Posts tagged ‘evictions’

Friday, November 8, 2013

Press Review: the “Magic” of Third Plenary Sessions

The Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Central Committee’s third plenary session is scheduled to begin on Saturday, and to close on Tuesday. The Economist is full of joy and great expectations:

When colleagues complain that meetings achieve nothing, silence them with eight leaden words: “third plenary session of the 11th central committee”. This five-day Communist Party gathering in December 1978 utterly changed China.

Why should Xi Jinping be in a position to repeat a similar plenum tomorrow, 35 years after the 1th Central Committee? Because Xi, and chief state councillor Li Keqiang, have assembled an impressive bunch of market-oriented advisers, and because Xi himself appears to have more authority than any leader since Deng. And he had done nothing downplay expecations.

press review

The outland expects nothing short of a (counter) revolution.

The Economist’s editorial mentions two fields on which the central committee – in its view – should focus: state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and the countryside. The magazine has been banging on about the latter issue since March 2006 – if not earlier. In its March 25, 2006 edition, it suggested land reform (“how to make China even richer”), and it saw some of its expectations met in winter 2008, but the third plenum that Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao chaired in October 2008 proved an anticlimax.

If the next days should not produce spectacular decisions, neither the Economist nor the Financial Times appear to be too worried: bloated phrasing, the FT suggests, has not been an obstacle to far-reaching economic policy changes in China over the past 35 years. The FT also agrees with the Economist’s 2008 finding that

for Hu Jintao, Mr Xi’s predecessor, the 2003 third plenum became a marker of his administration’s shortcomings. Mr Hu vowed at the plenum to tackle China’s unbalanced growth, but a decade later left office with the economy even more reliant on investment.

But contrary to the Economist, the FT doesn’t seem to believe that the input from the market-oriented advisers, assembled by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, will translate into results quite as dramatic as the think-tank papers. Incremental change would prevail.

One of the ideas – certainly not shared by all Chinese leaders alike – behind the right to farmers to sell their land is that the money earned from sales would enable them to start new lives in the cities or in urbanized areas. This would, apparently, require loosening or abandoning the household-registration system, even if some more conservative models of trading land-related rights rather seem to encourage rural citizens to stay where they are.

This should make sense – maybe not everywhere, but in many places. After all, Hu Jintao’s and Wen Jiabao’s caution wasn’t unfounded. The history of Chinese agriculture seems to have been about making farmers owners of their land – with concepts of ownership which most probably differ from our days -, even if for different goals. The idea then was to make agriculture work, not to make urbanization work. And time and again, land concentrated, back into the hands of small elites, Erling von Mende, a sinologist, suggested in a contribution for a popular-science illustrated book published by Roger Goepper, in 1988.*)

If a peasant in Gansu province sells his few mu of land – to a local developer, for example – and heads to a big city, one may doubt that his small capital would get him very far. He might return to his home province as a poorer man than ever before. It’s unlikely that the center would loosen all the brakes at once.

The most striking thing to me about recent foreign coverage of the plenary session aren’t the technicalities, however. It is the way China is being looked at as just another kind of political system. The potential of big business seems to have squashed ethical issues.

That’s not soft power, but it is Beijing power. A number of former foreign officials, among them Mexico’s former president Ernesto Zedillo and former British prime minister Gordon Brown, pilgrimaged to the Chinese capital to attend a conference of the 21st Century Council, a global think tank (apparently formed by them). They got an invitation for tea met with Xi Jinping, too, who informed them that China would not fall into the middle-income trap.

There is no reason to believe that elites who worship abusive power abroad will show more respect for human rights at home.

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Note

*) Roger Goepper (Hrsg.): “Das Alte China”, München, Gütersloh, 1988, pp. 164 – 166

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Related

» Is China misunderstood, Oct 24, 2012
» Middle-income trap, Wikipedia, acc. 20131108

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Monday, October 3, 2011

China, Myanmar, WTO: Dependence, Low-End Exports, and Friendly Consultations

The government has suspended work on the controversial Myitsone dam as a result of widespread public protest over its likely environmental and social impact,

reports the Myanmar Times.

Myitsone Dam under Construction, Wikimedia Commons (click on photo for source)

Myitsone Dam under Construction, Wikimedia Commons (click on photo for source)

China News Service (中国新闻网) reported on Sunday (October 2, 2011, 00:41 GMT) that

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) told a press conference today that the Myitsone electric plant project is a joint Sino-Chinese project which went through scientific demonstration and strict examination. The matters concerned should be properly handled through friendly consultations between the two sides.

中国外交部发言人洪磊今天回答记者问时说,密松电站是中缅两国的合资项目,经过了双方的科学论证和严格审查。对项目实施过程中的有关事宜,应由双方通过友好协商妥善处理。

Q: According to reports, Myanmar’s parliament announced on September 30 that during president Thein Sein’s tenure, the Sino-Myanmarnese cooperative  Myitsone electric plant  project will remain shelved. What is the Chinese side’s comment on this?

据报道,9月30日,缅甸联邦议会宣布吴登盛总统在其任期内搁置中缅两国密松电站合作项目。中方对此有何评论?

A: The Chinese government has always supported Chinese companies in developing cooperation with companies abroad, based on the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and demanded that Chinese companies should perform in strict accordance with those countries’ law and regulations, to fulfill their responsibilities and obligations, and urges governments in pertaining countries to guarantee the Chinese companies’ legal legitimate rights and interests. The Myitsone power plant is a project jointly invested by China and Myanmar, and went  through the scientific demonstration and strict examination of both sides. The matters concerned should be properly handled through friendly consultations between the two sides.

中国政府一贯支持中国企业本着相互尊重、平等互利原则同其他国家企业开展合作,并要求中国企业严格按照所在国法律法规履行责任和义务,敦促有关国家政府保障中国企业的合法和正当权益。密松电站是中缅两国的合资项目,经过了双方的科学论证和严格审查。对项目实施过程中的有关事宜,应由双方通过友好协商妥善处理。

Also on Sunday (Saturday, 18:07 GMT), People’s Daily‘s Bangkok correspondent Ji Peiyuan (暨佩娟) quoted Myanmar media:

According to Myanmar media reports, Burmese parliament announced on September 30 that during president Thein Sein’s tenure, the Sino-Myanmarnese cooperative  Myitsone electric plant  project will remain shelved. Thein Sein said: “Myanmar’s government is elected by the people, therefore, we have to pay attention to the will of the people. We are obliged to focus on settling the people’s worries and misgivings.”

Thein Sein said that the Myitsone electric plant  project could harm [or destroy, 破坏] the natural landscape, the livelihoods of the local people, the private capital in the cultivation of rubber plantations and crops, and collapsing dams, caused by climate change, could also damage the livelihoods of the people near the Myitsone plant, and further down the river. He also said that the Myanmar government would consult with the Chinese government to avoid harming Sino-Myanmar bilateral relations and friendship.

Myanmar Myitsone hydropower plant is worth 3.6 billion US dollars, and is about 200 kilometers away from Tengchong County in Yunnan Province. and is a major hydropower by the China Power Investment Corporation, in the region of Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River. It’s located in the Kachin mountainous region and to be developed at the 干流河段 section of the Irrawaddy River, with a capacity of six million kilowatts.

The rest of People’s Daily’s report reflects the statement made by Chinese foreign ministry Hong Lei (see this post’s initial paras).

The BBC reported that a letter by president Thein Sein had been read out in parliament, announcing the decision to suspend the project. The project had fuelled fighting between the army and ethnic Kachin rebels. The BBC quotes its South East Asia correspondent Rachel Harvey as saying that the decision appears to be further evidence of the new leadership’s desire to seek legitimacy by being more open to public opinion.

Both continuing the project in the long run (completion was originally scheduled for 2019), and its abandonment, would pose many problems. Continuation would reportedly have a negative impact on biodiversity, as frequently reflected by organizations like the Burma Rivers Network, it may come with side effects as many other mega dams from the Aswan Dam in Egypt to the Three-Gorges dam in China have, and rebel movements in the region could make the Myitsone project vulnerable to sabotage. Besides the mythological weight the river carries, forced relocations, and the loss of means of livelihood also seem to have driven opposition.

But Mynamar may have good reasons to keep consultations with Beijing as friendly as possible. Even if Yangon (or Naypyidaw) flatly refused to pay damages (if legally obliged to do so), business with its powerful neighbor would suffer. China sees itself a s a victim of trade protectionism, and this case, if it becomes a high-profile bone of contention, would add to that.

On the other hand, the further process may also make it clear to Beijing that mere deals with third-world countries’ regimes may not be sustainable. If China’s rulers understand that is a different question. Protectionism and resource nationalism had been on the rise and hampered Chinese business, official Xinhua news agency reported in September, citing an Ernest & Young report. Obviously, China was a “victim” of trade protectionism (贸易保护主义最大受害者).

There is grumbling among China’s academia, too. On the tenth anniversary of China’s accession to the WTO, People’s University (aka Renmin University) professor Gu Genliang (贾根良) questioned China’s foreign trade approach of importing high-end products and exporting low-end products (进口高端产品并出口低端产品).

By exporting hydropower to China, Myanmar would follow a path similar to the one Gu Genliang deems harmful. China, Gu Genliang (and many other Chinese people, academics or not) feel that they are being exploited, especially by America, of course.

[Update, April 11, 2012: the linked website, Utopia, is currently offline.  Apparently, Wu Genliang's article can also be found here.]

Gu also fears foreign blackmail:

We are mired in heavy dependence on foreign resources and on on our own cheap exports. Large-scale low-end exports consume a lot of energy and natural resources, which led to our country’s dependence on foreign energy and resources which not only made the prices for these sources explode, which transferred the fruits of our people’s hard work into the hands of energy-exporting countries, but also has the potential of making us suffer from foreign countries’ embargos, thus carrying a huge security risk. At the same time, while our country is so reliant on foreign resources, it is ridiculous that we are exporting large quantities of rare earths and minerals coal, etc. at low prices.

第五,深陷对外部资源的严重依赖和本国资源廉价出口的陷阱。低端产品的大量出口是以大量消耗能源和自然资源为基础的,这导致了我国对外能源和资源的高度依赖,这种高度依赖不仅导致了能源和资源的价格暴涨把我国人民辛苦劳动的成果转移到资源出口国手中,而且潜伏着遭遇外国对我国实施资源禁运的巨大经济安全风险。同时,令人感到荒谬的是,在我国深陷对外部资源的严重依赖的同时,我国的大量资源如稀土、煤炭等却被大量地廉价出口。

The WTO ruled in July that Chinese export restrictions on certain raw minerals violated global rules

Gu spells out the conditions under which China’s WTO membership could still be useful – or those under which it should consider leaving the organization.

Myanmar is still a long way from even joining.

But maybe, at least, it will stop exploiting China’s dependence on energy, and pull the plug on the Myitsone project for good.

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Related

» The Government had little Choice, Asia Times, Oct 4, 2011
» Vietnam: Under Threat of Invasion, April 29, 2009

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Updates / Related

» Aung San Suu Kyi Cautious, BBC, Oct 3, 2011

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Zhou Yongkang: more Convenience with “Social Management”

Xinhua / Enorth – The CCP’s Politics and Law Committee directs and coordinates the work of Chinese courts, procuratorates, and police. Reportedly, a Committee decision can also override regular courts’ decisions. It was officially established in 1980, according to Wikipedia (of today). The organ preceding it was a central working group for legal affairs (中央政法领导小组), established in 1958.

The Commission’s secretary is Zhou Yongkang (周永康), who is also a member of the politbureau’s nine-members standing committee.

[Main Link] On Sunday morning [local time, Zhou] made a speech to leading cadres of the provincial level, in a seminar focused on social management (社会管理) and its innovative exploration (其创新专题研讨). He emphasized the need to earnestly study and implement secretary general Hu Jintao’s important speech, to adapt to new economic and social development trends, to strengthen and innovate social management, to build a social management system with the characteristics of Chinese socialism, to solidify the party’s ruling position, to protect the people’s fundamental interests, and to guarantee the country’s long period of peace and stability (长治久安).

[...]

Zhou Yongkang pointed out the need to adapt to new circumstances and new demands of economic and social development, the need to practically transform the concept of social management. By establishing a people-oriented (以人为本) service-first concept, containing a management based on service, by efforts to achieve a comprehensive unity of management and service, the people should feel that their rights were protected, and should therefore feel  more comfortable. The establishment of more pluralistic participation (多方参与), a concept of shared governance, the maintenance of party leadership and guidance by the government, cooperation with all benign forces in society, by autonomy, self-discipline, discipline of others, lawful effects, the dynamics of the people and their innovative self-initiative should be mobilized, and become the combined efforts of social management.

Zhou also mentioned legal education, administrative and judicial justice. The outset had to be the reality of our country (必须从我国实际出发), social management should go its own way (走自己的路), and correctly handle the traditional strengths and their relationship with the new situation. By no means should the past be totally repudiated (绝不能全盘否定过去), but be judged along the way, in mutual consultation (绝不能全盘否定过去,另搞一套). He also mentioned an unspecific role for elected village organs (基层群众性自治组织),  but emphasized that they needed to participate in social management in accordance with the law (依法有序参与社会管理). Risks in society needed to be assessed, social conflicts be reduced, and land acquisitions and resettlements be conducted in a harmonious, mediated way. Zhou’s remarks also included the management of industrial relations.

To improve social management, the identity card system (身份证制度) also needed to be improved, in order to serve people better, and a national population database should help services to better meet the reality of daily lives (提高对实有人口的管理服务水平).

For foreign NGOs active in China, a joint management mechanism needed to be built to protect legitimate exchanges and cooperation, and for the internet’s management, Zhou demanded a unified leadership of party committees, and strict government management (在互联网管理方面,要形成党委统一领导、政府严格管理). Another aspect of social management was an early warning and channeling system  (要建立预测、预警、疏导、救助机制) for spiritual hygiene.

Hui Liangyu (回良玉) presided over the session, Wang Lequan (王乐泉), Liu Qi (刘淇), Liu Yunshan (刘云山), Liu Yandong (刘延东), Li Yuanchao (李源潮), Wang Yang (汪洋), Zhang Gaoli (张高丽), Yu Zhengsheng (俞正声), Xu Caihou (徐才厚), Bo Xilai (薄熙来) and others were scheduled to attend.

The actual article was much longer, but I believe I have covered all the main buzzwords it contained. The whole lecture was hardly specific. No particular reason was given for the meeting and its topic.

The BBC establishes a link between the meeting and the current Arab Jasmine Revolution.

Figures published last year suggested the Chinese government spent almost as much on maintaining internal security as on defence,

writes the BBC’s Shanghai correspondent Chris Hogg.

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Related
Safeguarding “4.9″, February 19, 2011
You name the Problem, the CCP solves it, February 15, 2011
The Greatest Democracy for Humankind, February 3, 2011
Dangwai, January 31, 2011
Social Engineer, Wikipedia

Update/Related
Un parfum de jasmin à Pékin, Jordan Pouille, Febr 20, 2011

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Net Nanny: Lots of Tea

tea, anyone?

Net Nanny: tea, anyone?

My job is a heavy burden. I have to read malicious and misleading articles in unhealthy foreign magazines every day, to keep it all away from the easily impressible dim people of our great nation. Stuff such as this from the so-called Economist of September 5, page 62, entitled “A harmonious and stable crackdown”.

*Sigh*

What a hopelessly sick heap of bullshit. Those sick minds who think up such ugly fiction just as we are approaching the happy arrival of sixtieth anniversary of our great People’s Republic are of course enemies of the Chinese people. But let me tell you this: there are no crackdowns here. There are only invitations for tea.

Sometimes, we invite bad elements for just some cups of tea, and the whole matter will only last for an afternoon. Sometimes we invite the bad elements for a lot more cups of tea, which is also very harmonious. And sometimes we kick people out who have stayed for tea for too long.

And while you are chewing on these truths about the Real Estate China, I suggest that you learn the following by heart:

Uphold the basic economic system with public ownership playing a dominant role and diverse forms of economic ownership developing together, and with the practice of distribution according to work being carried out as the mainstay alongside other forms of distribution.

Harmonious and festive greetings

Net Nanny

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Riots in Longnan City, Gansu Province: Official Statistics and (Semi) Official Backgrounders

Up to 2,000 people attacked the local Communist Party headquarters in Longnan City, Gansu Province (甘肃省, 陇南市), northwest China in protest over a land dispute, according to the HK Standard of November 18, quoting Chinese state media. About 30 people protesting the eviction plans gathered at the party headquarters Monday morning but the crowd swelled to about 2,000 throughout the day and into the evening, according to Xinhua. The location was Longnan City, Wudu District (陇南市, 武都城区) – a poverty-stricken region that had suffered in addition from the big earthquake in May of this year (also HK Standard, of November 20). Longnan City is in southern Gansu province bordering Shaanxi in the east and Sichuan in the south.

The riots were apparently triggered by eviction plans.

Singapore’s Morning News Net quotes Longnan City’s information office as saying yesterday that the siege around the municipal party compound had ended, that more than sixty police, officials and members of the general public had been been seriously injured, and that eleven cars plus a great quantity of files and other assets inside the two municipal party committee buildings had been destroyed.

Both China Daily and the Morning News net article quote a statement by Longnan’s city government which refers to the first small number of protestors as petitioners“The petitioners “were provoked by a small minority of people with ulterior motives”. “Small minority” is the usual kind of official terminology in cases which embarrass the Chinese Communist Party.

A Global Voices post contains some possible explanations about as to how the tension which lead to the riots built up. At the moment, it also contains videos which apparently record scenes of the street fight between protesters and police. The videos were apparently uploaded at Youku first, and at Youtube later.

Media based inside mainland China offer possible background information, too. According to Caijing Net (财经网), the incident can be traced back to January 2004, when the State Council approved Longnan to become a city and set up the Wudu District as a new administrative center with favorable policies. As new buildings went up, many of the area’s residents were forced to move out. Many of them are still living in the temporary houses, waiting for new houses to be built by the government. A rumor that Longnan’s administrative center would move to another district started circulating in March of this year, arousing the dissatisfaction of Wudu residents. They worried that the relocation would put an end to construction in their district and that construction on their new houses would be delayed. Many became vocal with their discontent.

The HK Standard (through China Daily) quotes Public Security minister Meng Jianzhu saying that police “should be fully aware of the challenge brought by the global financial crisis and try their best to maintain social stability”The rioting follows strikes by taxi drivers and labor protests in major export regions, where thousands of factories have closed, prompting fears the financial crisis could stir wider popular unrest, writes the HK Standard.

According to an entry of today (that’s Nov 21 local time in China) on the website of Longnan’s city government, most of the shops have re-opened, and production work and the lives of the masses are returning into normal, after more than one day of diligent work. The article also quotes a village official who is worried that the riots may have left negative influence on reconstruction work in the area recovering from the earthquake, and a teacher from Longshan Practical Primary School (or Experimental Primary School? – 实验小学), who kept a watchful eye on the childrens’ safety.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Did the Olympic Games improve rights in China?

“In a sense, this was China struggling to pay lip service to an international idea of human rights without breaching its own boundaries.”

Jill McGivering, BBC News

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Forced Evictions in Shandong Province, Weifang City

The video starts with a reference to China’s property law that was passed in 2007 to protect the rights of – among others – home owners. But in Shandong, Weifang City, Kuiwen District (潍坊市奎文区), the video says, many people lost their homes while being beaten and cursed: the head of the village, reportedly a man named Gao Zhigang (高志刚), wanted to demolish a number of homes, but hadn’t come to agreement with many owners, and with some help from gangs, he seems to be making steady progress now. The video shows the maltreatment of a rural family on May 28. The video includes violence.

According to the BBC’s China correspondent’s blog, they went there and verified some of the information given by the video. Obviously, they didn’t find wide-open doors in the neighbourhood when doing their research. Still, they got some characteristic information: “Of course, we’re scared.”

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