CEFC

Press Highlights 30 MARCH 2015

Keywords: NGOs, “greenization”, Internet, Lee Kuan Yew, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Hong Kong

China

Beijing NGO raided for supporting detained feminist activist

  1. Last Tuesday, police raided the Beijing office of Yirenping, a prominent public health and anti-discrimination NGO, taking away computers and documents and locking employees out of the building. // Lu Jun, co-founder of Yirenping, an anti-discrimination NGO, said about 20 police officers broke into its offices in the early hours of Tuesday, taking away financial receipts, project contacts and several computers and laptops. […] Lu said before the search, police had taken his colleague, a man surnamed Cao, into custody for several hours and entered the office with Cao. Cao had been involved in a project on public interest law and has since fled Beijing, according to Lu. Lu said he believed the raid was linked to his calls for the release of five women activists, who were detained just over two weeks ago, apparently for planning to demonstrate against sexual harassment on public transport. “I feel the message is that the police want to suppress my calls for solidarity with these women rights activists,” Lu said in a telephone interview from New York, where he is a visiting scholar. “The second signal is that striking down NGOs is a priority.” // Source: Reuters
  2. Yirenping’s statement on 25 March 2015: // As confirmed by multiple witnesses, the office of Beijing Yirenping Center, an anti-discrimination NGO, located at Zhongsheng Office Building, Bei Feng Wo Road, Haidian District, Beijing, was searched by approximately 20 “policemen.” Door locks were damaged, and several items were taken away. According to witnesses, the search took place in early morning, March 24th. According to the entrance guard of the Zhongsheng Building, a group of men in police uniform, claiming to be from “City Police Bureau,” together with an already seized employee of Yirenping entered Yirenping’s office (note: this individual has since been released). The entrance guard did not know which police precinct these “policemen” were from. After calling a local police precinct, we still did not gain any information about the affiliation of these “policemen.” The search lasted four to five hours, and the “police” took financial documents and computers away from the office. //
  3. Yirenping is a prominent NGO that champions gender equality and employs litigation to fight discrimination against people with H.I.V., hepatitis and physical disabilities. Co-founder Lu Jun told Washington Post two weeks ago that domestic NGOs have been feeling increasing pressure under the clampdown on civil society, as a new law is bringing civic groups under state security supervision. // “The situation is getting worse since Xi Jinping took supreme power,” said Lu Jun, co-founder of the Beijing Yirenping Center, a group that fights discrimination on a range of issues and depends partly on foreign funding. “This new law is extraordinary; it is very bad. It is not only a crackdown on international NGOs but also a crackdown on domestic NGOs that have international cooperation.”// Source: Washington Post
    i.     According to Yirenping’s statement, // In 2012, Yirenping initiated a program on gender equality. It was through this opportunity that we got in touch with a lot of outstanding feminists. In 2012 alone, they started a series of performance art actions, including “Bloody Brides,” “Occupy Men’s Bathroom,” “Mulan in Job Fair,” “Anti-Li Yang, the Domestic Violence Perpetrator,” “Bald Girls for Education Equality,” and so on. These feminist actions were supported and praised by the society. “Gender Equality for College Entrance Exam” and “Occupy Men’s Bathroom” were included by the China Women Newspaper among the “Top 10 News Stories on Gender Equality in 2012.” From that time on, Yirenping began encouraging these young women’s rights activists to establish their own structures and engage in actions independently. //
    ii.     See China Daily: First law for overseas NGOs under review
  4. Washington Post’s William Wan puts the raid in the context of China’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics: // The raid happened on the same day the International Olympic Committee arrived in Beijing to begin a four-day inspection to determine whether Beijing should host the 2022 Winter Olympics. The convergence was noted by human rights groups as the latest sign the Chinese government intends to ignore international concerns and specific stipulations laid out by Olympic organizers. When Beijing was chosen to host the 2008 Olympics, many had hoped that it would help improve the government’s human rights records. But oppression of activists and harassment of NGOs has only worsened, rights groups say. Calling the Olympic inspection and Yirenping raid “deeply ironic,” Maya Wang, a Human Rights Watch expert, noted that the Olympic Committee’s recently revised strategy document, called Olympic Agenda 2020, “obliges host governments to sign a contract with an explicit anti-discrimination clause.” // Source: Washington Post
  5. Meanwhile, the five feminist activists who are likely charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” remained under detention. Two of them are suffering from serious medical issues. Wang Man was reported to have suffered heart attack due to intense interrogations and have been moved to Public Safety Hospital. Wu Rongrong, a Hepatitis B patient, might suffer from rapid health deterioration. Sixteen activists who went to the Beijing detention center where Wu is being held to demand medical treatment for her were themselves briefly detained on last Friday, but most were released on Saturday morning. // The group went to the Haidian Detention Center in western Beijing to deliver a note asking if Ms. Wu was being forced to sleep on the floor, as she had told her lawyer, and whether she had been sent to a hospital for treatment, Ms. Ye [Jinghuan] said. They were taken away to several police stations after about an hour, Ms. Ye said as she was being held. When called later in the afternoon, Ms. Ye’s phone had been turned off. Her detention, as well as that of the other 15 supporters, was subsequently reported by Weiquan Wang, a Chinese website that reports on human rights. // Source: New York Times
  6. S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power issued a statement calling on the Chinese government to release the five, saying, “If China is committed to advancing the rights of women, then it should be working to address the issues raised by these women’s rights activists—not silencing them.” Source: US Government
  7. In response, // Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the country’s foreign ministry, said she had no specific details about the cases, but insisted: “No one has the right to ask China to release relevant persons, so we hope that relevant people will stop interfering in China’s judicial sovereignty in such a manner.” // Source: Guardian
  8. Didi Kirsten Tatlow reported that supporters of detained feminists are coming under pressure. // A notice from the Student Affairs Office of a university in Guangzhou, posted on social media, read: ‘‘There are reports that students at 10 universities have signed a petition. Please ensure all institutes quickly hold activities to deeply penetrate student and classroom circles, investigate, and do educational and dissuasive work.’’ The pushback had the effect of publicizing the petition. ‘‘If they hadn’t issued the notice, not that many people would have known about this,’’ wrote a student who posted it, who other feminists said was at the South China University of Technology. ‘‘Now the whole university knows.’’ Students were called in for ‘‘guidance’’ meetings with university officials or teachers, a student at another university wrote in a social media message. ‘‘Initially I didn’t think too much of it,’’ she wrote. Her philosophy professor supported the feminists, so didn’t go too hard on her. ‘‘But others have had a different experience,’’ she wrote. ‘‘Students who were out of town were called back. I heard some were warned so severely they were frightened and in tears.’’ Administrators told signatories they could receive a ‘‘bad mark’’ in their personal file, and prospects for further education and jobs would be affected. // Source: New York Times
  9. The blog Chuang interviewed a feminist activist, who spoke anonymously, about the possible reasons authorities targeted these five activists: // Actually I don’t think it’s even related to the action itself. Every year during the Two Sessions… it’s as if the government is expressing some kind of will [意愿] by detaining people. It’s not [targeted] at which [particular] action is done at that time, but at the combination of many actions done at other times that attracts attention, that makes [the authorities] think they should be detained. […]
    There’s definitely some relation, but I don’t think it’s as big as [some] imagine. It’s occurred to me before that some gender equality people would get arrested during Xi’s Jinping’s administration. Because in 2013, when Xi had just assumed office, at that time I was in Guangzhou with [some of the people now being detained] organizing a training workshop for college students, also related to gender equality. That was the most difficult [狼狈] workshop I’ve ever done. We had arranged to do it in a hotel. We had 30-some people, and as soon as we tried to enter, we were kicked out. So we tried three other hotels. None were willing to let us in… And this was very similar to the present situation: all the students from Guangdong were phoned by their fudaoyuan [political counselors], who told them [not to participate], and five or six actually [decided not to participate], and afterwards the school kept [harassing] them. And at the time the Guobao [secret police] followed us around all day… So already at that time it occurred to us that Xi’s assumption of office might be a disaster for gender equality.
    […] For [several] years now [the NGO that organized that workshop] has organized at least ten workshops every year, most unrelated to gender, and that was the one they chose to suppress… LGBT-related activities have also been targeted, especially in Beijing. Last year around June 48, at least twenty LGBT-related events were forced to be canceled…. Even watching films together wasn’t allowed.// Source: Chuang
  10. Human Rights in China has compiled a timeline of the case of the five detained activists together with other resources and international calls for action. Source: Human Rights in China

 Chinese leaders push for “greenization”

  1. // China’s top leadership backed a “conservation culture” Tuesday and, for the first time, adopted the idea of “greenization.” (绿色化) Henceforth, conservation culture should be considered in all aspects of government work — economic, political, social and cultural — in pursuit of “industrialization, urbanization, informationization, agricultural modernization and greenization,” according to a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. The meeting, presided over by CPC Central Committee General Secretary Xi Jinping, approved a guideline on conservation culture and highlighted “greenization” of production, the economy and lifestyles: lowering resource consumption, boosting green industries and promoting a low-carbon, thrifty lifestyle. Leaders discussed conservation concerns in sustainable development and how to meet demands for a better environment. They stressed optimal land development, more recycling, technological innovation and adjustment to the economic structure. “Green development” can be part of national soft power and a new advantage in international competition. The importance of a system to advance conservation culture was also discussed, with a concrete plan promised “as soon as possible.” The plan will include control and use of resources, land management rights, compensation and sanctions for those who damage the environment. // Source: Xinhua
  2. // 3月24日的政治局会议,有一个概念让人耳目一新:“绿色化”。之所以这么说,是因为这个概念是首次在中央政治局会议上提出。而更深一的意在于是十八大提出的新四化概念的提升——新型工化、城化、信息化、农业现代化之外又加入了绿色化并且将其定性政治任换句话说,这是“四化”变“五化”。那么,“绿色化”究竟是什么意思?内涵和外延是什么?习近平为何如此看重这个概念,它又将如何影响中国的走势呢?
    首先,在经济领域,它是一种生产方式——“科技含量高、资源消耗低、环境污染少的产业结构和生产方式”,有着“经济绿色化”的内涵,而且希望带动“绿色产业”,“形成经济社会发展新的增长点”。同时,它也是一种生活方式——“生活方式和消费模式向勤俭节约、绿色低碳、文明健康的方向转变,力戒奢侈浪费和不合理消费”。并且,它还是一种价值取向——“把生态文明纳入社会主义核心价值体系,形成人人、事事、时时崇尚生态文明的社会新风”。简单来说,就是把生态文明摆到了非常高的位置,不仅要在经济社会发展中实现发展方式的“绿色化”,而且要使之成为高级别价值取向。其阶段性目标,就是通稿里提到的,“推动国土空间开发格局优化、加快技术创新和结构调整、促进资源节约循环高效利用、加大自然生态系统和环境保护力度”,也就是朝着生态文明建设的总体目标进发。// Source: People’s Daily

 Two of Xi Jinping’s associates promoted to key public security ministry posts

  1. // Two associates of President Xi Jinping have been promoted to key posts in the Ministry of Public Security. Fu Zhenghua, a native of Hebei who was appointed director of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau in 2010, has been promoted from fifth to third-in-command at the ministry. Deng Weiping, who served under Xi in Fujian, was promoted to anti-graft chief of the public security bureau, the People’s Daily website reported. // Source: SCMP

 Internet censorship and innovation in China

  1. The success of China’s homegrown online services, CNN’s Kristie Lu Stout reports, challenges the assumption that strict Internet control would prove a crippling economic liability: // It wasn’t supposed to work. But China’s Great Firewall — a massive Internet surveillance and content control system — has, in many respects, been an unparalleled success. China has Internet companies worth billions of dollars and more web users than the population of the United States — all while still being able to block information it deems counter to its interests. And now, some fear, the model is going global. “If you are sitting in Beijing, what’s the problem?” asks Bill Bishop, China watcher and author of the Sinocism China newsletter in the latest episode of “On China.” “You are still in power, you have 650 million Internet users, you have billions of dollars of economic value going to the Internet everyday, you’ve used the Internet to increase government transparency, investors love us and they can’t throw enough money at our companies that have more than half a trillion dollars in market capitalization,” says Bishop.// Source: CNN
  2. Does Internet censorship kill innovation in China? Kristie Lu Stout talked to Bill Bishop, and Lokman Tsui, Assistant Professor of CUHK. Tsui disagreed with Bishop, arguing that things might change when the economy slows down and that China’s permission-based model is not conducive to innovation, which thrives under a permission-free model. Source: CNN
  3. Is China’s Internet boom starting to fade? Bloomberg Business reported that the excitement about China’s Internet boom is fading. // China’s Internet Boom Starts to Fade Half of the 14 Chinese dot-coms that debuted in the U.S. last year are now trading below their initial sale prices. Even Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., one of those still up in price, has dropped 28 percent from its record high in November. On average, the 14 Chinese shares are down 3.1 percent this year, compared with a 6.1 percent advance in the Nasdaq through March 20. Investor confidence, so high when Alibaba brought its record $25 billion initial public offering to market last September, is being undermined now by a wave of poor earnings at Chinese technology companies. Those that went public last year including Weibo Corp., the microblogging service, and mobile dating app developer Momo Inc. have failed to deliver the revenue investors were expecting. […]
    The earnings disappointment — and stocks’ slump — is clearly a reflection in part of the slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy, but a look at broader Chinese equity gauges shows that can’t be the only explanation. The benchmark index in Shanghai is up 13 percent this year through Friday, part of a 78 percent rally since mid-2014, and Bloomberg’s gauge of Chinese shares traded in New York has climbed 5.1 percent. // Source: Bloomberg Business

 What China sees in the late Lee Kuan Yew

  1. // With the death of Singapore’s founding leader, Lee Kuan Yew, on Monday, China lost a figure who, in the eyes of Communist Party leaders, showed that economic prosperity could be achieved under crisply efficient one-party rule, immunized from the temptations of liberal democracy. // Source: New York Times
  2. SCMP’s Cary Huang on “how Lee Kuan Yew’s political legacies have rubbed off on China”: // China’s ruling Communist Party has indicated it will inherit some of Lee Kuan Yew’s political legacies, saying the late Singaporean leader’s thinking offers much to today’s China. In an article to commemorate Lee, who died on Monday, People’s Daily yesterday summarised what it called his four major legacies with implications for China: maintaining social stability, achieving a smooth and orderly transition of political power, building a clean and uncorrupt government, and introducing the rule of law. […] 
    All major state media yesterday gave prominent coverage to Lee’s death, with editorials and commentaries praising his achievement of transforming a small island with few resources into a world-class financial and trade centre.
    State broadcaster CCTV devoted nearly half its midday news bulletin to reports on Lee’s death, while obituaries were splashed across the homepages of websites of all major media outlets. Xinhua praised Lee for never deviating from his political beliefs and values despite facing “defamation and criticism from foreign media”. // Source: SCMP
    i. People’s Daily piece
  3. Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday sent a message of condolences to Singapore’s President Tony Tan Keng Yam over the death of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. // In his message, Xi deeply mourned the death of Lee and extended condolences to Lee’s family on behalf of the Chinese government and people and in his own name. Lee was the founder of Singapore and a strategist and statesman widely respected by the international community, said Xi. He was also an old friend of the Chinese people and the founder, pioneer and promoter of China-Singapore relations, said Xi. Lee and the old generations of Chinese leaders jointly set the direction of China-Singapore ties, said Xi, adding that Lee made great contributions to enhancing friendship of the two peoples and broadening bilateral cooperation. The death of Lee is a loss to the people of Singapore, and to the international community as well, Xi added. Lee died early Monday at the age of 91. Stressing that China attaches great importance to the development of friendly cooperative relations with Singapore, Xi said China is willing to work with Singapore to continue traditional friendship between the two countries, consolidate their good-neighborly ties and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation so as to benefit the two countries and peoples. // Source: Xinhua
    i.     China’s Vice-President Li Yuanchao to attend Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral. // Vice-President Li Yuanchao will be the most senior Chinese official to attend the state funeral of Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, while President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang will not attend, Beijing has confirmed. The state funeral of Singapore’s founding father, who died on Monday, will be held in Singapore tomorrow. Li Yuanchao is not among the top seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee but is a lower-ranking leader of the Politburo.// Source: SCMP
  4. BBC Chinese: Lee Kuan Yew – 12 times “old friend” and 94 times “puppet” // 在发往新加坡的唁电中,习近平将前总理李光耀称为“中国人民的老朋友”。其实,这算不上是官方定调,因为至少从1980年开始,中共喉舌《人民日报》就将这一称呼送给了这位新加坡“国父”。根据我的统计(更多数据见《中国人民的老朋友》,人民日报出版社2014年5月),2013年之前《人民日报》曾经12次称李光耀为“中国人民的老朋友”。在我依据被称呼次数计算的“老朋友”榜单上,李排名第15位,和赞比亚前总统卡翁达并列,领先于埃及前总统穆巴拉克(10次)。“中国人民的老朋友”这个屡屡引发人们兴趣的中国特色外交语汇,很好地体现了中共的修辞手法:将“人民”和“党”之间画上等号。说到底,这个标签是以中共为中心的,它的判断标准说穿了就是“中国共产党的老朋友”。[…] 从1966年4月25日开始,李光耀的名字和“傀儡”二字紧紧地捆绑在了一起。“帝国主义者的傀儡”、“新加坡李光耀傀儡政权”、“拉赫曼—李光耀傀儡集团”等是最常见的搭配形式。当然还有更难听的,比如“美帝驯服的走狗”。1968年11月14日的一则报道中,甚至直接引用了“吊死拉赫曼、李光耀傀儡”这样的标语。根据我的统计,《人民日报》曾经94次称李光耀为傀儡,是“老朋友”称呼的近8倍。 […] 1971年5月2日,《人民日报》最后一次批评李光耀为“走狗”。仅仅一年之后,这份中央党报的态度就发生了180度大转弯——在1972年7月16日的报纸中,他以新加坡总理的身份接见了中国乒乓球代表团,并“同代表团负责人和中国乒乓球运动员进行了友好的谈话”。 // Source: BBC Chinese
  5. Washington Post looked at the contrasting views of Lee’s legacy in China: // Such was Singapore’s success that Lee’s influence was felt far beyond his tiny island state. His autocratic, technocratic and development-focused approach was emulated across Southeast Asia. And the idea of an economically free and prosperous nation under authoritarian rule also helped inspire China’s Communist Party and its opening to the world under Deng Xiaoping.
    […] Lee had visited China 33 times since his first trip in 1976 and met all five generations of Chinese leaders, from Mao Zedong to Xi. He described Deng as one of the most impressive leaders he had met, defended the bloody suppression of pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 as necessary to maintaining stability, and compared Xi to former South African president Nelson Mandela. Chinese state media celebrated his refusal to bow to Western democratic ideals, saying this provided an alternative Asian model of governance. “Neither slander from the foreign media, nor criticism from the West, has ever shaken Lee Kuan Yew’s governing ideals and values,” China’s Xinhua News Agency wrote. “He thought the U.S. and Europe would not succeed in imposing their so-called human rights and democratic standards onto the world. It is exactly thanks to his firm belief and long implementation of Asian values that he could establish an Asian ‘micro power’ with good order, a prosperous economy and a rich culture.” But China’s reading of Lee’s legacy has largely been selective, and his personal attitude toward China was almost always more complicated than Xi and Xinhua said. // Source: Washington Post

 Responses to David Shambaugh’s “The Coming Chinese Crackup”

  1. DPA’s Joanna Chiu gathered a mixed range of Chinese perspectives: // President Xi Jinping is indeed “facing a big crisis as he tries to consolidate power and continue his anti-corruption campaign,” Beijing-based independent commentator Zhang Lifan told dpa. “If he fails, the regime will not be able to handle the consequences.” Zhang Ming, a political scientist at People’s University in Beijing [and an outspoken liberal], disagreed, saying the leadership clarified their aims during the congress and will be able to implement their goals. 
    […] Other experts interviewed by dpa argue China’s slowing economy – slated to grow by about 7 per cent this year, compared to 7.4 per cent last year – poses a greater threat to the party’s longevity. “A lower economic growth rate would cause serious unemployment problem and further political problems,” Chen [Donglin, researcher at the government-affiliated Institute of Contemporary China Studies] said. // Source: DPA
  2. An essay by UC Davis PhD student Li Yuhui, translated by CDT, noted that the difficulties Shambaugh enumerated are not even the whole story: // The CCP’s most fundamental problem—and Professor Shambaugh didn’t bring it up—is that the authorities have lost the ability to continuously increase material resources. The surplus labor from the countryside which accumulated during the Mao era is shrinking, while family planning [the one-child policy] is raising the average age. Growth cannot continue to be powered by large-scale coal burning and steelmaking because of the smog they generate. The pollution of the past (of the water and the land) primarily hurt the lower rung of society, but smog hurts the elite and the middle class who are running the plants and the factories. The dissatisfaction of this segment, among whom many are voting with their feet by leaving China, has effectively hollowed out the main group supporting the authorities. Meanwhile, the real estate bubble faces a downturn due to the vast amount of unoccupied housing stock, thus cutting off another revenue stream to all levels of government. When the economy is overwhelmed by problems, then the CCP and the whole autocratic regime will be in real crisis. And this type of crisis is cyclical: though it cannot be forecast, it also cannot be avoided. In a democratic country such a crisis can lead to the alternation of political parties, but in a country with a single-party system, the crisis inevitably leads to a movement to topple the regime.// Source: CDT
  3. RAND Corporation’s Timothy Heath highlighted the lack of alternatives to Party rule as part of a broader argument for its stability: // The party’s advantages are less often discussed, but these bear reviewing if one is to evaluate the viability of CCP rule. One of the most overlooked, but important, assets is a lack of any credible alternative. The party’s repressive politics prevent the formation of potential candidates, so the alternative to CCP rule for now is anarchy. For a country still traumatized by its historic experience with national breakdown, this grants the party no small advantage. To truly imperil its authority, the CCP would need to behave in so damaging a manner as to make the certainty of political chaos and economic collapse preferable to the continuation of CCP rule. A party that attempted to return to extreme Mao-era policies such as the catastrophic Great Leap Forward could perhaps meet that threshold. But despite the numerous superficial comparisons in Western media, little about the current administration policy agenda resembles classic Maoism.// Source: The Diplomat
  4. At National Interest, Chen Dingding wrote an article titled “Sorry, America: China Is NOT Going to Collapse” and assessed each of the five indicators that point to China’s coming collapse. // Perhaps implicit in such arguments is the collective worry or fear that China will continue to become stronger, more prosperous, and more assertive in international affairs. The West has not prepared for a possibility where it is no longer the dominant force in the world. […] However, now that a strong and authoritarian China has emerged, one not compliant with the standard “liberal democracy model” advocated by the West, it is seen as a threat. The “China threat” narrative is understandable, as people tend to fear something they do not understand or that looks different. And China today is a great “other,” but because it is strong, it is more threatening than a weak “other.” A strong China causes cognitive dissonance among many Western analysts because according to their theories, an authoritarian China should be weak. This explains the selective reading by Western scholars of China’s political reality. Therefore, Shambaugh’s argument is seriously flawed due to its problematic logic. However, this does not mean that there is no merit at all in his piece.
    For one, Shambaugh rightly reminds us that China’s political system can be quite unstable despite the appearance of stability on the surface and efforts at reform. China’s political system does need to be more open, more inclusive, and more democratic; and it will someday. The ultimate outcome of Xi’s ongoing reforms remains to be seen. Nonetheless, all existing indicators point to the development of a stronger and more effective system of governance within China. Instead of a quick collapse, a mighty, confident, assertive, and authoritarian China will be around for quite a while. As such, discussion about China should take this reality into account, rather than imagining the victory of the West’s vision for China, however uncomfortable this may be. // Source: National Interest
  5. Zhang Baohui from Hong Kong’s Lingnan University also argued that Shambaugh had exaggerated the Party’s vulnerability: // This is a false understanding of China’s political development in the pre-Xi eras. The reality was that during these eras China became an incredibly corrupt country with officials abusing power at all levels. Collective leadership only resulted in weak central leaders and dire paralysis on the reform front. Powerful interest groups, such as large state-owned enterprises, hijacked policy-making and thwarted the deepening of market reforms. The ruling party thus suffered a precipitous loss of legitimacy, threatening its ability to maintain the status quo. This is the proper context in which to see Xi’s unprecedented anti-corruption campaign. His resolute measures, which have surprised nearly everyone, have in fact regained some of the regime’s lost legitimacy. […]// Source: Global Asia
  6. A ChinaFile Conversation on Shambaugh’s essay.
    i.     Arthur Kroeber: […] Predictions of Chinese political collapse have a long and futile history. Their persistent failure stems from a basic conceptual fault. Instead of facing the Chinese system on its own terms and understanding why it works—which could create insights into why it might stop working—critics judge the system against what they would like it to be, and find it wanting. This embeds an assumption of fragility that makes every societal problem look like an existential crisis. As a long-term resident of China, I would love the government to become more open, pluralistic and tolerant of creativity. The fact that it refuses to do so is disappointing to me and many others, but offers no grounds for a judgment of its weakness.
    ii.     Ho-fung Hung: […] Only time can tell. But besides the endgame of C.C.P. rule, we should also ponder at another possible scenario that can come out from the current elite rift and economic landing: the rise of a hysteric and suffocating dictatorial regime which effectively maintains its draconian control over a society gradually losing its dynamism. Perhaps we can call this hypothetical regime a North Korea lite.
    See Hung’s piece 難測的中國未來:崩裂抑或北韓化? on Ming Pao
    iii.     Howard French: […] Before getting down to details, perhaps the first thing to be said is that it is impossible to appreciate Shambaugh’s perspective without understanding where he “comes from.” Few among the first wave of critics have credited him for his scholarship, other than to note that he is prominent or respected within the academy. Few have explored the actual nature of his work over the years, or the findings he has made in previous writings, such as China’s Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation, a careful study of how the Party responded to the shock of the demise of the Soviet Union and began reinventing itself. Shambaugh gives enormous credit to the C.C.P. for these efforts, but it is clear by the time he published his subsequent book, China Goes Global: The Partial Power, that the scholar had come to the view that in many ways we have overestimated China’s strengths and underestimated its weaknesses. This is all worth spelling out because even if Shambaugh’s “crackup” theory surprised you, it has clearly not come out of thin air; rather, it is the latest wrinkle in the evolving views of an earnest scholar.

 China and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

  1. // When Xi Jinping, then the newly minted Chinese leader, first broached the idea of a new Asian development bank in a public speech in 2013, few in Washington paid it much heed. But as Beijing systematically recruited longtime American allies to help fund and oversee the new bank, it became clear that the push was more than a public relations gesture to China’s Asian neighbors. It was also a direct threat to the post-World War II financial institutions led primarily by the United States, and to President Obama’s pledges to make a “pivot” to Asia in American foreign policy. Now with Britain, France, Germany and Italy signing up to join the new bank, despite direct pleas from Washington to steer clear, the question is whether the Obama administration mishandled a significant challenge from China, and what it might have done differently. “The administration made a major mistake in its opposition. It was a very shortsighted,” said Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing. “The bank was going to go ahead whether we supported it or not.
    […] The willingness of Britain to join the China bank over American objections was an especially clear sign of China’s sophisticated strategy for winning friends, and Washington’s failure to respond effectively.
    […] One problem is that Washington did not offer much of an alternative to China’s call to inject far more funding into building roads, railroads and pipelines around Asia, much of which remains underdeveloped. There is little dispute, Mr. Haenle said, that the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have been unable to fulfill the infrastructure needs in the region.
    […] Even so, the administration could have adopted a positive approach. It had the option of agreeing that investing in infrastructure was needed in Asia, and that China, flush with cash, had the ability to fill the gap, said Matthew Goodman, senior adviser on Asian economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. From that more supportive position, Washington would have been in a better position to try to shape the new bank’s rules on lending, the environment and transparency, he said.”
    […] No matter how the bank shaped up, it was highly unlikely that the United States would be a member. That was an unfortunate situation, said an Asian diplomat whose country is a founding member. “The truth is no one in the region wants to choose between the United States and China,” he said. But Washington’s hostility to the bank, he said, made countries choose in China’s favor. // Source: New York Times
  2. At Boao Forum, President Xi Jinping talked up benefits of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: // In a speech to a regional forum Saturday, Xi presented China as a partner willing to “jointly build a regional order that is more favorable to Asia and the world.” He highlighted a new China-led infrastructure bank and other initiatives designed to leverage hundreds of billions of dollars to finance railways, ports and other development projects, and foster regional economic integration. Throughout the 30-minute speech, Mr. Xi stressed that China’s vision, while centered on Asia, was open to participation by all countries. He was careful not to place China at the center of this emerging order, as some regional politicians and security experts have warned could happen. But Mr. Xi said given China’s size, it will naturally play a larger role. “Being a big country means shouldering greater responsibilities for the region, as opposed to seeking greater monopoly over regional and world affairs,” Mr. Xi told the Boao Forum for Asia, an annual China-sponsored conference named for the southern seaside town where it is held. // Source: Wall Street Journal
  3. South Korea just pledged to join AIIB. // The South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance said in a statement that Asia needed a new regional source of development money like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank because the existing multilateral lenders, like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, could not meet the demand for infrastructure investment funds in the region.// Source: New York Times
  4. Australia also confirmed that it will join. // The Abbott government has elected to begin the process of joining the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – but is still telegraphing concerns about the structure of the organisation. […]Australia would sign a memorandum of understanding on the AIIB “which would allow Australia to participate as a prospective founding member in negotiations to set up the bank.” // Source: Guardian
  5. And Russia too. Source: Forbes
  6. The Economist on “Why China is creating a new “World Bank” for Asia”: // China’s official answer is that Asia has a massive infrastructure funding gap. The ADB has pegged the hole at some $8 trillion between 2010 and 2020. Existing institutions cannot hope to fill it: the ADB has a capital base (money both paid-in and pledged by member nations) of just over $160 billion and the World Bank has $223 billion. The AIIB will start with $50 billion in capital—hardly enough for what is needed but still a helpful boost. Moreover, while ADB and World Bank loans support everything from environmental protection to gender equality, the AIIB will concentrate its firepower on infrastructure. Officially at least, ADB and World Bank officials have extended a cautious welcome to the new China-led bank, saying they see room for collaboration.
    […] But the real, unstated tension stems from a deeper shift: China will use the new bank to expand its influence at the expense of America and Japan, Asia’s established powers. China’s decision to fund a new multilateral bank rather than give more to existing ones reflects its exasperation with the glacial pace of global economic governance reform. The same motivation lies behind the New Development Bank established by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Although China is the biggest economy in Asia, the ADB is dominated by Japan; Japan’s voting share is more than twice China’s and the bank’s president has always been Japanese. Reforms to give China a little more say at the International Monetary Fund have been delayed for years, and even if they go through America will still retain far more power. China is, understandably, impatient for change. It is therefore taking matters into its own hands. // Source: The Economist
  7. FT Q&A on the AIIB: // The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is one of four institutions created or proposed by Beijing in what some see as an attempt to create a Sino-centric financial system to rival western dominated institutions set up after the second world war. The other institutions are the New Development Bank (better known as the Brics bank) and a contingent reserve arrangement, seen as alternatives to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; and a proposed Development Bank of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, a six-country Eurasian political, economic and military grouping dominated by China and Russia. // Source: Financial Times
  8. Martin Wolf: A rebuff of China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is folly // For all these reasons, the US should also join. The White House might reply that, however much it would like to do so, it has no chance of getting approval from the current Congress. That may be true. But it is not an argument against participation by other countries. Still, the US does have an argument, although it is a baffling one. Western countries, it says, can have more sway by staying outside. That, argues one US official, would be better than “getting on the inside at a time when they can have no confidence that China will not retain veto powers”. Yet outsiders will have no influence over an institution that does not need their money. The only hope is from inside. True, it would have been better if the Europeans had agreed on conditions for entry. But it is too late for that.
    […] Finally, the US criticises the UK for its “constant accommodation” of the rising superpower. But the alternative to accommodation is conflict. China’s economic rise is beneficial and inevitable. What is needed is intelligent accommodation. Where China offers proposals that make sense for itself and for the world, engagement is more sensible than carping from the sidelines. An erstwhile US policy maker once asked China to be a “responsible stakeholder”. With the creation of the AIIB, it is doing just that. // Source: Financial Times

Hong Kong

New Left Review interviewed Scholarism leader Joshua Wong

  1. // NLR: What kind of balance-sheet would you make of the Umbrella Movement?JW: It greatly increased political awareness in Hong Kong society, as more and more people joined the movement. The city had no prior experience of large-scale civil disobedience. In 2012, the campaign against National Education involved no civil disobedience—at that time I myself was against it. The Umbrella Movement made it much more widely accepted as an instrument of change—in my view, as the only route to change in the political system, after twenty years of futile agitation of a conventional sort. Of course, this time we gained nothing by way of political reform. The government refused to give way, and the movement eventually came to an end without achieving any of its aims. But we didn’t lose the war, because we’ll start the next round stronger than we did this one. // Source: New Left Review

 Nathan Law replaces Alex Chow as HKFS leader

  1. // Amid signs of fatigue and internal discord in Hong Kong pro-democracy camp, the Hong Kong Federation of Students said Sunday that members elected Nathan Law, a 21 year-old cultural studies major at Lingnan University, as this year’s secretary-general.
    […] The reshuffling of HKFS’s leadership comes at a critical time for the organization and the city’s student movement. In February, students at HKU narrowly voted in a referendum to leave HKFS. Students who called for the referendum expressed dissatisfaction at what they called opaque decision-making at the organization, for example. In a similar referendum held at Lingnan University this month, students voted to remain in the organization. 
    […] Some protesters expressed anger with some of the group’s decisions during the Occupy protests, most notably a call on Nov. 30 to escalate the protests after weeks of deadlock by surrounding the government headquarters. The escalation ended in some of the most violent clashes against police seen during the protests. Some student leaders later accepted blame for poor planning and execution. // Source: WSJ

 New party Youngspiration aims to be ‘third power’ in Hong Kong politics

  1. // A new group formed by former Occupy Central protesters says it aims to become a “third power” in Hong Kong politics – outside the pro-establishment and anti-government camps. Youngspiration said Hong Kong, “as a self-governing city”, had reached a critical moment of life and death, and a new political force was needed to break the impasse. The group said it would focus on local issues, emphasising policies that were a priority for Hongkongers. It will put its popularity to the test by fielding at least eight candidates in this year’s district council elections. It also said it was not aiming to target the pan-democratic camp as rivals and it would not be part of the so-called coordination system within the camp aimed at preventing pan-democrat candidates from running against each other. // Source: SCMP

 HKU split over whether Benny Tai should be disciplined for breaching donation guidelines

  1. // The University of Hong Kong was split yesterday on whether its employee Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a co-founder of the Occupy Central movement, should face a disciplinary hearing over HK$1.45 million in donations he received. The HKU Council, the university’s governing body, had received an internal report that said Tai, an associate law professor, did not follow guidelines regarding donations. The donations saga, which followed the hacking and leaking of emails involving Tai and others to the media last year, continues amid concerns about political interference in the university and pressure on the Occupy leader. Yesterday, the council met to discuss a report submitted by its audit committee, which had conducted a review of Tai’s acceptance and use of the donations in 2013 and last year, some of which were used for Occupy Central-related projects. After three hours of deliberation, council chairman Dr Leong Che-hung announced that the report was not yet final. // Source: SCMP

 Top Beijing official says no need for promises of more political reform

  1. // There is no need for Beijing to promise that the election model for the chief executive could be amended beyond 2017 as this is already guaranteed by the Basic Law, a mainland official on legal affairs has said. Zhang Rongshun, vice-chairman of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), also said he was optimistic about the prospects of reform given its wide support in Hong Kong. “There is no law that cannot be amended and thus there is no need [for Beijing] to promise the [election model] can be changed after the package is passed,” Zhang said in Beijing yesterday, adding the Basic Law had already provided the legal ground for future amendment.
    […] On Saturday, the president of the Legislative Council, Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, called on Beijing to clarify whether the reform proposal would remain in place for good once it had been passed. // Source: SCMP

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