Posts tagged ‘rule of law’

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Creating “a Good Public-Opinion Environment”: Nationwide Campaign against “Three Falses”

Hunan Province is striking hard at false media, false media organizations and false reporters, reports Rednet (Changsha, Hunan). The provincial authorities issued an order that work groups on eliminating pornography and illegal publications should carry out their work in the general public and at the grassroot units. The CPP mass line educational requirements is quoted as a basis for the crackdown on the “three falses” (三假) which reportedly started on January 4 and is scheduled to last until the end of March. It is said to be targeted at editorial offices, news bureaus and news websites or newslike websites (新闻类网站) that disturb the order of the press, negatively affect society and harmony. The report blames the “three falses” for rumormongering, hawking advertising space, blackmail (this seems to refer to issues like negative publicity, paid news, etc.

The stated goal of the operations is the building of a good public-opinion environment for society (营造良好的社会舆论环境).

The operations in Hunan are part of a nation-wide campaign. China Cultural Media online gave the campaign a mention last Thursday.

Meantime, Chinese lawyer and transparency campaigner Xu Zhiyong (许志永) is on trial, charged with gathering crowds to disrupt public order. And the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reports that close family members of China’s political elite, including the brother-in-law of President Xi Jinping, have been exposed as operating companies in offshore tax havens, according to leaked financial documents obtained as part of a major international investigation.

The documents, according to the Guardian, also disclose the central role of major Western banks and accountancy firms.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Societal Governance: Falling Growth, Rising Vigilance

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.

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Related

» Edward Bernays, NYT obituary, March 10, 1995

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Update/Related

» Fresh Cash, Jan 21, 2014

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Monday, December 23, 2013

“National People’s Congress” standing committee scheduled to deal with “Reeducation through Labor”

The 12th (i. e. current) “National People’s Congress” (NPC) presidium held its fourteenth meeting in the Great Hall of the People on December 16 and scheduled the sixth meeting of the NPC’s standing commission for December 23 to 28, the Beijing Times (京华时报) reports. The report also has an account of the “historic evolution” of reeducation through labor – the abolishment of which is said to be a major issue during the sixth NPC stading commission meeting -, much of which is mirrored in this Wikipedia entry (accessed Dec. 23).

Interestingly, the concept is described as a foreign concept: Reeducation through labor was introduced to China from the former Soviet Union, and came into being in China during the founding days of the PRC, during the campaign “to eleminate counterrevolutionaries”.

The abolishment of reeducation of labor was one of the internationally noticed decisions at the third plenary session of the 18th CCP central committee in November. However, many of China’s re-education through labor camps, instead of being abolished in line with a ruling Communist Party announcement this month, are being turned into compulsory drug rehabilitation centers where inmates can be incarcerated for two years or more without trial, suggests this Reuters report.

And an Amnesty International Paper asks if the soup, rather than the medicine, is being changed. The “Reeducation-through-Labor” system wasn’t the only form of illegal deprivation of liberty in China, the paper says, citing “black jails” (p. 8), “legal education classes” (p. 9), the abuse of psychiatric institutions (p. 9), and drug detention centers (p. 9).

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Related

In violation of the law, CMP, Nov 22, 2012

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela, 1918 – 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Third Plenary Session: Preparing the Local Levels, Trimming the Ostrich

The following is an account of (including some quotes from) a Xinhua article, republished by Enorth (Tianjin).

“Local government reform is an issue of our revolution that involves a broad range of interests in their depths.” Chief state councillor Li Keqiang said in a video and telephone conference on local government functional transformation and institutional reform held the other day that if the reform of central government is part one, the reform of local government is part two. It needed to be considered with all things taken into consideration, and thought about with thorough knowledge, so as to write a good complete chapter of government reform.

“地方政府改革是一场自我革命,涉及面广、触及利益深。”国务院总理李克强在日前召开的地方政府职能转变和机构改革工作电视电话会议上指出,如果说中央政府改革是上篇,地方政府改革就是下篇,需要整体构思、通盘考虑、上下贯通,把政府改革的整篇文章做好。

Experts have pointed out that in previous cases of government functional transformation and institutional reform, there had been “a lot of action at the top, but many discounts [on the promises] further down”.  The new round of streamlining administration and delegating powers to the lower levels (简政放权) has now entered its key phase of comprehensive deepening, and if good policies [or guidelines] can be truly implemented will prove in the difficulties and focal points of government functional transformation and institutional reform.

专家指出,过去几次政府职能转变和机构改革都出现过“上面动作大,下面打折扣”的情况。新一轮简政放权已经进入全面深化的关键时期,好政策能否真正落到实处,难点重点都在地方政府职能转变。

Li is also quoted as saying that government reform was meant to facilitate government-market relations, government-society relations and relations between the center and localities to bring the market more fully into play. Overcoming the challenges of deepening reform from within government at the local levels would constitute the last mile of streamlining administration and delegating powers to the lower levels, and provide the dividends of reform (改革红利) all the more effectively.

The article also quotes a Development Research Center of the State Council researcher, Zhang Liqun (张立群), as saying that streamlining administration and delegating powers to the lower levels – a move for decentralisation, reduction of administrative examination and approval, and stimulation of the private sector’s vitality – was showing initial effects.

The state council had decentralized more than 300 items of administrative examination and approval, the article says, and during that time, the number of company registrations had risen by 25 percent. Among these, the number of private-enterprise (民营企业) and individual-enterprise (个体企业) registrations had risen by 37 percent. These had grown more rapidly than the rate of government investment.

Li Keqiang seems to put the onus of success flatly on the local or regional governments, describing the devolution of of responsibilities as the fulfilled task of the central government. He was seconded by Wang Yukai, a Chinese Academy of Governance professor, who repeated Li’s point that the local levels needed to take responsibility, adding that the central and local government needed to be consistent (上下一贯), and that they needed to guarantee that government decrees went unimpeded (政令畅通).

Both the calamities [or vicious cycles] of “easing once, chaos comes” and “administering once, death comes” needed to be avoided, Li told the conference – his wording suggests that it wouldn’t be the first time that a balance of easing without losing control (疏而不漏) could be lost.

The conference is portrayed as a concert, with Li and the Academics taking turns in plowing through local conscience, reminding the object of their speeches that more than nintety percent of civil servants and 85 percent of government finance (or public economy?) were, in the end, local.

Only the second-last paragraph contains the remarks of a local official – but he does have the last word in the article. Ma Wenda (马文达), head of a health supervision bureau in Guyuan, Ningxia, told the conference that in his place, 48 people had to supervise 1,264 food-and-catering-related companies, 560 public places, 91 medical facilities and 176 schools. Supervising all these scattered places was not easy.

Li Keqiang has the final word: Some authorities had become rather big on the surface, but small further down, like ostriches. Everywhere, efforts needed to be made to strengthen what needed to be strengthened, weaken what needed to be weakened, and above all strengthen the grassroots.  Upper levels needed to trim fat, and grassroot levels needed to be strengthened.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Recent televised Confessions in China

The BBC has a report about this televised confession of Chen Yongzhou and three previous similar events.

Should I believe the statements on tv?

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Related

» Under Arrest in Changsha, Oct 23, 2013

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

“New Express” Reporter under Arrest in Changsha

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.

公开资料显示,从2012年9月26日到2013年6月1日,陈永洲曾发表10篇有关中联重科“利润虚增”、“利益输送”、“畸形营销”及涉嫌造假等一系列批评性报道。

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.

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Update

» Second frontpage plea, BBC, Oct 24, 2013

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chinese Press Review: Syria, very clever

At a moment when everything had seemed to be set for a showdown, things changed dramatically, writes People’s Daily. Yesterday night, Syria officially responded to the international community and said it was willing to hand over all its chemical weapons so as to avoid American attack.  (叙利亚危机剑拔弩张的气氛出现戏剧性变化。
昨日晚间,叙利亚正式回复国际社会,叙利亚愿意交出全部化学武器以换取免遭美国打击。)

After a short account of Kerry’s sudden suggestion on a press conference in London that Syria could only avoid U.S. military strikes by handing over its chemical weapons, and Russian foreign minister Lavrov’s and Syrian foreign minister Mouallem’s statements, amounting to a Syrian willingness to do just that, plus Obama’s ABC interview, People’s Daily quotes an old diplomat and professor, Zhou Zunnan (周尊南) of the Chinese Foreign Affairs University, in an interview with the “International Financial Journal”:

Russia is very clever. They have successfully used diplomatic techniques, and the important thing is that in the current situation, with all the different parties’ interveaved interests, this is a “good move” [in a game of chess].  On the one hand, America gets under international pressure by gradually lowering other countries’ support for unilateral American war, and on the other, objectively, Russia showed support for Syria, perhaps implicating that “no matter if you use force or if you don’t, we will stand on Syria’s side.”

“俄罗斯很聪明,他们成功利用了外交技巧,重要的是,在目前各方面利益交织的格局下,这是一步‘好棋’。”老外交官、外交学院教授周尊南对《国际金融报》记者表示,“一方面,美国会陷入国际压力,进一步压低其他国家对美国单方面发动战争的支持度;另一方面,俄罗斯客观上表达了对叙利亚的支持,言外之意可能是‘不管你动不动武,我都会站在叙利亚’这边。”

People’s Daily is hedging its bets, regarding the likelihood of open American military intervention. From the Third Middle-East War (meaning the Six-Day War) to Syria’s occupation of Lebanon in 1976, and to Syria’s “flirting glances” (与伊朗保持“眉来眼去”的关系) with Iran, things had put this Middle-Eastern country’s relations with Western countries “out of sorts”, the paper writes. In the latest stage of the Syrian conflict, America had sought an “pretext” (quotation marks by People’s Daily), which was the chemical weapons.  There were several indications, People’s Daily quotes Zhou Zunnan (周尊南), still from the “International Financial Journal”, that the issue of chemical weapons was just an excuse. It would have looked bad to take military action against Syria before the UN inspectors delivered their findings, and besides, Russia had borrowed the position Kerry stated in London, Syria had cleverly strengthened its alliance with Russia, thus putting America into a difficult position. A third problem was American public opinion, according to Zhou.

And after all, the situation was complicated: Turkey would have to forget about a four-country economy including Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, if the Assad stepped down. And Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean was Tartus, in Syria. Syria was at the center of solving or mishandling the big Middle-Eastern issues.

Referring to further sources, People’s Daily suggests that oil prices had to be critical factors in Washington’s deliberations, too – with repercussions for the U.S economy. And still, this could also help America to replace the Middle East as the world’s center of energy sources, with an impact on countries depending on those, such as China and India. Therefore, the possibility of military action could not be ruled out. People’s Daily quotes a Russian political scientist (波利卡诺夫) who was also quoted by Xinhua a day earlier as suggesting that the military strikes were only delayed, but had not been stopped by Moscow’s and Damascus’ decisions.

Even China wasn’t on the sidelines in Syria, writes People’s Daily.  Syria had maintained close oil trade with China, and Chinese state-owned energy companies had business in Syria. A SINOPEC spokesperson is quoted as saying (again from “International Financial Journal”) that his company had temporarily closed their branch company in Syria, with most of the staff returning to Beijing, and some staying in Lebanon. Despite all the emphasis on diversification, about fifty percent of China’s crude oil imports were still coming from the Middle East, an expert from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is quoted.

Economics aside, People’s Daily concludes, there had also been a close Sino-Syrian relationship in other fields. Reports say that when China was treated unfairly in the international arena, it could always count on Syrian support.

This is about as far as official Chinese media go in their support for Damascus. Voicing official or semi-official positions is frequently the job of high-ranking academics, when Zhongnanhai prefers to remain silent or low-key. Zhou Zunnan’s comments in the “International Financial Journal”, which is in fact a branch of People’s Daily itself, probably play this kind of role.

On September 4, another academic, Li Shaoxian (李绍先) of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, was quoted by Huanqiu Shibao with a rather candid statement (which may or may not mirror the official Chinese position, obviously):

Besides, Li Shaoxian believes that, when Bashar al-Assad said that China and Russia were Syria’s allies, that was the great banner used as a tiger-skin [a way to impress enemies]. China wasn’t Syria’s ally.  “Although China and Russia both insist on a peaceful solution and both oppose foreign military intervention, Russia has major actual interests in Syria to protect, while China’s interests in Syria are small.”

李绍先还认为,叙利亚总统巴沙尔说中国、俄罗斯是其盟友的说法是“拉大旗作虎皮”,中国不是巴沙尔的盟友。
“尽管中俄对坚持和平解决、反对外来军事干预是一致的,但中俄的考虑并不完全一致,俄罗斯在叙利亚有重大的现实利益要保护,而中国在叙利亚的利益很少”。

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Related

» Netzschau (German blog), Sept 10, 2013
» Less than 40 percent, Global Times, Dec 12, 2011

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