tirsdag 18. desember 2018

Wanda to Invest $1.74 Billion for Construction of Communist Theme Park in Birthplace of Mao’s Revolution

China’s Wanda Group, a multinational conglomerate known for its business in real estate and cinemas, has announced a 12-billion yuan ($1.74 billion) investment to build a communist-themed park in Yan’an, the city that during the Chinese civil war served as the main base of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Wanda’s investment comes in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP, established in July 1921 as a tiny radical group in Shanghai.

Wanda Group held a signature ceremony together with Yan’an municipal government on Dec. 13 in Beijing. At the ceremony, Xu Xinrong, the CCP secretary of Yan’an city, and Wanda founder Wang Jianlin jointly announced the Revolution Theme Park’s construction. Construction is set to begin in 2019 and the park is scheduled to be opened in the first half of 2021, in time for the anniversary. The costly move has led to speculation that Wang Jianlin, a former military officer, is making a show of loyalty to the Communist Party in hopes of guaranteeing his future political safety.

China Launches Crackdown on Twitter Amid Calls For Protection of Accounts

Now that government censors have reined in dissent on domestic social media platforms, China's "stability maintenance" regime is targeting critics of the ruling party and the administration of President Xi Jinping on Twitter, deleting a large number of accounts since last month, rights activists say. 

"The Chinese government has been targeting Twitter users in China as part of a nationwide crackdown on social media, even though Twitter is blocked in the country," Yaqiu Wang, China researcher at the New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) wrote in a recent report. "Authorities have detained or summoned dozens or more Twitter users, forcing them to delete sensitive tweets or close their accounts," Wang wrote. "In some cases, authorities appear to have hacked accounts themselves."

State security police now appear to be targeting even those users with relatively few followers, with concerns expressed in interrogations and "chats" over the content of tweets, even though the content is visible only to Chinese users who have access to the right tools to circumvent censorship by the ruling Chinese Communist Party's cyberspace administration, Wang said.

Read more

China celebrating 40 years of reform

President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the 40th anniversary of the policy of reform and opening up.


Torbjørn Færøvik: Kinas vanskelige år

2018 ble ikke som de kinesiske lederne hadde håpet. Giganten som skulle vise verden vei, ble i stedet utsatt for massiv kritikk fra mange hold. Neste år kan bli enda mer ubehagelig.

China and the U.S.: Avoiding the Thucydides Trap

Managing the world’s most important geopolitical relationship is not an easy task, especially when US–China ties have a global influence and trickle-down effect to all of their allies. In recent years, the historical Thucydides Trap theory has been used quite often to describe the US–China equation and its risks. Reminding world leaders that war always remains more likely than peace and that it is wise to constantly exercise restraint, this theory retains some relevance.

Sino-Swedish relations: The ambitious ambassador

Around the world, Chinese embassies are growing increasingly active and assertive. However, in few places is this as obvious as in Sweden, where the ambitious ambassador Gui Congyou assumed his post in August last year. The appointment might have been confusing for some. Not long after his arrival in Stockholm, Gui told Chinese-language media that he had never been to Sweden before, and never had any Swedish friends in the past.

A quick look at his background – and Gui’s lack of experience with western democracies generally – is striking. In 1991, Gui started his career at the Central Policy Research Office, an institution within the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Committee responsible for drafting its ideology and political theories. There, he primarily did research on the collapse of communism in the former Yugoslavia. Gui’s focus on Eastern Europe and Central Asia continued, as he was posted to the Chinese Embassy in Moscow for over a decade. In 2014, Gui also expressed his support for Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Of kings and concentration camps: Xinjiang and Norway

The visit to China by King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway in October 2018 revealed the increasingly painful hypocrisy of European countries pretending to uphold a ‘human rights dialogue’ with the Chinese authorities. They claim to help improve China, even as the Chinese superpower – increasingly powerful both economically and militarily – aggressively works to undermine the very idea of human rights and its central place in international affairs.

The ongoing mass atrocities in Xinjiang are a dramatic watershed here, and in this light, the incident above all exposed the widespread hypocrisy in failing to speak to those responsible. Instead, there is a ritualised, compartmentalised side-show of ‘human rights’ involving lower ranking figures, which looks increasingly like a PR cover for European politicians who are ever more beholden to China economically, but trying to appear firmly principled both in the mirror, and to a wider audience, including the pretence that they still hold on to democracy and respect for human dignity as basic values.

mandag 17. desember 2018

Mexico’s Strategy for Dealing With Trump: Warn Him About China

Mexico’s new government has a strategy for dealing with President Trump. Don’t anger him. Don’t cave in to him. Try to get him to join an ambitious investment plan to stem migration by creating jobs in Central America.

And if Mr. Trump is not convinced, remind him that there’s another player in the region willing to step into the vacuum left by the United States and become a powerful presence in its back yard: China. That, in a nut shell, is the Mexican government’s plan to defuse the standoff over the thousands of migrants amassed at its border with the United States, hoping to make it across.

Deep in the red: Chinese county pays price for vanity-project binge

In the heart of an impoverished village in southern China, a life-sized statue of Mao Zedong sits on a platform adorned with intricate stonework, flanked by a diorama of Red Army soldiers and traditional brick-and-tile homes with curved roofs. Officials have spent a small fortune on the project that has transformed the village of Shazhou, in Hunan province, into an open-air museum dedicated to the Chinese Communist Party. But few tourists have come to peer at the inscription at the foot of Mao’s statue, or take selfies in front of the heroes of the revolution.

The “red tourism” project was the brainchild of the former Communist Party chief of the local county, Rucheng, and cost 300 million yuan ($44 million). But it has yet to produce a profit, just like the string of public gardens, town squares and office buildings that the county has built in recent years.

Old China: Bound Feet and Bad Smell

We don't know when Chinese women began binding their feet. It was most likely around 800-900 A.D. The curious custom had to do with marriage, with sex, with beauty - and duty. This is a chapter from my book "Midtens rike" (The Middle Kingdom, Oslo 2009).

Australia’s diplomatic course between China and the United States

One of the greatest ironies of recent months lies in the implicit rejection by both Australian parties of the White House’s increasingly belligerent stance on China, encapsulated in Vice President Mike Pence’s remarks in early October. Widely heralded by a host of eminent Australian academics and commentators as the inauguration of ‘Cold War 2.0’, Australian politicians have wisely looked askance at this US crusade. Prime Minister Morrison argued strongly that US–China relations should not be ‘defined by confrontation’ and went on to reject a ‘Cold War’ billing for his so-called ‘Pacific Pivot’. Labor Party leader Bill Shorten was similarly emphatic that ‘pre-emptively framing China as a strategic threat’ was unhelpful.

Increased difficulty in trying to stay clear of the US economic war on China

Last week Canada was dragged full-square into the United States’ widening economic war on China. American authorities requested the extradition of the chief financial officer of Chinese technology giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, while she was in transit through Vancouver from Hong Kong to Mexico. The arrest is significant on many levels. Meng is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei. Huawei is a major Chinese private corporation, one of China’s technology champions, and Meng one of its top executives. The Chinese government cannot but have a major interest in the matter.

Why China still needs Silicon Valley

China may be in the middle of a tech battle with the United States, but that hasn't stopped some of its biggest companies from expanding their presence in Silicon Valley.Tencent (TCEHY) and ByteDance have research centers mere steps away from Stanford University. A few miles east, on the 101 highway, lie the offices of Alibaba (BABA), Baidu (BIDU) and Didi Chuxing.

These internet companies dominate in China, where they are pushing innovation in social media, online shopping and self-driving cars. But their presence in Silicon Valley underscores how Chinese tech heavyweights still need American know-how to stay competitive. 
"US tech companies are still way ahead of Chinese companies," said James Lewis, director of the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "Not to say Chinese companies aren't strong in innovation, but it's still the case that if you want the best stuff, you have to go to the United States," he said.

China sparked an economic miracle -- now there's a fight over its legacy

When powerful Chinese politician and future leader Deng Xiaoping addressed the Communist Party leadership in December 1978, in a speech widely considered to be the beginning of the reform era, China's GDP was just under $150 billion.Forty years later, it has surged to over $12 trillion, trailing only the United States.

But as the 40th anniversary of this speech approaches, a battle is underway to decide the future of China's economic miracle. The country has reached a turning point, pulled in two directions by those -- like US President Donald Trump -- who want a more open economy and a Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, who wants to return more control over nearly all aspects of society -- including the economy -- to the Communist Party.

Acclaimed Photographer Arrested in Far West China, Wife Says

A Chinese photographer acclaimed for his stark pictures of poverty and pollution was arrested by the police while visiting Xinjiang, his wife said on Friday, in an update on a disappearance that has drawn additional attention to the far western region where hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been detained. The photographer, Lu Guang, went missing in early November while visiting Xinjiang to meet with local photographers who had invited him, his wife, Xu Xiaoli, said by telephone from New York where the couple live. But until recently, she and Mr. Lu’s family had no official confirmation that he had been arrested.

China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor

Muslim inmates from internment camps in far western China hunched over sewing machines, in row after row. They were among hundreds of thousands who had been detained and spent month after month renouncing their religious convictions. Now the government was showing them on television as models of repentance, earning good pay — and political salvation — as factory workers.

China’s ruling Communist Party has said in a surge of upbeat propaganda that a sprawling network of camps in the Xinjiang region is providing job training and putting detainees on production lines for their own good, offering an escape from poverty, backwardness and the temptations of radical Islam.

søndag 16. desember 2018

In India, the Congress Party Isn’t Dead Yet

It’s been a dark four and a half years for India’s main opposition party, the Indian National Congress. After getting trounced in the 2014 general elections by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress headed into a protracted downward spiral. Its parliamentary tally shrank from 206 seats (out of 543 in the Lok Sabha, or lower house of parliament) to a paltry 44—not even large enough to qualify to officially lead the opposition. In state after state, the Congress seemed unable—and, often, unwilling—to halt the BJP’s electoral juggernaut.

Podcast: Inside China’s Re-education Camps

Chinese authorities have rounded up as many as 1 million Uighurs, as well as ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims, and interned them in what authorities call “re-education camps.” Those living outside the camps in Xinjiang are subject to round-the-clock surveillance in conditions akin to those of a police state. Gulchehra Hoja, a Uighur journalist with Radio Free Asia, joins us on the podcast this week. Almost two dozen members of her family have been detained by Chinese authorities.