Posts tagged ‘Li Keqiang’

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.

6月1日21时30分许,重庆东方轮船公司所属旅游客船“东方之星”轮在由南京驶往重庆途中,突遇龙卷风顷刻翻沉,狂风暴雨,巨浪滔滔,456名旅客和船员陷入绝境。

Life is greater than the heavens!

生命大于天!

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.

在以习近平同志为总书记的党中央坚强领导下,在国务院工作组直接指挥下,湖北、湖南、重庆等地党委和政府,中央有关部门统一行动,人民解放军、武警部队及海事部门迅速调集力量,一场举国动员的搜救行动迅速展开。

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.

接报后,中共中央总书记、国家主席、中央军委主席习近平立即作出重要指示,要求国务院即派工作组赶赴现场指导搜救工作,湖北省、重庆市及有关方面组织足够力量全力开展搜救,并妥善做好相关善后工作。

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.

中共中央政治局常委、国务院总理李克强立即批示,并代表党中央国务院、代表习近平总书记急飞事件现场,指挥救援和应急处置工作。

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.

主动发布权威信息,是回应社会关切的有效渠道。截至6日下午,有关部门已在事件现场召开了13场新闻发布会,交通运输部、卫计委、民政部、人民解放军及湖北省等相关负责人到会发布情况,并回答记者提问,及时、准确、公开、透明地传递救助、打捞、调查等信息。

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.

事件发生后,美联社、路透社、CNN、BBC等62家境外媒体先后抵达湖北监利,就事件救援、家属安置及善后处理等采访报道。事件前方指挥部还3次组织境外媒体赶赴事故现场采访。

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!

对人民生命安全高度负责——党和国家最高决策层态度鲜明!

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.”

“中国共产党领导人在灾难时期树立了负责任国家领导人的形象。”法国《世界报》

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.

在监利县人民医院,病情平稳。她说,有党和政府的帮助,心里踏实。

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Related

»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

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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”.

今年3月5日,李克强总理在政府工作报告上提出制定“互联网+”行动计划。自此,“互联网+”成为最流行的词语之一。有人欢呼“互联网+”时代来了,还有人认为今年是“传统行业互联网化元年”,不过也有人追问,为什么是“互联网+”,而不是“+互联网”?

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.

“互联网+”不是“+互联网”,这是因为主体不同,作用也不同。“+互联网”仍停留于“传统业态+互连网”的观念,把互联网视为工具,而“互联网+”传递的信号则是“互联网+各个传统行业”,互联网不只是载体,而是主体,它不是配角,而是当仁不让的主角,不可或缺。

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.

从这个意义上说,“互联网+”或将带来一种意义深远的技术革命,它渗透在各个方面,不仅颠覆了传统行业,更赋予了传统行业新的生命。遗憾的是,对“互联网+”,不少人并非意识到它的价值,或者将其意义表面化。据报道,中国“互联网+”存在的一大瓶颈是观念落伍:目前我国的传统产业存在较为严重的观念固化现象,体现在因袭原有的信息化老路,对云计算、大数据等基础设施服务缺乏必要的了解和应用,也没有适应以消费者为主导的商业格局的转变。

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.

我们曾在前几次技术革命中失语,在新的技术革命中绝不能再被边缘化。好在中央早已意识到“互联网+”的重大意义,并从制度安排上推动之。据悉,国家已设立400亿元新兴产业创业投资引导基金,要整合筹措更多资金,为产业创新加油助力。

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.

改变落伍观念,拥抱“互联网+”,或许我们将拥有不同凡响的明天,从中国经济到生活状态,各个方面都将深刻改变。

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Notes

*) 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!
只有低头认罪,重新做人,革面洗心,脱胎换骨!”他的每个字都使海云瑟缩,就像一根一根的针扎在她身上,然后她抬起头,张思远打了一个冷战,他看到她的冰一样的目光。

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.

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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

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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!

中午时分,安静的梁家河村一下子沸腾了。

“近平回来了!”

“总书记来了!”

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. […]

会议认为,抓好第二批教育实践活动是落实全省科学发展,富民强省、凝心聚力的必然要求,是加快整合服务型党组织建设和做好群众工作的必然要求,是集中反映解决突出问题、进一步密切党群干群关系的必然要求,是巩固第一批活动成果,确保活动善始善终的必然要求。[…..]

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.

他强调,要充分运用第一批活动经验,紧紧扭住反对“四风”,从群众最关心、最迫切的问题入手,着力解决关系群众切身利益的问题,解决群众身边的不正之风问题,把改进作风成效落实到基层,真正让群众受益,努力取得人民群众满意的实效。

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.

中共中央政治局常委李克强、张德江、俞正声、王岐山、张高丽出席会议,中央党的群众路线教育实践活动领导小组组长刘云山主持会议。会议以电视电话会议形式举行,开到县一级和人民解放军、武警部队团级以上单位。

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.

习近平强调,第一批教育实践活动之所以能够取得重要成果,主要是我们坚持中央和领导干部带头示范,坚持开门搞活动,突出问题导向,以问题整改开局亮相,以问题整改注入动力,以问题整改交出答卷,坚持标准,严格把关,不断拧紧螺丝、上紧发条,保证活动不走过场。

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.

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Related

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

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tian’anmen Square, October 1: The Heirs of Communism, as Solemn as Ever

Links within blockquote added during translation.

The party and state leadership held a ceremony at the Monument to the People’s Heroes on Tian’anmen Square at ten local time Tuesday morning, taking flower baskets there. Party secretary general and state chairman Xi Jinping and other “party and state leaders braved the rain”, together with representatives “from all walks of life” in Beijing.

Xinhua newsagency mentions Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Yu, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli as attendees. Xinhua:

This is the first time for the new generation of party and state leaders to offer flower baskets to the Monument to the People’s Heroes. At ten in the morning, the ceremony began. Accompanied by a military band, Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders, together with representatives from all walks of life in the capital city sang the national anthem of the People’s Republic of China. After that, everyone stood silent, in tribute to the to the heroic martyrs who gave their lives in the liberation of the Chinese people and the cause of the People’s Republic. In the autumn rain, China’s leaders put down the umbrellas they held, standing silently.

这是中国新一届党和国家领导人首次向人民英雄纪念碑敬献花篮。上午10时许,仪式开始。在军乐队 伴奏下,习近平等中国领导人同首都各界代表一起高唱中华人民共和国国歌。随后,全场肃立,向为中华民族独立、中国人民解放和共和国建设事业英勇献身的烈士 默哀。在秋雨中,中国领导人放下手中雨伞,肃立默哀。

After the silence, the Young Pioneers’ song, “We are the heirs of communism” sounded on the scene, sung by all the young people present at the ceremony.

默哀之后,现场响起来中国少先队员的队歌——《我们是共产主义接班人》,参加仪式的青少年们在人民英雄纪念碑前集体合唱。

Nine flower baskets, presented by nine party and state organs as well as mass organizations were placed to the Monument to the People’s Heroes side by side, fragrant flowers  in clusters shining in the rain. Three-thousand representatives from all walks of life, including veteran soldiers, women, young boys and girls, families of martyrs, model workers and persons from all ethnic groups attended the ceremony.

由党政机构和人民团体分别敬献的9个大型花篮并排摆放在人民英雄纪念碑北侧,芬芳的鲜花花团簇拥,在雨中鲜艳夺目。3000多名各界代表,包括老战士、妇女、青少年、烈士家属、劳动模范和各民族人士参加仪式。

[…]

This day’s ceremony has been officially held since 2010, one year after another, with the ceremony of presenting flowers to the Monument to the People’s Heroes. The reporter observed that although the ceremony was held in heavy rain this year, it remained unaffected by the rain. The atmosphere was solemn as ever.
当天上午的仪式是中国官方自2010年以来连续4年在国庆日当天举行向人民英雄纪念碑敬献花篮仪式。记者观察到,虽然今年的仪式全程在大雨中进行,但仪式并没有因为雨水而受到影响。现场气氛,庄严肃穆,一如既往。

The Monument to the People’s Heroes, inaugurated on April 22, 1958, was built for the people’s heroes who sacrificed themselves for the independence of the Chinese nation, the liberation of the people, and the cause of the construction of the People’s Republic.

1958年4月22日落成的人民英雄纪念碑,是为纪念在中华民族独立、人民解放和共和国建设事业中牺牲的人民英雄而建。

Reporter: Yu Zhanyi.
(记者余湛奕)

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Xinwen Lianbo, October 1, 2013

Xinwen Lianbo, October 1, 2013 – click picture for video

Obviously, the weather was different from one year ago (with an effect on the scene), but the way CCTV’s main news broadcast, Xinwen Lianbo, presented the event on Tuesday was also quite different from last year’s, from 2011, and from 2010 (not sure if the 2010 link was the 7-p.m.-broadcast) – the first year when the ceremony was conducted. The bird’s eye view on Tian’anmen Gate (reminiscent of historic film material)  was missing previously, at least in the Xinwen Lianbo coverage, and so was the distinclty Communist “Young Pioneers” song that was featured by Xinwen Lianbo this time. It seems that the party found that it is now time again for some “spiritual nourishment”.

This year’s footage, however, also makes you aware of how empty Tian’anmen Square actually is on the occasion of the flower-presenting ceremonies. If there were 3,000 people in attendance, as mentioned by Xinhua, they appeared almost lost in the huge square.

The BBC, in its regular review of Chinese media, besides hardocre CCP sources, also quotes from (seemingly or truly) more worldly-wise media and articles than Xinhua newsagency or Xinwen Lianbo. However, it is CCTV’s evening news broadcast which reaches most Chinese households on a regular basis.

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Related

» Relentless Rejuvenation, Oct 1, 2012
» Revelling in the CCP’s Favor, Oct 1, 2012

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Press Review: Li Keqiang in Germany, and the only Disharmony

Xinhua, via Enorth (Tianjin), May 27, 2013 —

Chief state concillor Li Keqiang met with German president Gauck on Sunday.

国务院总理李克强26日在柏林会见德国总统高克。

Li Keqiang conveyed the cordial greetings and best wishes from chairman Xi Jinping. Li Keqiang said that current Sino-German relations were continuously reaching new developments on a high level, with both countries facing rare opportunities. With Merkel, we have deepened the Sino-German strategic partnership, and we held talks about strengthening cooperation in all kinds of fields. The two sides have issued a press communiqué, clearly stating the key areas and the direction of cooperation for our two countries. China is looking forward to strengthen dialog and exchange with Germany on the principles of respect and equal treatment, to enhancing understanding and mutual trust, to jointly cope with challenges.

李克强转达了习近平主席的亲切问候和良好祝愿。李克强说,当前中德关系在高水平上不断取得新发展,两国合作面临难得机遇。我同默克尔总理就深化中德战略伙 伴关系、加强各领域合作举行了很好的会谈,双方发表联合新闻公报,明确两国重点领域合作方向。中方愿本着相互尊重、平等相待的原则,同德方加强对话交流, 增进了解和互信,共同应对挑战。

Discussing China’s development and domestic situation, Li Keqiang said that all along during the past thirty years, China had moved forward, and the economy had achieved huge successes. Construction of a democratic legal system and the cause of human rights had constantly progressed. As a big developing country with 1.3 billion inhabitants, China’s path towards modernization was still long. We are acting from our own country’s national situation [国情, guóqíng, also translated as national characteristics or national circumstances sometimes], adhere to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and at the same time, we want to draw on the civilizational achievements and experiences to achieve comprehensive development even better.

在谈到中国的发展和国内情况时,李克强表示,中国过去30多年一直在改革开放中不停顿地前行,经济社会发展取得巨大成就,民主法制建设和人权事业不断进步。中国作为一个拥有13亿人口的发展中大国,要实现现代化还有很长的路要走。我们从本国国情出发,将坚持走中国特色社会主义道路,同时愿借鉴人类社会的文明成果和有关发展经验,更好实现全面发展。

Gauck welcomed Li Keqiang to Germany and asked him to convey his cordial greetings to Xi Jinping. Gauck said that Germany and China both had a long history and magnificent cultures, and relations between the two countries had developed fine in recent years. Germany admires the achievements of China’s economic and social development and wants to strengthen cooperation and dialog with China in politics, economics, the humanities and other fields, and to promote further development in the relations of the two countries.

高克欢迎李克强访德,并请转达对习近平主席的亲切问候。高克说,德中都拥有悠久历史和灿烂文化,两国关系近年发展良好。德国钦佩中国经济社会发展取得的成就,愿同中方加强政治、经济、人文等领域的合作与对话,推动两国关系取得新发展。

Li also met with Brandenburg’s minister-president Matthias Platzeck in the regional capital Potsdam, next to Berlin. In Potsdam,visiting Cecilienhof Castle there,

Rheinische Post (RP) onkine, May 26, 2013 —

Li Keqiang re-emphaszized his country’s claim on an uninhabited group of islands in the East China Sea. Japan had to hand the territories back to China. “This was a hard-earned fruit of victory”, Li said, pointing to international post-war agreements. The islands, contested between the two countries, had once been stolen from China by Japan.

Li Keqiang bekräftigte in Potsdam den Anspruch seines Landes auf eine unbewohnte Inselgruppe im Ostchinesischen Meer. Japan müsse die Territorien an China zurückgeben. “Das war die Frucht des Sieges, der hart erkämpft wurde”, sagte Li unter Verweis auf internationale Abkommen der Nachkriegszeit. Die zwischen beiden Ländern seit langem umstrittenen Inseln seien China einst von Japan gestohlen worden.

Märkische Allgemeine, May 26, 2013 —

In front of the castle [Cecilienhof], some flurry arose when two Tibet activists wanted to register a spontaneous demonstration. Security forces stopped the protest “along the route of protocol”, as a police spokesman told the MAZ [Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung].

Vor dem Schloss kam kurz Unruhe auf, als zwei Tibet-Aktivisten eine spontane Demonstration anmelden wollten. Sicherheitskräfte unterbanden jedoch den Protest “entlang der Protokollstrecke”, wie ein Polizeisprecher gegenüber der MAZ sagte.

Platzeck, whose heart beats for Dortmund, revealed that the Chinese guest was a soccer fan and that they had talked about the game [between Borussia and Bayern], too. It had turned out that Keqiang had more been in favor of Bayern Munich. That, however, had been the only disharmony between the two politicians, Platzeck assured.

Platzeck, dessen Herz für Dortmund schlug, verriet, dass der chinesische Gast ein Fußball-Fan sei und man auch über das Spiel am Vorabend gesprochen habe. Dabei stellte sich heraus, dass Keqiang eher für den FC Bayern gehalten habe. Dies, so versicherte Platzeck, sei aber die einzige Disharmonie zwischen den beiden Politikern gewesen.

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Related

» Merkel vows, Bloomberg, May 27, 2013
» Industriousness and Wisdom, Jan 9, 2011
» Full of Vitality and Vigor, July 16, 2010

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