05 Dec 2008

Keywords: survelliance, censorship, human right, labor, social unrest, BRICS, Tibet, China-Africa relationship, labor, public investment, U.S.-China relationship


1.1        China’s “Left” Speaks

People’s Daily published an editorial written by General Xu Tianlian, director of the political department of China’s National Defense University, entitled “Sound Ideological Work Demands Clear Understanding.” (PD, 10 Nov, p.7) It spoke in grandiose terms about the need for China’s leaders to be “thoroughly vigilant” in recognizing the threat posed by “hostile forces” in the ideological sphere. But more importantly, it was an open challenge to pro-reform leaders on the eve of a critical anniversary next month that will mark 30 years of economic and social reform in China. (CMP, 26 Nov) [1]

1.2 Incurring Guilt from One’s Word: Undergraduate, Professor, and the Police 

A professor at Shanghai’s East China University of Political Science and Law, Yang Shiqun (杨师群), is reportedly under investigation after his students reported him to local police for alleged anti-government views. Wang Xiaoyu (王晓渔) points out that this case differs from other recent wenziyu (文字狱) cases in that it has happened at a national educational institution in a major Chinese city.

In recent years, cases in which people incur guilt by their words have occurred time and again, like the “Pengshui SMS Case” and Lu Xuesong (卢雪松) case. All of these cases have occurred in regions where economic development has lagged, and at government offices at the county or city level or below, which have a poor appreciation for the concept of rule of law. When, these above-listed cases have been quickly corrected once revealed to the outside, and officials concerned have resigned or been removed. But Yang’s case reveals that one should not be that optimistic when a university professor at a college of political science and law would be incriminated by their own words! (SMD, 27 Nov) [2]

  • Human Rights Relates

1.31       EU Official Stopped From Visiting Chinese Activist

Security guards blocked a member of the European Parliament on 25 Nov from visiting an activist whose jailed husband recently won the body’s top human rights prize. Helga Trupel, who was visiting Beijing as a member of an official delegation, attempted to visit to  Zeng Jinyan, who has used her blog to bring attention to rights abuses. In 2007, Zeng was named by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people. [3] (AP, 26 Nov)

1.32       Reporter without Borders Urge for the Release of Social Activists

Chen Daojun (陈道军), the journalist sentenced to three years in prison for three articles posted online, follows a growing trend of bloggers and other citizens being arrested for Internet posts. Reporters Without Borders reports and calls for the release of them. (21 Nov) [4]

1.33      China Protects to UN Report

The Chinese government reacted angrily on 24 Nov to what it called a slanderous United Nations report that alleges systemic torture of political and criminal detainees. The government said the authors were biased, untruthful and driven by a political agenda.  The report, issued 21 Nov by the United Nations Committee Against Torture, documented what the authors described as widespread abuse in the Chinese legal system, one that often gains convictions through forced confessions. The report recounts China’s use of “secret prisons” and the widespread harassment of lawyers who take on rights cases, and it criticizes the government’s extralegal system of punishment, known as re-education through labour, which hands down prison terms to dissidents without judicial review. (NYT, 25 Nov) [5]

  • Democracy, China and the West

1.41      A Threat to the West 

Lord Patten said China promoted the idea that one could get rich without needing democracy – and such an idea posed a threat to the West. (BBC, 23 Nov)[6] 

1.42       China Bans Democracy, Declares War on Guns N’ Roses

According to a Wall Street Journal report Sunday, Chinese authorities have outlawed sales of the new GN’R release, citing the title of the album, “Chinese Democracy,” as the principal reason. The title, thought up by Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose because he “liked the sound of it,” violates rules established by China’s Ministry of Culture that prohibit the word “democracy” to be used in the title of any music, book or film within mainland China. One can only assume that if the word “Chinese” precedes “Democracy” in a title, Chinese censors would become even more frightened.” (Huffing Post, 23 Nov) [7]

1.43       Time on which sides? Force from where?

“Domestic dynamics consistently trump outside pressure, so any potential for democracy will likely result from internal, rather than external, factors. Democracy promotion may have long lost its effectiveness on China, particularly since the nation is ruled by leaders who have virtually discredited Western democracy as a necessary, or even appropriate end. Washington, the world, and aging ’80s rock bands may have to deal with an evolving, but lasting, authoritarian government for quite some time.” (Slate, 21 Nov) [8]

1.5  Social Incidents

1.51       Laid-off workers strike in Guangdong

Laid-off toy factory workers in Guangdong rioted today. News of the protest was first released by the local government, as part of the government’s new media strategy to control the message.    The riot occurred 25 Nov in Guangdong province, southern China’s export heartland where similar protests have flared recently, after about 2,000 workers gathered to demand severance pay. The workers smashed offices at the factory where they used to work and overturned police cars, with the violence leaving six people injured. (AFP, 26 Nov) [9]

1.52      Riot in Gansu disputing City Planning

Earlier in Gansu, a violent riot broke out after the city of Longnan announced plans to demolish and relocate the city centre. The violence, one of the most marked instances of social unrest to grip China in recent months, was sparked by government plans to relocate the city of Longnan’s administrative center after May’s devastating earthquake. Some scholars correlate these social unrests to the effects of global financial crisis on China. (LAT, 19 Nov) [10]

1.53      An semi-official Interpretation or Proposal?

Zhang Yongsheng from the State Council Development Centre comments that the recent strikes of taxi drivers in some places in China is a good example that China has always put economic development and social stability as the top priority. But in the past, stability was achieved even through times of high pressure. This kind of stability was not real stability and not sustainable unless with rule of law and engagements in civil society or Hu’s notion of socialist democracy. (East Asia Forum, 27 Nov) [11]

1.6  Issues related to MNCs

1.61      ASUS: Who is the bad guy?

A female undergraduate, Huang Jing got jailed for the suspect of extortion, two years ago, after she tried to protect her right as an ASUS notebook customer. She was released 10 months later as the district procurator found no sufficient evidence to sue her. Now, she is seeking compensation from the sate and also countersuing ASUS. Many netizens expressed their anger accusing that the state and the Taiwan-based company together to suppress Chinese citizens’ customer right. However, more evidence appeared not in favor of Huang Jing, especially after CCTV recently broadcasted a special report of the case. Now, many netizens turn their suspicion back to Huang Jing as she does not appear to be a normal customer, and her whole dispute with ASUS seems to aim at the $5 million purposely. Still, nobody likes ASUS. Many still insist that, despite the fact that Huang might have been too greedy, ASUS should still be condemned for putting its customer into jail. [12]

1.62  Microsoft: Chinese Authorities Enforce Switch from it

Authorities in Nanchang are requiring all local Internet cafes to replace their Microsoft Windows XP operating systems with a Chinese-made system, Red Flag Linux, according to officials and Internet cafe owners.  An official with the Nanchang Cultural Discipline Team, which oversees the roughly 600 Internet cafes operating in Nanchang city, said the new operating systems were mandatory. The switch was mandated by the Nanchang Cultural Management Bureau in what it said was an effort to crack down on pirated software, local sources said. (Radio Free Asia, 2 Dec) [13] 

1.8  Missing of the Richest  

One week after China’s richest man, and the chairman of household appliance giant Gome, has been detained in connection with alleged stock manipulation of company owned by his brother, according to Chinese state media.was allegedly taken from his home, there is still no official explanation about the reason for his detention either from the authorities or from the companies he controls. Mr Huang is a legendary figure, a living example of rising from rags to riches. There have been rumours that he was detained in connection with alleged stock manipulation of company owned by his brother or because of bribery of high-ranking officials for a green light to list Gome in Hong Kong in 2004 and illegal loads.  (BW, 24 Nov[14]; BBC, 26 Nov[15])

  • Making Prediction, 2009 and Honoring Experts

The Economist released its annual predictions and insights for “The World in 2009″, prospects of China is certainly included. [16] International Talent Monthly, a periodical owned by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs selects 15 most influential overseas experts from past 3 decades. The list includes leoh Ming Pei, Yang Chen-ning and Lee Tsung-dao, Ian Fok Chun-wan, Robert Mundell, etc. [17]

1.10    The passing of the 77th lineal descendant of Confucius, honours from both sides of the strait, future of the post undecided. (Guang Ming Daily and China Post)

  • Election of the Student Council of Sun Yat-sen University makes a Headline

Southern Weekly never misses the chance to endorse democracy and review the current system. (Southern Weekly, 13 Nov)

1.12    On the Development of Cankao Xiaoxi (China Newsweek, vol.396, 76-9)

A little historical review of this once international circulated and then the most popular read newspaper in PRC.

1.13       History of China’s 30 Years of Reform (Oriental Daily, vol.262) (News Weekly, vo.287)

1.14       Fuchsia Dunlop, author of Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, writes about a restaurateur in Hangzhou who is trying to supply only locally sourced organic ingredients. (New Yorker, 24 Nov)[18]


2.1  BRIC wants to Meets

On Wednesday, the presidents of Brazil and Russia agreed on a 2009 conference that will be held in Russia and will involve Russia, Brazil, India, and China. It is unknown whether or not China and India have agreed to participate. But the organizers are intended to portray the BRIC as a powerful force in international arena.[19]

  • Tibetan Issue and China’s Response

Caution but with a Cause

The unprecedented meeting of 600 Tibetan exiles in Dharamsala had agreed that they would follow the middle way of Dalai Lama, which seeks autonomy and compromise with China. “In the next 20 years, we must be careful in our actions and planning,” he said in a lengthy speech. “Otherwise there is great danger to the Tibetan community.” “Wait a month” and “then we’ll see” whether the Tibetan side will seek future contacts, said the spiritual leader. (WSP, 23 Nov) [20] In the meantime, there was report that Chinese officials have been keeping a tight rein on Tibet. (LAT, 21 Nov) [21]

Succession of Dalai Lama 

The spiritual leader is considering appointing a regent to lead the Tibetan movement after his death until his reincarnation is old enough to take over. The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa has been tipped as a possible candidate to serve as the regent. It is intended to ensure a smooth succession after the death of the Dalai Lama, who is 73 and has been suffering recently from ill health. The Tibetan exiles are keen to prevent China from hijacking his reincarnation, as it has tried to do with other of the most senior positions in Tibetan Buddhism, like the Panchen Lama. (London Times, 24 Nov) [22] 

EU Summit Over

China, angry at plans for Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to visit Europe, has called off a summit with the European Union on 1st Dec, which may have forged a joint response to the global economic crisis. EU expressed regret at Beijing’s decision but pledged to continue to promote a strategic partnership “at a time when the global economic and financial situation calls for very close cooperation between Europe and China.” France confirmed President Nicolas Sarkozy would meet the Dalai Lama at a December 6 ceremony in Poland to mark the 25th anniversary of the award of the Nobel Prize to former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, despite Beijing’s displeasure.[23]

  • Experts’ Comments

Vogel: US Should Engage with China instead of Japan in a number of issues

Ezra Vogel suggested that with the Obama administration, the U.S. will opt for increased cooperation with China over a gamut of international issues, displacing a portion of such efforts with Japan. “It’ll be easier to get the Chinese government to make an agreement, because when they make it, they can enforce it much more quickly,” “So on international issues, even though Japan is our ally and our friend, for a lot of problems we’ll be talking more to China because they can solve issues more and they are now beginning to play a big role,” the academic said. (25 Nov)[24]

Pentagon wants a War Plan to China; former Commander said No Need

In 2005, US’s top military commander in the Pacific confronted Pentagon hawks, who insisted he prepare for a future war with China, warning then-Defence Secretary Rumsfeld that the United States was headed for disaster if it insisted on confronting the Chinese militarily. “There were people who warned me that you’d better get ready for the shoot ‘em up here because sooner or later we’re going to be at war with China,” retired Navy Admiral William J. Fallon recalled. “I don’t think that’s where we want to go. And so I set about challenging all the assumptions.”

2.5        To the Third World: Grant Sudan, Nepal Money and Zimbabwe Vaccines

On 30 Oct, the Chinese government granted the government of Sudan $3 million for the purposes of strengthening unity between the north and south of Sudan. The grant comes on the heels of a recent agreement between the two countries to enhance economic cooperation and trade and to open Chinese banks in Sudan. China is Sudan’s leading commercial partner while Sudan is China’s third largest trade partner in Africa. The volume of trade exchange between the two countries in 2007 reached US5.6 Bn, while the trade volume in the first nine months of 2008 was at US 6.5 Bn comprising different sectors, particularly oil, machinery, equipments and goods.

Chinese ambassador to Nepal recently announced an increase in financial support to Nepal, though the details are still unknown. The announcement precedes a visit to Nepal by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who is going lead a 15-member delegation for a three-day trip. In September, the Chinese announced military support for Nepal. In addition, the Chinese government has already connected Nepal with its optical fibre network and has announced to extend its railway network from Lhasa to Kathmandu immediately. (Hindustan Times, 1 Dec) [25]

China has promised to assist Zimbabwe with the latest crisis to hit the beleaguered African nation: a severe cholera outbreak. China has pledged $500,000 of vaccines for Zimbabwe. Reuters has reported that the crisis is due to worsen. (Business Daily, 5 Dec) [26]

  • Unemployment, Laid-off and the high-end or labour-intensive Debate

More than 6 million Chinese students left university this year and up to 1/4 are still struggling to find work. “The grim economic situation poses an unprecedented challenge for college graduates to get a proper job,” the ministry of education warned.  But the problems predate the crisis and mark both a success and failure on China’s part. “The number of graduates increased too quickly – by 2006 there were already five times more than in 1999. The labour market can’t take that big an increase in such a short time,” said Professor Yang Dongping of the Beijing Institute of Technology. The expansion of higher education reflects China’s aspirations: the world’s factory needs more skilled workers to move up the chain, away from cheap mass production. Yet there are not yet enough higher-end jobs.  (Guardian, 4 Dec) [27]

China Daily documented government’s efforts, from Civil services recruitment, army conscription, and raising the number of seats in full-time postgraduate or second-degree courses, etc to absorb the surplus labours. (CD, 3 Dec) [28] 

Recently, Chongqing Evening News covers a story on a group of migrant workers who were laid off after the boss of their factory in Dongguan, Guangdong, disappeared. So they headed back home to Chongqing, 3000 kilometers away, in a cavalcade of motor tricycles. (DW, 2 Dec)[29] They are certainly not alone, although the absolute figures are unknown; many reports have suggested that the “go back to your hometown trip” has started much earlier this year.

Indeed, there has been a sever debate over the course to alleviate unemployment problems and restructuring the economy, between the economist and within the central leadership. Basically, the development of high-end industry vs the bailout of labour-intensive one, including infrastructure building. (Zheng Ming, Dec, p. 6-7, 22-24; HKEJ various dates)

  • Local Governments’ Initiatives on Public Investment

After the centre’s 4 trillion-stimulus plan, local authorities have keep in pace to release theirs. Shanghai, 0.5 trillion (Tn); Anhui, 3.9; Chongqing, 1.3; Jiangsu, 9.5, 2009-10; Jinlin, 0.4; Hainan, 0.2; Henan, 1.2; Guangdong, 2.3; Yunnan, 3.0, 2008-2010… The total of these local projects has added up to over 10 trillion.

In 21 Century Business Herald, suggests that even the 5 year plan since1998, when the need to boost domestic consumption was at the top of the government agenda, only 3 trillion was spent. Now, one remote province, Yunana, could inject that amount of money?  Indeed, the actual investment amount would depends on 1) central government’s approval, 2) how much of these fund has actually included in authorities agenda and the 11th or 12th 5-year plan, and 3) whether there are any further room to explore from infrastructure construction, the figure has already approaching 15% of the GDP, which is about to reach the ceiling. (21CBH, 17 and 21 Nov, p.1)  Estimate could be as high as 15Tn. (Zheng Ming, Dec: 8-9)

Indeed, the railway length of China would approach 120,000 miles, if local planning is included, the figure might become 140,000 to 150,000 miles, which is certainly another Chinese world record if ever accomplished. To finance this would either means an increase in public debt or increasing the weight of infrastructure construction in national budget. (21CBH, 11 Nov, p.1) Zhiwu Chen, professor of finance at the Yale School of Management, asks why the Chinese government is investing the stimulus package in major infrastructure projects and not on social programs. He believes because the bureaucratic structure only looks for tangible projects of this kind to be recognized as having doing something, but it is certainly not the appropriate measure to boost the economy. (Global and Mail, 26 Nov)[30]

3.3  U.S., Europe Warn China on Toy Safety

Both the European Union and the United States have urged China to increase its safety efforts, particularly towards unsafe toys, as the holiday season approaches.  In 2007, over 20 million Chinese toys were recalled for a variety of reasons, including the use of lead paint. (Newsinferno, 18 Nov) [31]A week later, China’s Foreign Ministry urged factories in China to avoid using unsafe foreign designs in their products.

3.4        Industrial Pollution has contaminated 1/3 of Yellow River

A research group in China has found that industrial pollution and urban sewage has made 1/3 of the water in the Yellow River unusable. The survey, based on data taken last year, covered more than 8,384 miles of the river, one of the longest waterways in the world, and its tributaries. The Yellow River Conservancy Committee, affiliated to the ministry of water resources, said 33.8% of the river system’s water sampled in 2007 registered worse than level five. That means it is unfit for drinking, aquaculture, industrial use and even agriculture, according to criteria used by the UN Environment Programme. Only 16% of the river samples reached level one or two, the standard considered safe for domestic use. (Guardian, 25 Nov) [32]

  • Over 1/3 of China’s Land gas been scoured

Soil Erosion has been costing economic losses in China according to a report by China’s bio-environment security research team.  Over 1/3 of China’s land is being scoured by erosion that is putting its crops and water supplies at risk, a three-year nationwide survey finds.  Soil is being washed and blown away not only in remote rural areas, but near mines, factories and even in cities, according to Xinhua. The agency is citing a report compiled by China’s bio-environment security research team – the largest on soil conservation since the communist party took control of China in 1949.  The team found that since 2000, erosion has cost China 200 billion yuan in economic losses. Each year some 4.5 billion tonnes of soil are lost, threatening the country’s ability to feed itself. If erosion continues at this rate, harvests in China’s north-eastern breadbasket could fall by 40% in 50 years. (New Scientist, 21 Nov)[33]

  • Chinese as Lender and Debt Bearer

James Fallows interviewed Gao Xiqing, president of the China Investment Corporation (CIC) in the Atlantic Monthly: “ One year ago, when I wrote about China’s U.S. dollar holdings, the article was called “The $1.4 trillion Question.” When Barack Obama takes office, the figure will be well over $2 trillion. Gao Xiqing, president of the China Investment Corporation, which manages about $200Bn of the country’s foreign assets but makes most of the high-visibility investments, like buying stakes in Blackstone, Morgan Stanley, Forties as opposed to holding TB.” (AM, Dec)[34] It is the bad investment followed by nationalization of those investments by foreign governments that angered China. CIC lost $2.46 Bn, or 82%, of their investment in Blackstone Group earlier this year. Currently, the China Investment Corporation holds $200 billion; it was expected to invest this wealth overseas, but it has purchased large stakes to help banks in China instead. (NYT, 3 Dec) [35]

  • The Fifth round of Sino-American Strategic Economic Dialogue

In a closing statement Paulson welcomed recent steps by Beijing to boost home-grown demand,  “As in the past, we discussed the importance of domestic-led growth, and the importance of a market-determined currency in promoting balanced growth in China that will contribute to a healthy global economy.” (Reuter, 5 Dec) [36] Meanwhile, in unusually pointed language, China’s central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, blamed the crisis on U.S. financial excesses and said they should be fixed.     “The important reasons for the U.S. financial crisis include excessive consumption and high leverage,” “The United States should speed up domestic adjustment, raise its savings rate and reduce its trade and fiscal deficits.” (AP, 5 Dec)  [37]

  • New Figures for Chan’s Scandal: NTD3Bn and New Victims of China’s Scandal: Tycoons
  • Vouchers for all Citizens           
  • Government Capacity and Accountability: Taxi Drivers’ Strike / Sending a Plane to Thailand
  • Proposals from the Leg Co: Vouchers (LP) or Lottery (DAB)!
  • Asia’s World City: Clinton is here for conference (perhaps his foundation’s last one oversea) and awarded an Hon. Dr. from HKU with Yao Ming and David Ho
  • Development and Conservation: Some promising new cases?

[1] http://cmp.hku.hk/2008/11/26/1389/

[2] http://epaper.nddaily.com/A/html/2008-11/27/content_640980.htm


[4] http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=29384

[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/world/asia/25china.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

[6] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7719420.stm

[7] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-flumenbaum/china-bans-idemocracyi-de_b_146070.html

[8] http://www.slate.com/id/2205187/

[9] http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gJMr2nYTINjgb_A-XO6PtdVsf2ew

[10] http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-chinariots19-2008nov19,0,4719960.story

[11] http://eastasiaforum.org/2008/11/27/china%E2%80%99s-economic-reforms-pushed-by-civil-society/

[12] Tinya Forum.

[13] http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/microsoft%20to%20linux-12022008144416.html

[14] http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/nov2008/gb2

[15] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7749998.stm

[16] https://www.economist.com/theworldin/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12494522

[17] http://english.gov.cn/2008-11/29/content_1163880.htm

[18] http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/11/24/081124fa_fact_dunlop?currentPage=all


[20] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/23/AR2008112300290.html?hpid=topnews

[21] http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-tibet21-2008nov21,0,5660367.story

[22] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5217495.ece

[23] http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE4AP44320081126

[24] http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081125f1.html

[25] http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?sectionName=&id=5395fcf3-67de-465d-abd0-ffea329e3b06&&Headline=China+to+extend+financial+support

[26] http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/world.aspx?ID=BD4A894279

[27] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/04/china-higher-education-graduate-jobs

[28] http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2008-12/03/content_7263986.htm

[29] http://www.danwei.org/front_page_of_the_day/homecoming_of_the_sichuan_migr.php


[31] http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/4220

[32] http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/nov/25/water-china

[33] http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16106-chinas-disappearing-land-puts-food-supplies-at-risk.html

[34] http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200812/fallows-chinese-banker

[35] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/04/business/worldbusiness/04yuan.html?_r=1&em

[36] http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE4B31H420081205