Keywords: central leadership, media censorship, Olympics, public security, oil, poverty, G8, Taiwan, Hong Kong election
- POLITICS AND SOCIETY
1.1 Leadership in perspectives
1.11 The would-be President and the would-be Premier
The recent issue of The Trend reviews the reasons and the process of how their positions were confirmed. From their recent appearances and precedents, it seems to reinforce the distinguishable characters between Chinese President and Premier. What is the logic? A more conservative figure always wins or the chosen one will then behave more conservative, vice versa? (The Trend, July: 6-7)
1.12 The New Chief Justice
According to Willy Lam in China Brief, the appointment of the new chief justice, who was from the public security and zhengfa disciplines with neither law degree, nor court and prosecution experiences, seems to reflect the leadership’s anxiety about putting the courts under a trusted party functionary and the necessity of tightening control. (080703CB)
2.13 Guangdong Secretary Wang and Head of Organization Department Li
The article suggests that although there have been demands for more rights to the people and even political reforms from some scholars, and retired cadres, in the so called ‘the third wave of liberal thought’- the real concern for CCP is still ‘inner party democracy, instead of democracy of or for the people. Despite initialising new administrative & monitoring measures, Wang and Li, the comparative liberals, are constrained to act further. (080618CB)
1.2 Media and Censorship
1.21 Chinese Human Rights Defenders (080710CHRD)
The Internet censorship report from the CHRD was released. It reviews the struggles between the authorities, and the netizens and liberal editors/forums. Using public security checks, internet censorships and pro-government bogglers, the government is quite successfully in containing ‘harmful’ and sensitive information from circulation. Simultaneously however, many forum and media editors are able to test the limits and provide provoking evidences and alternative angles. Nevertheless, the price of these unorthodox moves is huge. Punishments include termination of forum, sacking of responsible personnel, and even torture and imprisonment.
1.22 Tightening control is a reflection of losing control?
The article suggests that the CCP is very sensitive and devoted to control the media and the Internet circulation. Narrating the development of about 280,000 ‘Fifty Cent Party’, it demonstrates the growth of a government-initiated public mechanism. It reflects the move of an authoritarian regime to consolidate its ruling, but citing from other scholar, it also suggests that to a certain extent, it shows the ideological and popular control of CCP is deteriorating. (FEER, July: 41-44)
1.23 Ineffectiveness of the control mechanism?
The NESW blogger, Ronald Soong has briefly introduced both essays and then rarely offered his comments (what he normally does is selection, translation and summary) on the Internet censorship and the status of NESW. First, there is no economic incentive for him to be a 50-cent gang. Second, the monitoring effort of the CCP is far from success. A 280,000 number of untrained gangs would only do the otherwise; it is much worse then having a hundred trained professions to control, review the deliberation discourse for the sake of the government.
1.24 Who told the truth? Professional media vs Part-time blogger
Two reports from SCMP suggests that the public security banned the blacks (hei黑) from entering bars in Sanlitun during Olympics (三里屯). It was interpreted as a racial discrimination policy. (080718SCMP; 080719SCMP) Nevertheless, after the field works of a few Beijing bloggers, they revealed that the meaning of Blacks are not referring to race (heiren黑人) but gang (heibang黑幫). Indeed, in many occasions, the word heiren is referring to illegal immigrant without residence registration (戶口). <http://www.beijingboyce.com/2008/07/19/um-really-update-on-scmp-story-ii>
1.31 Controls and Measures
The Chinese authorities are making every possible measure to make sure that nothing unexpected could be allowed to emerge during Olympics. First, Public security officials from the hometown of migrant workers have been called to Beijing to contain the possible unrest. Second, social activists were retained or in house arrest. Third, the Chinese media have received strict instruction and guidance on reporting; while there have been continuously reports that Foreign Media were restricted from reporting sensitive issues and forbidden areas. Some reporters were even detained. Fourth, the ordinary social life is very much restricted via traffic control, mobility control, registration and examination. Fifth, there has been an blockade of NGOs Websites. The list could continue. (080625SCMP; 080626SCMP; 080705RT; Human Rights Watch Report, etc.)
1.32 Photos and Messages
A series of photos that were ordered to produce, but were found not suitable by the Amnesty International, has drawn attention in China. These photos was produced by the TBWA agency, a company which also produced a series of positive image of the game at the requests of a number of MNCs. (080719WSJ) It received a bronze lion prize at the Cannes International Advertising Festival and it was how the issue was exposed. Despite AI found the content unsuitable and refuse to take it, the credits in photos referred it to www.amesty.com, easily misleading to www.amesty.org.
The photos for AI included three Olympic ‘sports’ to highlight the abuse of prisoners in China. The INGO was severe attacked by the spoken of the Chinese Foreign Ministry as having persistent prejudices and issuing irresponsible reports. (080720CDHKE) Many Chinese bloggers felt insulted and suggested to boycott BWA. They again, viewed it as indicator of western prejudice and interference.
1.4 Rebels and Public security
The government had captured a few terrorist sites in Xingjian and killed a few rebels. Apparently connected to the Eastern Turkistan Movement, it was viewed a precaution before the Olympics. (080715IHT). Besides, two articles from Ta Kung Pao are very interesting. Written by an academic, placing the XJ rebels as the topic priority among the 3 separationist movements before the video came out. (080722TKP). The other one showing that TKP recently opened a regional centre in XJ and had launched a series of report on the autonomous region. (080711TKP)
1.5 Follow-ups and Others:
1.51 Reviewing the causes of the Fake Tiger Incident (080703SW);
1.52 The exposure and then containment of a high rank official’s mistress (NESW)
1.53 The aftermaths of Weng’an Riots (080714CNW;080710SW)
1.6 The Kungfu Panda: universal values and (again) nationalism (080711_1510)
- FOERIGN POLICY
2.1 Oil and Iran
Although China signed an agreement last month to join the US and other powers in a diplomatic initiative to contain Iranian nuclear programme, report from Financial Times citing a number of sources, has suggested that China has no intention of backing this proposal with teeth. China’s main concern is oil contract and supply, and she is not ready to take up the responsibility of an international stakeholder, FT said. (080708FT)
2.2 Oil and Vietnam
Beijing has warned the world’s biggest oil company, ExxonMobile, to pull out of an exploration deal with Vietnam, and described the project as a breach of Chinese sovereignty. Beijing made similar protest last year and eventually British Petroleum stopped their works. There is indication that the joint-venture model between China and Japan might be adopted here as well. (080720SCMP; 080721SCMP)
2.3 Oil and Sudan
China’s Ambassador to the United Nations said pursuing an arrest warrant for Bashi by the International Criminal Court could imperil peace efforts. He insisted that the five permanent members of the Security Council should meet with Moreno-Ocampo (ICC Chief Persecutor) to deliberative the issue. The Security Council has the power to suspend the warrant for 12-months. Hence, Sudan had asked Russia, China and the Arab League and the African Union to halt the court action. (080718RT)
2.4 First legal defeat after entering WTO
The WTO trade body confirmed the complaints by the US, European Union and Canada and ruled against Beijing’s import tariffs for car parts. China is expected to appeal, however, if the appeal goes against it, Beijing will have to remove the surcharges on imported car parts- a measure considered as tariff by the panel, or face swingeing trade sanctions. (080719FT)
- POLITICAL ECONOMY
3.1 Russia and China: shocking therapy vs gradual reform (080710SW)
Extracted from the deliberation between Wang Xiao-lu (王小魯) Yao Yang (姚洋 ) in the Southern Weekly for the 30 years reform series.
3.11 Structure: endowment determination: a relatively developed economy vs an
agricultural communist regime that no precedent for to look for in transition
3.12 Ideology: once-and-for-all vs walking with two legs
3.13 Leadership: their capacity and contingency
3.14 Motivation: political consideration vs economic necessity
3.15 Consequence: formation of oligarchy vs utility maximization of the majority
3.2 Reviewing government’s efforts to eliminate poverty: Xin Hua County (新化) after 14 years (080428CJM)
The County, which located in southern Hunan, has received over CNY 1 billion subsidies and redistributions from the central government since 1994, when it was declared National Poverty County. It is a title earned and exploited by the local officials. The per capita GDP is only 1/4 of the national level, and 2/3 of its incomes come from provincial and central redistributions.
The repost traces the way that officials have misused the development fund via corruption, building luxury offices, allowing extra government spends, and creating new but fake blueprints. The NPC status seems to be something they wish to maintain. The sacking of a few party and government officials there has exposed a number of problems: 1) the problem in fund allocation, 3) the lack of monitoring capacity, and 3) the incentive for inaction and inertia once the NPC has established.
No comparative study of the performance of the other 596 counties was given, but a few reports from scholars and writers have suggested a very negative view.
3.3 Membership of G8 (080706FT)
Citing from scholars, analysts and politicians, the FT report suggests that there is growing necessity to include China, and perhaps India, into the G8 Summit. It is not only a matter of growing economic influence, issues like global warming, security cooperation and free trade also need their participation. The G8-O5 format that has been confirmed since last year was far from enough.
But it also implies that even when the seat is given, it is certain that China would not take it because of the constraint, cost and label. Some even question whether G8 is solely an economic arena or a representation of specific universal value and principle.
3.4 The myth and impact of ‘hot money’ (080626CBH; 080707WSJ)
The editorial of CBH tries to differentiate the purposes of the estimated US1.75 billion in China, a figure that slightly over its foreign reserve.
Type 1) being the harmless passive money, which mainly comes from area where its currency has depreciated and interest rate keep at minimum.
Type 2) is the short-term speculation investment. It enjoys the currency appreciation and at the same time invests in stock, property, equity and perhaps even give short-term loans to manufacturing industries. It is the most dangerous one as it would increase capital flow, increase inflation and harm the government’s macro-control afford. Further, when it earns enough and leaves, it would create a sudden chain of contraction effects and devastating the capital and industrial markets.
Type 3) is the offensive capital. Given the amount of foreign reserve, a relatively closed financial system with undeveloped option and equity markets, a huge economic bases and the strengthen in state capacity in fiscal and monetary terms, financial crises in Japan and Asia in the last two decades is very unlikely to be duplicated in China.
The article concludes that real harm would happen only if there is a sudden recession to threaten and expel the hot money. If not, this hot money might become long-term solid investment in China.
3.5 The Effectiveness of New Labour
Lyle Morris from the Chinese Academy of Social Science, argues that although the New Labour Contract law is rather comprehensive and rigorous, its effectiveness depends on whether 1) the workers have the ability, willingness and arena to exercise that rights, especially in a circumstance that the responses from the employers are far from positive. (080704SCMP)
3.6 Deputy Director of the National Development Bank was detained (080720CJM)
4.1 Taiwan Denies Plan To Restore China Unification Council (080706AFP)
The President Office denied the ‘rumour’ that the administration has any intention to re-install the unification council. Does it imply that even a symbolic move of this kind is still too provocative in Taiwan society?
4.2 Ex-president defends himself in libel case over frigate affair (080722SCMP)
4.3 Taiwanese team will compete as ‘Chinese Taipei’ in the Olympics 080724SCMP)
- HONG KONG
5.1 LegCo Election:
5.11 Former Chief Secretary, Anson Chan confirmed that she would not run in the coming LegCo Election. The Hong Kong Economic Editorial comments that this was the second mistake she made, the first one being ever run for the post.
5.12 Intra-party and inter-party struggles reviewed.
5.2 Visit from Above
Vice-President of China had arrived in Hong Kong. His focus is mainly to review the progress of the Olympics site and the SAR administration. However, it also provided the opportunity for reviewing his concerns and characters.
5.3 High Inflation:
Government responses, social expectations and strikes, etc.