Keywords: human right, activism, food safety, media censorship, local governance, local governance, Xinjiang, Tibet, terrorism
- POLITICS AND SOCIETY
1.11 Release of Charter 08 and the arrest of Human Rights advocate
The letter posted on the Internet and signed by 303 Chinese academics, artists, farmers and lawyers, coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Full text can be viewed at CHRD. Later another 183 people singed it, including younger generation of public intellectuals, scholars, and journalists. On 11 Dec, about 40 people rallied outside the gated headquarters of the Foreign Ministry following the release of the charter and the arrest of Liu Xiaobo. The cause of his arrest is likely to be his role in drafting that charter aiming at political reform. After about 30 minutes of calling for free elections and demanding a crackdown on corruption, the demonstrators were herded onto buses and taken away. (NYT, 11 Dec)
Foreign responses, media reports, & bloggers’ comments. What for? To whom? HRs, intellectual’s duties, free riders, inalienable sovereignty, & territorial integrity, etc. (Also see, The Trend, Dec, 25-28)
1.12 Complains? You must be mad!
In Shandong province, a small group of people claim they were locked up in a mental institution against their will after they dared to complain about the way the authorities treated them. They now have the satisfaction of knowing their claims are being discussed on Internet bulletin boards throughout the country.
Their complaints have even surfaced in the state media. They were featured in an investigation by a Beijing newspaper into the treatment of « petitioners » – those who travel to the capital to air their grievances and petition the central authorities for their support. The group, both men and women in their 40s or older, had different motives when they began petitioning, but all now have the same complaint: that they were detained illegally by the local officials they sought to expose. (BBC, 10 Dec) 
1.13 季羡林: “当前政通人和、海晏河清的社会状况是空前的.” (PD, 29 Oct) 
1.2 Power in hands: Rejected lawsuit while compensating tainted milk victims
A lawsuit brought by several families whose children died or were sickened in the tainted milk scandal has been rejected. Lawyers involved in the case said that the lawsuit on behalf of 63 defendants was denied in the courts. (AP, 9 Dec)  On the other hand, the authority is considering compensation for those victims. A spokesman for the Ministry of Health said the “relevant departments are now assessing a compensation plan for the Sanlu infant milk powder incident.” (RT, 10 Dec) 
1.3 Media Control
1.31 Forced Retirement and Duty Adjustment of Journalists
Yazhou Zhoukan has reported that Yanhuang Chunqiu, (炎黄春秋) was sanction due to the publication of a long essay about Zhao Ziyang, The propaganda department’s news commentary group (NCG) (中宣部阅评组) was said to be responsible for the act.When Freezing Point, the weekly supplement of China Youth Daily, was shut down in January 2006, the action also stemmed from a criticism issued by the NCG. In his open letter protesting the move, Freezing Point editor Li Datong (李大同) openly mentioned the NCG’s role, calling the group a “sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of China’s media.” (CMP, 16 Dec)  Recently, according to a report from Asia Week suggests that the centre has decided to give the magazine a freehand, and conceptualized it as intra-party deliberation. It might be due to the joint action of more than one hundred retired senior government/party officials, generals and media workers as well as overseas public opinion. (DW, 12 Dec) 
Further, Jiang Yiping, who is in charge of the Southern Metropolis Daily and southern weekly and 21 Century Business Herald, allegedly encountered a “Personnel Adjustment” to head a research bureau, in the past few days.
1.32 Foreign website Blocked and domestic one Rectified
Starting from December, some foreign websites that had been open to the public during the Olympics have been blocked again. Among these websites, Ming Pao News and Asiaweek cannot be visited in Mainland China since December 2. Other websites that have been blocked include BBC Chinese, VOA Chinese, and the Hong Kong and Taiwan pages of Youtube. According to reports, domestic Chinese Internet media have also been targeted. Besides Sina, all the columns and editorials on web portals will be rectified. The reason for this is to deal with possible outbreaks of economic, political, and public security issues in the country in 2009. The traditional media most likely cannot escape from this rectification. (Asia Week, 21 Dec)
1.4 Local Authorities and Public Spending
1.41 What does a fake 万民伞 tell us?
In Si Hung county of Jiangsu province, the local government initiated a form of classical honouring official attempt through the delivery of 万民伞. It becomes one of the hottest topics in Southern Weekly’s website of last week. The reports suggests that no matter the attempt is spontaneous or not, it simply reveals the obsolete desire of good governor, the concept of human rights is still pretty aliened for the officials, and perhaps the villagers as well. (SW, 11 Dec) 
1.42 Having Fund while Travelling and Studying Aboard
A post in Taiya entitled <我无意中捡到的某市公务员出国考察费用清单> reveals the public-funded travel of a city in Jiangxi, which looks extravagance. Some bloggers also review that the total amount of public spending of the civil services has approached 0.9 Trillion last year.
1.6 Two Uighurs sentenced to death for the attack during Olympics
A court in Xinjiang has sentenced two men to death for an attack in August that killed 17 paramilitary officers. The assault was the first and deadliest of four in Xinjiang in August for which officials blamed Uighur separatists. Neither the report revels details on what kind of evidence was reviewed by the court during the trial of the two men, nor did it mention the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a shadowy organization that Chinese officials have long cited as the main separatist threat in Xinjiang
1.7 Avian Flu outbreaks in China, Hong Kong, India and SE Asia
Chinese agriculture officials ordered the slaughter of more than 300,000 chickens after they found poultry infected with a lethal form of avian influenza — the first such outbreak publicly reported in Mainland China since June. The discovery of the H5N1 form of the bird-flu virus in two areas of Jiangsu province follows recent outbreaks in India, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, raising the risk of human infections during the winter. (WSJ, 17 Dec) 
1.8 Secret Training Class offered by The State Family Planning Commission!
With photos and captions, a Chinese domestic news website suggests that the State Family Planning Commission held a “secrets education training class” on 18 Dec. Zhao Baige, the deputy director of The State Family Planning Commission came to the meeting and spoke. Du Hong, the director of the scientific research institute of the National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets taught the class. The lesson was about how to effectively keeping secrets under the current environment.
1.9 Latest Edition of MaxPlanckForschung: A Performing Art?
“The cover of the most recent German-language edition of MaxPlanckForschung (3/2008) depicts a Chinese text which had been chosen by our editorial office in order to symbolically illustrate the magazine’s focus on « China ». Unfortunately, it has now transpired that this text contains inappropriate content of a suggestive nature. Prior to publication, the editorial office had consulted a German Sinologist for a translation of the relevant text. The Sinologist concluded that the text in question depicted classical Chinese characters in an non-controversial context. …” 
Translation of the Chinese text: “We have offered a lot of money to hire two managers — KK and Jaime — to lead the girls during the day. Our young girls are elegant northern beauties with attractive physiques. We also have housewives who are coquettish and enchanting. They are appearing here and now.” (ESWN)
1.10 Character of the Year: luan (亂)
Each year, China’s intellectuals get together and come up with one Chinese character that sums up the entire 12 months. Last year, it was zhang, which means “prices go up”. This year, the character is luan (乱): ‘messy’. (TG, 17 Dec)
1.11 Wine from China
In the annual Year in Ideas special, the NYT Magazine quotes a report from Berry Brothers & Rudd, England’s oldest independent wine merchant, predicting that in 50 years China will become the world’s largest wine producer. China is already the world’s sixth-largest producer, with some 400 wineries, & 1.3 billion Chinese are developing a taste for wine, which will drive better winemaking. (12 Dec)
- FOREIGN AFFAIRS
2.1 Power and Responibility?China is considering sending fleet off Somali coast
Following a UN resolution, China’s deputy foreign minister, He Yafei, said that China is “seriously considering sending naval ships to the Gulf of Aden and waters off the Somali coast for escorting operations in the near future.” China Daily called an opportunity to “get into the thick of the action.” An online poll published by the newspaper today reported that 90% of respondents supported the mission. « As part of the U.N. Security Council, China has the responsibility to maintain the international peace and security. It also has to do so to protect its own interests, » said Liu Naiya, an Africa specialist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. « Fighting piracy is consistent with the global war against terrorism. » (LAT, 18 Dec) 
2.2 3 Nation Summit: Any Concrete Agenda?
A historic 3-nation summit meeting between China, South Korea, and Japan had taken place. Discussed topics ranging from North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and the global financial crisis. Despite the lack of concrete results, the three-way summit meeting won wide attention in the region for being held at all. Despite their geographical proximity and shared cultural backgrounds, the three nations remain divided by often emotional disagreements over history and territory, as well as growing economic and technological rivalry. Among the meeting’s few concrete results were agreements by Japan and China to lend foreign currency to South Korea to shore up its currency, the won, which has dropped by 1/3 against the dollar since the current crisis began. Tokyo promised to make available the equivalent of $20 billion, while Beijing pledged $26 billion. (NYT, 13 Dec)
2.3 Talk still open for Tibetans
China said dialogue was still open to representatives of Dalai Lama, after the United Nations chief urged Beijing to continue the talks. But, repeating its long-held position, China insisted that making headway in the negotiations was up to the Dalai Lama. (AP, 14 Dec) 
- POLITICAL ECONOMY
- Economic Data, Government Efforts and Others’ Prediction.
Power consumption dropped by 7% and export volume of last month contracted since 2003. The government admitted that the economy is slowing down, and has taken a number of interventionist steps, including:
1) To boost property market, cuts in business and transaction taxes for real estate sales and policies to make it easier for developers to obtain credit have been initiated.
The State Council, also shorten to two years from five the lock-up period during which home owners are subject to a business tax if they resell their homes and that the tax would be levied on their capital gains, not the overall value of the sold property.
2) To fight unemployment, the government is encouraging recent graduates to put their skills to use in rural areas. About 20,000 people have began working as assistants and teachers in rural counties and the authority wants to boost the total to 100,000 by 2012 & is offering incentives like repaying student loans. (IHT, 16 Dec)
3) To enhance equity and encourage consumption, increase M2 circulation by 17% in 2009. (RT,12 Dec) 4) Safeguard the production of heavy industries. 5) Home appliances to the villages, etc.
President of WB, Robert Zoellick, commends that China has taken the appropriate steps to stabilize its economy in light of the deepening global financial crisis. But roughly at the same time, the IMF suggests that the growth rate of China’s GDP in 2009 can be as low as 5%.
3.2 Chinese Car: Environmental Friendly Technological Invention?
On 15 Dec, BYD Auto began selling the first mass-produced plug-in hybrid car in the world. Unlike conventional gas-electric hybrids, the F3DM can be charged from a wall outlet. It has a range of about 60 miles on a full battery charge. Its lithium-ion batteries can be fully recharged in as little as seven hours, said BYD, which stands for Build Your Dreams. And the batteries can be 50 percent recharged at a special station in 10 minutes. Indeed, BYD Auto has beaten General Motors and Toyota in bringing a plug-in hybrid to market. Further, Warren Buffett bought 9.9 percent of the firm, which may signal BYD’s entrance into US market in the near future. (NYT, 18 Dec)
3.3 Friedman: US and China “Two Countries, One System”
Thomas Friedman discusses the Madoff scandal, and relates it to the different approaches the U.S. and China have taken toward managing the end of communism and the rise of capitalism: “ in the wake of our massive bank bailout, one can now look at China and America and say: “Well, China has a big-state-owned banking sector, next to a private one, and America now has a big state-owned banking sector next to a private one. China has big state-owned industries, alongside private ones, and once Washington bails out Detroit, America will have a big state-owned industry next to private ones. Yes, an exaggeration to be sure, but the truth is the differences are starting to blur. ” (NYT, 16 Dec) 
3.4 King: Buying Dollars and Buying Foreign Companies at Low Prices
Stephen King, managing director of economics at HSBC, explains why the world is following China’s lead by buying dollars. “With a fall in the rate of interest rate on 3-month TB to below 0 %, people are prepared to pay the US government to look after their money; such is their anxiety about savings held in the private sector.” However, “it won’t be long before US exporters are complaining about unfair competition from abroad. Flows of private capital to emerging markets will dry up, because the desire for dollars creates a “home bias” for US banks. Emerging market currencies, in turn, will come under pressure, reducing the nest egg of dollar foreign exchange reserves. In hindsight, rather than demanding the Chinese should have allowed the RBM to appreciate, US should have encouraged the Chinese to diversify their foreign assets. Rather than holding Treasuries, the Chinese might have been encouraged to buy US companies in need of a bit of tender loving care.” (TG, 15 Dec)
3.5 Old Data or Optimistic News? Investment towards China
HKInvest released a survey suggesting said that it had advised 257 companies setting up business in Hong Kong this year, more than in any other year. Many of the expansions being announced by foreign firms in recent months had been planned before the credit crunch worsened in September. Still, the fact that business for InvestHK and other consultants like Booz & Co. has not dried up altogether indicates that China and other Asian countries remain key regions for European and U.S. companies that want to expand. (IHT, 17, Dec) 
3.6 WTO rejects China Appeal against Auto Parts Ruling (AP, 16 Dec) 
3.7 30 Years of Reform Reviews; Everywhere in the Planet
4.1 Washington Post Interviews with President Ma (9 Dec) 
Q: Cross-Strait Fight and more economic ties with Mainland
A: Aim at reducing cost NOT encouraging investment; not a good timing
Q: Political Pressure in the Island
Q: Still Model of Democracy for China?
4.2 A Bian was released and waiting for trail
- HONG KONG
- Banks refused to lower Interest rate once again!
- Bird Flus
- ATV’s Crisis
6.1 23% Annual Growth; End of Story (WSP, 16 Dec)