15/12/2014

The Chinese Military’s Response to Unannounced Drones: Blow ‘Em Out of the Sky – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Earlier this year, a court in suburban Beijing said it was preparing to try employees of a Chinese drone company on charges of “negligently endangering public safety” after an unmanned aircraft disrupted commercial flights and led the air force to scramble helicopters in response.

The drone flight in question happened on Dec. 29, 2013, in the eastern Beijing suburb of Pinggu. Operated by employees of Beijing UAV Sci-Tech Co., the drone forced several commercial flights to alter their flight paths and caused others to be delayed. According to reports in October, the People’s Liberation Army dispatched helicopters to force the drone down.

In Sunday’s report, the People’s Liberation Army Daily said the drone was in fact shot out of the air.

The shooting came after an unidentified object showed up on military radar, according to the report. Air force commanders ordered several regiments to prepare for battle and dispatched six ground teams to the area where the object was detected. Minutes later, the air force identified the object as a small aircraft and immediately notified the Beijing Military Area Command, as well as the public security bureaus in Beijing and neighboring Hebei province.

A military helicopter was dispatched to investigate further. “The drone continued to ignore warnings and fly in the direction of  Beijing Capital Airport,” the newspaper said. “The Beijing Air Force commander made a firm decision: Avoid densely populated areas and use a shotgun to bring the target down.” (It wasn’t clear from the report what sort of weapon that would be, leaving China Real Time to wonder whether they used a shotgun-like weapon attached to the helicopter or whether a crewmember popped off a 12 gauge through an open window.)

After the helicopter opened fire, the drone fell. As the helicopter descended to check on the drone, it discovered the three operators next to a car. The trio and their car were immediately taken into custody, the newspaper said.

via The Chinese Military’s Response to Unannounced Drones: Blow ‘Em Out of the Sky – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

15/12/2014

About 300 Chinese said fighting alongside Islamic State in Middle East | Reuters

About 300 Chinese people are fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a Chinese state-run newspaper said on Monday, a rare tally that is likely to fuel worry in China that militants pose a threat to security.

China has expressed concern about the rise of Islamic State in the Middle East, nervous about the effect it could have on its Xinjiang region. But it has also shown no sign of wanting to join U.S. efforts to use military force against the group.

Chinese members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) are traveling to Syria via Turkey to join the Islamic State, also known as IS, the Global Times, a tabloid run by China’s ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, said.

“According to information from various sources, including security officers from Iraq’s Kurdish region, Syria and Lebanon, around 300 Chinese extremists are fighting with IS in Iraq and Syria,” the Global Times reported.

via About 300 Chinese said fighting alongside Islamic State in Middle East | Reuters.

14/12/2014

After Swacch Bharat, Modi wants ‘drug-free India’ – The Hindu

Voicing concern over the “devastating” drug addiction menace, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said society as well as the government will have to work together to fight this problem and that a helpline would be set up soon to assist those seeking solutions.

In his third Mann Ki Baat programme on radio, he said the menace is a “national pain” but instead of the youth mired in the problem, drugs should be shunned.

He said drug addiction is “a malaise filled 3D — darkness, destruction and devastation — as it leads to the dark alleys of destruction and devastation“.

The Prime Minister said a thinking process should begin to ensure that the country is rid of this problem and added that he will try to involve celebrities from the cine world, sports and other fields to campaign for a “drug-free India”.

via After Swacch Bharat, Modi wants ‘drug-free India’ – The Hindu.

14/12/2014

With Oil Prices Falling Venezuela Needs China More Than Ever – Businessweek

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had a Plan B in the event the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries declined to back his country’s proposal to cut output to boost prices.

Downtown Caracas, Venezuela

The day after OPEC’s Nov. 27 decision to maintain production at current levels, a move that drove oil prices to new lows, a somber-looking Maduro went on national television to tell the Venezuelan people he was dispatching Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco Torres to Beijing. Torres spent the first week of December in China, during which he tweeted photos of his meetings with Chinese officials and bankers.

via With Oil Prices Falling Venezuela Needs China More Than Ever – Businessweek.

14/12/2014

China Has a ‘New Normal’ Too – Businessweek

China’s Communist Party leaders are known for their turgid jargon, much of it dating back decades to when Mao Zedong still dominated dogma. But sometimes, apparently, they feel the need to borrow from less hoary, more capitalistic sources.

A technology and manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China

That is what Xi Jinping has done with his “new normal” theory of the Chinese economy, now getting lots of play in the state media. The phrase, first popularized by Pacific Investment Management Co., or Pimco, the giant Newport Beach (Calif) bond fund manager, referred of course to the lackluster economic growth following the global financial crisis.

Earlier this year Xi used the then-already tired cliché while on a May inspection trip to Henan, the province southwest of the Chinese capital. Then it got a real airing during a speech he gave at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum last month. “A new normal of China’s economy has emerged with several notable features,” Xi said, speaking before more than 1,500 global business executives in Beijing, reported the Party-owned Global Times on Nov. 10.

“First, the economy has shifted gear from the previous high speed to a medium-to-high-speed growth. Second, the economic structure is constantly improved and upgraded. Third, the economy is increasingly driven by innovation instead of input and investment,” the paper wrote, paraphrasing Xi.

Translation: Yes, the economy will not grow at the hyper rates all of you had gotten used to—still, no need for alarm. We are making the transition to a healthier, more sustainable version, this one driven more by consumption, services, and, oh yes, innovation. “The ‘new normal’ theory elaborated by Chinese President Xi Jinping would be one of the hallmarks to be engraved in history,” the Global Times ambitiously predicted.

“We must understand the new normal, adjust to the new normal, and develop under the new normal—coming to terms with the new normal will be the ‘main logic’ for economic growth for some time,” the official Xinhua News Agency wrote today, in a report on the three-day, high-level Central Economic Work Conference that closed Thursday. “The new normal has not changed the strategic importance of a period that will see great achievements,” it promised.

via China Has a ‘New Normal’ Too – Businessweek.

14/12/2014

China to place permanent anti-graft teams in major departments | Reuters

The corruption watchdog of China’s ruling Communist Party will establish permanent offices in some of the country’s most important party and government departments, state media said on Friday, as part of a sweeping campaign against graft.

Teams will be based in the cabinet office and parliament, as well as the party’s powerful organization department, which oversees personnel decisions, propaganda department and United Front Work Department, which deals with non-Communists, the official Xinhua news agency said.

While numerous corruption inspection teams have fanned out across the country in recent months, this is the first time such offices have been placed in crucial arms of the government, and paves the way for similar permanent offices.

via China to place permanent anti-graft teams in major departments | Reuters.

14/12/2014

Set aside hate, China’s Xi says on Nanjing Massacre anniversary | Reuters

China and Japan should set aside hatred and not allow the minority who led Japan to war to affect relations now, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday, as the country marked its first national memorial day for the Nanjing Massacre.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) and other leaders attend a memorial ceremony at the Nanjing Massacre Museum in Nanjing, Jiangsu province December 13, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song

China and Japan have long sparred over their painful history. China consistently reminds its people of the 1937 massacre in which it says Japanese troops killed 300,000 people in its then capital.

A postwar Allied tribunal put the death toll at 142,000, but some conservative Japanese politicians and scholars deny a massacre took place at all.

Ties had deteriorated sharply over the past year following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine honoring war criminals among Japan’s war dead. The two are also involved in a spat over islets in the East China Sea.

But both countries, mindful of the economic stakes, reached agreement last month to try to reset ties during an ice-breaking meeting between Xi and Abe in Beijing.

Speaking at a memorial in the eastern city of Nanjing, a somber Xi said that while history must never be forgotten, the future was just as important.

“The reason we are having a memorial for the Nanjing Massacre victims is to recall that all good-hearted people yearn for and hold fast to peace, not to prolong hatred,” Xi said, in comments carried live on state television.

“The people of China and Japan should pass on friendship from generation to generation,” he added.

“Forgetting history is a betrayal, and denying a crime is to repeat a crime. We should not hate a people just because a small minority of militarists set off an invasion and war.

“… but nobody at any time should forget the severe crimes of the invaders.”

Doves to signify peace flew overhead once Xi, wearing a white flower on his lapel to signify mourning, finished speaking.

Next year is the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, and China has already promised memorials, offering the potential for further Sino-Japanese friction.

In recent days, China has released heart-rending accounts of the violence from its archives.

“With the issue of history having become an unavoidable hurdle in Japan’s relations with neighbors, the best way for the island nation to proceed is sincere acknowledgement and repentance of its war-time past, rather than futile attempts to reject it,” the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary.

via Set aside hate, China’s Xi says on Nanjing Massacre anniversary | Reuters.

12/12/2014

The Nanjing massacre: Lest they forget | The Economist

IN THE city of Nanjing in eastern China, polluting factories have been shut temporarily, streets cleaned and a third of government cars kept off roads in readiness for a new “national memorial day” that will be observed on December 13th. Chinese leaders, probably including President Xi Jinping, will gather in Nanjing to mourn victims of the worst atrocity committed by Japanese troops during their occupation of the country in the 1930s and 1940s: the Nanjing massacre of 1937 that China says left more than 300,000 dead. The bloodshed in what until shortly beforehand had been China’s capital still generates widespread bitterness in China. But why the need now to mobilise the country to commemorate the event?

The decision to establish an annual memorial day for the massacre was made in March by China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress. It also designated September 3rd as “victory day” to mark Japan’s defeat in 1945. In August a new “martyrs’ day” was added to the list. It would be observed annually on September 30th in honour of China’s war dead, including those who died fighting the Japanese. These moves were a sign of a severe strain in ties between China and Japan that began in 2012 when Japan nationalised three of the uninhabited Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. China claims the islands, which it calls the Diaoyu. Relations were further soured by a visit paid a year ago by Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo where Japanese war criminals are among those honoured.

In November, during a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders in Beijing, President Xi Jinping shook hands with Mr Abe for the first time since the Japanese leader took office two years ago. But a restoration of normal high-level contacts will not be swift. The war will loom large in the coming months as China prepares next year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the conflict’s end. The party continues to whip up nationalist sentiment with anti-Japanese television shows, the publication of war memoirs, and, in the last few days, the issuing of school textbooks with anti-Japanese themes. One, for use at primary schools in Jiangsu province, of which Nanjing is the capital, is titled “Memory of Blood and Fire”. The main ceremony on December 13th will be held at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall (pictured above) and will be broadcast live across the country. What has been described by Chinese media as the world’s largest and loudest air-raid siren, made for the occasion, will be sounded just after 10am local time.

The memorial days also serve a political purpose at home. Mr Xi has been trying to cast himself as a nationalist who has the courage to assert China’s territorial claims, even at the cost of offending America and its friends in the region. This, he apparently hopes, will boost his prestige and the Communist Party’s legitimacy. In a speech on “victory day”, Mr Xi said the party had played a “decisive role” in defeating Japan and was “leading the Chinese nation on its quest for great revival”. But there was also a hint of conciliation. It was, he said, in the interests of Chinese and Japanese “to maintain a healthy and steady long-term relationship”. Wartime memories will continue to frustrate that goal.

via The Nanjing massacre: Lest they forget | The Economist.

12/12/2014

Christmas celebrations: Oh what fun | The Economist

CITIES across China blink with fairy lights, fancy hotels flaunt trees and tinsel, and glossy magazine covers display festive recipes and table settings. “Joy up!” reads a sign (in English) on three illuminated trees by a shopping mall in Beijing. The Chinese are doing just that.

In the first decades of Communist rule in China Christianity was banned, along with other religions. Now there are tens of millions of Christians in China and faiths of all kinds are blossoming. But this has little to do with the country’s fast-growing fascination with Christmas. In the West the holiday is a commercialised legacy of Christian culture; in China it is almost entirely a product of Mammon. Father Christmas is better known to most than Jesus.

Well before Christmas took hold in China’s cities, its factories were churning out Christmas essentials for consumption in the West. Industrially, China is now the Christmas king. According to Xinhua, a state-run news agency, more than 60% of Christmas trinkets worldwide last year came from a single “Christmas village”—Yiwu (in fact, a city), in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

But ever more of these goodies now stay in China, to satisfy a domestic craving. Some are tailored to Chinese tastes: Father Christmases playing the saxophone, for example, are a common decoration—no-one quite knows why. This year some shops are putting Santa hats on sheep; the Chinese new year in February, another excuse for hedonism, will be sheep-themed. A shop selling sex aids in Beijing displays a mannequin with a short Santa hot-pants suit, complete with white furry leg warmers.

Christmas in China never really ends. Decorations sometimes remain up year-round. In 2016 the south-western city of Chengdu will host Asia’s first “SantaPark”—a giant Christmas-themed amusement park modelled on a Finnish attraction. It will be known as the “official home of Santa Claus” (despite Chengdu’s sweltering summers and mild winters).

Family reunions are not part of Christmas tradition in China; for most people it is a chance to enjoy public displays of lights, and, for a growing number of younger Chinese, to exchange gifts with colleagues and friends (China’s home-grown festivals are not so centred around gift-giving). As elsewhere, Christmas in China is a merry time to shop.

via Christmas celebrations: Oh what fun | The Economist.

12/12/2014

China’s Construction Workers: Abused and Unpaid – Businessweek

China’s millions of migrant construction workers are building the country’s new highways, stadiums, shopping malls, and rail lines. They often get little in return—sometimes not even their paychecks.

Migrant workers in Beijing

A new survey of 4,329 construction workers by two Chinese nonprofits, the Beijing Practitioner Cultural Development & Research Center for Migrant Workers and iLabor, found that only 5 percent of migrant laborers are offered work contracts. Most take ad hoc jobs, relying on the word of site managers about when and how much they will be paid. The survey documented at least 138 cases over seven years of companies failing to pay any workers on a site.

Zhang Kejian has worked as a construction laborer for 14 years. Every year he has been on the job, he’s had to contend with late or unpaid wages, as he told Caixin magazine. “I hope our society can be aware of what we’re going through,” he said, “and help us with a contract instead of making us slaves of our bosses.”

via China’s Construction Workers: Abused and Unpaid – Businessweek.

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