mandag 24. oktober 2016

Has Duterte really ditched the US for Beijing's embrace?

The Philippines’ president, Rodrigo Duterte, jetted into Beijing this week telling journalists “only China can help us” – and help it did. The 71-year-old populist was set to return from his four-day state visit on Friday having secured a reported $13.5bn (£11bn) in deals and a lucrative new alliance with the Asian giant.  “It has the potential to be [a turning point in Philippine history],” one Manila broadsheet said of Duterte’s “pivot to China” after he delighted an audience of Communist party grandees in the Great Hall of the People by declaring his “separation” from the United States and new allegiance to Beijing. Read more

China Seeks Tighter Grip in Wake of a Religious Revival

The finances of religious groups will come under greater scrutiny. Theology students who go overseas could be monitored more closely. And people who rent or provide space to illegal churches may face heavy fines. These are among the measures expected to be adopted when the Chinese government enacts regulations tightening its oversight of religion in the coming days, the latest move by President Xi Jinping to strengthen the Communist Party’s control over society and combat foreign influences it considers subversive. Read more

Duterte's statements causes "consternation" in the US

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's recent statements have caused "consternation" in the US and other nations, the most senior US diplomat for Asia said during a visit to Manila. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said the comments were creating "a climate of uncertainty" about the Philippines' intentions. Mr Duterte has announced a "separation from the US", its longstanding ally. It follows US criticism of the Philippines' brutal war against drugs. The campaign has caused thousands of extrajudicial killings. Read more

Ugly US election race a poor ad for democracy in China

"It's the most entertaining campaign ever and the essence of American politics is entertainment." The view of one 19-year-old Chinese student watching the US presidential race from Beijing. He's not the only one laughing. Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins on 8 November, the Chinese Communist Party believes it is already a winner. For decades it has said that American democracy is a sham, rigged by and for a narrow elite. Now the Republican candidate for the White House says the same. For decades Beijing has smarted under American disapproval for locking up political enemies. Now Donald Trump says "crooked Hillary" should be in jail, and that he "can't wait to begin the purge of liberals from America". Read more

Nearly 8,000 people in China apply for one job

Monday was the deadline to register for China's civil service exams, drawing more than 1 million applications, according to state media. The candidates have to pick the jobs they're interested in when they sign up for the annual exams. Central government positions in China -- often described as the "golden rice bowl" -- are popular because of their stable income and generous benefits. They can also lead to membership of the Chinese Communist Party, which brings additional status. But the most sought-after job among this year's exam applicants is more obscure. By late Sunday, a record-breaking 7,727 people had expressed interest in the position of head of the reception office of the China Democratic League in Beijing. Read more

Xi Jinping is a strongman. That does not mean he gets his way

BY NIGHT the fires of Tangshan burn and the air stinks. In this city in the northern province of Hebei, more than 100,000 people work in factories making steel and many more in firms serving the industry. “Save energy and cut emissions,” reads a red slogan outside one plant, heavy machinery roaring within. Earlier this year China’s president, Xi Jinping, ordered the steel business to cut production. Small and inefficient mills like this one were supposed to close and larger ones to shut down some furnaces. Yet many still operate around the clock. Their city is close to Beijing, virtually on Mr Xi’s doorstep, but the steel bosses openly flout his orders. Read more

Kina feirer formann Maos Lange marsj

Den lange Marsjen pågår fortsatt, erklærer Xi Jinping. Kinas leder vil se samme offervilje og pågangsmot som propagandaen forteller at kommunistene viste for 80 år siden. «Lenge leve den historiske heltedåd» står det med store, røde skrifttegn over inngangen til Militærmuseet i Beijing og køen utenfor er flere hundre meter lang. Les mer

"Noen av fortellingene om marsjen er nok rene myter, men det spiller ingen rolle for et parti som har gjort det til en vane å lyve om sin fortid. Kinesere flest svelger disse fortellingene uansett, mest fordi de mangler alternativ litteratur og trening i kritisk tenkning." Torbjørn Færøvik

lørdag 15. oktober 2016

Judges and Rice: Cambodia's Expanding Reliance on China

Cambodia is rapidly expanding its diplomatic affair with China. Early last week it appealed to Beijing for help amid plunging rice pricesand then three days later Phnom Penh signed an MoU seeking Chinese assistance in overhauling its much maligned judiciary. The memorandum of understanding allows China to provide training, finance and expertise with a focus on commercial courts, in a country where the separation of powers between the government and the judiciary is constantly being questioned. Reforms are needed. Efforts by the United States, Germany and Australia – among others – to help improve the Cambodian court system have ended in frustration. But doubts over whether China can actually do this are as grave as the concerns for Beijing’s investment strategy here. Read more

Does China deserve a reputation as the land of copycats?

China was once renowned as the home of the four great inventions: paper, gunpowder, printing and the compass. These days, China is more often portrayed as a land of copycats, where you can buy a pirated Superdry T-shirt or a HiPhone and where smaller cities boast 7-12 convenience stores, Teabucks outlets and KFG fried chicken shops. Read more

Why Chinese Women Still Can’t Get a Break

On a Saturday afternoon in late September, I sat in the brand-new auditorium of my former high school in Beijing, watching the gala for my 10-year reunion. Near the end, teachers stepped onto the stage to deliver speeches. “Girls, I hope you will focus on finding your life partners,” said the Chinese-language teacher, with the same stern air as when she urged us to succeed on the college entrance exam. “Marriage cannot be delayed,” the biology teacher said. The physical education teacher offered to set up single alumnae with eligible bachelors at her husband’s company. Read more

fredag 14. oktober 2016

Is Xinjiang China's best-kept secret?

"Bosh bosh!" vendors yell as they yank sheep along by their tails, shoving them from trucks into the pens where they'll be sold to their death. We're in the riotous Sunday livestock market on the outskirts of Kashgar, in China's remote northwesternmost Xinjiang province. Yaks, camels and Xinjiang's famously fat-bottomed lambs have all been delivered to the market -- the biggest of its kind in Central Asia -- by bearded men from miles around, to be sold by the day's end. Read more

Egypt is getting a new capital - courtesy of China

Egypt's new capital city moved a step closer to reality with the announcement that Chinese developers will largely fund the megaproject. The China Fortune Land Development Company (CFLD) agreed to provide $20 billion for the currently unnamed city, after a meeting between heads of the firm and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. This follows a previous commitment of $15 billion from another Chinese state-owned company, bringing the project close to its $45 billion budget requirements for phase I. Read more

Beijing's 13th century hutongs get a futuristic makeover

With evocative names such as "Skewed Tobacco Pouch Street" and "East River Rice Lane," the charming, ancient hutongs of Beijing are always popular with visitors to the sprawling capital city. Narrow alleyways run alongside walled courtyards, transporting those who wander down them back to the Yuan Dynasty of the 13th century, when many were created, and conjuring up images of a communal lifestyle in stark contrast to the frenetic pace of the modern Chinese megapolis. Read more

Thailand: Who's in charge now that King Bhumibol is gone?

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej died on Thursday after seven decades on the throne, plunging the country into intense mourning and no small amount of uncertainty. "It's a complicated situation," said Patrick Jory, an expert on the Thai monarchy at the University of Queensland. "The last time we were at this point was 70 years ago." Bhumibol was not formally crowned until May 1950, more than four years after his brother, King Ananda Mahidol was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head under mysterious circumstances. So with the King's death, who is currently in charge of the kingdom? Read more

torsdag 13. oktober 2016

Thailand's heir apparent Maha Vajiralongkorn raises fears – and eyebrows

Thailand’s Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, a three-times divorced playboy who made his pet poodle an air chief marshal in the Thai military, poses perhaps the biggest challenge for both the country’s monarchists and its ruling junta in coming weeks, following the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Vajiralongkorn, who has asked for some time to mourn with the Thai people before his appointment, was born to be king. However, though he trained at Australia’s Duntroom military college and boasts a string of military titles and a pilot’s licence, for decades he has shown little interest in the public duties that will be expected of one of the world’s most revered monarchies. Read more

Thousands of Chinese Army Veterans Protest in Beijing

Thousands of People's Liberation Army (PLA) veterans staged a sit-in outside the military headquarters of the ruling Chinese Communist Party on Tuesday in protest at authorities' failure to deliver promised pension, medical andsocial security benefits. The protesters converged on Beijing from around a dozen cities and provinces in a concerted bid to air long-running grievances from a group that has been identified by the leadership as one of the most politically sensitive in China.

Singing "In Unity is Our Strength" and other Chinese military choruses, the veterans sat outside the ruling party's military wing, the Central Military Commission (CMC), calling for basic pensions and healthcare in their old age. 
Eyewitnesses said police were preventing journalists and bystanders from taking photos of the scene, and had restrained some of the more agitated protesters. "There are people all along the street, from all over China," an anonymous eyewitness said. "It's so tragic, really sad." Read more

Western contact with China began long before Marco Polo, experts say

China and the West were in contact more than 1,500 years before European explorer Marco Polo arrived in China, new findings suggest. 
Archaeologists say inspiration for the Terracotta Warriors, found at the Tomb of the First Emperor near today's Xian, may have come from Ancient Greece. They also say ancient Greek artisans could have been training locals there in the Third Century BC. Polo's 13th Century journey to China was the first to be well-documented. However, Chinese historians recorded much earlier visits by people thought by some to have been emissaries from the Roman Empire during the Second and Third Centuries AD. Read more

Kinas president Xi Jinping: Leder på ubestemt tid

Kinesiske ledere skal ikke sitte lenger enn 10 år. Det er delvis regulert av grunnloven og delvis av uskrevne lover innført av Deng Xiaoping som ville forhindre at en ny Mao skulle opphøyes til enehersker og monopolisere makta i toppen av Kommunistpartiet. Det innebærer at nåværende president Xi Jinping skal erstattes i 2022. Men allerede nå verserer ryktene om at han akter å bli sittende, skriver Dagbladets kommentator Inger Bentzrud.

Det er særlig i USA at spekulasjonene florerer. Både avisa New York Times og tidsskriftet Foreign Policy har omtalt mulighetene for at det ikke blir utpekt noen etterfølger med det første. Signalene om et kommende maktskifte kan ventes å bli en smule mer håndfaste i slutten av denne måneden. Da skal sentralkomiteen i partiet ha et plenumsmøte i Beijing. Dette møtet skal starte forberedelsene til partikongressen i 2017. Der skal arverekka være klar, etter vanlig prosedyre. 

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