches that the decline of the show is often overstated.
For one, views expressed on the internet are overstated. The Global Voices article suggests that, according to a recent survey, nearly 60 percent of the viewers were extremely disappointed in the program this year. True, but these sixty percent of viewers expressed their view on the internet, according to the source quoted there. 21,721 people apparently participated in the online survey, and they judged not the show itself, but rather the list of scheduled events during the show.
That said, the show, first broadcast on New Year’s Eve in 1983, is losing appeal, even according to a survey quoted by China Radio International (CRI). The poll in question is said to have been conducted by China Youth Daily on February 28 – i. e., also a vote on the schedule than on the show as aired. 55.4 percent found that the show was outdated. 102,791 people reportedly participated in the China-Youth-Daily survey.
I’m even suggesting that many of the young today who detest the show may get to like it as they grow older and become more conservative. From a demographic perspective, China isn’t a young country anymore, and it is greying rapidly.
All the same, Global Voices offers a summary of the gala which is worth reading. The intentions behind the production are probably interpreted fairly accurately, and two videos are included as samples.
The complete show will be somewhere on the internet.
The Chinese economy grew by 7.7 percent in 2013, 0.2 percent more than the central government’s target of 7.5 percent, but marking a 14-year low, according to the BBC. The story doesn’t explicitly say that there will be a further slowdown, but suggests that more growth would hardly be investment-led (as it was in the past), quoting an economist as saying that the government’s moves to curb shadow banking and local government debt will cap the growth of investment.
What may be rising further are “public-security” budgets. In November, party and state leader Xi Jinping had announced the establishment of a national security committee, and Chinese media were frank in announcements or interpretations right away. Tasks and challenges had become more complicated in the fields of national security, and the coordination and standardization (or unification, 协调和统一), innovative societal governance (社会治理), innovation of effective systems to defuse contradictions in society were needed, and it was easy to see that the new security committee needed to have both internal and external functions to react to both internal and external challenges.
A report by Central People’s Broadcasting Station
System (CPBS, aka China National Radio) pointed out that processes like these were going on not only in China, but in the United States, Japan, France, and other countries, too. Not least, the report quoted Ruan Zongze (阮宗泽), a researcher and diplomat, the creation of a national security committee indicated the growing dynamics of Chinese diplomacy.
Such growing dynamics can certainly be visited in the German press. The home minister of the Free State of Bavaria, Joachim Herrmann, announced in a press release in March 2013 that China and Bavaria would cooperate yet more strongly in combatting international terrorism and drug trafficking. Herrmann issued the release after meeting Guo Shengkun, who had become minister for public security in December 2012, i. e. three months earlier.
Early this month, People’s Daily (online) published an article by Guo, which describes public-security work as safeguarding political security, security of state power, issues that relate to the ruling position of the party (事关党的执政地位) as well as national core interests mattered in Guo’s article, emphasizing several times that his position was based on prior speeches of party secretary general Xi Jinping, which indicated the party’s new height in understanding of how to maintain national security and social stability (我们党对维护国家安全和社会稳定规律特点的认识达到了一个新高度).
Guo’s article mentioned lots of ideological ingredients for these new heights of insight, but little or no recognizable threats. It doesn’t seem far-fetched however that incidents like these are among those on Guo’s mind.
Sina Weibo, according to reports, is losing users – the BBC links the decline to a crackdown on “online rumors”. It remains to be seen if innovation will come from Chinese media – “social” or other. Earlier this month, in a review of China’s media landscape of 2013, or China’s political discourse in 2013, Qian Gang, a contributor to the China Media Project, found a trend which in his view, went from some kind of constitutionalism to the two must not rejects. The two must not speaks as a term
summed up a new political position emerging from the Party leadership, that “the historical period after economic reforms [in 1978] must not be used to reject the historical period before economic reforms; and the historical period before economic reforms must not be used to reject the historical period after economic reforms.”
A number of terms in the media were checked by Qian, suggesting that terms associated with constitutionalism and democracy were reaching new lows. And while Qian considers the term “Chinese Dream” mainly motivational, he believes that media reference to “Mao Zedong’s Thought” is a measuring stick that can be used to look at Chinese politics.
» Edward Bernays, NYT obituary, March 10, 1995
» Fresh Cash, Jan 21, 2014
Main Link: The Fifth Big State Institution – 第五大国家机构, Enorth/CPBS, November 13, 2013
While the 18th central committee’s third plenum’s communiqué doesn’t appear to reveal a lot about future economic or social reforms in general (I haven’t read it myself), a fifth big state institution (第五大国家机构, or party institution for that matter), in addition to the CCP central committee, the state council, the “National People’s Congress” and the “The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” may be taking shape – but to suggest that, Chinese media apparently need to quote foreign media or observers. An article by Enorth (Tianjin) is apparently based on China’s domestic radio (Central People’s Broadcasting Station, CPBS, or CNR) in its coverage – possibly because not everyone has the right to quote foreign sources anymore.
The fifth big state institution would be a state security committee. Analysts are quoted as saying that a double role of dealing with basic domestic and external challenges could be discerned.
Plans for a state security committee had been made or demanded since 1997, but were only now taking shape, says the article. And many other countries had similar institutions: America’s national security council (since 1947), France (since 2008), Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, and Malaysia, for example. In Japan, the establishment of a national security council was underway, too.
A security committee needed to be a permanent institution, experts are quoted. And Ruan Zongze, once a secretary in China’s embassy in Britain and now vice director at the China Institute of International Studies, reportedly suggests that building a state security committee was an important and innovative measure, and indicating the growing dynamics of Chinese foreign policy.
» Terrorists will be nervous, CRI, Nov 14, 2013
Changsha police official microblog (weibo) channel “Police Matters” confirmed last night that a reporter named Chen Yongzhou (陈永洲), from New Express (新快报), had been arrested on October 19, for allegedly causing causing damage to a company’s business reputation. This is what a Beijing Youth article republished by Xinhua says. His case was still under review, Changsha’s public security bureau is quoted.
The New Express, is one of Guangzhou’s main three newspapers, Beijing Youth explains. The “Express” is run by Yangcheng Evening News Group, a company founded in 1998 and also operates the Yangcheng Evening Post (羊城晚报), “Newsweek” (新闻周刊), Yangcheng Sports (羊城体育), Private Economy News (民营经济报), and “Guangzhou Construction News” (广东建设报), among others. Changsha, Hunan Province, is where Zoomlion, the company whose reputation had allegedly been damaged by Chen, is based.
Public information shows that from September 26, 2012 until June 1, 2013, Chen Yongzhou published ten critical articles concerning Zoomlion and “inflated profits”, “tunneled profits” [or maybe “conveyed benefits”, depending on translation – JR], “abnormal marketing” and alleged fraud.
In July, writes Beijing Youth, Gao Hui, assistant to Zoomlion’s board chairman, wrote on a microblog that Chen had blackened the company’s name and caused significant drops in its share prices, apparently – as far as I understand Chinese – under rather strongly-worded subject lines (舆霸与打手).
Also according to Beijing Youth, Express said in a statement on August 8 that it had taken legal action against the company and Gao Hui. A civil charge says that Gao Hui had unfoundedly and deliberately described the paper’s reports as false, thus damaging its reputation, and violated the reporter’s legal rights. Damages of 1 Yuan (sic, probably a typo) for the publisher and 100,000 Yuan for the reporter were demanded, as well as an apology.
The BBC writes that the Express has made a front-page plea for Yong’s release. Chen had spent three days and three nights in custody before he saw a lawyer, the BBC quotes from the editorial.
» Second frontpage plea, BBC, Oct 24, 2013
The following is a translation of a Xinhua newsagency account of Bo Xilai‘s first day in court, on Thursday. Probably because of the judicial nature of the article, I found it quite complicated. Objections and advice to improve the translation will be welcome.
Like many (online) papers and websites, Huanqiu Shibao carried the Xinhua account.
Xinhua Net, Jinan, August 22 (reporters Huo Xiaoguang, Yang Weihan). The intermediate people’s court in Jinan, Shandong province, heard the case of Bo Xilai bribery, corruption, and abuse of authority. Bo Xilai is standing trial. Witnesses appeared in court and gave testimony. Close relatives of the defendant, National People’s Congress delegates, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference members, media journalists and members of the masses from all walks of life – more than one-hundred overall – were sitting in and following the trial.
At 8:43, presiding judge, vice president Wang Xuguang of Jinan intermediate people’s court, struck the gavel and opened the hearing.
The prosecutor read out the indictment. The indictment reads: From 1999 to 2012, Bo Xilai used his offices as Dalian mayor, Dalian municipal party secretary, Liaoning provincial governor, minister of commerce and other offices to obtain property amounting to more than 21,790,000 Yuan RMB directly or through his wife Gu Kailai and his son Gu Guagua, after accepting requests from Dalian International Development Company general manager Tang Xiaolin (case handled separately), Dalian Shide Group Ltd. chairman Xu Ming (case handled separately) to help their companies or them individually with applying for car import quotas, reporting petrochemical project(s). The amount(s) was/were particularly big in 2002, when Bo Xilai made use of his office as Liaoning provincial governor and, together with others, embezzled Dalian city funds of 5,000,000 Yuan, and in January and February 2012, when Bo Xilai, as Chongqing municipal CCP secretary, violated regulations to obstruct investigations concerning Bo Gu Kailai’s intentional homicide, before and after the defection of deputy mayor Wang Lijun, approving the false public information that Wang Lijun “was on vacation and receiving treatment” and other ways of abusing authority. His behavior was a major cause in making it impossible to handle the above case timely in accordance with the law, and in the defection of Wang Lijun. This created a particularly abominable effect on society, major losses for the country’s and the people’s interests, under particularly serious circumstances. The prosecutor believes Bo Xilai should be prosecuted [on the basis of] crime of accepting bribes, crime of corruption, and crime of abuse of authority.
公诉人宣读起诉书。起诉书指控：1999年至2012年间，薄熙来利用担任大连市人民政 府市长、中共大连市委书记、辽宁省人民政府省长、商务部部长等职务便利，接受大连国际发展有限公司总经理唐肖林(另案处理)、大连实德集团有限公司董事长 徐明(另案处理)的请托，为相关单位和个人在申请进口汽车配额、申报石化项目等事项上提供帮助，直接或者通过其妻薄谷开来、其子薄瓜瓜收受上述二人给予的 财物共计折合人民币2179万余元，数额特别巨大;2002年，薄熙来担任辽宁省人民政府省长期间，利用职务便利，伙同他人侵吞大连市人民政府公款人民币 500万元，数额巨大;2012年1月至2月，薄熙来作为中共重庆市委书记，在有关人员揭发薄谷开来涉嫌故意杀人及时任重庆市人民政府副市长王立军叛逃前 后，违反规定实施了阻碍对薄谷开来涉嫌故意杀人案重新调查、批准对外发布王立军接受“休假式治疗”的虚假消息等一系列滥用职权行为，其行为是导致上述案件 不能及时依法查处和王立军叛逃事件发生的重要原因，并造成了特别恶劣的社会影响，致使国家和人民利益遭受重大损失，情节特别严重。公诉人认为，对薄熙来应 以受贿罪、贪污罪、滥用职权罪追究刑事责任。
Bo Xilai denied the indictment charges, made a statement and denied the charges. The court investigated the charges. Prosecutors and defenders respectively questioned the defendant, and cross-examined Dalian Shide Group Ltd. chairman Xu Ming [who attended] as a witness. The prosecutors showed evidence, testimonies, used evidence such as audio and video recordings, and prosecutors and defenders carried out ample evidence. The court put forward all permissions for Bo Xilai to to speak and to file motions.
在审判长主持下，被告人薄熙来对起诉书指控的受贿犯罪事实进行了陈述，并否认了指控。法庭就起诉指控薄熙来受 贿的事实进行了法庭调查。公诉人、辩护人分别讯(询)问了被告人，并对出庭作证的证人大连实德集团有限公司董事长徐明进行了交叉询问。公诉人当庭出示了书 证、证人证言、询问证人同步录音录像等有关证据，控辩双方进行了充分质证。法庭对薄熙来当庭提出的所有发言申请均予以准许。被告人及其辩护人充分发表了意 见。
The defendant, Bo Xilai, was emotionally stable in the court proceedings, his physical condition was normal. There was order among those sitting in and following the hearings.
At about six p.m., the presiding judge announced an adjournment, and the continuation of the hearings on August 23.
During the trial, Jinan intermediate people’s court’s official microblog channel [Weibo] covered the trial. After the morning session and the afternoon session, Jinan intermediate people’s court spokesman [or spokespeople] reported to the media.
According to the emoticons underneath, eleven reading voters are “frightened”, 37 are “angry”, 573 are “saddened”, three are “moved”, 28 “delighted”, none are “happy”, sixteen are “bored”, and 145 pushed the “ridiculous” button.
Huanqiu Shibao itself published an article today (Friday) that focuses on how the public follows the hearings, with an emphasis on international media: “Bo Xilai’s appearance in court attracts international attention” (薄熙来出庭受审引国际关注).
The BBC reported that Jinan people’s intermediate court’s offical microblog channel provided timely coverage. From the announcement of the trial and access provided to the audience, to the verification of the defendant’s identity, every step [in the proceedings] was published on the microblog.
Agence France-Presse (opening time of the hearings) and Singapore’s Lianhe Morning Post (orderly public listening to the proceedings), Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao online and WenWei Po are also quoted – none, however, with news or commentary that would add information to that provided by Xinhua (see first translation).
Two Russian sources get the last word in Huanqiu’s press review:
Russian newspaper “Independent” says that China’s trial of Bo Xilai shows that nobody can put himself above the law. Any criminal at any level will be punished. Russian “Information” website says that the trial clearly shows the CCP’s determination to fight against corruption.
According to the emoticons, 34 (emote-voting) readers are “frightened”, 52 are “angry”, 392 “saddened”, eleven are “moved”, 45 “delighted”, seven “happy”, 58 “bored”, and 1409 appear to find the article, the topic, situation, or else, “ridiculous”.
Xinwen Lianbo, China’s main evening news broadcast, apparently carried no news about the trial on Thursday, but an (apparently) unrelated one about cleaning the internet of “rumors”.
» Trial resumes, CNN, Aug 23, 2013
An anonymous Tibetan CCP cadre plans to publish a book about his country. According to Der Spiegel, he has served the Chinese government since his youth, but has now decided to write a recent history of Tibet. He reportedly quotes witnesses, but also seems to be describing his personal initial enthusiasm, and his growing disillusionment over the years.
His point of view as described by Der Spiegel does not come across as “secessionist”, although the article doesn’t seem to allow conclusions as to how the official sees Tibet’s future in this regard – and I would be curious about the book itself.
Quote: “Serf Emancipaton Day”, March 28, 2009
From Qianjiang Evening Post (钱江晚报), Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, founded in 1987. Although named “evening paper”, it is sent to subscribers in the morning. The following signed editorial was apparently published online on Friday.
Links added during translation.
If “national condition” is some kind of dough, National Food Safety Assessment Center deputy Wang Zhutian has put it into a mold.
This official, assigned to watch over the food security of 1.3 billion Chinese people, said in reply to questions concerning the definition of our country’s food security issues that we are a developing country, and that we need to define our standards in accordance to our “national condition”. If we took European air-quality standards, we wouldn’t be up to the standards.
This national-condition stuff – China Civil Aviation Cadres Institute associate professor Zou Jianjun has shaped it.
He voiced disdain for a flight data statistic – he believes that to put Beijing Capital Airport and Shanghai Pudong Airport into a punctuality statistic with an overall of 35 airports worldwide, where they rank last and second-last, won’t perfectly reflect actual punctuality, and emphasizes that currently, our economic development doesn’t match Europe’s or America’s, and to put them all together [in the same statistic] was unreasonable.
According to Wang Zhutian’s theory, the “national condition” of food safety standards – i. e. an acknowledged “national condition” – China, in its primary stage of socialism, should forget about wild hopes for eating with the same peace of mind as people in developed countries.
I don’t know how much of a natural connection there is between melamine in milkpowder and the incessant stream of poisonous rice and ginger, and the degree of a country’s economic development. If there is a relation, is it that not enough tax money is spent on supervision? Or is it that the money spent by consumers on food doesn’t qualify for eating with their minds at ease?
From the common peoples’ dining tables to the state council’s meetings, the entire country is filled with fear about food safety issues, and this supervision official puts his “national-condition” dough into the mold. If “national conditions” become the food-safety supervision officials excuse for inaction, it will be a crudely-made protective umbrella for the inaction, and “national condition” will be a warning to compatriots to resign themselves to the destiny of accepting cheap standards.
To grasp the theory of “national condition”, some of our experts and officials aren’t ahead of the rest of us with their standards, but the skin of their face is thicker than ours. The airports we built [in this country], in the words of our achievers, experts and officials, are of “international standards”. Our high-speed trains, are testimony that there is “no match for them elsewhere in the world”. But when comparisons are about operation capabilities or quality of service, “national conditions” serve as shields. Our experts and officials don’t feel the least of shame that in many fields, China trails behind internationally.
You don’t get on your plane or train? It’s “national condition”. Delays in arrival? “National conditions”. Rising prices? They have nothing to say. When spending money, they have nothing to say. Showing off their (small) achievements? Nothing to say. When earning high salaries and state remuneration from taxpayers’ money, when counting their money, have they ever mentioned “national conditions”?
What kind of condition is a “national condition”? First of all, it should be the people’s conditon, the responsibility entrusted to officials and experts, the willingness to be worthy. Apart from the people’s feelings, it is this inaptness, this demand on compatriots to acknowledge their own worthlessness which is China’s most unfortunate “national condition”.
What’s the “national condition”? Above all, it should be the people’s sentiments, the responsibility for the common people, entrusted to officials and experts, the desire to be worthy.
» One on One, Wang Zhutian, CCTV, May 12, 2013