14 Nov 2008

Keywords: reform, social unrest, human right, food safety, health care, activism, disaster relief, India-China relationship, U.S.-China relationship, environment

  1. Two Reforms

Both Professor Wu Guoguang and Professor Zhu Xueqin, although writing in different occasions, share the view that there have been two reforms, with different orientations and courses in the past 30 years. But the former insists that strictly speaking, the mission of reform has accomplished, while the latter stress the intellectual motivations and social grievances for the resurgence of the first. (The Trend, Oct 44-50; Zhongguo Chuanmei Fengyunlu, 2008, Preface)

The first one, was initiated by open-minded officials and intellectuals who have concrete agenda to absorb systems and values that are unknown to them, and psychologically appreciated the beauty of diversity and uncertainty, etc. But it ended in Tiananmen with the official’s interpretation, intellectual subordination and public affiliations of the incident. Wu stresses on how power play ended the reform, while Zhu emphasizes the losing popular supports of radical reform, not only in China, but also among the worlds.

The second one is the one often narrated today, collaborating the regime and the mass. Wu focuses on the fact that the four ideals of marketization, privatization, decentralization, internationalization /globalization have been legitimated and consolidated as the only path for progress by the state and in the public discourse. The entrance of WTO, therefore, in his view, put an end to that reform, for its purposes have been solved and we are, teleological speaking, not in the process of reform.

Zhu, on the other hand, focuses on the problems created by the premises of the second reform, and sees certain social forces that might well lead to the resurgence of the concerns, albeit with different format and with more complicated actors interactions, as the first one.  In sum, it would be fair to suggest that they are both left-wing liberals, looking for a more democratic, liberal and redistributive agenda to resolve the problems that created in the current course of policy orientations.

1.2 Social Incidents  

1.21 Car Strikes

About 20 vehicles, including three police cars, were smashed as cab drivers went on strike in Chongqing. Cab drivers in the main urban zones of Chongqing stopped work to protest insufficient supplies of compressed natural gas, which fuels most cabs in the city, competition from unlicensed cabs, and high fines for traffic violations ignited the strike, said a worker at the municipal transport administration, on condition of anonymity, reported China Daily. (3 Nov) [1] The Chongqing strike seem to be contagious, as similar strikes have broken out this week in Yongdeng, Gansu and Sanya, Hainan Island.

In Sanya, local police detained 21 people who allegedly became violent during the strike. They reportedly attacked taxi drivers who would not join them in the strike and smashed 15 cabs. More than 100 cabbies gathered for a second day in front of the city government building, repeating their demands for intervention in issues such as high monthly rental fees and unlicensed cabs; In Yongdeng of Gansu province, about 160 taxi drivers agreed to end their strike after the county government promised to present a plan within a week to get rid of unlicensed cabs. The drivers’ representative said there are about 700 illegal cabs, compared with 280 licensed taxis, in the county. (CD, 12 Nov) [2] See also the Economist’s report. (13, Nov) [3]

1.22 Yang Jia – from a Hero to a Martyr

  • Appeal denied, sentenced to death
  • Disappearance of his mother for 4 months during the trial [4]
  • Defendant’s Rights, Lawyers’ Representation
  • Yang’s popular status and implications (the case is cover contingently in anti-CCP media like Open, Zheng Ming and the Trend, as well as deliberated in Southern Weekly, Caijing, China Newsweek, Oriental Outlook, etc.)

1.23 Shiyan Incident

On the morning of November 7, a motorcyclist Li Guochao, was intercepted by an traffic inspector who used the walkie-talkie in his hand to hit the head of Li Guochao, causing Li to fall off his motorcycle and subsequently die from the injuries.  The family of Li Guochao called together more than 30 persons head to the Traffic Police Squad office. Eventually, 2,000 people assembled outside the Police Office in Bao’an district, and protested with a corpse in tow. Major concerns are the responsibility of the killing and the administrative irregularities on the checkpoints. (SMD, 8 Nov) [5]

1.3 Human Rights

1.31 The Release of Human Rights Action Plan

 China will issue a “human rights action plan” that seek to improve citizens’ rights over the next two years. “Respecting and protecting human rights…is an important objective and principle of the CCP and the government,” Wang Chen of the State Council Information Office told Xinhua. He did not say when the plan would be released but it would involve “expanding democracy, strengthening the rule of law, improving people’s livelihood, protecting rights of women, children and ethnic minorities, and boosting public awareness of human rights.” (RT, 4 Nov)[6] Mixed reviews are received. Some see it as a public relation ploy and what really matters is reality not principle. Others are more optimistic, saying that significant improvements have been seen in the public discourse and government attitude in past few years. Human Rights has become a subject that can be deliberated. (LAT, 7 Nov)[7]

1.32 China Skirts UN’s Questions on its Torture Record

China refused to answer questions from a U.N. human rights panel about the alleged torture and disappearance of dissidents, or provide official figures on the mistreatment of detainees in its prisons. They addressed only one case, that of Gendun Choekyi Nyima, who in 1995 was chosen by the Dalai Lama to become the Panchen Lama, Tibetan Buddhism’s second-highest ranking figure, claiming that he and his family are leading a normal life and they don’t want to be disturbed. Nyima, who was six years old at the time, disappeared with his family soon after and has not been heard from since. Human rights groups say Nyima, now 19, is being held under house arrest by the Chinese authorities. (AP, 10 Nov) [8]

1.33 Missing of a Human Rights Activist 

Yao Lifa, a teacher and rights campaigner in Hubei province, vanished on his way to work on several days ago. He was one of China’s first independent candidates in local elections in the 1980s and his wife, Feng Ling, said she believed he might have been held because he had been helping people to understand their voting rights ahead of this month’s contest for Qianjiang Municipal People’s Congress. (Guardian, 6 Nov)[9]

1.4 Food Safety and Health Care Reform

1.41 Operation Not Principle and Regulation

After two years of deliberation, the draft of China’s health care reform was finally released for public scrutiny on Oct 14. The reform aimed to provide universal health care for all rural and urban Chinese in the future, and to quell increased complaints over rising medical costs.  However, the draft drew a swarm of criticism from industry players. The Economic Observers holds that it is much more meaningful and helpful to explore the local reform experience rather than be limited to theoretical debates. With that in mind, the EO explores local health care reform schemes around China and found out a lot of collaborative activities and operation problems. 

1.42 China accused Japan of exporting Tainted Foods

The tables have turned and China is now accusing Japan of tainted food products that have been found in Japanese-produced soy sauce, mustard sauce and coffee exported to China. Quarantine officials in Tianjin, say they have found arsenic five times beyond acceptable amounts in a Japanese brand of soy sauce; and also discovered Japan-produced coffee to contain excessive amounts of “copper,” adding that the products never hit shelves and were ordered destroyed. Besides, quarantine officials in southern China also found Japan-produced soy sauce and mustard sauce tainted with toluene and acetic ester, chemicals used in paint. (AP, 4 Nov)[10]

1.43 Scientists linked to the Melamine Crisis 

The trail on how melamine slip from modified animal fodder into the human food chain has now led to some of China’s top scientist.  Recent reports have found that China’s top scientific research body – the Chinese Academy of Sciences – discovered as early as 1999 that adding melamine to food could boost its protein levels. In turn, the reports allege that rogue biologists cashed in on their chemical invention by promoting the sale of products containing melamine – even charging for training in how to use them – for years.  As a result, China’s high-profile nationwide campaign to boost science and scientific research is being reconsidered with an eye to social responsibility, and the possible economic adulteration of all Chinese products. (Asia Times, 14 Nov)[11]

1.44 Life In The Time Of Cholera, Hainan

1.5 Chinese Lawyers who called for Bar Elections are fired 

At least seven Chinese lawyers who signed a petition calling for open elections in a government-controlled bar association have lost their jobs because of official pressure, several lawyers said Thursday. The seven were among 35 attorneys who signed the petition in August.  Activist lawyers in the tightly controlled Chinese legal system have been at the forefront of the fight to use the rule of law to press for civil liberties and combat abuse of power. But they say they have faced official interference, obstruction and even physical harassment. (IHT, 6 Nov) [12]

1.6 On Earthquakes Survivors

After six months, with winter approaching, survivors of Sichuan earthquakes are still waiting for compensation promised by the government. Some refugees are still living in temporary camps, with unemployment as high as 80%, and some have charged local governments with stealing money from government compensation funds. (AJ, 11 Nov)[13] But at the same time, Development and Reform Commission plans to spend 1trillion yuan over the next 3 years to reconstruct areas affected by the earthquake. (CP, 7 Nov) [14]

1.7 From and For the Netizens

1.71 Sacking a Disgusting Official 

First revealed in the net, a high-ranking Chinese official has been sacked for accosting a young girl while drunk, the state media reported yesterday, after an Internet storm over his actions. The transport ministry’s party committee said Lin’s “wild words and behaviour have had an extremely negative impact on society”. (Guardian, 5 Nov) [15] 

1.72 ID Cards Verifications and Privacy

The Public Security Ministry opened a website for citizens to verify individual IDs.  Any ID card can be verified for a 5 yuan online payment. The system is intended to facilitate transactions where ID is needed, such as online trading and apartment rentals. However, the search results will also include photos and other individual information, netizens fear that some of their private information may become public, and this service may further become a utility for “ human flesh search engines.” In contrary, a Beijing scholar says that information that appears on individual identification cards should not be regarded as private. ‘

1.8 Go Li’s Nationality

A decision by Gong Li to take Singaporean nationality has set off an online furore with many ardent nationalists branding her a traitor and a shame to her native country. Others however, suggest that many of those criticizing her would be only too ready to follow her example like moths to a flame – if only they had the opportunity. She took the oath of citizenship along with 149 other new citizens recently, accompanied her husband, the Singaporean tobacco tycoon Ooi Hoe Soeng. Beijing does not allow its people to hold double nationality and the star will be obliged to give up her Chinese citizenship. This means she will no longer be eligible for membership of CCPCC, which she used to hold. (London Times, 11 Nov) [16]

1.9 Microsoft Intellectual Property Rights Move and its Receptions  


2.1 India Media accused China as the Weapon Supplier of NE Insurgent Groups

The trade routes in the north-eastern regions of India are fluid, particularly where the Myanmar and China borders meet. Recently, intelligence sources say the Chinese have managed to increase the flow of funds into these groups. Diplomatically, India has raised the issue with the Chinese during almost every major conversation, but the Chinese government, which says that they do not interfere in India’s internal affairs, has strenuously denied this. The Indian security agencies have raised suspicions with a more careful study of unmarked weapons, which were confirmed as products of China. (Times of India, 31 Oct) [17]

2.2 Chinese: Democratic System elected a Black President and So What?

Daniel A. Bell asks why aren’t Chinese students and intellectuals gripped by Obama-mania to the same extent as their counterparts abroad? (Dissent Magazine, 11 Nov) [18]

  • Sino- U.S. relationship has been good since the terrorist attacks of Sept 11.
  • What Obama said about China policy during his campaign—protectionism, CNY currency, and minority group rights — are either going to infer the rents of the Chinese or simply not the major concerns of the educated class.
  • No matter how, China is more confident in its own ways and less likely to look abroad for inspiration. Economically, China will reduce dependence on exports and develop its own internal market.
  • Politically, there is growing aversion to Western-style democracy that produces political instability and economic inefficiency. Many intellectuals are turning to China’s own traditions for inspiration, such as Jiang Qing’s proposal for meritocratic selection of leaders by free and fair competitive examinations.
  • In other words, only if Obama could pull of a near-mirale, could the U.S. political system once again inspire the large majority of Chinese students, intellectuals, and reform-minded members of the Communist Party.

2.3 Waiting for His Passing 

After talks broke down between Beijing and representatives of the Dalai Lama, Chinese officials have already begun talking about the septuagenarian religious leader’s passing.[19] (Global and Mail, 11 Nov)  Although AFT suggests that the spiritual leader still wants to continue the talk with China. (AFT, 12 Nov) [20] Further, see the pro-China actions of the British and French governments.


3.1  A New Deal for China?  

Time magazine’s Simon Elegant asks if China’s CNY 4 trillion stimulus plan is China’s version of the New Deal or not:  “I think in a decade, we’ll be looking back at this moment and saying this was when things really changed and China’s economy transitioned from externally, export-oriented to an internal focus,’” says a China economist of RBS. He Liping, a professor of economics at Peking University, agrees. “I personally see this crisis as an opportunity to reduce our dependence on export and adopt a healthier path,” and a JP Morgan economist shares his view with reference to the series of social security and land reforms.  (Time, 10 Nov) [21]

Elegant indicates that “the volume of deals at the annual Canton trade fair, China’s biggest and oldest, dropped by 17.9 per cent, the first time the number has declined since the SARs outbreak in 2003.” [22](China Blog, 10 Nov)  Still, The Economist warns, “much remains unclear about the implementation of the stimulus plan—even its size.”  For the real size of the package may not be as large as the government has described. “Some of the measures announced in the stimulus package appear to have been already introduced or even implemented earlier. Hence, the size of this stimulus package—which is expected to be in the form of additional spending—may have been overstated,” said a Moody economist. (Economist, 10 Nov)[23] Indeed, at the same time, the Director of China’s Central bank said that they are considering depreciating Chinese yuan in order to stimulate exports, which shows that authority sees the limitation on relying domestic consumption to boast the economy. Indeed, some commentators of HKEJ suspect that even if the scale of the plan is that large, it might only be a good news at all, for that amount of money would at least increase the GDP of the following 2 years by 2-3% a year, meaning that the state of economy might be worse than the current official data would have shown.

3.2 Economic Data: Sorry. No time. Not very comparative in perspective.

Export Value of Oct only increased19.2% (Sept. 21.5 %; 2007 average 25.7%)

Import value of Oct was 15.6 % (Sept. 12.3%; 2007 21.3%)

Canton Fair, order dropped by 15%.

Electricity Consumption of Oct dropped by 0.46%, first since 1999.

CPI, Oct, only 4%–> Room for lower interest rate? (Sept. 4.6%; Feb., 8.6%)


Bank of China: As of September 2008, the bank held US$ 3.274B of U.S. sub-prime mortgage-backed securities, US$ 1.379 billion in Alt-A mortgage-backed securities, and $4.337B of Non-Agency mortgage-backed securities, for a total of US$ 8.99B.

China Construction Bank: The bank held US$ 244 M of U.S. sub-prime mortgage-backed securities, US$ 191M of Lehman Brothers-related debts, and US$ 1.512B of securities connected to Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae. Will write down US$ 673M.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China: US$ 1.207B of U.S. sub-prime mortgage-backed securities, US$ 605M of Alt-A mortgage-backed securities, US$ 55M in structured securities, for a total of US$ 1.867 B. Ping An Insurance Group: Losses have reached 10.5B yuan due to its Fortis Group holdings. More can be founded in the report from Ciajing. (4 Nov)[24]

  • Courses, Paths and Strategies of Reform

1) The Financial Times argues the Chinese government recognizes that it must build domestic consumer demand, but it is time for the leadership to put its money where its mouth is. The planned stimulus does not attempt to boost public and private consumption; instead, it aims to keep the economy ticking over until it can start exporting again. This will not work. This is the golden opportunity to redirect the pattern of growth towards consumption and away from the previous massive reliance on exports and investment. In a country with light household taxes, there is little room to do much with cuts. A cash rebate would be more effective. Public spending on schools and health services would also help, directly and indirectly. Since fears about paying for health and education keep savings high, this would also encourage household consumption. China’s problem is more than a mere global downturn. Its development model is no longer sustainable. (FT, 10 Nov) [25]

2) A few articles from The Hong Kong Economic Journal argue that 1) China needs to motivate the citizen spend 2) Don’t emphasize on advanced value added technology and large-scale corp., instead “small is beautiful”, try to focus on the redevelopment of small scale plants. For these to be practical, it entails a paradigm shift, not maximization, but satisfaction; not economic suitability, but also ecological and social suitability, etc.

3.4 Environmental Issues

3.41 China’s Initiative in Climate Talks

According to CNN, China tries to persuade developed nations to transfer more technology to developing countries to battle climate change and environmental issues in the two-day climate change conference in Beijing.  It wants rich economies to devote at least 0.7 percent of their GDPs to helping poor countries fight global warming. (CNN, 6 Nov) [26] Besides, the comments from Xie Zhenhua, a deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission who steers climate change policy, marked China’s first official acknowledgement that it could already be the world’s biggest greenhouse gas polluter. (Clear the Air News Blog, 29 Oct)[27]

3.42 E-Waste Managements

Chemistry World suggests that Electronic waste (processing in a southern Chinese town is putting children at risk of lead poisoning and increasing the chance of miscarriages in pregnant women, scientists have said. But little is being done by either the authorities or research funding agencies to address the issue. Guiyu, a town in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, recycles more e-waste than anywhere else in China. E-waste, including old computers, television sets and mobile phones, is dissolved in acid or burned to extract precious metals such as gold or palladium. But many in the industry work without protective clothing and the by-products of processing are discharged directly into the environment. (27, Oct) [28]

3.43 Green Efforts and Green China

An analysis in Environment 360, a publication of Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, suggests that China is not responsible for where we are today on climate change. And it doubts that either its cumulative or its per-capita emissions will ever approach those of the U.S. Why? Because, believe it or not, China is going green. “ We hear a lot about China building a new coal-fired power station every week. I checked the stats. It’s worse. It has recently been building two new 1000-megawatt plants each week. But last year, China also built more wind turbines than any other country. And its biogas and solar power industries are also growing fast.

China’s green credentials are surprisingly good in many respects. China has long led the world in aquaculture. By raising most of its fish in artificial ponds it has done a huge good turn for the world’s ocean fisheries. (E360 Yale, 11 Nov) [29]

  • Arrival of Chen Yunlin :On Economics Not Politics; Implicit Recognition of Taiwan Status; DDP: Where to Go?
  • Former Prisident Chen Shui-bian was detained Tuesday on suspicion of corruption. The Taipei detained facility could be able to hold a cabinet meeting of the former administration.
  • Cape No.7. Film Industry of Taiwan. Chen Yunlin said he viewed it. United Front has been a difficult task.
  • Lehman Brothers’ Mini-Bonds. Political Parties’ Focuses. Questioning Bankers and Officials. Need Incremental procedures, initiated by Populism or More Responsive Corporative Governance and Regulation?
  • Economic and Financial Policy of the Government, and Monetary Authority.

[1] http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2008/11/taxi-drivers-on-strike-in-chongqing/

[2] http://chinadaily.com.cn/china/2008-11/12/content_7195447.htm

[3] http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12607427

[4] http://china.blogs.time.com/2008/11/13/yang-jia-stranger-than-fiction/

[5] http://epaper.nddaily.com/H/html/2008-11/08/content_622239.htm

[6] http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE4A31T020081104

[7] http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-rights7-2008nov07,0,2674520.story

[8] http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081110/ap_on_re_eu/un_un_china_torture

[9] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/06/china-humanrights

[10] http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9481IQG0&show_article=1

[11] http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/JK14Ad01.html

[12] http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/06/asia/beijing.php

[13] http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia-pacific/2008/11/200811113633737623.html

[14] http://www.chinapost.com.tw/china/business/2008/11/07/182082/China-to.htm

[15] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/05/china-lin-xiaxiang-communist-party

[16] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article5129893.ece

[17] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Insurgent_groups_in_N-  E_getting_help_from_China/articleshow/3656486.cms

[18] http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online.php?id=171


[20] http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5h1k8hAKAdCnQs2y1DAh2wjSfiI6g

[21] http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1857867,00.html

[22] http://china.blogs.time.com/2008/11/10/chinas-much-needed-stimulus-package/


[24] http://english.caijing.com.cn/2008-11-04/110025848.html

[25] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b0774a08-af60-11dd-a4bf-000077b07658.html?nclick_check=1

[26] http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/11/06/china.climate.ap/index.html?eref=edition_asia

[27] http://news.cleartheair.org.hk/2008/10/29/china-says-greenhouse-gases-catch-up-with-us/

[28] http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2008/October/27100801.asp

[29] http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2083