Archive for ‘China alert’

17/02/2017

Soccer Dreams in China’s Rust Belt – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s smog-choked northern province of Hebei is no stranger to lofty goals. For one thing, it has to shut down two-thirds of its steel factories by 2020.

Here comes another: becoming a provincial powerhouse in soccer. Perhaps understandably, it has given itself a few decades to do it.

The “Hebei Province’s Soccer Medium-to-Long Term Development Plan (2016-2050)” unveiled Thursday sets out plans for 1,000 “soccer campuses,” 3,000 amateur leagues and at least one club in the Chinese Super League, the country’s highest tier of professional soccer.

Such plans to pursue the “beautiful game,” as soccer is often called, are quite the departure for China. The world’s second-largest economy used to nurture its sport stars the Soviet way, by picking and grooming its talent from an early age. It still harvests most of its medals using this model. But in soccer, Beijing is trying a looser model perfected in the West: shopping for world-class players world-wide and hoping to spot homegrown talent via a grassroots network of soccer programs in local schools.

“By 2050, we must contribute to China’s bid to host the World Cup,” the Hebei Provincial Sports Bureau said.

At media conferences, officials spoke wistfully of “a soccer tourism route” and “a garden of sports,” a somewhat jarring image of Hebei, which currently produces more than twice the annual steel volume of all U.S. mills combined and is home to China’s smoggiest cities.

In its quest to become a leading purveyor of football talent, Hebei already faces some domestic competition. Fujian province, in China’s south, last month said it also has such plans. Earlier this month, so did the aluminum-producing province of Gansu, known more for its deserts than its dazzling dribbles.

More provinces are likely to follow. The central government last year put out a blueprint detailing bigger, broader goals to mint “two to three first-class soccer teams in Asia, that are internationally known.”

President Xi Jinping has a soft spot for the sport, and in 2011 made known his desire for China to both qualify for and host a World Cup tournament and ultimately to win one.

This has proven difficult. Back-to-back losses last fall all but derailed China’s dream of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. Profligate spending to attract foreign talent led the General Administration of Sport last month to criticize Chinese teams for “burning money” on astronomical recruitment fees and wages, while “neglecting the development of homegrown players.”

Still, Hebei might have an edge. The province, where Mr. Xi spent some time early in his career as a county-level Communist Party official, won government support in a successful bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, despite having only a set of somewhat stumpy mountains with sporadic snow.

Some of the province’s residents aren’t exactly hopeful. “The economy is finished,” one of them wrote on the popular microblogging platform Weibo. “And you still have time to focus on soccer?”

Source: Soccer Dreams in China’s Rust Belt – China Real Time Report – WSJ

15/02/2017

‘Follow one-China policy’: Beijing warns India over Taiwan delegation | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post

China has lodged a strong complaint with India over a rare visit by a Taiwanese parliamentary delegation, warning New Delhi to follow one-China policy and refrain from any official contacts with Taipei.

Sharply criticising the visit, foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shung said Beijing had lodged a “solemn representation” with New Delhi to not have any official contact with Taiwan.

Beijing has always opposed any kind of official contact between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic ties with China, he said.

Why Trump can’t ‘haggle’ over the one-China policy

Geng spoke against any proposal to upgrade India-Taiwan ties, and warned India to be strict about following the one-China policy and be “prudent” about its ties with Taiwan.India has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The de facto Indian embassy in Taipei is called the India-Taipei Association and the Taiwanese maintain the Taipei Economic Cultural Center in New Delhi.

A three-member parliamentary delegation from Taiwan arrived in India on Monday for a three-day visit. The leader of the delegation, Kuan Bi-Ling, said Taiwan is “totally independent”.

“It (the one-China policy) is a de facto reality…We suffered a lot because of the one-China policy. We have crafted a pragmatic approach in our diplomatic engagement with major countries, including India, despite these difficulties,” Kuan told the Indian media.Hosting an official delegation from Taiwan appears to be a shift in Indian policy. In May last year, India had reportedly backtracked from sending representatives to the swearing-in ceremony of then Taiwanese president-elect Tsai Ing-wen. The visit of the Taiwanese delegation is a possible sign that both countries are attempting to increase political engagement without New Delhi moving away from the one-China policy.No country is exempt from one-China principle, says Beijing

In September 2015, before she became Taiwan’s first woman president, Tsai had spoken about India being in focus for her country to strengthen ties.“Asean and India are poised to become two of the world’s largest economic bodies. Strengthening our overall relations is a natural choice for Taiwan as we diversify our economic and trade ties. In the future, we will form a new task force to actively pursue this policy objective,” Tsai had said in a key speech at the time.

The New Southbound Policy Office, which directly functions under the president, will focus on strengthening all-round ties with Asean and South Asia, particularly India, Taiwanese diplomats had then told the Hindustan Times.

Earlier on Wednesday, nationalistic tabloid Global Times said India is playing with fire and will suffer if it challenges the one-China policy and increases engagement with Taiwan.

How a snub of the one-China policy almost led Beijing and US into war in the 1990s

“At a time when new US President Donald Trump has put the brakes on challenging China over the Taiwan question, agreeing to change course and respecting the one-China policy, India stands out as a provocateur,” it said. “Some Indians view the Taiwan question as an Achilles’ heel of the mainland. India has long wanted to use the Taiwan question, the South China Sea and Dalai Lama issues as bargaining chips in dealing with China,” writer Yu Ning wrote in an opinion piece for the newspaper.

“By challenging China over the Taiwan question, India is playing with fire,” Yu wrote.

The newspaper blamed Tsai for inciting India.“Tsai is exploiting India’s vigilance and strategic suspicions against China. The pro-independence leader came up with the ”new southbound policy” to ramp up trade and economic interactions in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Oceania, in which India is considered “not one of the, but the most” important country…Tsai hopes to put pressure on the mainland by tying India and Taiwan closer.”

Source: ‘Follow one-China policy’: Beijing warns India over Taiwan delegation | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post

14/02/2017

When It Comes to Mandarin, Bill Gates Is No Mark Zuckerberg – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Two years ago, Bill Gates admitted one of his life regrets was never becoming conversant in any foreign language.

Mr. Gates, 61 years old, has made some progress. Over the weekend, he gave a 12-word welcome in Mandarin in an opening video for his new blog on Chinese social network WeChat.

“Hello,” he said in Chinese. “Welcome to my official WeChat account.”

Mr. Gates is the latest U.S. tech executive to risk ridicule by speaking publicly in Chinese, joining Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Uber’s Travis Kalanick. But his brief, accented remarks made clear that while he might rival Mr. Zuckerberg in entrepreneurship and philanthropy, the Microsoft Corp. founder is a less formidable challenger in Chinese oration.

“His Chinese pronunciation is not quite as good as Zuckerberg’s,” announced China’s official Global Times newspaper on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

Chinese viewers online gave mixed reviews, with some encouraging his effort (“Great!”) and others panning it (“There appears to be a big difference between his Chinese and English”).

Mr. Gates had praised Mr. Zuckerberg’s fluency in Chinese as “incredible” in a 2015 Reddit question-and-answer session.“I feel pretty stupid that I don’t know any foreign languages,” wrote Mr. Gates in the Reddit Q&A. “I took Latin and Greek in high school and got As and I guess it helps my vocabulary but I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese. I keep hoping to get time to study one of these—probably French because it is the easiest.”

Mr. Gates’s attempt at Chinese was occasioned by the launch of his new WeChat account “gatesnotes.” In China, public figures often use WeChat official accounts to share their opinions and musings with fans. For foreign business leaders, WeChat has become a go-to option as both Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China. Mr. Gates’ new WeChat account appears to be a Chinese version of his English blog by that name.

Mr. Gates was an early adopter of Chinese social media, launching an account on microblogging platform Weibo in 2010, where he has posted sporadically. He now has 3.2 million Weibo followers compared with 33 million on Twitter.

The new WeChat account isn’t verified but claims to be the official account for Mr. Gates. It was set up by Bridge Consulting Co. Ltd., a Chinese joint venture of international health consulting company Global Health Strategies. Global Health Strategies lists the Gates Foundation as a client and donor on its website.

The WeChat account said Mr. Gates will use the space to share his thoughts on people he meets, books he has read and lessons learned, with topics ranging from health to energy and resources. It had drawn more than 100,000 views and over 9,000 “likes” by late Monday, although the only content so far is the welcome video and a note saying regular posts will begin Tuesday.

Bridge Consulting describes its mission as “shaping and promoting the images of international celebrities on Chinese social media”, according to a job ad posted by the company.

Andre Shen, a former media consultant with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in China, is listed as founder of the company, according to regulatory filings. Mr. Shen said in an email he had to check with Mr. Gates’s team in Seattle before making any public statements.

Chinese has become increasingly popular among U.S. entrepreneurs as they seek to get a foot in the door of the world’s biggest internet market. Facebook appears to be in the lead, with Mr. Zuckerberg giving bravura performances such as a half-hour-long speech in Mandarin in Beijing. Facebook Senior Vice President Vaughan Smith and incoming virtual reality chief Hugo Barra have also studied the language.

So far, Uber’s Mr. Kalanick is closer to Mr. Gates than Mr. Zuckerberg in Mandarin prowess, though he has peppered his English speeches in Beijing with the occasional Chinese phrase, like “Hello, students”, to cheers from the crowd.

Source: When It Comes to Mandarin, Bill Gates Is No Mark Zuckerberg – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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09/02/2017

Trump breaks ice with China in letter to Xi – BBC News

US President Donald Trump has sent a letter to Xi Jinping, his first direct approach to the Chinese leader.

The president thanked Mr Xi for congratulating him on his inauguration last month and said he looked forward to “constructive” relations.

Mr Trump has not yet spoken to Mr Xi but did call other world leaders.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said his country attached great importance to the letter, Reuters news agency reports.

He commended Mr Trump for sending Lunar New Year greetings to the Chinese people and said co-operation between the two countries was the only option.

Change in tone

The letter, featuring standard diplomatic pleasantries, comes after a steady stream of belligerent attacks aimed at Chinese trade and policies.

In recent months, Mr Trump has challenged Beijing on sensitive issues such as Taiwan and the South China Sea. He angered China by taking a call from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, the first involving a US president or president-elect in decades.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province to be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary. The US cut formal ties with Taiwan in 1979.

China’s gamble for global supremacy in the Trump era

Is Taiwan a bargaining-chip for Trump on China?

Chinese Year of the Rooster marked with huge Trump sculpture

“President Trump stated that he looks forward to working with President Xi to develop a constructive relationship that benefits both the United States and China,” the letter said, according to the White House.

Mr Trump also wished the Chinese people “a happy Lantern Festival and prosperous Year of the Rooster”.

Lunar New Year celebrations officially end on Saturday with a Lantern Festival.

China has been angered by Mr Trump’s comments on the One China policy concerning Taiwan

The conciliatory tone is in stark contrast to previous statements by Mr Trump, whose presidential campaign was marked by anti-China rhetoric that continued after winning the election.

In December, before his inauguration, Mr Trump posted a series of tweets criticising China for its exchange rate policy and its operations in the South China Sea.

He also questioned the One China policy, which is the diplomatic acknowledgement by the US of Beijing’s position that there is only one Chinese government, following his call with Taiwan.

Shortly after he took office on 20 January, his administration vowed to prevent China from taking territory in the South China Sea.

Beijing has so far responded cautiously, expressing “serious concern” about Mr Trump’s position on the One China policy, and urging the US to maintain close ties with China.

It also lodged a protest over the phone call with Ms Tsai, dismissing it as a “petty trick”, and maintained it would “defend its rights” in the South China Sea.

But state media outlets have been less restrained and have issued strongly-worded rebukes, blasting Mr Trump for “playing with fire” on the Taiwan issue.

They also warned of serious action and a “resolute battle” against Mr Trump.

Source: Trump breaks ice with China in letter to Xi – BBC News

07/02/2017

Call the mayor!: Chinese officials use hotlines to take the public’s pulse | The Economist

IN 1375 a secretary in the justice department wrote a long petition to the Ming emperor. Bored by the endless preamble, the Son of Heaven had the functionary dragged to the court and flogged. That night he read to the end of the petition and discovered four sensible proposals crammed into its final page. He ordered them to be enacted the next day.

Xi Jinping, China’s president, is less attentive to petitions (called “memorials to the throne” in imperial times) than was his Ming predecessor. China still has bureaus where citizens can appeal against official injustice, but the government discourages people from using them. It often locks up those who try, putting them in “black jails” without trial. But if appeals to the emperor now fall on deaf ears, humbler forums for complaint are encouraged. The two main ones are known as “mayor’s mailboxes” and “12345 hotlines”.

There are mayor’s mailboxes on the websites of every municipal government, usually indicated by a button next to a biography of the official with an exhortation to “write me a letter” (or, in practice, send an e-mail). The hotlines allow people to be put through to a local bureaucrat. The first one was set up in 1983. Since then they have proliferated, creating an unco-ordinated tangle. But the past few years have seen rounds of consolidation. Shanghai announced a single hotline in 2013. Guangzhou, in the south, did so in 2015. The unified ones all use the same number, 12345.

Such services may sound parochial, but they play an important role. Chinese officials find it hard to gauge what citizens are thinking. There is no free press and no elections to give them clues. Internet chatter is censored automatically, often before criticism reaches officials’ ears. So e-mails to the “mayor” and hotline calls provide rare and valuable guides to public concerns about a wide range of issues: local governments handle everything from social housing to education and health care. The Communist Party hopes that the hotlines and e-mails will make local administrations more accountable, more efficient and—perhaps—more popular. But do they?

In recent months state media have been promoting what they call a model example—the 12345 hotline in Jinan, capital of the coastal province of Shandong. It was launched in 2008, has about 60 operators on duty and gets nearly 5,000 calls a day, rising to 20,000 on busy ones. In 2014 Wang Zongling of the Standardisation Administration, which sets national standards, looked at the hotline’s impact on the government in Jinan. Before it was set up, the city had 38 hotline numbers for contacting different departments. That was “chaos”, the administration said.

The single hotline brought some order. The average time for handling a complaint fell from 10-15 days before it was set up to five afterwards. The share of calls put through to the right person rose from 80% to 97%. Partly because it is now possible to call city hall without wasting your time, enquiries rose from just over 4,000 a day between 2008 and 2011 to almost 5,000. Since the 12345 operators were better trained than before, they processed calls more quickly and the cost per call fell.

But Jinan is a special case. A survey last year by Dataway Horizon, a consultancy in Beijing, found wide variations in the quality of service. In Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, which are among the richest cities, all hotline calls were put through right away. In Yunnan, Tibet, Shaanxi and Qinghai—less-developed provinces in the west—only a fifth of calls were even answered on the first attempt. A meeting last July to introduce a hotline in Wuxi near Shanghai reportedly degenerated into a squabble between a deputy mayor and district councillors who argued that it would waste money. In nearby Hangzhou the hotline crashed last month when parents flooded it with calls complaining that school exams were too difficult.

In an attempt to improve widely varying levels of service, the central government recently laid down rules for running 12345 hotlines. Starting in July, calls must be answered within 15 seconds, at least one person on duty should be able to speak a language other than Mandarin and the line should be open 24 hours a day.

Perhaps because they are often poorly run, hotlines do not seem to be making local governments any more popular. These form the most despised tier of authority in China: many of the most egregious face-to-face abuses of power take place locally. In Jinan, despite all those efficiency gains, the survey found that “enquirer satisfaction” was only 1.3% higher after the hotline was established than before it. The spread of hotlines has had no discernible impact on the rise of anti-government demonstrations, most of which are aimed at local governments (see chart).

But it is possible that there would have been even more protests without the safety-valve of hotlines. State media say one of their roles is to help with “stability maintenance” by alerting officials to potential flashpoints. Many public protests relate to bread-and-butter issues, such as the ones a local newspaper said were most frequently raised by callers to the 12345 hotline in Nanjing, a southern city: the management of apartment blocks, the water supply, illegal construction, violations of consumer rights and shoddily built housing.

The same topics flood mayors’ mailboxes (both virtual and real). Diana Fu of the University of Toronto and Greg Distelhorst of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have trawled through over 8,000 letters and e-mails sent to mayors’ offices in nearly 300 cities. They found that environmental problems headed the list of concerns. Four of the top 15 involved various kinds of dispute over property.

Arguments over property are among the most frequent causes of unrest. Local government is largely financed by selling land, which is often seized without fair compensation. Very few people dare to protest explicitly about political issues, but all politics is local—and in China local politics is all about land.

Calling for the resignation of a mayor may be risky, but the correspondence read by Ms Fu and Mr Distelhorst shows that complainants are not shy about pointing fingers at lower-level officials. “Zhou’s behaviour is despicable,” seethes one writer about a civil-service examiner caught up in a bribery case in Zhaotong city, Yunnan province. Another, from Shaanxi province, asks: “Is it possible that the budget for road repairs has been swallowed up by corruption (just a suspicion)? I would not rule out reporting it to the media…”

For bureaucrats, such accusations may be a salutary surprise. Most officials spend their lives talking to one other about party business, not listening to the public. Over the next few months, party committees across the country will hold tens of thousands of meetings to discuss preparations for a five-yearly congress in Beijing later this year. As some officials admit privately, none of these gatherings will help them understand any better what most of the country is thinking. Perhaps the hotlines and mailboxes may.

Source: Call the mayor!: Chinese officials use hotlines to take the public’s pulse | The Economist

03/02/2017

Something to Crow About: Ivanka Trump Visits Chinese New Year Party – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Chinese social media lit up Thursday over an appearance by Ivanka Trump and her daughter at a Lunar New Year celebration at Beijing’s embassy in Washington.

Photos and video went viral, showing Ms. Trump and 5-year-old Arabella being hosted at the Wednesday night event by China’s ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai. On the Chinese microblogging site Weibo, the term #Trump’sDaughterVisitsChina’sEmbassy in Chinese quickly zoomed up to become the seventh most-searched item on Thursday.

Just as remarked, however, was the lack so far of Year of the Rooster wishes from President Trump.

“Trump’s daughter visits China’s embassy and wishes China a happy New Year! The daughter understands more than the father,” one Weibo user said.

The Lunar New Year — the most important holiday in China — is celebrated in several countries across Asia and by Chinese around the world. It has become an occasion for global leaders to offer up well wishes. In 2015, British royal Prince William wished China a happy Year of the Sheep in Mandarin in a video televised across the nation. When they were presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama issued Lunar New Year messages.

As the start of the Year of the Rooster officially came and went over the weekend, Chinese media noted the conspicuous absence of a similar tribute from Mr. Trump.

“Her father, the new U.S. president, has broken the tradition of sending New Year greetings to people of Chinese origin in the U.S. during their most important festival,” a China Daily slideshow of photos featuring Ms. Trump noted.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some social media posts gave Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt, saying the lack of new year’s greetings may not have been a deliberate snub, but the work of his advisers. Mr. Trump has vowed to get tough with China over its trade and currency policies, and his advisers have called for countering Chinese actions in the South China Sea with a naval blockade.

“To be honest, I think that Trump really maybe just forgot. He’s surrounded by anti-China people. There wouldn’t be anyone to remind him,” wrote another Weibo user. “Now it’s already too late, and to wish happy New Year under pressure from the media would mean losing face, right? So he just lets his daughter make an appearance.”

Video from the Chinese Embassy function featured Arabella and her mother being shown rooster paper cutouts and art made from melted sugar, as well as posing with costumed Chinese opera performers.

Arabella has previously endeared herself to the Chinese public after a video of her reciting Chinese poetry was widely circulated last year. On Thursday, social media users further amused themselves by analyzing her less-than-enthusiastic facial expressions captured at the embassy’s event. “She looks like I do when I don’t want to visit my relatives,” ran one.

“It looks like she’s angling for yasuiqian,” wrote another, referring to the red envelopes tucked with cash traditionally handed out to children over the holiday.

While Mr. Trump may have yet to formally extend his well wishes for the holiday Year of the Rooster, he has in other ways inspired the Year of the Rooster in China. A shopping mall in the central city of Taiyuan put up a large rooster sculpture with a Trump-like hairstyle in central China, inspiring balloons of similar design.

Source: Something to Crow About: Ivanka Trump Visits Chinese New Year Party – China Real Time Report – WSJ

31/01/2017

The Chinese man trapped in India for half a century – BBC News

In 1963 a Chinese army surveyor crossed into India and was captured, weeks after a war between the countries. Wang Qi has been unable to leave India ever since – and longs to see his family in China.

BBC Hindi’s Vineet Khare met him.

Tirodi village is a nearly five-hour drive from the nearest airport in Nagpur in central India.

I am here to meet Wang Qi, a Chinese army surveyor who entered India in 1963 but could never go back. For over five decades, he has been longing to see his family back home.

Sporting cropped white hair, black trainers and a body warmer, Mr Wang, who is now in his eighties, hugs me when we meet. We are about to try and make video contact with his family more than 3,000km (1,864 miles) away in China.

Together we go to the government office, which is the only centre equipped with internet for miles around.

He watches in anticipation as I dial and then his eyes light up as the image of his elder brother Wang Zhiyuan, 82, appears on the screen, seated on a sofa in Xianyang, a city in China’s Shaanxi province.

The two brothers are seeing each other after more than 50 years. The conversation in Mandarin lasts 17 minutes.

“I couldn’t recognise him. He looked so old. He said he was alive just for me,” Wang Qi, also known by his Indian name Raj Bahadur, tells me in strongly accented Hindi as his three Indian-born children gather around to comfort him.

Mr Wang’s story is a long and sad one.

Born to a farmer family in Shaanxi with four brothers and two sisters, he studied surveying and joined China’s People’s Liberation Army in 1960.

Mr Wang says he was “tasked with building roads for the Chinese army” and was captured when he “strayed erroneously” inside India’s territory in January 1963.

“I had gone out of my camp for a stroll but lost my way. I was tired and hungry. I saw a Red Cross vehicle and asked them to help me. They handed me over to the Indian army,” he said.

Mr Wang’s mother died in 2006 before he could go back and see her

Indian officials said Mr Wang “intruded into India” and gave “false background and the circumstances” about his whereabouts to the authorities.

He spent the next seven years in a number of different jails before a court ordered his release in 1969.

Police took him to Tirodi, a far-flung village in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. He has not been allowed to leave the country ever since.

It’s still not clear whether Mr Wang is a prisoner of war. But he has been denied official Indian documents or citizenship and also been denied permission to travel back. His family says Mr Wang needs a document to exit India.

Senior local official Bharat Yadav agrees that there have been “deficiencies” and a “lack of interest” in the case.

“There are no suspicions about his actions. If he wants to go back, we will try and help him,” he said.

An official at the Chinese embassy, which helped him secure a passport in 2013, acknowledged he was aware of the issue. A response to questions sent to India’s federal home ministry is still awaited.

It has been a long, excruciating wait for Mr Wang.

Wang Qi joined China’s People’s Liberation Army in 1960

Be it language, food or a vastly different society, Mr Wang has had to adapt every step of the way.

“I began by working in a flour mill. But I cried in the night as I longed for my family. I missed my mother,” he said.

“I wondered what I had got into.”

Mr Wang married a local girl, Sushila, under “pressure from friends” in 1975.

“I was livid with my parents for marrying me off to an outsider. I had trouble understanding his language. I tolerated him for a few months. Then I got used to him,” she says with a smile.

Mr Wang tried his hand at business but his undefined legal status meant visits by local police.

Mr Wang married a local girl, Sushila, under “pressure from friends” in 1975

“I remember Mr Wang being beaten by the police for not bribing them. He was an honest man,” says BB Singh, his neighbour for many years.

“He always talked about his home in China. His family lived in utter poverty. He would cycle for miles with no break,” another former neighbour Jayanti Lal Waghela says.

Mr Wang wrote letters home but received his first reply only in the 1980s. Family pictures were exchanged.

He spoke to his mother for the first time in more than 40 years on the phone in 2002.

“She said she wanted to see me as her last days were near. I said I was trying to return. I wrote letters to everyone who mattered to provide me with exit documents but nothing moved.”

She died in 2006.

Mr Wang’s family in ChinaMr Wang’s nephew met him when he came to India as a tourist in 2009.

It was he who helped him to get the necessary documents for his passport.It is still not clear whether Wang Qi will be able to go to China – and if he did, would he want to return to India?

“My family is here. Where would I go?” he says, playing with his granddaughter in his lap.

Sushila is worried though. “I hope he comes back.”

Mr Wang with his family

Image captionIt is not clear whether Mr Wang will leave his family and return to China
26/01/2017

Chinese man cycles 500km in wrong direction to get home – BBC News

The milk of human kindness flows through the veins of Chinese policemen.

“A man hoping to cycle home cross-country for Chinese New Year realised 30 days into his trip that he had been travelling in the wrong direction.

The young migrant worker from China was aiming for his home in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang province, after setting off from Rizhao – over 1,700km away.

But he was stopped by traffic police 500km off course, in the central Chinese province of Anhui.

When they found out, the police paid for a train ticket to get him home.

The man had set off from Rizhao, in Shandong province, in December.

A report from the People’s Online Daily said the man had been living in internet cafes and was low on funds.

But he was determined to make it home so he chose to cycle the route.

The unnamed man could not read maps, meaning he had to rely on others for directions.

Police stopped him when he was riding on a highway, which cannot be used by cyclists.

After discovering his mistake, both police and people working at the toll station he was stopped at contributed to his ticket home.”

Source: Chinese man cycles 500km in wrong direction to get home – BBC News

24/01/2017

Xi Jinping portrays China as a rock of stability | The Economist

DELEGATES at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos often treat politicians as rock stars. But the fawning reception given to China’s leader, Xi Jinping, on January 17th was extraordinary.

He was the first Chinese president to attend the annual gathering of the world’s business and political elite. Even an overflow room was packed when he delivered, in his usual dour manner, a speech laced with literary references—rendered through bulky headsets into equally monotone translations. Mr Xi said little that was new, but the audience lapped it up anyway. Here, at a time of global uncertainty and anxiety for capitalists, was the world’s most powerful communist presenting himself as a champion of globalisation and open markets.

Mr Xi (pictured, next to a panda ice-sculpture) did not mention Donald Trump by name, nor even America, but his message was clear. “No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war,” he said, in a swipe at Mr Trump who has threatened, among other mercantilist acts, to slap heavy tariffs on Chinese goods. Mr Xi likened protectionism to “locking oneself in a dark room”, a phrase that delegates repeated with delight. His words seemed comforting to many of them after a year of political surprises, not least in America and Britain. Mr Xi quoted from Dickens to describe a “world of contradictions”, as he put it. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” he said. Many foreign businesses complain about what they regard as a rise of protectionism in China, too—but no one could accuse Mr Xi of being out of tune with the Davos mood. China, Mr Xi assured delegates, “will keep its door wide open and not close it”.

The Chinese president also portrayed his country as a staunch defender of the environment. He said that sticking to the Paris agreement on climate change, which came into effect last year, was “a responsibility we must assume for future generations”. These, too, were welcome words to many listening: Mr Trump’s threat to reject the pact will make China’s commitment to it all the more crucial. The week of whose inauguration?

The timing of Mr Xi’s trip was fortuitous—according to the Financial Times his aides were working on it before Britain voted to leave the European Union and well before Mr Trump’s election victory. But he must have relished the points that those events enabled him to score at Davos. Mr Xi faces political battles of his own as he prepares for a five-yearly Communist Party congress in the autumn and a reshuffle right after it. He wants to install more of his allies in key positions. Standing tall on the world stage could help (and attending Davos will have reinforced the point to his colleagues that he is in charge of China’s economy, as he clearly is of every other main portfolio).

Mr Xi would have relished the occasion even had the predictions of many in the global elite a year ago proved accurate—that Britain would vote to stay in the EU and that Mr Trump would not win. The forum is one where embarrassing questions about China’s politics are seldom raised openly. Mr Xi could talk airily of China’s openness, with little fear of being asked why he is clamping down on dissent and tightening controls on the internet (last year this newspaper’s website joined the many foreign ones that are blocked). On January 14th China’s most senior judge condemned judicial independence as a “false Western ideal”.

Previously, the highest-ranking Chinese attendees had been prime ministers. In 2016 the vice-president, Li Yuanchao, who ranks lower than the prime minister in the party hierarchy, led the team. So why has Mr Xi waited until his fifth year as president to turn up? He may well have winced at the thought of doing so last year, when discussions were dominated by questions about China’s management of its slowing economy in the wake of a stockmarket crash and a sudden devaluation of the yuan. Many analysts still worry about China’s economy (not least its growing debt), but the West’s problems have loomed larger over the Swiss Alps this week.

And for all his uplifting talk, Mr Xi shows no signs of wanting to take over as the world’s chief troubleshooter, even if Mr Trump shuns that role. Mr Xi is preoccupied with managing affairs at home and asserting control in seas nearby (see article). “Nothing is perfect in the world,” the new Davos man sagely informed the delegates. But he is unlikely to take the lead in making the world a better place.

Source: Xi Jinping portrays China as a rock of stability | The Economist

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23/01/2017

China’s first aircraft-carrier bares its teeth | The Economist

FOR Admiral Wu Shengli, the commander of China’s navy since 2006, it must have been a sweet swansong to mark his imminent retirement. In November China announced that its first and only aircraft-carrier, the Liaoning, was combat ready.

On December 24th its navy duly dispatched an impressive-looking carrier battle-group with three escorting destroyers, a couple of frigates, a corvette and a refuelling ship. It sailed from the northern port of Qingdao down through the Miyako Strait, past Taiwan and into the South China Sea.

Three weeks later the Liaoning (pictured) was back in port having sailed home via the Taiwan Strait, thus completing a loop around the island. The point was not lost on the Taiwanese, who scrambled fighter jets and sent naval ships to monitor the group’s progress. The Chinese ships showed off their firepower, with Shenyang J-15 fighters staging a series of take-off and landing drills. That everything went smoothly was evidence of the navy’s transformation under Admiral Wu (his career perhaps destined by his forename, which means victory). He had meticulously prepared for this moment, which came just four years after the carrier, acquired as a partially built hulk from Ukraine in 1998, formally entered naval service.

China’s deployment of an aircraft-carrier is not a military game-changer. But it is a conspicuous symbol of the country’s ambitions as a maritime and global power. The Liaoning has been a crucial building block for the navy in its evolution from a coastal defence force into what is now a modern navy that China uses to assert its (contested) maritime claims in the East and South China Seas. Within the next 25 years China expects its navy to become a powerful blue-water fleet that can guard China’s sea lanes of communication against any aggressor, push the US Navy beyond the “second island chain” far out into the Pacific (see map) and protect the country’s far-flung commercial interests.

Scary, perhaps, but also easy to sink

To that end, probably around 2004, China made up its mind that it must have aircraft-carriers. A second, indigenously designed one, based on the Liaoning but with the latest radar and space for more aircraft, is nearing completion at the northern port of Dalian. Many analysts believe that a third such vessel, larger and more complex, is under construction in Shanghai. Andrew Erickson of the US Naval War College says Admiral Wu adopted a “crawl, walk, run” approach to developing a carrier capability, recognising the difficulties involved. Carrier operations are inherently dangerous—America lost 8,500 aircrew in the 40 years to 1988 on its way to reaching what Mr Erickson calls its current “gold standard” of carrier expertise.

 

Commissioning the Liaoning was a good way to start. Much modified and fettled by the Chinese, the ship is based on the Soviet Kuznetsov-class design. It is big, with a displacement of about 60,000 tons, but nowhere near the size of America’s super-carriers such as the USS Ronald Reagan, which is based in Japan. That Nimitz-class ship displaces around 100,000 tons.

In other ways, too, the Liaoning pales in comparison with America’s 10 Nimitz-class carriers. They can carry more than 55 fixed-wing aircraft. The Liaoning can only handle 24 J-15s (based on the Russian Sukhoi SU-33) and a handful of helicopters. Unlike the American carriers, it lacks a catapult to propel aircraft from its deck. Instead it relies on a “ski-jump” prow to provide extra lift. As a result, the J-15s have to carry a lighter load of weapons and fuel. Heavier, slower airborne early-warning and anti-submarine aircraft cannot take off from the Liaoning at all. That limits the type of missions the ship can perform and makes the vessel vulnerable when operating beyond the range of shore-based aircraft. The Liaoning also depends on a notoriously unreliable Soviet-era design for its steam turbines, which cuts its range and speed compared with the nuclear-powered Nimitz-class carriers.

The US Office of Naval Intelligence has dismissed the Liaoning’s ability to project naval power over a long distance. But the ship does have military value. It can provide air-protection for China’s fleet, and would be a major asset in disaster-relief or evacuation missions. Peter Singer of the New America Foundation, a think-tank, says that a Liaoning-led battle group would also seem pretty formidable to neighbours, such as Vietnam or the Philippines, should China feel like bullying them.

But the main value of the Liaoning is the experience that it is giving the navy in the complex choreography of carrier operations. Those skills will help in the eventual deployment of indigenously designed carriers. The Chinese have been training with catapult-launch systems on land. This has fuelled speculation that the carrier thought

Source: China’s first aircraft-carrier bares its teeth | The Economist

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