Posts tagged ‘Chongqing’

Monday, March 27, 2017

Populism in China (1): The Downfall of Bo Xilai

There is no Weltinnenpolitik yet, but there are cross-civilizational trends.

The City of Red Songs

There would be no second chance. Gerhard Schröder, former chancellor of Germany, was in a hurry in June 2011, on the sidelines of a forum in southwestern China’s metropolis of Chongqing. He was therefore lacking the time to attend one of the red-song nights that were customary there. But he still pleased his interlocutors with a German proverb: Where people sing, you can settle down – wicked people sing no songs.

In full, the red-songs custom advocated by Chongqing’s party chief Bo Xilai was Singing revolutionary songs, Reading classic books, telling stories and spreading mottos. There would be nine more months of that before Bo Xilai was toppled by his CCP comrades.

A Hudong article explained the activity at the time. It was a mass concept, started in Chongqing in 2008, which was greeted with enthusiasm there, and elsewhere in China. The concept wasn’t outdated, because

if a country and a nation have no correct thought and advanced culture, it will lose its backbone. The current deep changes of the economic system, the structure of society, and the profound adjustment of interest patterns must be reflected in the ideological field. There is diversity in peoples’ minds, and although the mainstream is positive and healthy, while some peoples’ material life conditions have improved, spiritual life is somewhat empty. To change that condition, and to ensure a safe passing of the torch in the cause of the party and the country, the red flag must be righteously upheld, the ideology of Marxism must be consolidated in its guiding position within the ideological field, and the attractiveness and the cohesive power of socialist ideology must be strengthened.

一个国家和民族没有正确的思想、先进的文化,就会失掉主心骨。当前,经济体制深刻变革、社会结构深刻变动、利益格局深刻调整,必然反映到意识形态领域。人们的思想日趋多元多变多样,虽然主流积极健康向上,但一些人物质生活改善了,精神生活却有些空虚。为了彻底改变这种状况,保证党和国家的事业薪火相传,必须理直气壮地举红旗,不断巩固马克思主义在意识形态领域的指导地位,增强社会主义意识形态的吸引力和凝聚力。[Links within these lines omitted.]

According to the HuDong article, CCP politbureau member and Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai (薄熙来) had deplored the phenomenon of young people who sang decadent songs (唱 .. 靡靡之音, chàng mímí zhī yīn), who were reading “fast-food” kinds of literature (读 .. 快餐文化, dú kuàicān wénhuà), told “low and vulgar stories” (讲 .. 低俗故事, jiǎng dīsú gùshì), and “spread pornographic or dull scripts/pieces” (传 .. 黄段子、灰段子, chuán huáng duànzi, huī duànzi).

So, apparently, there were dirty songs, too. Maybe things weren’t as simple as Schröder had believed. At least one  reader and forum commenter of China’s Huanqiu Shibao didn’t trust Schröder’s expertise and wrote:

OK, listen [to the red songs], you won’t comprehend them anyway. It will be as if you were listening to folk songs.

听吧,反正听不懂,就当听民歌了

The “Chongqing Model” was controversial, at least in the perceivable medial public of China. The party elite wasn’t entirely in love with Bo’s pretentious neo-Maoism. A vice president of Law School at China University of Political Science and Law was quoted by the English-language party mouthpiece “Global Times”:

There have been 104,000 “Red Song Concerts” in Chongqing, with 80 million participants. It cost 1,500 yuan ($231) per person for onsite renting and costume expenses, 210 million yuan in total. Adding in the offwork compensation and transportation the final cost is 270 billion [sic – probably means million – JR] yuan. Why don’t they use the money for health insurance?

Bo Xilai’s “Populism”, 2007 – 2012

At the grassroots, however, Bo’s leadership style appears to have worked (maybe it still does). The Chongqing Model wasn’t just about folklore, red or otherwise.

Chongqing (Sichuan province) residents set off firecrackers today, celebrating the execution of the provincial-level city’s former chief justice Wen Qiang (文强), cqnews.net reported in July 2010. The Wall Street Journal explained:

Wen Qiang was put to death following the rejection in May by China’s Supreme Court of an appeal of his conviction on charges including bribery, shielding criminal gangs, rape and inability to account for millions of dollars in cash and assets, according to Xinhua news agency. Xinhua didn’t say how Mr. Wen was executed.

Punching black crime and uprooting vice (拳打黑除恶) was the name of the campaign that cost Wen his life – according to the historical records as Bo would have it, he and his police chief Wang Lijun not only battled against gangs, but infiltrated cadres, too.

The now defunct website Chinageeks published an English translation of Zhang Wen, a former chief editor of the Xinhua magazine Globe:

Bo Xilai and the “northeast tiger” Wang Lijun entered Chongqing and started a war and began a “battling corruption and evil” movement that has gradually begun to spread nationwide and worldwide. This action is in line with the people’s wishes, and at the same time, also in line with what central authorities wish.

At first, the public opinion was very one-sided; no one could find any fault with Bo. The controversy and difference of opinions came with the case of Li Zhuang. Proponents of the democratic rule of law questioned and criticized the legality of Chongqing [court] proceedings, but Bo Xilai’s supporters hold that punishing lawyers who defend “bad people” is appropriate.

Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai is a high-level lawyer who has been working for many years. The two have been together for many years and Bo himself was once the head of the Ministry of Commerce, and thus often negotiated international legal issues with foreign opponents. Because of this, Bo Xilai should have a solid conception and knowledge of the law.

But in the end, in the Li Zhuang case, the organs of justice in Chongqing left a bad impression that they might violate legal procedures. Precisely because of this, some people’s opinions on Bo Xilai changed dramatically. I myself once wrote an essay expressing pity that Bo Xilai hadn’t turned out to be the sort of high-quality modern politician [we had hoped].

Chongqing was a small pond for a big fish – Bo Xilai appeared to have hoped for a permanent seat in the CCP’s central politburo, but landed the job as party secretary of Chongqing instead. Chongqing wasn’t an insignificant city, but it was far from where central Chinese power was. Only an alernate politburo membership linked him to Beijing. From 2008, his Maoist song events raised nationwide attention, and even beyond China – Henry Kissinger apparently leapt at the chance Schröder had missed.

In 2011, Bo Xilai started his second campaign for a permanent seat at the CCP’s top table. While the Economist found Bo’s style refreshing, it noted nervously that

The region’s party chief, Bo Xilai, is campaigning for a place on the Politburo Standing Committee in next year’s leadership shuffle. He looks likely to succeed. Like every other Chinese politician since 1949, he avoids stating his ambitions openly, but his courting of the media and his attempts to woo the public leave no one in any doubt. Mr Bo’s upfront style is a radical departure from the backroom politicking that has long been the hallmark of Communist rule and would seem like a refreshing change, were it not that some  of his supporters see him as the Vladimir Putin of China. Mr Bo is a populist with an iron fist. He has waged the biggest crackdown on mafia-style gangs in his country in recent years. He has also been trying to foster a mini-cult of Mao, perhaps in an effort to appeal to those who are disillusioned with China’s cut-throat capitalism.

Bo didn’t appear to aim for the top job as secretary general, the Economist noted, as that position appeared to have been reserved for Xi Jinping. Indeed, Xi succeeded Hu Jintao as party secretary general in autumn 2012, and as state chairman in March 2013.

Bo Xilai’s plans didn’t work that smoothly. In November 2011, a British citizen, Neil Heywood, died in a hotel in Chongqing. Given that Chinese courts don’t work independently from the party, the circumstances of his death can’t be considered resolved. A Chinese court found Gu Kailai, Bo Xilai’s wife, guilty of killing Heywood, and after only one day in court, she got a suspended death sentence.

The BBC‘s China editor Carrie Gracie tried to shed light on the circumstances of Bo Xilai’s rise and fall, and the role Heywood’s death played in the latter, but didn’t find too many interlocutors. Instead, she presented a Rocky Horror Picture Show of elite power struggles with Chinese characteristics. Bo Xilai as the avenger of the common man, a crashing, media-savvy scourge of organized crime, who addressed the public directly, without party media filtering. That hadn’t happened since Mao’s days – “think Donald Trump”.

With support from local police chief Wang Lijun, who fancied leading roles in martial-arts television, too, Bo had exercised a regime that labeled opponents as mafiosi and not only jailed them, but expropriated them too, in favor of Chongqing’s budgets.

It isn’t contested that Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun prosecuted the real or supposed gangsters’ advocates, too, with questionable means. Gracie quotes one of these advocates, Li Zhuang (see above, Zhang Wen’s criticism of Bo Xilai), as Li describes how he was arrested by Wang Lijun personally:

The scene was so over-the-top, loads of police cars surrounding the plane, riot police in helmets and camouflage, armed with submachine guns. I asked, “Why the big show? Is it Obama’s state visit or are you capturing Osama Bin Laden?”

We were surrounded by a huge scrum of reporters. He wanted to show his authority on camera. He was in a trench coat, hands in his pockets. He said: “Li Zhuang, we meet again.”

There were admirers of Bo and Wang, there were critics and enemies, and there were people who detested the two. But at the grassroots, the fans appeared to be numerous. According to Gracie, there are still many.

Making inconvenient lawyers disappear was no unique feature of Bo Xilai, however. The party leadership with Xi Jinping at the core has been proving for years that to them, the rule of law is a theroretical nicety they may or may not care about.

Gracie reduces the causes of conflict between the noisy polit-soloist Bo Xilai and the basically “collectivist” leadership in Beijing on a personal rivalry between princeling Bo and princeling Xi.

Certainly, top politicians’ egos can hardly be overestimated, and when they are Chinese, ostentatious modesty shouldn’t fool anyone.

But Xi alone wouldn’t have gotten Bo under control. Neither with the sudden Neil-Heywood scandal – that became known as the Wang-Lijun incident in China after the police chief fled into the next US consulate and being passed on to the central authorities from there (but only after having spilled the beans). Nor otherwise.

The question suggests itself if Bo Xilai’s career wasn’t finished in summer 2011 anyway, given wide-spread disapproval among the party elite, of his egotistic leadership style in Chongqing.

“Unity is strength” was one of the “red songs” Bo Xilai had them sing in Chongqing (above: October 8, 2009). But it wasn’t only the Xi faction that saw a lack of just that on Bo’s part. Bo was putting himself forward, and that had been a taboo during all the post-Mao years.

He didn’t denigrate his leading comrades – appearances like that of Donald Trump as a campaigner, cursing fellow members of his political class, would have been inconceivable. But putting himself into the limelight (and casting it away from others) amounted to the same thing, by Chinese standards. Besides, given his anti-corruption renown, sanctimonious as it may have been, could have threatened his “comrades”. A tribun within their ranks – that couldn’t work.

Xi Jinping and his predecessor Hu Jintao are said to be rivals. But within the Hu camp, Bo’s populism didn’t seem to resonate either. On the contrary: Wen Jiabao, chief state councillor (aka “prime minister”) during the Hu Jintao era, had been a tireless, even if unsuccessful, advocate of political reform, way beyond economics or technology.

At a press conference in March 2012, after the closing ceremony of the annual “parliament” plenary sessions, Wen warned that China wasn’t immune against another cultural revolution. That John Garnaut, an Australian correspondent in Beijing, got the opportunity to talk with Hu Dehua, one of Hu Yaobang’s sons, may also count as an indication that the comparatively liberal factions in the party leadership were at least as sick of Bo Xilai’s revolutionary operas, as were the Xi supporters.

Garnaut, two weeks after Wen’s press conference, in an indirect account of his conversation with Hu Dehua*):

Hu Dehua told his father how pessimistic he felt about his country’s future. Hu Yaobang agreed that the methods and ideologies of the 1987 anti-liberalization movement came straight from the Cultural Revolution. But he told his son to gain some historical perspective, and reminded him that Chinese people were not joining in the elite power games as they had 20 years before. He called the anti-liberalization campaign a “medium-sized cultural revolution” and warned that a small cultural revolution would no doubt follow, Hu Dehua told me. As society developed, Hu Yaobang told his son, the middle and little cultural revolutions would gradually fade from history’s stage.

From there, everything went fast. Still in March, Bo was dismissed as Chongqing’s party chief. He also lost his alternate membership in the politburo. In summer 2012, his wife Gu Kailai got her commuted death sentence, and in September 2013, Bo was sentenced to life in prison – based on the usual charges for unrigged politicians: corruption.

Is there a Chongqing Heritage?

At first glance, Bo Xilai’s “populism” or “Maoism” is finished. But Bo counted as a champion of many Chinese from the political left. A comment in German weekly Die Zeit, in September 2013, saw the verdict against Bo as a signal from the top that resistance against economic reform was futile.

To assess Bo Xilai’s political heritage objectively. The CCP may be beyond the era when beaten opponents were airbrushed from all photos and records. But the question about how publicly or privately-owned China’s economy should be might impose itself with any questions about Bo Xilai, and the now seven-member standing committee of the politburo can’t use such questions.

A political scientist of Beijing University, He Weifang (贺卫方), hinted at problems in assessing the Chongqing Model’s performance, from 2007 to 2012:

It is generally believed that the so-called “Chongqing Model” is mainly shaped by three aspects: “red culture” on the political level, “targeted actions against dark and evil forces in Chongqing“, and the reduction of the income gaps between the poor and the rich. The most criticized aspects are the former two, although there is support for the two of them in Chongqing and elsewhere. The third aspect isn’t that controversial. However, all data published concerning the efficiency of the measures taken to narrow the income gap are actually issued by the Chongqing authorities, and therefore lacking neutral assessment. Also, we can see that the whole process is strongly government-led, whose focus isn’t on creating a market logic of equal opportunities. If this approach will or will not lead to mistakes in financial policies, including the rural land policies‘ impartiality, is also questionable. And then there are concerns about life today being lead on future earnings, short-term inputs being made to curry favor with the public, which may come at high future costs.

答:一般认为,所谓的重庆模式主要由三方面内容构成:政治层面上的红色文化,执法层面上的“打黑除恶”以及民生方面的缩小贫富差距。最受诟病的是前两者,虽然在重庆和其他地方,似乎也有一些人人对于“唱红”和“打黑”表达支持。第三方面内容相对较少争议。不过,那些举措究竟对于缩小贫富差距产生了怎样的效果,目前得到的信息都是由重庆当局发布的,缺少中立的评估。另外,我们可以看到整个过程是在政府强势主导下进行的,其重点并非创造机会均等的市场逻辑。这种做法是否会带来财政决策中的失误,包括重庆所推行的农村土地政策的公正性,都是大可怀疑的。还有寅吃卯粮的隐忧,短期内的高投入讨好了民众,但是却需要未来付出巨大的代价。

If Bo Xilai was a populist, one of Donald Trump’s kind, or Putin’s, or Neil Farage’s, or whoever, one has to ask oneself how much influence he has maintained over Chinese politics to this day. After all, populists like Geert Wilders aren’t ineffective, merely because they can’t lay their hands on the imperial regalia.

When looking at European populism – that’s only a snapshot, of course -, one can get the impression that populists may not be elected, but they do leave marks on politics, from Merkel’s Willkommenskultur back to the traditional Christian Democrats’ policies, and Britain’s Brexit, implemented not by its original proponents, but by Theresa May, who had used to be a lukewarm supporter of Britain’s EU membership.

Populism is hardly ever the common peoples’ business, but that of the elites. The battles are fought within the political class, as observed by Hu Yaobang in the late 1980s. That is about as true in Europe. However, these battles within the superstructure may create or intensify certain trends in the public mood – and once policies have moved sufficiently into the “populist” direction, the support for these parties wanes, and the electorate turns back to the long-established parties. After all, Joe Blow doesn’t want to look like an extremist.

When Xi Jinping announced China’s new role as a guardian of free trade at the Davos forum in January, German Handelsblatt China correspondent Stephan Scheuer hailed the party and state leader’s “dressing-down for populists”. In Davos, Xi had become “a pioneer of fair-minded globalization”.

What could be beginning to show in China is a comparatively strong Maoist component in propaganda, as long as this doesn’t come at the cost of China’s privileged, and as long as this doesn’t require substantial reallocation of means or wealth to poor classes of population, or laggard regions. But whenever the name “Bo Xilai” should appear in any token event, the exorcists will be just around the corner.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sun Zhengcai: “Eliminate Bo Xilai’s Poisonous Ideological Legacy”

Main Link: Chongqing Party Chief demands Elimination of Bo Xilai’s and Wang Lijun’s ideological legacy

Links within blockquotes added during translation – JR

Lianhe Zaobao news – Chongqing’s Communist Party municipal committee secretary Sun Zhengcai pointed out publicly yesterday (March 21) that the municipal committee must strictly follow political discipline and political standards. They also needed to strengthen political keenness and political discriminability, “comprehensively and thoroughly eliminate the ideological poison left behind by Bo and Wang (Bo Xilai, Wang Lijun).

(联合早报网讯)中共重庆市委书记孙政才昨天(21日) ,重庆市委必须严格遵守政治纪律和政治规矩,而且要增强政治敏锐性和政治鉴别力,“全面彻底清除薄、王(薄熙来、王立军)思想遗毒”。

According to a report by the “Chongqing Daily”, Sun Zhengcai also said that in recent years, work in Chongqing had “achieved some success”, and the most important, the key point was “to maintain, at all times, a high degree of unanimity with the party central committee and (Communist Party secretary general) Xi Jinping at its core”.

据《重庆日报》报道,孙政才也说,近年来重庆工作“取得的一些成绩”,最重要、最关键的一点,就在于“始终同以(中共总书记)习近平同志为核心的党中央保持高度一致”。

Reportedly, the CCP municipal committee’s standing committee held a “special Democratic Life Meeting” to discuss feedback concerning the rectification and implementation of central committee inspections. Sun Zhengcai made the above remarks on that meeting.

据报道,中共重庆市委常委会21日召开“专题民主生活会”,就整改落实中共中央巡视“回头看”的回馈意见进行讨论。孙政才在会中作上述表示。

Sun Zhengcai said that the municipal committee must “take a clear-cut position in explaining politics”, firmly build “political ideology, awareness of the general situation, core awareness and a preparedness to follow [correct] examples”, and to maintain a high degree of unanimity with the party’s central committee and Xi Jinping at its core”, concerning ideology, politics, and action.

孙政才也说,重庆市委必须“旗帜鲜明讲政治”,牢固树立“政治意识、大局意识、核心意识、看齐意识”,在思想上、政治上、行动上,与“以习近平同志为核心的党中央”保持高度一致。

He said that Chongqing municipal committee must strictly follow political discipline and political standards, resolutely defend the CCP’s central authority and its focused, united leadership, and resolutely and thoroughly implement the party central committee’s dispositions. Awareness needed to be truly increased, political keenness and political discriminability be strengthened, and “the ideological poison left behind by Bo and Wang comprehensively and thoroughly be eliminated”. (Lianhe Zaobao online editor Wang Weiwen)

他说,中共重庆市委须严格遵守政治纪律和政治规矩,坚决维护中共中央权威和集中统一领导,坚决贯彻落实党中央决策部署。要确实提高认识,增强政治敏锐性和政治舰别力,“全面彻底清除薄、王思想遗毒”。(联合早报网编辑:王纬温)

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Related

Der Sturz des Bo Xilai, dFC, March 24, 2017
Murder at the Lucky Holiday Hotel, BBC, March 17, 2017

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Bo Xilai Trial: “Party Resolved, Nobody above the Law”

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.

新华网济南8月22日电(记者霍小光、杨维汉)山东省济南市中级人民法院22日一审公开开庭审理被告人薄熙来受贿、贪污、滥用职权一案。薄熙来出庭受审。相关证人出庭作证。被告人亲属、人大代表、政协委员、媒体记者及各界群众一百余人旁听了庭审。

At 8:43, presiding judge, vice president Wang Xuguang of Jinan intermediate people’s court, struck the gavel and opened the hearing.

8时43分,审判长、济南市中级人民法院副院长王旭光敲响法槌,宣布开庭。

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.

被告人薄熙来在庭审过程中情绪稳定,身体状况正常。法庭旁听秩序井然。

At about six p.m., the presiding judge announced an adjournment, and the continuation of the hearings on August 23.

下午6时许,审判长宣布休庭,23日继续开庭审理。

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.

庭审期间,济南市中级人民法院官方微博对庭审情况及时作了播报。22日上午和下午休庭后,济南市中级人民法院新闻发言人向媒体通报了庭审有关情况。

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.

英国广播公司报道说,济南市中级人民法院官方微博对庭审情况及时作了播报。从预告案件以及旁听人员入场到核实被告人身份等,每一步都有微博发布。

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.

俄罗斯《独立报》称,中国审判薄熙来表明,任何人都不能将自己凌驾于法律之上,任何级别的犯罪分子都将受到惩罚。俄“消息”网站则称,审判清晰表明中共进行反腐斗争的决心。

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”.

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Related

» Trial resumes, CNN, Aug 23, 2013

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Updates/Related

» Press verdicts, BBC, Aug 23, 2013
» Censorship instructions, China Digital Times, August 22, 2013

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Press Review: Tomb-Sweeping Day, and Cemeteries to remember

Recent cases of avian flu are top stories on most of the Chinese press online. Xinhua (via Enorth, Tianjin) reports fourteen cases in mainland China, six of whom had died so far. Four of them died in Shanghai, among them a four-year-old child. A bulletin from Zhejiang Provincial Health Department is quoted as reporting one death today, and a 64-year-old farmer from Huzhou had died previously. Four avian flu cases had been reported from Jiangsu Province, and one from Anhui Province, according to Xinhua. The ministry of agriculture’s information office said late on Thursday that H7N9 viruses had been found during the examination of pigeons sent in by the Shanghai authorities. Much of the article’s emphasis is on prevention and control measures taken by the authorities.

Huanqiu Shibao republishes a photo from Guangzhou, (by China News Service, 中新社), with people bringing rice wine to their deceased relatives’ graves – April 4 was tomb-sweeping day.

In a more detailed article, Huanqiu Shibao mentions the forgotten graveyards and cemeteries, where few people go, be it because the places are too remote and not easy to reach, be it because of past historical taboos (历史“禁忌”).

These cemeteries lie deep in the mountains, near the Chengdu-Kunming railroad, in the mountain laps along the thousand-miles long Sino-Vietnamese border*) a long distance from the Sino-Vietnamese border, on level ground of curved mountains, in a mostly ignored corner of Chongqing’s Shapingba Park, where young members of the railroad forces, young PLA soldiers and young members of the Red Guards are buried…

这些墓园静静地卧在大山深处成昆铁路的路基旁,千里中越边境一弯弯的山坳中,重庆沙坪坝公园不引人注意的角落里……里面长眠着年轻的铁道兵战士、年轻的解放军士兵和年轻的红卫兵少年……

The places were out of reach for many relatives, and some wouldn’t even know where their loved ones had been buried, writes Huanqiu. Denial of memory played a role, too:

We are really good at talking about successes, but often ignore the suffering behind success. We frequently discuss the wounds suffered in more than a hundred years, but tend to avoid the “stains” on history.

我们非常善于谈成就,但往往忽视了成就背后的苦难;我们也经常提起一百多年来遭遇的创伤,但也往往回避曾经的历史“污点”。

Self-reflection was required to avoid entering past pitfalls once again, writes Huanqiu. Obviously, moments of self-reflection should also assure the visitors to the forgotten cemetaries that the road that has been taken since was the correct path, according to the article, which seems to remain an uneasy one, not only because of the many ellipsis within.

The scenery of Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. should make [Chinese] people feel ashamed, writes Huanqiu. China had a tradition of faithful bones lying buried in the green hills [青山处处埋忠骨 – a reference to casualties of military conflicts and battles, apparently], but also one of paying attention to the great deceased.

Every life of a deceased has its proper value. Even when it is about the lives of the ignorant youths who died in the non-military struggles of the 1960s, each of their lives, on the path of this country’s history, left a bloody mark.

任何生命的逝去都有其应有的价值。即使是在1960年代末武斗中惨死的懵懂少年们,也都是每个生命在这个国家历史进程的刻度上留下的血的印记。

[…..]

Let’s conserve these cemeteries, let us not leave the regrets behind, and when visiting the dead, they can unhurriedly find their way home.

保护好这些墓园,不要再留有遗憾,当亡灵省亲的时候,他们可以很从容地找到回家的路。

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Note

*) See Doppelkopf‘s comment

Related

» Bottom of a Dead Volcano, December 27, 2012
» June 4, 23rd Anniversary, June 4, 2012
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Bo Xilai: no Trial today

“It is definitely not happening today”, a court official outside the People’s Intermediate Court building in Guiyang told reporters on Monday, according to Reuters. , denying that Bo Xilai‘s “trial” would open there on January 28. The official, who didn’t give her name, thus denied reports to the contrary.

Meantime, Huanqiu Shibao – and/or the “Global Times” – quotes “a source close to the top judicial authorities” as saying that Bo’s “trial” could be held after the sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) which will probably be held in March.

Despite the court official’s denial, hundreds of Chinese and foreign reporters are still waiting in front of the court building in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, reports the BBC‘s Chinese service.

Bo Xilai’s wife, Gu Kailai, had been “tried” in Hefei, Anhui Province, in August last year. She was found guilty of of murder in the death of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Bo Xilai is accused of “abuse of power and corruption”.

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Update, 03:15 UTC

The BBC (Mandarin) report apparently referred to the English-language “Global Times”. Chinese-language Huanqiu Shibao re-published the report (in English) at 01:21 UTC.

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Related posts »

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Huanqiu Shibao: (Bo) Gu Kailai Case Completed

The Chinese and international press cover the Gu Kailai case as if there were real knowns. Maybe there are, and I just haven’t paid close attention anyway, but I seem to understand that Neil Heywood‘s remains had been cremated when the Chinese authorities suddenly found it opportune to look into the matter. It’s strange to see how this is reported as a case of murder, when a totalitarian state decides to appoint a court and to order a verdict.

Anyway, Huanqiu Shibao, in an editorial, explains that if (Bo) Gu Kailai had been an ordinary citizen, she would have received the same sentence (如果薄谷开来就是个普通人,发生同样的案子,她同样被判了死缓), that the killing of an alledged bank robber and killer, named Zhou Kehua (周克华), by Chongqing police may be a fake, that the police had been compelled to deny the rumor, and that China’s public opinion’s opening up to “freedom of speech” (in quotation marks there, too) was still a rather young story.

OK - let's get back to the South China Sea, shall we?

OK – let’s get back to the South China Sea, shall we?

Either way, it’s time to declare another victory in the run-up to the 18th National CCP Congress:

As long as the officials respond conscientiously, and stand the test of governing for the people, public opinion will react calmly. This year’s public crises have been many, public opinion had been rising and falling, but as the past six months passed, and when looking at it carefully and in detail, the authoritativeness of official information has grown. This has already become society’s expectation: that the government actively answers to important public views, and when such views are very strong, the government will make [the necessary] adjustments.

然而只要官方认真回应,为民执政经得起考验,舆论的回调实际也会悄悄发生。今年以来公共危机很多,舆论质疑此起彼伏,但大半年过去,如果我们仔细评估,官方信息的权威性还是增加了。比如社会现在已经有这样的预期:政府会对重要公众意见积极做回应,公众意见很强烈的时候,政府也会做调整。

Zhou Kehua became a topic on the Chinese internet because he had been cited as “a commoner who could be shot dead without trial”, basically.

Huanqiu Shibao:

Many things are hotly put into doubt by netizens, but in the end, what gains the trust of a majority, is still official information.

很多事情互联网上的质疑很热闹,但最终赢得多数人相信的,还是官方信息。

In short, the article suggests that officialdom should be “more self-confident”, in the face of rumors.

We encourage such self-confidence, because only when the officials are self-confident, information transparancy will be applied more naturally, and a few unnecessary misgivings won’t affect the handling of sensitive issues, there won’t be questions emerging within society because of certain aspects [or links] which then enters into tense interactions. These breakthroughs have already been achieved, and are gradually becoming the norm.

我们鼓励这种自信,是因为只有官方更自信,信息公开才会被执行得更加自然,一些不必要的顾虑才不会影响敏感事情的处理,社会才不会因为某一个环节出问题,就堕入一连串紧张的互动。这样的突破已在中国出现,它们需要连成片,逐渐成为常态。

Four “votes” via an emoticon board express shock, 26 express anger, 14 are hurt, 271 are moved, 1,240 delighted, 112 happy, 22 bored, and 598 find the editorial ridiculous.

Latest comments, too, suggest that Chinese public opinion is a beautiful garden (if no irony is meant):

When there is good freedom of speech, the sly dogs can’t hide their traces (还是言论自由好啊.让偷机摸狗无处遁形 – 18 minutes ago)

And a netizen who urged freedom of speech is replied to:

China can’t do the separation of powers yet; it would tear the country apart which would make China suffer. The former Soviet Union is an example! (中国还真不能搞三权分立,到时候权是分离了,国家就四分五裂了,那中国就惨了。前苏联就是榜样!)

The commenter thread only loads occasionally, and is apparently undergoing heavy editing.

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Related

» How the Horse Broke itself in, March 22, 2012

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

French Architect “with Bo Xilai Ties” Arrested in Cambodia

French architect Patrick Henri Devillers has been arrested by Cambodian police, reportedly with the co-operation of Beijing, which is seeking his extradition. Also reportedly, Phnom Penh is in a process of deciding whether to send Devillers to France, or to follow a demand to extradite him to China. According to the BBC’s Chinese website, Devillers is a friend of Bo Xilai‘s family, and a business friend of Bo’s wife Gu Kailai. According to a Le Monde report, Devillers had first met the Bo family in Dalian, just as another foreign Bo/Gu contact, Neil Heywood had.

But their businesses were different, and not interlinked, Deviller was quoted in the Le Monde report, in May this year (i. e. weeks before his arrest).

“What we had in common is that we were married to Chinese women. We knew each other (…). What I can say about him is that he wasn’t in the bluff. He had a great mental nobility, in the English traditions of honor.”

“On avait en commun d’être mariés à des Chinoises. On se connaissait (…). Je peux dire de lui en tout cas qu’il n’était pas du tout dans l’esbroufe. Il avait une grande noblesse d’âme, dans les traditions anglaises de l’honneur.”

Devillers had first arrived in China in 1987, aged about 27, to learn Chinese, according to Le Monde. It was there that he met his wife who studied the classical zither [probably the guzheng – JR], and started a movie project about the Tian An Men movement in 1989, which ended with the massacre.

During the 1990s, much of his work involved working with the Dalian city government’s architecture and urban planning department.

The way Devillers comes across in the Le Monde article suggests that he took a great interest in China’s intellectual history, and particularly in Taoism.

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Related

» Oh, Rule of Law, April 11, 2012

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Updates/Related

» No Extradition without Evidence, Telegraph, June 20, 2012

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Long Yongtu and the Smiling Curve: Only a Great Importer is a Great Power

Main Link: Taiwan News / CNA. Links within blockquote added during translation.

CNA reporter Kang Shih-jen (Kang Shih-jen, Ann Chen) in Chongqing, May 17.
Former mainland Chinese former chief negotiator of China’s accession to WTO and deputy foreign trade minister Long Yongtu emphasized today that if the mainland wants to change its international long-term status as a trade-surplus state, it will need to broaden its imports, which will also increase its customs revenues, and meet domestic demand.
(中央社記者康世人重慶17日電)曾任中國大陸入世首席談判代表、外經貿部副部長的龍永圖今天強調,大陸要改變在國際貿易中長期處於順差狀態的形象,就必須擴大進口,且擴大進口還能增加稅收、滿足內需。

Long Yongtu spoke on invitation by the 2012 World Trade Center Association (Chongqing) Development Forum and said that the mainland at a point in time where old concepts needed to change, and imports therefore be expanded.
龍永圖下午應邀在2012世界貿易中心協會(重慶)發展論壇上發表演說,談到大陸到了改變過時守舊觀念的時候,因此必須擴大進口。

He said that in the past, all the talk had been about how to expand exports, but now, Chongqing Development Forum made the topic of expanding imports a topic with new conceptions; at a time when global trade was depressed, every country had a responsibility to explore ways to expand its own imports, as only through that, global trade could be [re]invigorated.
他說,過去談貿易促進時,都談如何擴大出口,但今天重慶的發展論壇以擴大進口作為主題很有新意;在全球貿易處低迷時,每個國家都有責任研究如何擴大自身進口,唯有如此才能使全球貿易活躍。

Long Yongtu stressed that particularly for the mainland’s long-term status as a surplus trader, broadening imports would be beneficial for its image in global trade; by changing the long-term surplus, a positive contribution to global trade could be made.
龍永圖強調,尤其大陸長期處於貿易順差狀態,擴大進口有利改變大陸在全球貿易中的形象;改變長期順差的局面,才能為全球貿易做出積極貢獻。

He believes that to change the mainland’s image, traditional views and conservative, outdated concepts needed to change, and above all, the idea that exports were better than imports.
他認為,要改變大陸形象,得從觀念上改變傳統、守舊過時的看法,首先是改變出口比進口好的傳統觀念。

From the perspective of international theory, Long Yongtu pointed out that importing countries were, from beginning to end, the most benefitting countries: “Whoever controls imports will control the international initiative”.
從國際理論上來說,龍永圖指出,進口國始終是國際貿易中的最大贏家,「誰掌握進口,誰就掌握國際貿易的主動權」。

Long Yongtu said that, based on the example of the mainland and America, that although the mainland was a long-term exporter, its position in international trade wasn’t strong. Why was America “standing out” in international trade? It was because America was the world’s biggest importer. Therefore, if the mainland wanted to move from the position of a big trading nation to a great trading nation, there were only imports, and the need to become the world’s biggest importing country.
龍永圖以大陸和美國為例說,雖然大陸長期出口,但在國際貿易中的地位不強;美國為什麼在全球貿易體制當中「這麼牛」(這麼厲害)?就是因為美國是全球最大進口國,因此如果大陸要「從貿易大國走向貿易強國,只有進口,且必須要成為全球貿易最大進口國」。

Besides, Long Yongtu believes that expanding imports could also promote an increase in mainland industrial upgrading. The mainland exactly needed to switch from dependence on exports to putting domestic demand first, and could, through these means, also meet domestic demand.
此外,龍永圖認為,擴大進口也會促進大陸內部產業升級,大陸正從依靠出口轉向內需為主,也要擴大進口滿足內需。

He pointed out that to strengthen imports could also strengthen fiscal income. By reducing tariffs, imports could be stimulated and broadened, and the entry of products would benefit a broader custom and excise foundation, and increase tariff revenues.
他指出,增加進口還可增加政府財政稅收。由於關稅下降,刺激、擴大進口產品的進入,有利稅基擴大,提高關稅收入。

To expand imports was also the best answer to international trade protectionism. If the mainland expanded imports of European and American products, European and American trade barriers and protectionism would greatly be reduced.
龍永圖說,擴大進口也是解決國際貿易保護主義的最佳、最有效辦法。大陸擴大從歐美進口商品,歐美對大陸貿易障礙和貿易保護就大幅降低。

He also emphasized that processing trade [the term “extended workbench” should apply here – JR] wasn’t like normal trade, and that enterprises, great and small, had striven for the old concept of a level of all-inclusive organizational structures*), i. e. to increase their shares of self-made modules. [But in fact,] there was a need to master the global division of labor and procurement, to produce the world’s best products from the world’s best components and modules and thus build the most competitive products. Only this would be beneficial to the mainland’s economic development and make it the world’s marketcenter [purchasing center].
他還強調,要改變加工貿易不如一般貿易、企業發展追求「大而全、小而全」及提高零組件自製比例的舊觀念,要透過全球分工和全球採購,把全球最佳零組件集中形成全球最有競爭力的產品,才有利大陸經濟發展,也讓大陸能成為全球採購中心。

Long Yongtu also praised Chongqing for the creation of a new situation in the information processing industry. This had mainly been for the mainland’s customs rates having been lowered to zero when it entered the WTO. This had stimulated component imports, and the result had been research and development in and production of electronic components. In the end, when calculating the entire smiling curve, the entire assembly line had remained in Chongqing. The “Chongqing Model” had therefore deserved to be studied and to be followed [imitated] by mainland China’s [entire] central and western areas.
龍永圖也稱讚重慶打造一個電子資訊產業加工新型態,這主要是當年大陸加入世界貿易組織(WTO)時,決定讓電子零組件關稅降為零,刺激零組件進口,結果成就現在將研發、零組件製造、終端、結算整個微笑曲線流程全都留在重慶的「重慶模式」,這樣的模式值得研究和大陸中西部仿效。

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Note

*) The 大而全、小而全 slogan is translated, in an online publication of the Central Committee decision of September 1999, as the status of [state-owned, in that context] enterprises that

have an all-inclusive organizational structure, but have failed to establish specialized production and socialized coordination systems and an economy of scale, and lack market competitiveness

– see item IV. there. In short: the share of components bought from suppliers is small, because what would be sub-suppliers’ business elsewhere, is all integrated into a single company’s production under this concept.

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Related

» Low-End Exports, Oct 3, 2011
» More Scientific & Fairer Rules, Sept 19, 2011

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