lørdag 16. desember 2017

Mao's one-man rule offers uncomfortable lessons for Xi Jinping

Despite the ongoing official propaganda blitz aimed to persuade the Chinese public that Xi Jinping's lofty goal is within reach, success is by no means guaranteed. Among other things, Xi will need to radically restructure China's state-capitalist economy, reduce the country's soaring socioeconomic inequality, cope with deteriorating demographics, and overcome the dreaded middle-income trap (a feat no dictatorship has managed in history except in oil-rich petrostates).

His most daunting challenge, however, is political, not economic. The concentration of power in the hands of one leader, as demonstrated by China's tragic experience under Mao Zedong, could be a recipe for disastrous policy mistakes. If Xi wants to succeed, he will have to learn the painful lessons from Mao's one-man rule.

Praising Xi Jinping won't pay the bills for China's journalists

Life is not easy for the Chinese local reporter. As mouthpieces for the leadership, local party newspapers are tasked with trumpeting the achievements of the Xi Jinping epoch. They are under the sway of the Publicity Department, now led by a close aide to the president. But that does not mean reporters can coast along, filing party-pleasing but substandard stories.

At the Hubei Daily, and likely other papers, journalists are locked in a cutthroat battle for higher pay and promotions. If they want to bring home the yuan, they have to deliver the goods. The journalists have to perform under an uneasy equilibrium -- between obedience and ability, between open competition and Xi's iron grip.

Communist Parties’ Victory in Nepal May Signal Closer China Ties

Communist parties in Nepal with closer ties to neighboring China have emerged victorious in the country’s largest democratic exercise ever. A powerful political coalition of two communist parties led by former prime ministers, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and K. P. Sharma Oli, won a majority of the contested seats in two legislative bodies, the Parliament and the Provincial Assembly. Vote counting began shortly after polls closed on Dec. 7, but the results did not become clear until this week. On Friday, a spokesman for Nepal’s election commission said his office had to tally up only a small number of votes.

Investigative journalists cite low pay, lack of inspiration for quitting

The number of China's investigative journalists has declined by more than half since 2011, and a majority of those remaining in the profession say they intend to change careers, according to a study done by a leading Chinese university. Researchers at the School of Communication and Design at Sun Yat-sen University in South China sent questionnaires to 163 investigative journalists. Their findings show that the number of China's investigative journalists has dropped 57.5 percent in the last six years. The report says the profession is suffering a huge brain drain in part due to relatively lower pay and potential dangers associated with the job.

China university bans Christmas to resist 'corrosion' of Western culture

A Chinese university has banned Christmas in order to help young people resist the “corrosion of Western religious culture.” The Communist Youth League at Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, in China’s north-east, posted an online notice informing students that the ban was to help them develop their own “cultural confidence”. “In recent years,” the notice said. “Influenced by Western culture and individual business operations, as well as erroneous public opinions expressed on the Internet, some young people are blindly excited by Western holidays, especially religious holidays like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.”

Alliance Sours as China’s Frustration With North Korea Mounts

As North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pursues his country’s capacity to develop a stable nuclear weapons program, others in the region have expressed concern. And for good reason: a nuclear-armed North Korea has the potential to bring regional disaster if Kim ever decided to use a nuclear warhead against anyone else, like the U.S. In such a scenario, a war against Pyongyang brings unwanted danger near South Korea, Japan, China, and other countries in the region. 

With all eyes on North Korea, Beijing's massive South China Sea land grab continues

While attention in Asia has been distracted by the North Korean nuclear crisis in the past year, China has continued to install high-frequency radar and other facilities that can be used for military purposes on its man-made islands in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank said on Thursday. Chinese activity has involved work on facilities covering 72 acres (29 hectares) of the Spratly and Paracel islands, territory contested with several other Asian nations, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies. The report cited satellite images.

China sidesteps blame over S. Korean journalist’s beating

China sidestepped blame Friday for the beating of a South Korean photojournalist by Chinese security, an incident that has marred a visit by the South Korean president to mend frayed ties with Beijing. The incident has sparked outrage in South Korea, with the opposition calling on Moon to cancel the rest of his four-day state visit, his first in China since taking office in May.

‘Simply Kicked Out’: How Village Committees Deprive Women of Their Land Rights

Women may hold up half the sky in China, but when it comes to land, it’s a totally different matter. As the country’s arable land shrinks and rural property values surge, women are being robbed of their rights by the village committees who allocate and manage land.

Women are suffering from double discrimination at the hands of these committees that are elected by local residents. In many places, women who marry outsiders have their claim to land in their birthplace revoked, even when the land certificates still bear their names. Those who move to their husband's villages are often refused recognition and the right to any claim on their spouse's land. “A married daughter is like spilled water,” said Ma Fengling, who has waged a court battle since 2014 to have her land rights reinstated. “This is such a common and deeply rooted view that they would never give anything to us married women, who are simply kicked out.”

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fredag 15. desember 2017

Will tech firms challenge China's 'open' internet?

Sometimes you can gauge how proud someone is about being at an event by the extent to which they want to talk about it. When that event is China's annual global internet get-together in Wuzhen there are plenty who turn up, but fewer who want to advertise their attendance. China has been smart and ruthless in its control of the internet within its borders. It blocks some foreign sites altogether and it censors - heavily - what Chinese are allowed to see.

Nonetheless the big idea at this gathering is openness. There wasn't much openness about the "great firewall" that keeps out Twitter, Facebook, Google and the New York Times to name a few.

Kinas nye "sosialkredittsystem"

Det nye sosialkredittsystemet i Kina hevdes å være rettferdig, ettersom det gjelder for alle, også partimedlemmer. Den som skårer best på oppriktighet, kan skryte av en triple A (kandidaten har 1050 poeng). Hen er da et «Forbilde for ærlighet» og belønnes med premier. Med høy citizen score blir det enklere for barna å få utdanningsplass, man selv får lettere lån og kan håpe på forfremmelse. Hvis man derimot utviser samfunnsskadelig oppførsel, får man ikke lenger sitte i første klasse på toget og ikke lenger ta fly, dessuten blir det vanskelig å få visum.

Under 555 poeng bør borgerne aldri synke: Da kan man bli svartelistet og lide en sosial død. I det minste kan synderen gjøre bot ved å samle bonuspoeng med dydig oppførsel. Hvis man tar seg av eldre mennesker eller gir blod, vokser poengsummen på sosialkredittkontoen igjen, og synderen kan komme tilbake til kretsen av ærlige. Det skal lønne seg å bidra.

Professor Jerome Cohen: George Orwell has arrived in China

Eva Dou of the Wall Street Journal has a great report on “Jailed for a Text: China’s Censors Are Spying on Mobile Chat Groups.” It is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize for the insights it gives into contemporary China and its legal system. It illustrates the currently enhanced degree of repression and the impact it has on ordinary citizens. Orwell has arrived. The increasingly smooth integration of China’s cyber monitoring systems, its various police organizations, its “Justice” Ministry, its prosecutors and its judges – no small feat – now leaves little room for free expression even among small groups.

'Slow-moving crisis' as Beijing bolsters South China Sea war platform

China has created military facilities about four times the size of Buckingham palace on contested islands in the South China Sea, a new report has said, calling the build-up a “slow-moving crisis” in one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints. China built about 29 hectares (290,000 square metres) of new facilities on contested islands in 2017, including munitions depots, sensor arrays, radar systems and missile shelters, according to an analysis by US thinktank the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China: Minority Region Collects DNA from Millions

Chinese authorities in Xinjiang are collecting DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood types of all residents in the region between the age of 12 and 65, Human Rights Watch said today. This campaign significantly expands authorities’ collection of biodata beyond previous government efforts in the region, which only required all passport applicants in Xinjiang to supply biometrics.

For all “focus personnel” – those authorities consider threatening to regime stability – and their family members, their biometrics must be taken regardless of age. Authorities are gathering the biodata in different ways. DNA and blood types are being collected through a free annual physical exams program called Physicals for All. It is unclear if the participants of the physicals are informed of the authorities’ intention to collect, store, or use sensitive DNA data.

lørdag 9. desember 2017

Confucius Institute in NSW education department 'unacceptable' – analyst

A former senior intelligence analyst for the Australian government is calling for an urgent review of an arrangement whereby a Chinese government-affiliated entity is embedded inside a state government department. 

The New South Wales Department of Education is the first government department in the world to host a Confucius Institute, part of an international network established by Beijing in 2004 to promote Chinese language and culture and, in the words of a former senior Chinese official, “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up”.

The gentrification of Beijing: razing of migrant villages spells end of China dream

City officials deny they are seeking to banish Beijing’s estimated 8 million migrant workers and claim their focus is saving lives by clamping down on illegal, unsafe and overcrowded buildings. Last week Beijing’s Communist party chief announced that ensuring safety and stability was now his “biggest political task”. But the scenes of migrants being driven from their drab rented homes – captured in heart-wrenching smartphone videos – have sparked public outrage just weeks after Xi began his second term promising citizens a “new era” of power and prosperity.

China Says It’s Open for Business. Foreign Firms Find It’s Not That Simple

The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on Wednesday welcomed dozens of corporate leaders and foreign dignitaries with one overriding message: China is open for business. The reality on the ground was more complex. China is increasingly presenting itself as a global force: President Xi Jinping surprised the world in January when he told power brokers gathered in Davos, Switzerland, that the country planned to intensify its role in the absence of American leadership. 

That message was echoed at the Guangzhou conference, which was attended by the leaders of companies like Apple, Ford Motor, Philips and Walmart and foreign leaders like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada.

Eluding Censors, a Magazine Covers Southeast Asia’s Literary Scene

At Monument Books, a bookstore in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the magazine racks are stacked with copies of The Economist and other titles from Britain, Australia, France and the United States. But one top-selling magazine there was founded in Phnom Penh and takes its name — Mekong Review — from the mighty river that runs beside the city’s low-rise downtown.

Mekong Review was first published in October 2015, and each quarterly issue has featured a mix of about 10 to 20 reviews, essays, poetry, fiction, Q.& A.s and investigative reports about the culture, politics and history of mainland Southeast Asia. Supporters say it is a welcome platform for Southeast Asian writers and scholars of the region, as well as a sharp political voice in countries where speech is perennially threatened.