CEFC

Revue de presse du 5 janvier 2015

Keywords: Red Christmas, Ling Jihua, Shanghai stampede, Gmail, Veto option for HK 2017 election.

China Politics

A Red Christmas in China?

  1. At Xi’an’s Modern College of Northwest University, authorities have banned Christmas, calling it a “kitsch” (争做华夏优秀儿女,反对媚俗西方洋节) foreign celebration unbefitting of the country’s own traditions, and forced students to view propaganda films and turn their attention to China’s own traditional holidays. From the Guardian: // A student told the newspaper that they would be punished if they did not attend a mandatory three-hour screening of propaganda films, which other students said included one about Confucius, with teachers standing guard to stop people leaving. […] An official microblog belonging to one of the university’s Communist party committees posted comments calling for students not to “fawn on foreigners” and pay more attention to China’s holidays, such as the Spring Festival. // Source: Guardian
  2. Local authorities in Wenzhou also banned all Christmas activities and celebrations in the city’s kindergartens and grade schools: // The education bureau in the coastal city of Wenzhou—home to a large Christian community–issued a circular Wednesday banning all Christmas activities in local schools and kindergartens, according to the official Xinhua news agency.  Wenzhou education official Zheng Shangzhong told Xinhua the purpose of the ban was to reverse local schools’ “obsession” with Western festivals at the expense of Chinese ones. […] Though the schools could not be reached for comment, the reported motivations appear consistent with Mr. Xi’s more nationalistic and ideological campaigns, analysts said. Under Mr. Xi, Beijing has promoted the study of traditional Chinese culture – once dismissed by the Communist Party as a vestige of the country’s feudal past – while warning about the dangers of infiltration by Western culture and political ideas. // Source: WSJ
  3. But an article in the state media argued that boycotting Christmas is not the solution to reviving China’s traditional culture: // The debates over Christmas, however, reveal certain anxieties behind China’s cultural ambitions. Some critics associate Christmas with a public obsession for anything Western, while others lament the “shipwreck” of Chinese culture. For Chinese Christmas fans, the logic is simple: Like Valentine’s Day, Christmas is just a merry time to shop, party and exchange gifts. Non-Christian Chinese associate Christmas more with the “Old Man of Christmas”, Santa Claus, than any Christian theology. One reason for the growing popularity of Western festivals here, particularly among the young, is that they offer an excuse to be with friends and lovers, while traditional festivals are more family-centered, celebrated with family get-togethers and feasts. There is no need to pit Western festivals against Chinese: Chinese Christmas revelers will still number among the hundreds of millions who travel home for the Lunar New Year family reunion. That said, what Chinese festivals can learn from Christmas fever is how to build up their appeal. There are Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween movies but few such pop-culture biproducts exist for Chinese festivals, except for some festive foods. Even the mooncake and other traditional sweets are evolving to suit low-calorie modern life, as will traditional festivals, but evolution lies in confidently facing up to cultural imports. Barring them from joining the game is no fun. // Source: Xinhua
  4. At the BloombergView, Adam Minter reports that the Chinese Communist Party is renewing a campaign to push back against the celebration of Christmas and the associated Western cultural values that it symbolizes: // Welcome to a new type of merry-making in China, where a Western holiday — even one drained of religious content, as it has been for most Chinese — can no longer be viewed simply as an opportunity to have a good time, but rather must be evaluated as one more parry in a “global competition of culture” that China’s Communist Party badly wants to win. The war has been ongoing (with China on the losing end) for decades. But it’s been renewed in recent years by China’s top leaders, who believe that China’s global cultural standing doesn’t match its economic and (increasingly) military standing. […] The problem for China’s culturally-minded leadership and like-minded Party members, is that — in China, at least — Western culture remains extremely popular. Hollywood movies regularly top China’s box office and Christmas has become one of China’s most popular holidays. According to a long-time friend in China’s hotel industry, Christmas Eve has been “the single biggest-grossing night for Shanghai’s food and beverage industry over the last decade.” It’s not hard to believe: on Christmas Eve in the Shanghai neighborhood I called home for nine years, restaurants and bars were overrun by young revelers who knew nothing of the religious content of the festival, but were merely were looking for a good reason to party. So why not party with Santa Claus? […] How far those campaigns might go is still uncertain. In fact, even as Xi and those he inspire push back against the West, a city in Western China is building a massive SantaPark amusement park modeled on “the official home of Santa Claus in Lapland.” Xi, for one, probably can’t object, either: in 2010 he had his picture taken with Santa Claus at the Finnish SantaPark during an official visit. // Source: BloombergView
  5. It should be remembered that China is still the world’s biggest Christmas workshop. The Guardian visits Yiwu, Zhejiang, the manufacturing and commodity marketing hub that produces an estimated 60% of the world’s yuletide trinkets: // Christened “China’s Christmas village”, Yiwu is home to 600 factories that collectively churn out over 60% of all the world’s Christmas decorations and accessories, from glowing fibre-optic trees to felt Santa hats. The “elves” that staff these factories are mainly migrant labourers, working 12 hours a day for a maximum of £200 to £300 a month – and it turns out they’re not entirely sure what Christmas is. // Source: Guardian
  6. video project from Unknown Fields (via Quartz) documents the human efforts that go into producing the world’s Christmas kitsch, shows a stroll through the Christmas section of the Yiwu commodity market, and finally boards a boat with all the Yiwu-produced holiday export:
  7. The Economist looks at China’s adoption of the Christian holiday so associated with consumption: // In the first decades of Communist rule in China Christianity was banned, along with other religions. Now there are tens of millions of Christians in China and faiths of all kinds are blossoming. But this has little to do with the country’s fast-growing fascination with Christmas. In the West the holiday is a commercialised legacy of Christian culture; in China it is almost entirely a product of Mammon. Father Christmas is better known to most than Jesus. Well before Christmas took hold in China’s cities, its factories were churning out Christmas essentials for consumption in the West. Industrially, China is now the Christmas king. According to Xinhua, a state-run news agency, more than 60% of Christmas trinkets worldwide last year came from a single “Christmas village”—Yiwu (in fact, a city), in the eastern province of Zhejiang. But ever more of these goodies now stay in China, to satisfy a domestic craving. Some are tailored to Chinese tastes: Father Christmases playing the saxophone, for example, are a common decoration—no-one quite knows why. // Source: The Economist

Party launched investigation into Ling Jihua

  1. CCP began an investigation into Ling Jihua, top official of the United Front Department, on December 22. The decision, announced by Xinhua in a terse statement, said that Ling was being investigated for “suspected serious discipline violations” but gave no further details. // Until his abrupt loss of influence in September 2012, Mr. Ling, 58, was a trusted aide to Mr. Hu, comparable to a White House chief of staff, and had been widely considered a candidate for promotion to the Politburo. //
    // The investigation into Mr. Ling opens another chapter in a palace intrigue that began with a car crash two years ago that killed Mr. Ling’s 23-year-old son, Ling Gu, and critically injured two young women riding in the Ferrari he was driving on a Beijing ring road. One of the women died more than a month later, and party insiders say the families of both women were later paid enormous sums to keep quiet. According to party officials, Mr. Ling went to great lengths to cover up the death of his son, a graduate student at Peking University, and he continued to work as if nothing had happened. The scandal unfolded amid a once-in-a decade leadership transition and is thought to have contributed to a decision by Mr. Hu to relinquish his position as secretary of the Communist Party and chairman of the Chinese military, posts that his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, had retained into retirement. //
    // Just last week, his essay lauding Mr. Xi’s policies toward ethnic minorities was published in Qiushi (Seeking Truth), the party’s premier doctrinal journal. Mr. Ling said he was sure that “under the staunch leadership of the party center with Comrade Xi Jinping as general secretary,” China’s Tibetans, Uighurs and other ethnic minorities would have a bright future. But well before Monday, his brothers had been placed under investigation for graft and Mr. Ling’s own prospects appeared grim. In June, party investigators announced an inquiry into the activities of an older brother, Ling Zhengce, who was the deputy head of a government advisory body in the coal-rich northern province of Shanxi. … The Ling brothers came from an official’s family in Shanxi. Their father, an ardent Communist, named his five children after party jargon: Zhengce means “policy,” Jihua means “plan” and Wancheng “complete,” and they have a brother Luxian (“line”) and a sister Fangzhen (“guiding policy”), Gao Qinrong, a former Xinhua journalist from Shanxi who has followed the family’s rise and fall, said in an earlier interview. Ling Jihua rose highest in the family. Under Mr. Hu, he became director of the party’s Central Committee General Office and head of the party leadership’s secretariat, posts that gave Mr. Ling great influence as a gatekeeper controlling access to Mr. Hu, who was succeeded by Mr. Xi. // Source: NYT
  2. The fall of Ling Jihua showed Xi’s resolve to target government-business cliques inside the Party.
    i.     After an elite CCP meeting overseen by Xi Jinping earlier this week, a Party circular warned that cliques within the Party would not be tolerated. WSJ notes that further central control of the Communist Youth League: // The report said the meeting also reviewed a document on improving party control of groups such as the Communist Youth League—long considered a base of power for Mr. Hu.// Source: WSJ
    ii.     Xinhua reported the meeting: // Political discipline should be further enhanced and fractions within the Party that are organized for personal gain are “absolutely not tolerated,” a key meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was told. “Despite a certain amount of control over undesirable work styles and corruption, the entire Party should keep its cool in the still arduous and complicated anti-graft fight,” said a statement released Monday after a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. “Discipline should be put in a more prominent position so as to strengthen restraints on Party officials and members through strict and clear rules,” the statement said. “Organizing cliques within the Party to run personal businesses is absolutely not tolerated,” it said.// Source: Xinhua
    iii.     The People’s Daily also quoted Xi Jinping for saying that parochialism will run into trouble. Source: People’s Daily
    iv.     An article posted on People’s Daily weibo account explained why the Party now targeted cliques: // 反腐大戏不断的2014年,山西的成串成窝腐败案件,让“塌方式腐败”成为新词;收尾的年末,来自河南省委巡视组的一条消息,再次加深这一新词的印象。河南省委第五巡视组指出,新乡的政法领域腐败严重,市公安系统出现“塌方式”腐败。此时,评论君不禁要插播一句:团团伙伙不少,都是利益给“闹”的。团伙意味着什么?对某些干部而言,入团伙意味着进圈子,进圈子意味着进班子,团伙就是某些官员上位晋级的踏脚石;对某些商人而言,团伙意味着保护伞,既是输送利益的渠道,又是利益产出的“聚宝盆”,商人就成了团伙圈子里的“润滑剂”。如此这般,团团伙伙形成了两大派系联盟,一个是利益共同体,一个是权力共同体,最严重的就是利益与权力间的媾合。既是一伙人,同操一摊事,团伙中的攻守联盟自然形成,一荣俱荣、一损俱损,塌方的特点也在于此。在利益腐败链条中,会发现有些干部乐于拉关系、套近乎、抱大腿、选战队、攒局场。久而久之,因为籍贯联系、同窗交往、行业领域、服务于同一领导等交集,形成了“某地系”“某油派”“某秘帮”“某局党”,等等。不过,事实证明,不管是出于靠圈子庇护得来的安全感,还是靠圈子借力得来的上位机会,都是一时而已。// Source: People’s Daily
  3. Ling’s arrest raised the question of whether Hu Jintao will be targeted and how the anti-corruption campaign will continue:
    i.     Brian Spegele at WSJ reviews a prior scandal involving Ling that has now resurfaced, explains how the investigation into him reveals the political weakness of Xi’s predecessor, and reiterates Xi’s use of the anti-corruption campaign to shore up his own power – and that the process will continue: // The process will likely continue through the next several months and could set the stage for a major conclave of party leaders, the 19th Party Congress, in 2017. At that time, five of the Politburo Standing Committee’s seven members—all except Mr. Xi and Premier Li Keqiang —are due to retire, providing Mr. Xi a chance to populate China’s top leadership body with his allies. // Source: WSJ
    ii.     Reuters reported that Hu Jintao, a long-time patron of Ling, approved the probe, arguing that this is “a sign that internal Communist Party harmony and respect for elders still holds sway in Xi’s historic crackdown on official graft”. Source: Reuters
  4. Reuters published a special report on Xi’s anti-corruption campaign. After detailing a dossier on CCP Central Committee member and former Liaoning governor Chen Chenggao’s lavish 2013 trip to Hong Kong, provided to Reuters with the unconcealed intent to “paint the then-governor as a profligate spender and put him in the sights of corruption investigators,” Lague describes the intense climate of fear Xi’s corruption purge has created within the Party, explains how Wang Qishan’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) operates, and details the opaque legal process that targeted officials are subject to. Source: ReutersCDT
  5. The NPR talks to a local Shanghai official about how the anti-corruption drive is affecting wallets and morale in the Party’s lower levels: // In the past, Wang regularly racked up a laundry list of perks, everything from moon cakes, a traditional autumn sweet, to a bonus of more than $3,000 at the Chinese New Year. All of that changed this year due to the anti-corruption campaign. // Source: NPR
  6. At NYT, Ian Johnson looks at Lüliang, Shanxi, a mountainous corner of central China was synonymous with the nation’s energy-hungry economic takeoff, offers insight into how corruption made the economy thrives and questions its economic prospects under a fierce local anti-corruption drive. // Now, Lüliang is at the center of one of the most sweeping political and economic purges in recent Chinese history. As President Xi Jinping’s campaign against corruption enters its second year, the Communist Party authorities have made an example of this district of 3.7 million, taking down much of its political and business elite in a flurry of headline-grabbing arrests. Seven of the 13 party bosses who run Shanxi Province, where Lüliang is located, have been stripped of power or thrown in jail, and party propaganda outlets have trumpeted the crackdown in the region as proof that Mr. Xi is serious about rooting out corruption. On Friday, state news media reported a new wave of arrests, with nine more Lüliang officials detained. The reports say the arrests are part of a new emphasis on cleaning up local governments, where officials have extensive powers and few restraints. […] But in Lüliang and elsewhere, Mr. Xi’s prolonged, nationwide crackdown on corruption has also unsettled the party establishment and its allies in business. Even among ordinary residents, there is concern about what it might mean for jobs and growth, because private businessmen have been targeted alongside government and party officials. […] For much of China’s growth era, party officials and businesses have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship, with policy concessions and market access granted in exchange for corporate support — sometimes direct payoffs, but also more subtle backing of state projects and priorities. Combined with China’s insatiable appetite for coal, that formula helped power Lüliang to its first glimpses of prosperity in generations. But there is a sense now that the rules are changing, with the consequences for the economy uncertain. // Source: NYT

Tighter ideological control in universities

  1. Reuters: // Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for greater “ideological guidance” in China’s universities and urged the study of Marxism, state media reported on Monday, as the country tightens control on Western ideology. … Xi called on the authorities to step up the party’s “leadership and guidance” in universities as well as to “strengthen and improve the ideological and political work”. The campuses should “cultivate and practice the core values of socialism in their teaching”, Xi said.// Source: Reuters

Shanghai stampede on New Year’s Eve

  1. Shanghai authorities have brought down a wall of strict censorship on local coverage of Wednesday night’s deadly stampede, as questions mount over how such a tragedy could have occurred in the mainland’s wealthiest and best-managed city. […]The Communist Party’s propaganda department in Shanghai has issued several notices to local media in the past two days, instructing them on various issues, ranging from the scale of coverage and use of photos to interview protocols, according to three senior journalists. // Source: SCMP
  2. China police interrogate dozens who dared criticize handling of Shanghai stampede: // Shanghai police have interrogated dozens of people who posted comments online about the deadly New Year’s Eve stampede, an officer has told the Sunday Morning Post, in an apparent drive to contain public criticism against the authorities. The questioning came as the municipal government began to negotiate with victims’ families about compensation levels, according to a friend of one of the deceased. […]The interviews were necessary to contain rumours and maintain social order, the officer added. […]Over the past two days, several interviews with relatives by the Post were interrupted by people accompanying them who identified themselves as volunteers at the Shanghai No 1 People’s Hospital. They described the interviews as “improper” behaviour that would disturb relatives and affect the hospital’s ability to care for patients. // Source: SCMP

Google’s Gmail blocked in China

  1. Google Inc’s Gmail was blocked in China after months of disruptions to the world’s biggest email service, with an anti-censorship advocate suggesting the Great Firewall was to blame. Large numbers of Gmail Web addresses were cut off in China on Friday, said GreatFire.org, a China-based freedom of speech advocacy group. Users said the service was still down on Monday. “I think the government is just trying to further eliminate Google’s presence in China and even weaken its market overseas,” said a member of GreatFire.org, who uses a pseudonym. Google’s own Transparency Report, which shows real-time traffic to Google services, displayed a sharp drop-off in traffic to Gmail from China on Friday. // Source: Reuters
  2. An op-ed in the state-run Global Times newspaper called claims that the Chinese government blocked access “dubious”: // The problems with Gmail access this time may be caused by the China side, by Google itself or a combination of the two. But Western media pointed the finger at Chinese authorities immediately, accusing them of strengthening its cyber censorship. This is far too simple a hypothesis. It should be noted that Google voluntarily quit the mainland market in 2010. The issue at heart is to what extent Google is willing to obey Chinese law, on which China’s attitude is steadfast. As is widely known, China has to keep strengthening its national security while it opens up to the West. We cannot avoid issues like Internet and ideological security when dealing with large IT companies from the West. But China has never yielded to such vigilance. It is always firm in its desire to further open up and honestly hopes to strike a balance between development and security. In this sense, it’s dubious that China “blocked” Gmail simply over security concerns. Since both Google and China haven’t given an explanation and meanwhile Gmail is a technically complex system, there may be some puzzling reasons behind the incident. If the China side indeed blocked Gmail, the decision must have been prompted by newly emerged security reasons. If that is the case, Gmail users need to accept the reality of Gmail being suspended in China. But we hope it is not the case. We only need to have faith that China has its own logic in terms of Internet policy and it is made and runs in accordance with the country’s fundamental interests. Besides, there are interactions between China and the US, and between Google and China. We don’t want to be shut off, as it obviously doesn’t serve our own interests. //Source: Global Times

Hong Kong

One of Hong Kong biggest corruption cases ended with jail terms

  1. Billionaire Thomas Kwok, the former Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. co-chairman, was sentenced to five years in jail and fined HK$500,000 for conspiring to corrupt Hong Kong’s No. 2 official. Rafael Hui, 66, the city’s chief secretary from 2005 to 2007, was sentenced to 7 1/2 years for five charges including taking HK$8.5 million from Kwok to be favorably disposed to Sun Hung Kai, the world’s second-most valuable real estate firm. Thomas Chan, a former executive director of the company, was jailed for six years while Francis Kwan got five years. “It is vitally important in these times that the Hong Kong government and business community remain and are seen to remain corruption free,” High Court Judge Andrew Macrae said in delivering his sentences today. // Source: Bloomberg
  2. SCMP provides a more detailed background on the case: // The case came to light in 2008 when ICAC received an anonymous letter accusing Thomas and Raymond Kwok of providing Hui with rent-free accommodation at Leighton HillICAC arrested and charged the defendants in 2012 with conspiracy to bribe Hui with millions of dollars for him to be “eyes and ears” in government. The trial started in May this year but was adjourned for nearly a month after the first jury was dismissed. Hui, was convicted of five out of eight charges, including misconduct in a public office, making him the highest-ranking official in Hong Kong’s history to be convicted of taking bribes. // Source: SCMP

Veto option for Hong Kong’s 2017 election

  1. A voting option (白票守尾門) allowing Hongkongers to veto all candidates in the 2017 chief executive election has gained more currency as a means to break the political deadlock after a top official said it “could be an option to consider”. Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung SC said yesterday that definitions of blank and invalid votes would need further clarification in the legal provisions to avoid confusion and potential court challenges. “The so-called blank vote could refer to those writing nothing on the ballots or those regarded as invalid votes in accordance to the existing laws, or it could also refer to adding a ‘none of the above’ option on top of the two or three candidates,” he said. Yuen is the second key official, after Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who has refused to rule out the idea ahead of the second round of consultation on reform, […] But he added any changes would need to consider the electoral system as a whole, including other elections in Hong Kong. The “none of the above” idea has been floated by academics including Professor Albert Chen Hung-yee, of the University of Hong Kong, to ease the impasse over a stringent reform framework set by Beijing in August. […]Under existing electoral regulations, ballots in which a voter does not indicate a clear choice of candidate are considered invalid, but they do not affect the election result. But under Chen’s proposal, a majority vote for the “none of the above option” or a majority blank vote would see the election declared invalid. However, the response was lukewarm from Emily Lau Wai-hing, chairwoman of the Democratic Party, who said the pan-democrats wanted a genuine choice of candidates rather than an option to veto all candidates. // Source: SCMP

Chief Executive CY Leung met Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang on boxing day, received unwavering support

  1. State leaders have stressed that Hong Kong should stick to the stringent framework for political reform set by Beijing and, for the first time since the Occupy Central protests ended, pledged more support for the city’s economic development. The comments, made by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang during a visit to the capital by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, have been taken as a further sign that Beijing will take a sterner approach to the city’s political affairs in the wake of Occupy. They follow a series of remarks by Beijing advisers and officials indicating a tougher stance. […] Both Xi and Li “fully endorsed” the work of Leung’s administration. They urged Hongkongers to “cherish” the city’s economic achievements and the rule of law. Receiving Leung on the second day of his annual duty visit, Xi told the chief executive that the central government would lend him “unwavering support” as he pushed political reform forward. Without mentioning Occupy directly, Xi noted that Leung had maintained stability in the city. “I need to emphasise that… the development [of political reform] should fit in the local design, be orderly and in accordance with the law … and be conducive to the Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability,” Xi said before an hour of talks behind closed doors at Zhongnanhai, the office complex for top leaders. Xi stressed that reform had to be in line with national sovereignty, security and development interests (有利于维护国家主权、安全、发展利益). At an earlier meeting with Leung, Li promised more “supporting measures” for the city’s economy after the launch last month of a long-awaited link between the Hong Kong stock exchange and the Shanghai bourse. // Source: SCMP

CY Leung appoints NPC deputy to key post on Hong Kong’s corruption watchdog ICAC, raising doubts on potential conflict of interest

  1. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has named a National People’s Congress deputy to a top post on the city’s anti-corruption body, sparking opposition from the pan-democratic camp. Maria Tam Wai-chu, who is a representative on China’s legislature, was named on Friday as the new chairwoman of the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s operations review committee, the body responsible for overseeing all investigations by the graft-buster. Among its tasks is looking into investigations that have lasted for more than a year or require “substantial resources”, according to a government statement. Tam, who is also a member of the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, was also appointed a member of the ICAC’s Advisory Committee on Corruption. Democrat James To Kun-sun opposed the appointment, citing Tam’s strong political opinions and possible bias. To urged the government to retract Tam’s appointment. // Source: SCMP

Taiwan

Relations with China after KMT’s defeat

  1.  NYT’s Austin Ramzy looks at fears that a return to power for the opposition and pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, who fared well in many of last month’s local races, could significantly damage relations with the mainland: // Now, some observers fear that a loss by the governing Kuomintang in elections to be held in little over a year could herald a return to the troubles of that era. […] “Looking ahead to next year’s campaign, the trend is really bad for the Kuomintang, and if it’s bad for the Kuomintang, then it’s bad for the development of cross-strait relations,” said Yang Lixian, a researcher with the Beijing-based National Society of Taiwan Studies. “If the Democratic Progressive Party wins but doesn’t change its Taiwan independence platform, then this is definitely a bad signal for cross-strait relations.” // Source: NYT
  2. J. Michael Cole. asked what the outcome of the “nine-in-one” elections told about Taiwanese attitudes. // My assessment is that Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), the DPP’s envoy to Washington who, as if he wasn’t busy enough already, doubles as party secretary general, was absolutely right in his briefing to U.S. officials that the elections were not a referendum on the KMT’s cross-Strait policy, and partly right when he argued that “cross-Strait relations were not debated as part of this election.” The belief that the elections — any election in Taiwan — had to be about China stems from the longstanding assumption that cross-Strait relations are the defining characteristic of politics in Taiwan. Not only is this false, it defines Taiwanese as unidimensional, incapable of making rational choices based on considerations that normally characterize democratic elections elsewhere. In other words, whether it is oppositional or favorable, Taiwanese are supposedly defined by their relationship with China. That line of argument is usually made by people who also believe that Taiwanese are, or can easily be, “brainwashed.” In reality, Taiwanese identity has normalized enough that people can make decisions about their future that are not, in some fundamental way, related to China. They are rational actors who are fully capable of making choices based on the various pieces of information they have at their disposal.
    … And why did Taiwanese voters punish the KMT so decisively? The principal reason was poor governance. After six years in control of the executive, the KMT had become complacent, distant, unaccountable, cronyistic, and in many ways softly authoritarian. Its abuses were legion, and civil society — culminating in the Sunflower Movement’s occupation of the Legislative Yuan in March 2014 — countered with a series of campaigns aimed at exposing the government, both at the local and central level, when it erred. Those who fail to appreciate the impact of this phenomenon on the nine-in-one elections, or who believe that activism began with the Sunflower Movement, must have adopted an ahistorical view of Taiwanese politics.
    … The outcome of the Nov. 29 elections bespeaks maturity on the part of Taiwanese voters who, to their credit, have succeeded in transcending the unidimensional “China question.” Theirs were rational decisions made by calculating the available data on multiple variables. This isn’t necessarily good news for the KMT (or the DPP for that matter), as it means that getting or “selling” China “right” is no longer sufficient, or perhaps even relevant, to ensure that one will get elected. After years of uneven — and in many cases downright poor — governance, the Taiwanese public has made it clear it now expects accountability, transparency, and honesty on the part of its elected officials, and that the Chinese-style development-at-all-cost model no longer resonates with Taiwan’s definition of modernity. // Source: China Policy Institute Blog

Publications

  1. NYT’s Mark Kitto, publisher and author of That’s China, on his experience with Chinese censors, and the increasing global trend of businesses and politicians bowing to the whims of the CCP with bottom lines in mind: // Today, many of the same political and corporate leaders who complain about Chinese censorship and its harsh consequences — like the detention of writers such as the Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo — quietly accept the censorship of the Chinese Communist Party themselves. Some even self-censor, in order not to upset the party or even, much worse, to avoid damaging their prospects of making money in China. // Source: NYT
  2. Qian Gang: Reading Chinese politics in 2014. //As we come to the end of 2014, we can say that this year has brought a “hardening” (板结) of China’s political discourse. It’s been a year of cleansing in the ideological sphere, and we find now that virtually all of the terms related to political reform, ones we might previously have classified as “light blue” (浅蓝) — not part of the official Chinese Communist Party discourse but still tolerated — have entered the taboo zone of the “dark blue” (深蓝). // Source: CMP
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