søndag 22. april 2018

China’s Economic Numbers Have a Credibility Problem

Suspicions that the country is cooking the books persist.

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Has Xi Jinping changed China? Not really.

Xi Jinping has had an eventful early spring. After he abolished presidential term limits and was unanimously elected—if it can be called an election—to serve another term in that post, Xi got the world’s attention again by holding a meeting with Kim Jong-un. Xi was also in the spotlight when he addressed the 2018 Boao Forum for Asia, promising more openness in the face of a looming trade war. Many observers now seem convinced that Xi has changed China and maybe, even, the international order. But has he really?

In the 70 years since the establishment of the Communist regime, numerous changes have taken place in the social, economic, legal, and psychological spheres. Yet the Party’s essential political role of leading a Party-state under strict one-Party rule has not changed, whether under collective dictatorship or a personal one. The Party’s absolute control over the military, judicial system, Congress, and bureaucracy, as well as its suppression of dissidents and activists who promote democracy, has been constant for 70 years.

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The spirit of Little Tibet

There are many reasons to go to Dharamshala. It is one of Himachal Pradesh’s most important towns. It now has its own cricket stadium. It has a beautiful location at the foot of the Himalayas. But, in truth, there is only one reason why it has come to so much global attention. In 1960, the Dalai Lama moved to Dharamshala, then a sleepy ghost town, and set up the Tibetan government-in-exile. He chose the suburb of McLeod Ganj, a few miles away from the main city, and the Tibetans built imposing structures, including the house where the Dalai Lama himself lives.

Over time, more and more Tibetans fled from Chinese rule and settled in Dharamshala, to the extent that something like 30 per cent of the population is Tibetan. But because the Tibetans are concentrated in McLeod Ganj, it often feels like there are many more of them, and McLeod Ganj is known as Little Tibet.

Who is pushing Dalai Lama to surrender to China?

Dr Lobsang Sangay’s attempt to present the Dalai Lama’s return to a Chinese-ruled Tibet as the monk’s “last unfulfilled dream”, and his call to the Tibetan people to make this ‘dream’ of the Dalai Lama a reality, deserves a closer scrutiny by Tibetan society, supporters of the Tibetan cause, and above all, the Government of India. This statement becomes extremely meaningful in light of the fact that it is the first-ever official Tibetan endorsement of Beijing’s agenda which is seriously focused at bringing back the Dalai Lama to Chinese-ruled Tibet before he passes away and the search for his next (15th) reincarnation starts.

The India I grew up in has gone. These rapes show a damaged, divided nation

In the India where I grew up, memories of Gandhi, Tagore and Nehru were strong; the necessity of secularism was drummed into us. We knew that our politicians were largely venal, but it was still a country in which morality and humanity mattered. Now, journalists and writers who speak up against the undeclared war on Dalits, Muslims, poor people and women are trolled by cyber-mobs. – if they’re lucky. The most publicised murder last year was of a dissenting journalist shot dead outside her home in Bengaluru, in south India.

China’s gift to Europe is a new version of crony capitalism

The scrapping of limits on Xi Jinping’s presidential term last month drew attention to the profound changes the Chinese leader has imposed on his country’s political system. But the significance of this move is global – and it concerns Europe in many ways. China has identified a “window of historic opportunity” for itself across the world. To make the best of this, so its logic goes, the country must be united and disciplined under a strong leader and supreme commander. Xi has been compared with Mao Zedong in that he’s created an entirely leader-centric political system – but to think this has consequences only for China risks missing the wider picture.

In my country, the Czech Republic, we’ve seen up close how China intends to expand its reach. Central Europe is very much part of China’s ambition to “move to the centre of the world stage” – the expression used by Xi during last year’s Communist party congress. The basic tool China relies on is the Belt and Road initiative, a trade and infrastructure project spanning Asia and Europe which encapsulates the regime’s overarching foreign policy goals, in what Xi has dubbed the “new era”.

lørdag 21. april 2018

Tok bare tomme PC-er og telefoner med seg til Kina

Forskningsrådet bruker dedikerte telefoner og datamaskiner under oppholdet i Kina. Sine private telefoner og PC 'er legger de igjen hjemme. Når de kommer hjem til Norge vil telefoner og datamaskiner de har hatt med seg bli levert til IT-ansvarlige for sletting og reformatering. Disse enhetene har ikke tilgang til Forskningsrådets egne, interne nettverk, heller ikke til områder i nettskyen som man anvender, bekrefter Forskningsrådets direktør John-Arne Røttingen overfor Universitetsavisa.

Forskningsrådets spesialrådgiver Thomas Hansteen har ansvar for Kina-samarbeidet under reisen. Hansteen medgir at det medfører en del ekstra bry å kjøre et slikt sikkerhetsopplegg. - Maskinene vi bringer med oss er satt opp på en annen måte, med begrenset funksjonalitet. Det er klart at det er en kostnad med dette, foranstaltningene går ut over arbeidskapasiteten.

UiO-rektor Svein Stølen i Kina: - Relasjonsbygger, ikke politiker

UiO-rektor Svein Stølen har hatt møter med ledelsene ved 4 av Kinas 6 beste universiteter. Det er han fornøyd med. Men når vi innledningsvis spør ham om hva han har fått til i løpet av den uka han har vært her, svarer han med å legge ut på en lang og entusiastisk redegjørelse om de faglige samarbeidsprosjektene de gjennom turen vil styrke, for eksempel om situasjonen for båtfolket i Hangzhou -provinsen i det sørlige Kina: Mer enn 100 000 kinesere lever hele sine liv på disse båtene som frakter gods langs kanaler som går på kryss og tvers i gigantlandet.

Studentene kom ikke til orde på Kina-arrangement

Studentene skulle komme med sine kommentarer til «Education Day» på Kina-turen til statsråd Nybø. De ble fjernet fra programmet.

— Her blir studentstemmene ofret for balansen sin skyld, sier Ole Kristian Bratset, president i ANSA (Association of Norwegian Students Abroad). Både han og leder av Norsk studentorganisasjon(NSO), Mats J. Beldo, skulle egentlig komme med sine kommentarer til gårsdagens del av Kina-turen, som handlet om utdanning.

Men de ble fjernet fra programmet fordi det ikke kom noen fra kinesiske studentorganisasjoner. — Det er litt trist. At studentene på kinesisk side ikke kan snakke fører til at ikke vi kan det heller - det blir skjevt. For meg er det naturlig at studentene skal kunne oppsummere sine inntrykk av det som i programmet het «Education Day», sier Beldo.

Torbjørn Færøvik: Kinas grusomme, men glemte nære fortid

Denne våren kunne de kinesiske lederne ha markert et viktig jubileum – om de hadde villet. Men de vil ikke. Ingen minnehøytid for millioner av døde 60-årsminnet for «Det store spranget fremover» er så tragisk at det er best å glemme det, ja radere det ut av historien. Derfor blir det ingen minnehøytid for de mange millioner kinesere som sultet i hjel fra 1958 til 1961.

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Carl Minzner on China's Post-Reform Era

Recent news out of China — from the end of presidential term limits to the extolling of Xi Jinping Thought — has observers worried. Slowly, China’s post-Mao norms of collective leadership, division of Party and state functions, and regular transfers of power are eroding. That process is the subject of End of an Era: How China’s Authoritarian Revival is Undermining Its Rise, the latest book by Carl Minzner. In this interview, Minzner, Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law, discusses his book in the context of the recently concluded National People’s Congress.

The Stumbling Block to China's Soft Power

In February, China’s televised Lunar New Year gala made international headlines for its controversial depiction of African life. During a segment of the variety show meant to celebrate relations with Africa, a popular Chinese actress arrived on stage in blackface makeup, with a basket of fruit on her head and prosthetic parts that enlarged her breast and buttocks under a traditional African dress. She was joined by a black man in a monkey costume.

The skit elicited widespread allegations of racism, with many adding that this was not the first time lately China had offended along racial lines. In October of last year, for instance, an art museum in Hubei Province was panned for pairing portraits of African people with photos of wildlife bearing similar expressions, such as a man and a lion both gnashing their teeth. In 2016, a now-infamous laundry detergent ad featured a young woman shoving a black suitor into a washing machine — and swooning when he emerged as a pale and camera-ready Asian man.

Will Kim Jong-un Trade His Nuclear Arsenal to Rebuild Economy?

For as long as Kim Jong-un has been North Korea’s leader, he has called for the simultaneous pursuit of nuclear weapons and economic growth with the aim of making the nation a “great socialist nuclear power.” On Saturday, however, Mr. Kim abruptly announced he was retiring his signature policy, known as byungjin, or “parallel advance.”

The strategy has been at the center of his government’s propaganda and is enshrined in the charter of the governing Workers’ Party. But Mr. Kim said it was now time to adopt a “new strategic line” and focus the nation’s resources on rebuilding its economy. As for nuclear weapons, he essentially declared that mission accomplished, saying North Korea no longer needed to test long-range missiles or atomic bombs and would close its only known nuclear test site. The byungjin policy, he said, already had achieved a “great victory” — an arsenal capable of deterring the nation’s enemies.

No joke: have China's censors gone too far with ban on humour app?

There is a not-so-secret club in China. Members find each other in traffic by honking their horn – one long honk, followed by two short ones. Others identify each other by completing nonsensical couplets: “The son of heaven covers the tiger” – to which the correct response is “chicken stew with mushrooms”.

They call themselves duanyou after the app Neihan Duanzi, or “implied jokes”, where until recently some 30 million users could watch short videos, comedy sketches and follow dirty jokes and memes. Fans also organise offline meet-ups. At one gathering in Hunan province earlier this month, a group posed in a parking lot with little red flags and a sign describing themselves as the “duanyou coalition”. China’s media regulator on 10 April ordered Neihan Duanzi’s parent company and one of the country’s fastest-growing internet companies, Bytedance, to shut down the app because of its “vulgar” content. It was one of several news apps to be removed from online stores or shuttered this month.

fredag 20. april 2018

I Thought Studying Journalism outside of China Would Open Doors. Now I’m Not So Sure.

Six years ago as I was about to begin my undergraduate career at The University of Iowa majoring in journalism, a fellow Chinese student who’d switched her major from communications studies to business ruthlessly doubted my choice.

“How on earth will you be able to compete against your American classmates?” she asked. “You probably won’t even find a job back home.”

Harsh as she sounded, she had a point.

For two months last summer, I lived in a state of constant worry and stress. I was on a full-time internship in New York while completing my Master’s in journalism at Northwestern University. I spent nearly all my spare time applying for jobs, networking—something I had to force myself to do—and going on job interviews.

China’s Communist Party Takes (Even More) Control of the Media

China’s Communist Party made moves last month to solidify and formalize its (already substantial) control over the country’s media. China’s main state-run broadcasters are to be consolidated into a massive new “Voice of China” under the management of the Party’s Central Propaganda Department.

The department—which, several years ago, the Party began calling its “publicity department” in English—will also now have direct control over the regulation of film, radio, television, book publishing, Internet, and the news media, rather than exercising that control in part through government (as opposed to Party) organs charged with the same mission. What will this change achieve practically? Why is it happening? Is it the result of confidence on the part of China’s leaders, or paranoia? And how is formalizing the Party’s role as chief censor likely to effect the Chinese leadership’s reputation at home and overseas?

Trump’s Incredibly Risky Taiwan Policy

So-called friends of Taiwan in the United States are putting the island at risk as never before. The Taiwan Travel Act, passed unanimously by both houses of Congress, and signed by President Trump on March 16, 2018 without reservations, could gravely erode the distinction between the United States’ official relationship with the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) and its unofficial relationship with Taiwan.

The Taiwan Travel Act declares that “the United States Government should encourage visits between officials from the United States and Taiwan at all levels,” including “Cabinet-level national security officials, general officers, and other executive branch officials.” These provisions are inconsistent with U.S. commitments in a set of agreements known as the Joint Communiques, which together with the Taiwan Relations Act provide the framework for the official relationship between Washington and Beijing.

torsdag 19. april 2018

Treaty to Formally End Korean War Is Being Discussed, South Confirms

South Korea confirmed on Wednesday that it had been in talks with American and North Korean officials about negotiating a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War after more than 60 years, as the United States and its ally try to establish a basis for persuading the North to give up its nuclear weapons.

Chung Eui-yong, the national security adviser to President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, said he had discussed the matter with John R. Bolton, his newly appointed American counterpart, in Washington last week, as they prepared for the planned talks between each of their countries’ presidents and Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader. South Korean officials said they had also been in talks with the North about a possible treaty.