Friday, March 30, 2012

China: Nothing is Ever as it Appears


Bo Xilai Controversy: U.K. Asks China to Investigate Death of Briton Linked to Ousted Politician
If there is one truth that has accompanied the downfall of Bo Xilai, the prominent Chinese official who was removed from his post on March 15, it is that every revelation prompts more questions. The story is far from over, and this year’s leadership transition process, which the Chinese Communist Party hopes to present as smooth and orderly, is likely to be laden with surprises and intrigue. That much could certainly be gathered from the latest development, reported Monday by the Wall Street Journal, that the U.K. has asked China to investigate last year’s death of a British businessman who had ties to Bo. The newspaper reported that Neil Heywood was found dead in a Chongqing hotel room in November, and local authorities said he died of “excessive alcohol consumption” and quickly cremated his body. But friends said he didn’t drink, raising questions. Former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun reported his suspicions about Heywood’s death to Bo, triggering a fallout with his boss, the Journal reported. The paper also said that Wang had claimed Heywood was involved in a business dispute with Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai.

Children of the Revolution: The History China's New Leaders Won't Confront
Not only did the now-disgraced Bo Xilai revive Cultural Revolution songs in Chongqing, where he was the Communist Party committee chair, his dramatic political downfall seemed to have ignited a renewed interest in the cultural revolution, that ignominious decade in modern Chinese history. Much of this new interest came from Premier Wen Jiabao's surprising comments at the conclusion of China's National People's Congress, in which he warned about history repeating itself if reforms are not carried out.  But it is more than just Wen's words. The new cohort of leaders -- Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, and Bo Xilai too -- are all children of that revolution, having watched their families and communities torn apart by brutish and senseless politics. Despite their pedigrees and "royal" backgrounds, both Xi and Bo's fathers were publicly humiliated in "struggle sessions" that sought to instill ideological purity, whatever that meant. Families and friends turned on each other. Suspicions pervaded society and trust became a public scarcity. To give some sense of what transpired, these incredible photos of young Bo Yibo (Bo's father) and Xi Zhongxun (Xi's father) speak volumes:

China's "Rare Earths", and the Hypocrisy of the Obama Administration
By John Tamny
As is well known now, the Obama administration recently joined the EU and Japan in a lawsuit filed at the World Trade Organization over China’s alleged restrictions on the export of rare earth elements. For those who’ve properly ignored what until now should have been a non-story, “rare earths” are metals essential for the production of everything from smart phones, to hybrid cars, to military equipment.

Poorest Chinese See Better Access to Food, Shelter
By Steve Crabtree and Rajesh Srinivasan
Improvement coincides with economic recovery, poverty reduction programs - Although income inequality remains high in China, Gallup trends show the poorest Chinese are struggling less to afford life's most basic needs. In 2011, 6% of Chinese in the poorest one-fifth of the population said they did not have enough money to buy food in the past year, down from 23% in 2008…..The ability of low-income and rural Chinese to afford food and shelter is likely tied to recovery from the global economic crisis. China's rural migrant laborers -- who typically hold low-income jobs in the cities -- were among the hardest hit in the recession, as they tended to be the first to be laid off. However, these trends may also have been influenced by the Chinese government's concerted efforts to avoid social unrest among those at the lowest end of the income distribution. Poverty-reduction programs -- including a rural subsistence allowance and subsidies to offset rising food prices for poor families -- have been common in recent years.

My TakeWhat! Income disparity and lack of the necessities for large numbers of the population in a socialist society? Surely not in the “worker’s paradise”! Oh well…when you consider that Mao and his henchmen deliberately starved over 30 million of his own people to death by selling the food they needed to survive in order to buy arms.  We really do need to get this.  Leftists really do hate everyone! Don’t judge them by their words. Judge them by their actions.  Judge them by the socialist monsters of the 20th century, who when they took power, deliberately murdered over 100 million people; many of them were their own people.  Nobody hates like a leftie!  History is foundational to rational thinking and understanding.  Not the philosophical musings and mutterings used by many today, but the actual events and outcomes. 

China 'laws' contradict themselves
Frank Ching
On March 5, the day the 2012 session of China's National People's Congress opened, Premier Wen Jiabao promised to enforce the law “in both letter and spirit, respect and uphold the sanctity of the Constitution and laws, and govern in strict accordance with the laws.” He also said: “We will resolutely rectify the problems of laws not being abided by or fully enforced, lawbreakers not being prosecuted, uncivilized law enforcement, dereliction and neglect of duty, and corrupt practices in law enforcement.”… So when the premier spoke of laws not being abided by and lawbreakers not being prosecuted, he was in a true sense speaking of the failings not of the government but of the party. China is a country where there is no rule of law, where the judiciary is not independent and where conscientious lawyers struggle hard to discharge their fiduciary duty to their clients. According to the Justice Ministry, all new lawyers must within three months of acquiring licenses swear an oath of loyalty to the Communist Party, regardless of whether they are party members or not…. Since the government is led by the party, swearing an oath of loyalty to the party presumably means that whenever lawyers are defending clients being prosecuted by the government, they are required to put the government's interests first. This means that the accused are effectively being deprived of their right of legal representation.

China’s Reformers: MIA
By Russell Leigh-Moses
So what happened to China’s reformers? With the removal of Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai earlier this month, the hope in many circles was that the Leftists he represented were a spent political force. Now was the time for China’s reformist Right— the intellectuals and activists and cadres who celebrated direct elections in Wukan a few weeks back, and have been advocating a transparent and accountable policy-making process – to step in and take control. Like so many political tales in China these days, the reality on the ground has quickly killed off those hopes….. No one should be stunned by the Left’s staying power, or the inability of the Right to simply move into the gap created by the supposed folding of the Chongqing model. Reformers have been weakened by nearly a decade of suffocation by a hardline Center bent on campaigning for “social stability.” Activists can post critiques in the Chinese social media, but they’ve been barred from real political dialogue with the party for the same reason: Many reformers and intellectuals are by now largely discredited because they have proved far better at complaining than they have been at putting forth realistic alternatives.

My TakeI have always been fascinated by this thinking. The Chinese government took over Hong Kong many years ago from the British. What did they do with it? Pretty much left it alone to stand as a shining beacon of capitalism.  As a result that is where a huge amount of their economic capital is created. So with this as the template what alternatives do they need? Nothing is ever as it seems in China!

China’s stability gambit
By Stephen S. Roach
While it is easy to get caught up in the swirling tales of palace intrigue that have followed, I suspect that Bo’s removal holds at least one far deeper meaning.
The first principle that I learned when I started focusing on China in the late 1990s is that nothing is more important to the Chinese than stability - whether economic, social or political. Given centuries of turmoil in China, today’s leaders will do everything in their power to preserve stability. Whenever I have doubts about a potential Chinese policy shift, I examine the options through the stability lens. It has worked like a charm.

My TakeNo matter what the author says; nothing is what it seems in China. Here are some of the basics. China has the world’s largest population of over one billion people. They have a two child policy and as a result most of the babies that are aborted are female. That leaves a huge gap in the male female relationship. There are a whole lot of young men in China that cannot find a wife. It is unlikely that they are happy about that. The country is huge, but most of the nation is either desert or mountains with small numbers of people living there. The vast majority of that 1+ billion population lives in a area no bigger than everything East of the Mississippi River in the U.S. Their banking system is in trouble and the possibility of economic crisis is very real. Those are the realities of China. What do dictators do when crises creates unstable populations? They start a war. Nothing is ever what it seems in China.

China’s Death-Row Reality Show
Jonathan Mirsky
Until it was taken off the air last December, one of the most popular television programs in China’s Henan province, which has a population of 100 million, was “Interviews Before Execution.” … Ding Yu would interview …condemned murderer who was about to face a firing squad or a lethal injection.….. There are 55 different crimes (recently reduced from 68), ranging from tax evasion to unspecified “crimes against the state,” that now qualify as capital offenses. The number of people executed for committing these crimes is a state secret. ….Ding Yu says that her object in doing the interviews is to show harsh punishment for evil deeds, and to urge viewers to be “reasonable and tolerant.” By the time they appear on her program, Ding’s capital offenders have gone through the Chinese justice system with no presumption of innocence and been sentenced, often in a quick court-room procedure without legal representation or witnesses…. She asks the convicted killers to apologize on camera. A man who stabbed his wife to death tells his daughter he is sorry for killing her mother. The daughter, with her back to the camera, sees this. Such scenes, says Ding Yu, “lift a stone from their [the murderers’] hearts.” Very young children are shown in an orphanage for the offspring of murderers. They do not speak of their parents’ crimes “because they are ashamed. “


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