15 Aug 2008

Keywords: political reform, anti-corruption, satisfaction, Olympics, censorship, Xinjiang, social unrest, Tibet, manufacture, foreign currency

  • Political Reform? ‘Public’ Election of County Party Secretary

The recent issue of Oriental Outlook (080731OO, p.10-5) delivers a cover story on the limestone election of various party district (區委) secretaries of Gui Yang City (貴陽市), tilted ‘the boundary of political reform’. The election was publicly broadcasted but not publicly elected per se. Only the 48 party committee members of the Gui Yang City could vote. But it is still avant-garde in the sense that it was the first open contest for a post in the county-level party organ. Processes included intra-party poll, examination, speech, debate, and election. Whether it is a step towards competitive intra-party democracy or as a tool for electing capable young officials, or both, is debatable. Another report is available at China Newsweek. (080728CNW, p.48-9)

  • Accountability and the Closure of the ‘Chinese White House Incident’

China Youth Daily reports that former official Li Gu-fu (李国福) who revealed the maladministration and corruption related to the Fu Yang (阜陽) County Office, better known as the ‘Chinese White House’, [1]was found dead in detention. The official source claimed that it was a suicide, but rumors started to spread. (080422CYD) Later, the case caught countrywide attention and investigation teams were sent from the central and provincial party disciplinary bureaus. The party district (區委) secretary Zhang Zhi-an (張治安) and a number of officials were sacked for bribery but no one was held responsible for the dead of Li at the moment. (080623CYD)

1.3 China in Figure: General Satisfaction and Individual Frustration

According to the Pew Attitude Annual Survey,[2] Chinese people express extraordinary levels of satisfaction with the way things are going in their country and with their nation’s economy, their satisfaction ranks no. 1 among 24 countries in the survey.

The survey also finds that most Chinese citizens polled rate many aspects of their own lives favorably, including their family life, their incomes and their jobs. However, levels of personal satisfaction are generally lower than the national measures, and by global standards Chinese contentment with family, income and jobs is not especially high. It provides insight into the contrast between the average Chinese’s satisfaction with the state of the country and its economy and relative dissatisfaction with elements of personal life.Further, the new data suggest the Chinese people may be struggling with the consequences of economic growth. Notably, concerns about inflation and environmental degradation are widespread. And while most Chinese embrace the free market, there is considerable concern about rising economic inequality. [3]

1.4 Olympics

1.41 Opening: Representation, Reception and Interpretation

The following is probably a biased sampling of opinions towards the opening, from the internet and media. Some of the translations were taken from the ESWN.

We all know that Zhang Yimou likes “bigness.”  In <Hero>, we saw that he liked the “big unity.”… In the Olympics opening ceremony, we saw that he liked “big scenes.” Regrettably, these big scenes were empty and spiritless.  …The biggest overall failure is the attempt to avoid the earthquake factor like a plague …Now we see the Great Wall, now we see a mahjong tiles, but we cannot see any humanitarian spirit.       — Song Shinan at Bullog.cn

In the one-hour performance section, he expressed the aesthetics of nationalism thoroughly.  In those dances, the dancers had no individual faces because they only mean something in the context of the group…To make an inappropriate analogy; this is like an army moving in formation …   Wei Yingjie at My1510.cn

The Chinese Communists needs to affirm its accomplishments after the reforms, and many Chinese people have shone in their economic prowess. …But how much money was spent? The Beijing City Olympics Economic Development Committee senior advisor Huang Wei said that the central government has invested RMB520 billion on the Olympics since 2001…from Those Were The Days

The only way to present to people of different cultures is to use audiovisual effects (such as light, color, sound and so on) to showcase Chinese civilization and to delight people. What is the point of looking at flesh-and-blood persons?  If you want to look at them, just go outside and sit by the roadside… from DWnews

‘In Living Room, a Window into the Games.’ (080809NYT)

‘For Chinese, A Long-Awaited Occasion of Hope and Pride.’ (0809WSP)

‘China flocks to TV screens to share Olympic pride.’ (080809LAT)

‘Stronger, Faster and Better – a people’s pride in its power. ‘ (080809GD)

‘Olympics: the power and the glory – China leaves world awestruck’ (080809TS)

1.42 Precaution: Control, Censorship and Surveillances

Published in Rolling Stone, Naomi Kelin claimed that China is building out a police state with the help of US contractors from the release of arm embargo that activated since 1989. Anyone still harboring protest plans will no doubt be caught on one of Beijing’s 300,000 surveillance cameras and promptly nabbed by a security officer; there are reportedly 100,000 of them on Olympics duty. (080529RS) She also said that the success of Chinese economy is because of, not in spite of, the political control, lack of civil liberties and unequal citizenship, etc. (the Real News, CBC, c.f. You Tube) Mackinnon from HKU also expressed concern that the regime had tightening control via professional journalists and celebrated forums. (080814WSJ) Some of foreign protestors were indeed arrested right before the games and there were significant concerns of media control, which violated Beijing’s promise to hold the game. (0800807_2SCMP; 080807TS), including President Bush. (0800807_3SCMP)

There were also reports further comprehend the claim. WSJ suggests that a tiny listening device, which are connected to a global positioning system able to track a cab’s location by satellite, have been installed in almost all of the city’s 70,000 taxis over the past three years, taxi drivers and industry officials say. (080806WSJ) SCMP elaborates on the issue on who is the targets (foreign activists, internal rebels, political opponents or ordinary crimes); how is the system being used. (ex post or ex ante). (0800807SCM) Obviously, the elaboration led to fact that the surveillance might not affect citizens’ life, and to a certain extent, protecting theirs. But it might not be entirely a matter of utilities but of rights.

1.43 Counteraction: Explosions connected to the Xingjian Rebels

On 4 August, 16 polices were killed and another 16 were injured in the explosion at Kashgar (Kashi), Xingjian. Who is responsible is still unclear but several minorities were arrested. (080704SCMP) Six days later, a series of bombings in Kuqua country, XJ, had killed 1 and injured 5. Uygurs, including a 15-year-old girl, were held responsible for the attacks. (080812SCMP) These incidents were reported in China via Xinhua but generally it was downplayed. Generally, the South were more interested in reporting the issues, but still the dimension were limited to the security.

1.44 A Fake Performance with an Uneasy Truth

Skip to next paragraphThe world knows now that the adorable little girl we saw warbling “Ode to the Motherland” at the Olympics opening ceremony was not really singing. She was a Potemkin performer. A Trojan tyke, Lin Miaoke, 9, was fronting for Yang Peiyi, 7, the girl with the best voice but imperfect teeth.’ (080813NYT) It was hot for the western media, but the citation has captured the basic fact.

1.45The National Attachment: Searching the Athlete’s Father as Searching Mine

Guo Wenjun, who won an Olympic gold medal in the 10-meter air pistol competition, disclosed that her father had vanished ten years ago, for which she felt a lot of pain. This story was rapidly propagated across the major Internet forums.  For instance, “human flesh search engines” were set up at Tianya, MOP and other forums to help Guo Wenjun located her father. (from ESWN)

1.46 Protests Denied even in Designated Zone

A representative of more than 100 property owners from Suzhou was detained and sent home on Friday when she tried to submit an application to protest in a designated zone in Beijing during the Olympics. 

1.5 Social Unrest: The Case of Yang Jia (楊佳)

The 28 year-old relieved worker, using a sword, killed 6 policemen in Shanghai. Media attention was drawn to why and how he committed the crime. Comparatively little focus and perhaps sympathy, were delivered towards the police and their families. His intention was portrayed as seeking justice and response. A number of netizens refereed him hero or martyr. (080717SW)


2.1 China, France and the controversy on Tibet

The Dalai Lama has begun a 12 day-visit to France with the blessing of a Vietnamese Buddhist temple outside of Paris. Beijing responded that his presence would seriously hurt the bi-lateral relationship. It was reported that he has abandoned plans to meet President Sarkozy, and his only political acts to meet with 250 senators and deputies and talks with leaders of the French Tibetan community. (080812_2SCMP)

2.2 China, Australian and the meaning of Asian

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd wants his fellow Australians to embrace China and the Asian region unprecedentedly. He said that the future of Australian is depends on how it is socially, economically and cultural connected with the other Asian states. It is however, not uncontroversial for Australians, owing to their mixed attitudes towards the Chinese and embeddedness in Anglo-Saxon ties. (080814SCMP)


3.1 From Restructuring to Relocating Manufacturing Industry in Guangdong 

Citing Guangdong Secretary Wang Yang from a strategic planning meeting, a report from China Newsweek suggests it is necessary and plausible for relocating the manufacturing industry of the province. The blueprint is to relocate the labour-intensive, low-skilled factories to the eastern and western areas, while attracting the technologically advanced, valued-added ones back to the Pearl River Delta. A painful process is expected but the local authorities are expressing concerns and worries.  (080714CNW, p. 20-23) Another report is available at Southern Weekly, providing the initiatives and stands of the Premier. (080724SW)

3.2 Problems of Rising and Aggregating Private and Civil Capitals

Referring to cities of Yi Wu (義烏), Li Shui (麗水) of Zhe Jiang , the report series from Oriental Outlook suggests that they have transited from cities famous for raising private capitals to cities notorious for bankruptcy of private enterprises. Some of them have left behind billons RMB of unresolved loans. The major focus is how unmonitored and non-transparency capital accumulations are doomed to failure; how the robust private savings and loopholes in regulations, have accelerated the processes. The development was however, very much a product of the tightening macroeconomic controls.  (080713OO, p.41-52.)

3.3 Foreign Currency Control

China loosened capital controls by allowing domestic companies to hold foreign exchange income abroad, and foreign companies to issue securities in China. It simplifies the approvals of outbound investments and ease capital raising in China by foreign companies. The revised rules also allow China to step up monitoring of foreign exchange flows in and out of the country. (080806WSJ). This underscores China’s attempt to curb illegal capital inflows seeking to profit from an expected appreciation of the yuan, and to ease its external imbalances.  It also calls for penalties of up to 30 per cent of the capital involved in any unauthorised inward or outward foreign currency transfers. (080807SCMP) A comment from FT suggests that China’s success in monetary and fiscal policy is to a certain extent, linked to its ability and capacity in tightening whenever it is needed. (080730FT)

  • Another Battle won for Collective Bargaining

The power and grievance of factory workers are start to be recognized after the application of the New Labour Law and a number of limestone cases on collective barging, said FT. For instance, 8500 workers in the Shenzhen branch of the Wal-Mart has successfully negotiated a pay-rise via collective bargaining of the trade union with the retail giant. (080729FT)


4.1 Communication via Money

‘Keeping Mao (100RMB) is better than having Chiang (1000 NTD)’, said a Taiwan elderly who converted some of his savings into RMB when the currency has become convertible recently. (China Newsweek, v.380, p.16)

4.2 Scandals Continues when Chen Shui-bian’s left Office

The Former President was revealed as sending campaign funds to Switzerland early this week by a report from Next Magazine. Yesterday, he made an open apology to the public admitting misconduct and illegal action. The Switzerland authorities have investigated him and the Taiwan Prosecutors would take similar action. (080814CT)


5.1 Intensified Leg Co Combats on PR versus 11 uncontested Candidates in FC

5.2 Heroes in A Fire

5.3 Cooperation memoranda signed between Guangdong, Macau and Hong Kong

[1] The case was revealed by a Japanese journalist who originally went to Fu Yang to study a local school but accidentally discovered that the school was demolished for building the government office. He published the story in the Japanese press and it drawn significant attention, humiliation and anger from the Chinese.

[2] * China’s “one-child policy” is overwhelmingly accepted. Roughly three-in-four (76%) approve of the policy, which restricts most couples to a single child.

* Few Chinese have heard much about product recalls in their country – only 1% have heard a lot, while 15% have heard a little about this issue.

* There is no consensus about what countries one can emigrate to in order to lead a good life, although Australia (22%), Canada (17%) and the United States (15%) are the top choices.

* Most Chinese (77%) agree that “children need to learn English to succeed in the world today,” but this is down substantially from 2002, when 92% agreed with this view.

* More than one-in-three Chinese report using the internet (38%) and owning a computer (36%), and one-in-four send email at least occasionally. The use of information technology is more common among the young, educated, wealthy and urban.

* Television continues to be the primary source for national and international news for most Chinese (96% say it is one of their top two sources). Newspapers are a distant second (56%), and as in much of the world, readership is on the decline.

* A small but growing number of Chinese are going online for news (13% name it as one of their top two sources), especially people with a college education and those under age 30.

[3] The founding is based on face-to-face interviews were conducted with 3,212 adults in China between March 28 and April 19, 2008, a period which followed the March 10 onset of civil unrest on Tibet and preceded the May 12 earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province. The sample, which is disproportionately representative of China’s urban areas, includes eight major cities, as well as medium-sized towns and rural areas in eight Chinese provinces. The area covered by the sample represents approximately 42% of the country’s adult population