Posts tagged ‘Li Keqiang’

Friday, August 21, 2015

Some of this Week’s Links: Heroes and Ultra-Vulgar Butchers

1. “All of them are Heroes” – a Soundbyte and its Story

A Hong Kong television station had a small scoop of sorts, or so it seems to feel to both the station, and to Xinhua. They [update: the HK tv station, that is] conducted an apparent surprise interview with Chinese chief state councillor Li Keqiang. This is how Xinhua reported the encounter, apparently on the same day.

According to the Weibo channel of Xinhua newsagency’s Xinhua Viewpoint program, chief state councillor Li Keqiang, on a visit to the injured at Tianjin Taida Hospital, was abruptly approached by a Hong Kong journalist who, using his cell-phone camera, asked minute questions about “unlisted firefighters”. The chief state councillor interrupted his walk and said that the active-service and non-active-service rescuers had all received training, were all fully aware that the fireground was dangerous, but had all left the danger to themselves. Their sacrifices are saddening us. All of them are heroes, and there are no “unlisted” heroes!


Unlisted apparently refers to contract firefighters.

The Nanfang also gave a description of the interview, and linked to the tv station’s video (edited or not, can’t judge that) of it. There seems to be nothing extraordinary about the interview by international standards, and the crucial soundbyte – that all of them are heroes, and there are no unlisted heroscomes at 1′ 14”. Li Keqiang also thanked the reporter “for asking this question and showing your concern for the injured”.

2. “Drawing Profits from selling Ranks and Titles (in Zhongmou)

Some estimates say that the number of rights lawyers has grown from just a handful to […] over a thousand, Yaxue Cao and Yaqiu Wang write in a China Change post published on Wednesday. Going through a July-19 article by China News Service (CNS, 中国新闻社), linked to from the China Change article, you might get the impressoin that corruption charges may not only be politically motivated when brought against party flies or tigers, but they are also weapons in efforts to smear dissidents’ reputation. That may look pretty obvious anyway, but I’ve only become aware of it when reading

For the foreign, language-learning reader, the profitable thing about official lampoons like the one from CNS is that they usually come with some proverbs or classical references. It makes an – otherwise possibly unpleasant – treatise catchy, and helps to create the impression that the propaganda were handed out by trustworthy people.

A short taster from the CNS article:

According to police information, Zhou Shifeng, Wang Yu and other persons formed criminal gangs with Fengrui Law Office as a platform. Since July 2012, they have plotted in more than forty cases and incidents, waving sensational flags about “rights”, “the public good”, etc., seizing the opportunity of becoming famous and of drawing profits from Zhongmou.


Liu Sixin, administrative assistant at said law office, explains that Zhou Sifeng usually likes to recruit three kinds of people: those who dare to speak out, those who dare to act, and those who dare to hype issues, like “ultra-vulgar butcher” Wu Gan and Zhou himself. The second kind is people who hail from the petitional system and from the media, such as Huang Liqun, Xie Yuandong, etc.. And then there are so-called “die-hard” lawyers like Wang Yu, Wang Quanzhang who like to be defenders in sensitive incidents.


The China Change post lists forteen rights lawyers and their stories.

3. Farting Snakes

And to end on a super-vulgar note today: did you know that a snake has an ass?

Now you know. Happy weekend.


» Crackdown intensifies, CS Monitor, July 13, 2015


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Former leading Tianjin Cadre: Beijing won’t cover up Causes of Disaster, because there isn’t much to Lose

Asked by the BBC‘s Mandarin service if he believes that a former member of the politburo standing committee had been a patron for Ruihai Logistics, the company on whose premises the Tianjin explosions occurred last week, Dr. Zhang Wei (张炜), an economics lecturer at Cambridge University, said that this couldn’t be ruled out, but that the lawlessness that had led to the disaster could just as well be the fault of low-ranking local “snakes” (地头蛇). Both explanations were equally likely, he suggested.

Nextmedia, a magazine published in Hong Kong and Taiwan, had allegged in an online article on Saturday that a major shareholder of Ruihai Logistics were a nephew of former permanent politburo member Li Ruihuan (李瑞環) – this name, however, wasn’t repeated or quoted in the coverage mentioned in this post. Links to any former politburo heavyweights could be touchy information, given that citizens in Tianjin are demanding answers from the authorities as to why cargo of this accident level had been stored less than one kilometer from residential areas, and in apparently illegal quantities. Laying out a possible lawless structure that would be in line with the “local” theories, Time (online) quotes Chinese magazine Caijing as suggesting that one of the Ruihai stakeholders, Dong Mengmeng (董蒙蒙) had been the son of Dong Peijun (董培军) former public security director, an allegation also addressed by Zhang Wei, as quoted by the BBC.

But even if investigations should find traces to a former member of the politburo’s standing committee, Zhang thinks it unlikely that the current central leadership in Beijing would try to cover up the truth. A former member, rather than an incumbent, wouldn’t be of great use to the current government any more, and there would be no reason to halt the investigations.

According to the BBC, Zhang once served as secretary of Tianjin’s municipal Communist Youth League committee (共青团天津市委书记), as director of Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, as director for external economic matters at Tianjin municipal government, and in other functions. Zhang’s view of Chinese economic reform in the 1980s – and the slowdown or even reversal in reform during the 1990s – also influenced Huang Yasheng as he wrote Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics.

The explosions and the authorities’ difficulties in handling communication with the public didn’t reflect a public relations crisis (公关危机), the BBC quotes Zhang, but rather a problem rooted in the CCP’s belief in propaganda. Local officials and media in Tianjin had no powers to disclose information to the local public, but had to wait until Xinhua issued an integrated story. This seriously impaired or blocked flows of information.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

“Star of the East” Aftermath: at Ease, under the Party’s and Government’s Help

A breathless Xinhua article published online by the People’s Daily today, with coverage which reads as if the whole story had unfolded only within the past twenty-four hours.

The Xinhua article seems to be the authoritative account of what happened, and how the authorities reacted. It was announced on Saturday evening's Xinwen Lianbo.

The Xinhua article seems to be the authoritative account of what happened, and how the authorities reacted. It was announced on Saturday evening’s Xinwen Lianbo. Click picture above for video.

On June 1, at about 21:30, the “Star of the East” from Chongqing’s Dongfang Ferry Company, on its way from Nanjing to Chongqing, suddenly capsized, hit by a tornado. In the furious storm and the surging waves, 456 passengers and crew were in a desperate situation.


Life is greater than the heavens!


Under the strong leadership of the Party’s Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the Secretary General, under the State Council’s work group’s direct command, the party committees and governments of Hubei, Hunan, Chongqing and elsewhere, the united action of the central authorities, the People’s Liberation Army’s and Armed Police and maritime authorities rapid mobilization abilities, nationwide mobilization for search and rescue action quickly unfolded.


After receiving the report, Central Committee Secretary General, State Chairman, and Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping issued important instructions right away, ordering the State Council work group to go to the site to guide the rescue work, and that Hubei Province, Chongqing Metropolitan, and other work groups unfold all efforts with their adequate strength, and properly deal with the aftermath.


Standing Politburo member and Chief State Councillor Li Keqiang immediately issued written instructions and, on behalf of the Party’s Central Committee and the State Council, and on behalf of Secretary Xi Jinping, hurried to the site by plane, directing the rescue and emergency reaction work.


After the description of the political will behind the rescue work, the article goes into more technical and bureaucratic detail. Further down, the article mentions that the relevant local party committees and governments (i. e. Hubei Province, the Changjiang Maritime Bureau, Yueyang City, Shanghai, Jiangsu Province, Chongqing, Zhejiang Province, Fujian Province, Shandong Province, Tianjin Metropolitan authorities etc), on their own initiative, coordinated their actions. Support from companies with nationwide significance is also acknowledged.

The article also quotes reportedly positive coverage from the Wall Street Journal (WJS), and a Weibo message allegedly resent more than 100,000 times within a day, saying that “what most touched me is that the water level was lowered to facilitate the rescue work, with the Three Gorges Dam damming up water”.

That’s the role “social media” are meant to play in China, under the CCP’s guidance. Issuing authoritative information and news is for the authorities:

To publish authoritative news on ones own initiative is an effective medium to respond to society’s deep concerns. By the afternoon of June 6, the relevant authorites had done 13 press conferences, convened by the ministry of transport, the National Health and Family Planning Commission, the ministry of civil affairs, by the People’s Liberation Army, Hubei Province, and other people in charge who explained the situation and replied to the reporters’ questions, supplying information regarding the rescue and salvage work and the investigations in a timely, accurate, open and transparent manner.


After the incident, Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, BBC, and other foreign media, some 62 of them, arrived at Jianli, Hubei Province, covering the rescue work, the aftercare for the relatives, and how the aftermath was dealt with. Front command staff also organized three trips to the site for foreign media.


The article’s firt page ends with the same character it started with: Xi Jinping giving an important speech on the morning of June 4, concerning the next steps of rescue work.

Assuming high responsibility for the people’s life and safety – the attitude of the party’s and state’s highest decision-making levels is distinctive!


the Xinhua article jubilates, and concludes the first page of its online article (there are two more pages) with what it says is a quote from French daily Le Monde:

“At a time of disaster, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party have built the image of responsible national leaders.”


The following two pages are mostly a chronicle of the rescue efforts, of blood, sweat, and respect for the dead (对逝者的尊重), apparently written to evoke the readership’s national pride and trust in the authorities.

Zhu Hongmei, a survivor saved from the wreck around noon of June 2, is hospitalized in Jianli. The article’s final line:

At Jianli County People’s Hospital, Zhu Hongmei’s condition is stable. She says that with the Party’s and government’s help, she feels at ease.




»Mourning the Victims, Radio Japan, June 7, 2015
» Rescuers, Families Bow in Silence, NYT, June 7, 2015
» En quête de réponses, Le Monde, June 5, 2015
» Search complete, L. A. Times, June 6, 2015
» To the Directorate for Religious Affairs, Russian Orthodox Church, June 4, 2015
» Reluctant to embrace Transparency, NYT June 4, 2015


Friday, April 17, 2015

A Chinese concept of Internet Revolution: a Need for Traditional Industries to be Reborn with New Bones

A CCTV op-ed, republished here by Enorth (Tianjin), picks up the official buzzword of “Internet plus”, or “互联网”+ in Chinese. The author is a frequently published commentator beyond CCTV, Qin Chuan (秦川).

Main Link: “互联网+”不是加工具 而是转观念

On March 5 this year, chief state councillor Li Keqiang, in his work report, spelled out the action plan for the formulaton of “Internet plus”. From there, “Internet plus” has become one of the most popular terms. There are people who welcome the age of “Internet plus”, and there are others who believe that this year is “the first year of the traditional industry’s internetization”, but there are also people who keep asking questions about why it should be “Internet plus” rather than “plus the internet”.


The enthused tractor driver

Riding into the incomparable Tomorrow

Internet plus had become a concept, writes, Qin, which had already “become hot”. It had the potential of making the Chinese economy take off. In the first quarter’s seven percent of economic growth and the first quarter’s smooth beginning for the national economy, the role played by “Internet plus” was not clearly quantifiable, but certainly discernible.

“Internet plus” isn’t “plus the internet” because the subjects are different, and because their effects are also different. “Plus the internet” stays at the concept of “traditional industries plus the internet” and sees the internet as a tool, but what “internet plus” signals is actually “internet plus all kinds of traditional industries”. The internet isn’t just a carrier, it’s the main frame, it doesn’t play a supporting role, but the indispensible and leading role.


In the second industrial revolution, electricity had led to great changes in many industries, writes, Qin, but the internet wouldn’t only help raising productivity and efficiency as electricity had one; the internet in itself was industrialization (互联网本身已经产业化). Internet companies which had attained some industrial attributes and inspired industrial upgrades should not be underestimated.

Qin urges a broader perspective. The internet was about merging, sharing, transformation and improvement. It was “not an addend, but a multiplier”. Traditional industries were facing big changes, and even needed to be “reborn with new bones” (脱胎换骨)*): Just as scholars say, new technologies and abilities can completely change traditional industries’ efficiency and abilities, and form new operations and business models.

That’s why we can say that “Internet Plus” may bring a technological revolution of far-reaching significance, which may permeat all aspects, not only topple traditional industries, but also provide traditional industries with new life. The shame is that when it comes to “Internet Plus”, quite many people just can’t see its value, or remain superficial about its significance. Reports say that the most serious bottleneck in China for “Internet Plus” are anachronistic concepts [or viewpoints]. At present, rather serious inflexible points of view exist in our countries’ traditional industries, as can be seen in the phenomenon of copying what is already there, a lack of essential understanding and use of cloud computing and services in big data infrastructure, and there is no broad change towards a consumer-led business pattern either.


We suffered from aphasia during several technological revolutions in the past. In this new technological revolution, we must not be marginalized again. The good thing is that the central authorities have already recognized the great significance of “internet plus”, and promoted it systematically. According to reports, the state has already established new industry venture capital funds at a value of 40 billion Yuan. More capital must be raised and integrated, to assist in beefing up industrial innovation.


The article doesn’t suggest that anything would be certain, however. The author is careful enough to suggest that “Internet Plus” could lead to these or those desirable results, and his article ends with a maybe (或许), not with a certainly (肯定):

By changing outdated ideas, by embracing “Internet Plus”, we may have an extraordinary tomorrow, with deep changes from China’s economy to Chinese life.




*) 脱胎换骨 could also be translated with the more “civil” term of re-inventing themselves, but to be reborn with new bones is a much older saying in China than the business philosophy reflected in self-reinvention. Self-criticism, sometimes necessary for survival when facing accusations of being a bad or weak revolutionary, for example, included the preparedness to be “reborn with new bones”. To be “reborn” that way is also the demand Haiyun, the wife of Cadre Zhang in Wang Meng‘s novel “Butterfly”, is facing after having praised “wrong” novels as an academic lecturer. And the man making these demands on her is Cadre Zhang himself:

All you can do now is to lower your head and to confess your guilt, to start anew, to flay your face and to wash your heart, to be reborn and to change your bones!

That’s to say, the choice of words reflects a blend of politics and economics, and, indeed of fear and survival. But when isolated from history, it probably amounts to this quote (Andy S. Grove):

For now, let me just say that a strategic inflection point is a time in the life of business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end.”

And yes, Only the Paranoid Survive is the title of the book.


Further Reading

» The Trickies Part, Slate, Jan 21, 2015
» Address Censorship, SCMP, March 8, 2015
» Deutschland will digital, DW, March 16, 2015
» Work Report, China Daily, Mar 5, 2015
»  Work Report (hours later), Mar 5, 2015
» Angst vor Zusagen, Die Zeit, Aug 19, 2014
» Digital Germany 2015, Nov 10, 2010
» The Digital Germany paper (in German)
» Destruction or Development, Mar 15, 2010


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Xi Jinping’s Sentimental Tour: How Yellow was my Hometown

1. Li Keqiang, visiting the Poor

The days before Spring Festival are times to be nice: to visit old cadres and to show how much their past work is still cherished, to harmonize human existence with the surrounding environment, to transfer some bad elements to the other side of the cupboard, and to show care for the poor.

The latter two points are particularly important if you are a cadre, or a politician in a wider sense.

Hence, CCP politburo permanent member and Chief State Councillor Li Keqiang (李克强, also referred to as “premier”), reportedly headed to Liping County in Guizhou province on Friday, to visit Pudong (蒲洞村), a village with a share of 43 percent poor people, with an annual net income of 2,160 Yuan RMB, and many housewalls open to the wind from all four directions. Obviously, he didn’t come empty-handed, but handing over salted fish and other goods to a Dong family as new-year gifts – stuff he had bought in a supermarket in the morning, according to Xinhua. The high-ranking visitor tested the quality of drinking water in the village (mindful of his working report in 2014 that had promised to solve the drinking water safety issues of 60 million citizens, visited what might best be translated as the village’s hygiene room (basic medical services), enquired if public subsidies for the village medical services had actually been applied right there, discussed employment opportunities and repayment problems with students who returned to their native village after completing their studies, and worked his way through other ostensibly spontaneous items of inspection.

Xinhua article there, related pictures there, there, there, and there.

2. Xi Jinping’s Fond Memories of the 1960s

However, the task of being folksy has not completely moved from CCP secretary general Xi Jinping to Li Keqiang, who is generally considered ranking second among the members of the politburo’s standing committee. While Li travelled Guizhou, Xi visited Liangjiahe village in Shaanxi province, also on Friday.

Sina coverage: Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan visiting the Yan’an brigade’s old base

At noon, the tranquil village of Liangjiahe suddenly began to simmer with excitement.

Xi Jinping has returned!

The secretary-general has come!




You get the picture.

According to biography, Xi Jinping had spent about seven years there, leading a tough, simple life as a teenage worker.

The Xinhua article goes across a number of webpages and describes Xi Jinping’s bittersweet – but above all sweet, in case of a doubt – memories. How he became a real man during those years in Shaanxi. The title chosen by Xinhua: The Son of the Yellow Soil is coming Home.

All that had been part of the Down-to-the-Countryside movement and the “Cultural Revolution”. Xi Jinping’s father, Xi Zhongxun, was in jail at the time.

3. 102nd Anniversary of Tibetan Declaration of Independence commemorated

On Friday, Tibetan exiles in North America and Europe commemorate the 13th Dalai Lama’s declaration of Tibetan independence, 102 years ago, reports Voice of Tibet (VoT), a Norway-based website and shortwave radio station. More than sixty exiles and supporters held a demonstration in front of the Chinese embassy in Paris, according to the report. Demonstrations reportedly also took place on Times Square, New York, and in Toronto. The station also reported commemorative activities in Dharamsala, and in New Delhi.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) also covered the activities, and suggests that the 13th Dalai Lama’s declaration initiated a period of almost four decades of self-rule that ended when Chinese troops marched into the Himalayan region in 1949. RFA also mentions the current (and 14th) Dalai Lama’s “middle-way” policy which accepts Tibet’s present status as a part of China while regularly urging greater cultural, religious, and political freedoms for the Tibetan people.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mass Line, Second Phase: taking the Successes to the Grassroots

1. A Visit to Inner Mongolia

Lunar New Year’s eve is here, and old comrades get their visits from active cadres as every year. Meantime, Xi Jinping went to Inner Mongolia, braving the cold and having lunch with the guardians of the motherland’s borders.

CCTV’s Xinwen Lianbo had an epic tale of the tour last night (click picture for video).

Xi Jinping: lunch with the warriors

As modest as Joe Biden: CCP secretary-general / state chairman / CMC chairman Xi Jinping has lunch with the warriors in Inner Mongolia

2. Local Press Coverage on Mass Line’s second Phase

Local media reported the beginning of the second phase of mass line education last week. “Holy Tibet”, a People’s Broadcasting Station (PBS / CPBS) broadcast in English, reported remarks by Liu Yunshan on Tuesday, exactly one week after they were made on January 21. The radio announcement is slightly different from this Xinhua (English) article, but its content is similar. Listen here. (Recording may be removed in a week.)

Yongzhou City government in southern Hunan Province republished on Monday an article by Yongzhou Daily.

In the morning of January 24, the first phase of the party’smass line education ended with a summary, and a video conference making arrangements for the second phase was held. The main task of the conference was to conscientiously study the implementation of the spirit of secretary-general Xi Jinping’s important speeches, and the spirit of the Central Committee’s meetings, to carry out a summary of the first phase of educational activities in our province, and to make arrangements for the second phase of educational activities. Tang Songcheng, Gao Jianhua, Tang Ding, Dong Shigui, Yi Jialiang, Jiang Shansheng, Zhu Yinghong, Shi Yanping, Zhang Hengzhou and other municipal leaders took part in the video conference from their homes [that’s what the article apparently says  – ….. 张恒洲等在家的市级领导参加永州分会场会议].

1月24日上午,全省党的群众路线教育实践活动第一批总结暨第二批部署视频会议召开。会议 的主要任务是,认真学习贯彻习近平总书记重要讲话和中央会议精神,对我省第一批教育实践活动进行总结,对第二批教育实践活动作出部署。唐松成、高建华、唐 定、董石桂、易佳良、蒋善生、朱映红、石艳萍、张恒洲等在家的市级领导参加永州分会场会议。

The meeting pointed out that the effects and experiences needed to be conscientiously summarized, and the results of the first phase of educational practice be continiously consolidated and broadened. Ever since the first phase of educational practice activities had been started, the entire province, elders and the young, have closely connected to the theme of “for the people, practical work, honesty”, comprehensively implemented “looking into the mirror, dressing accurately, taking a bath, treating the illnesses”, emphasized leadership by example, adhered to open doors [to the cadres’ offices, for the public, apparently], boradened the masses’ participation, implemented strict requirements, showed the courage to face [tough issues of?] competition, and these activities have achieved first successes (取得了阶段性成果).

会议指出,要认真总结成效和经验,不断巩固和扩大 第一批教育实践活动成果。第一批教育实践活动启动以来,全省上下紧紧围绕“为民、务实、清廉”这一主题,全面落实“照镜子、正衣冠、洗洗澡、治治病”的总 要求,注重示范带动,坚持敞开大门,扩大群众参与,落实从严要求,敢于较劲碰硬,活动取得了阶段性成果。

The meeting believed that doing a good job at the second-batch educational activities is an inevitable necessity for implementing the scientific development of the [Hunan] province, enriching the people and strengthening the province, whole-heartedness and cohesion; an inevitable necessity for accelerating the building of a service-oriented party organization and doing good mass work, the inevitable necessity for concentrated reflection on the solution of outstanding problems, for a yet closer relationship between the party and the masses, and for consolidating the fruits of the first phase of activities and ensuring the activities’ success from the beginning to the end. […]


3. Central-Level Mass-Line Meeting

The central-level conference for summarizing the first phase of mass line practice education and for arranging the second phase had taken place in Beijing, four days earlier. In a report on the same day – January 20 -, Xinhua newsagency reported that secretary-general, state chairman and central military commissions’ chairman Xi Jinping attended the meeting and delivered an important speech, summarizing the first phase of educational activities and making arrangements for the second phase.

He emphasized that ample use of the experiences from the first phase needed to be made, [the need for] staunch opposition against the “four winds” [i. e. undesirable working styles], to start with the issues that most concerned and pressed the masses, making efforts to solve problems of immediate concern to the interests of the masses, solving problems of bad work style (or malpractice) where this occured next to the people [this seems to target lower-rank cadres who are dirctly in touch with the public], implementing the results of improved work style at the grass roots, letting the masses enjoy the benefits and striving to achieving substantial results in the masses’ satisfaction.


Politburo standing committee members Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli attended the meeting, and central party mass line education practice activities group leader Liu Yunshan chaired the meeting. The meeting was carried out as a video and telephone conference, open to the county-level units and to the above-regiment units of the PLA and the armed police.


Xi Jinping, too, pointed out “first successes”, such as having put brakes on the spread of the four undesirable work styles (刹住了“四风”蔓延势头), and overall improvements in social atmosphere (社会风气整体好转). The masses fully identified [with the mass line], and assessments within and without the party had been positive.

Xi Jinping emphasized that the first phase of educational practise activities had achieved important results, mainly maintaining leadership by example by leading cadres, by maintaining open doors [see Yongzhou government quote], outstanding [or prominent] problem-orientation, making a start by rectifying problems, injecting momentum through rectifying problems, providing answers by rectifying problems, upholding standards, exercising strict control, continuously tightening the screws, tightening and winding up the clockwork, and making sure that the activities aren’t carried out only formally.


Xi was also quoted as saying that ideals and faith were the “calcium” of a communist’s spirit (理想信念是共产党人的精神之“钙”), and as emphasizing the value of criticism and self-criticism. He also re-iterated his (“maoist”) slogan of “looking into the mirror, dressing accurately, taking a bath, treating the illnesses”, as later repeated on provincial levels (see Yongzhou).

Xi Jinping emphasized that more attention needed to be paid to bringing the masses’ enthusiasm [or initiative, 积极性] into play. The second phase of education practise activities needed to develop at the doorsteps of the mass families. It is necessary that open-door activities are adhered to, that the participation and supervision of/by the masses is ensured at every link and every piece of work, that the judgment of the masses is asked for, that attitudes are sincere, that guidance is strengthened, that methods are paid attention to, and that the party’s correct becomes the conscious [or voluntary] action of the masses. […]

习近平强调,要更加注重发挥群众积极性,第二批教育实践活动在群众家门口开展,必须坚持开门搞活动,确保每个环节、每项工作都让群众参与、受群众监督、请群众评判,态度真诚,加强引导,讲究方法,把党的正确主张变为群众的自觉行动。 […..]

Members of the politburo, central committee secretariat, party members of the NPC and vice chairman (or vice chairpersons) of the NPC, members of the state council, the chairman of the supreme court,the head of the supreme procurate, CPPCC party members and deputy CPPCC vice chairman (or vice chairpersons) took part in the conference.

A number of organizations are also said to have attended, apparently to illustrate the remark about county-level (and military regimental) units. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, for example, attended the conference, too.



» “Holy Tibet” Radio (state propaganda)
» Censorship row, Asahi Shimbun, Jan 14, 2013
» A million emancipated serfs, Peking Review, 38/1975


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.


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.


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.

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.



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



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



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