Posts tagged ‘Deng Xiaoping’

21/11/2016

A victory for China? | The Economist

THE relationship between China and America, as diplomats often intone, is more important than any other between two countries. But that did not help China understand the election of Donald Trump any better than anyone else. The government’s initial reaction was one of confusion, verging on denial. Many ordinary citizens expressed horror, but even more voiced admiration. Mr Trump, it seems, has a remarkable following in a country he blames for America’s malaise.

When news broke of Mr Trump’s victory, official media buried it. That evening, the flagship news programme on state television informed viewers of events in America in the final four minutes of a half-hour broadcast. While the rest of the world was glued to Mr Trump’s victory speech, Chinese viewers had to make do with Xi Jinping, China’s president, talking to Chinese astronauts orbiting the planet.

Chinese officials pay obsessive attention to ensuring the Communist Party’s line is reflected accurately by the country’s main media. But Mr Trump’s victory caught them in a muddle. Several outlets said Mr Xi had telephoned his compliments to Mr Trump. But Mr Trump said he had spoken to or heard from most foreign leaders—except Mr Xi. The phone call did not take place until six days after the vote. In most countries such a mistake would be insignificant, the result of sloppy reporting or ambiguous phrasing (in Mandarin, the phrase “sent a congratulatory note” can also mean “congratulate by phone”). In China it suggested that media overlords were not sure what line to take.

They had hoped the message from the election would be clear: that American democracy is in disarray and that “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is the best choice for China. For the first time, an American election was given extensive coverage (the third presidential debate was broadcast in its entirety). The authorities may have made the right call, as they would see it. “Thank God we don’t use this voting system,” said one blogger.

Unlikely hero

But if some netizens disliked what they saw of the process, many more were captivated by the electoral drama and, especially, by one of the candidates. Ordinary citizens followed the campaign with unprecedented interest. Online, 20 times more posts referred to Mr Trump in the past year than to Barack Obama in the past eight years. One blogger compared Telangpu, as Mr Trump’s name is commonly rendered in Chinese, to the late Deng Xiaoping. Both, apparently, are visionary dealmakers. In China’s online world, wrote another netizen, “Trump has this almost untouchable presence.”

Having digested the news of the victory, Chinese officials have begun to see possible benefits in a Trump presidency (see Banyan). But Ma Tianjie, who runs a website called Chublic Opinion, argues that support for the president-elect is based on culture and values, not calculation. This suggests it has three significant things to say about Chinese society.

First, younger Chinese are not so dissimilar to Mr Trump’s American supporters. As one user wrote on Zhihu, a question and answer site: “Most Chinese born after the 1980s are from a working-class background, who can still sympathise with the uneducated ignorance demonstrated by the less refined.” Anti-elitism retains a broad appeal. “Trump won because he truly spoke in the people’s voice,” wrote one microblogger.

Next, decades of unbridled economic growth have created a Trump-like worship of money and winners. As Lao Lingmin argued on the Financial Times’s Chinese-language website, support for Mr Trump reflected China’s “law of the jungle”. Chinese society, he wrote, “does not exist for the protection of vulnerable groups”.

Thirdly, says Mr Ma, pro-Trump sentiments in China show how far views can be swayed by zealotry, fanned by social media. On Zhihu, a supporter of Mr Trump repeated the president-elect’s falsehood that “there are towns in Britain that are completely under the control of Muslim extremists, who are openly using white girls as sex slaves.” The post got 18,000 likes.Yet online reactions also showed that Chinese opinions are sharply divided. A well-known blogger on Weibo called Chinese Trump supporters “spiritual rednecks”. Another pointed out that China may suffer: “Don’t they know his policies will give China a really hard time?” Intellectuals were aghast.

A news website in Shanghai, however, published an article by an academic who said Mr Trump’s win revealed America’s “ever greater decline”. Official opinion is closer to this view than to Mr Trump’s Chinese cheerleaders.

Source: A victory for China? | The Economist

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07/11/2016

China and Taiwan struggle over Sun Yat-sen’s legacy | The Economist

FOR decades Taiwan’s rulers have paid their respects from afar to Sun Yat-sen, also known as Sun Zhongshan: “father of the nation”, founder of the Kuomintang (KMT) or Nationalist Party, and first president of the Republic of China.

In a ritual called yaoji, they face towards Sun’s mausoleum in Nanjing, 800km (500 miles) to the north-west in China, and offer fruit, burn incense and recite prayers.

Now that links across the Taiwan Strait are better, Sun-worshippers may make the pilgrimage in person. On October 31st it was the turn of the KMT’s chairwoman, Hung Hsiu-chu. But not only do some Taiwanese adore Sun. Museums in his honour also exist in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Penang. He has a memorial park in Hawaii, where the great republican spent his teenage years, and a plaque in London, where he lived in exile from 1896-97. Most striking of all, he is admired by the Chinese Communists, who “liberated” China in 1949 from KMT rule.

In the Communist telling, Sun is the “forerunner of the democratic revolution”. As one visitor to his mausoleum put it this week: just as one sun and one moon hang in the sky, “there is only one father of the country.” There may be more Zhongshan Streets in China’s cities than Liberation Avenues. To mark this month’s anniversary of Sun’s birth 150 years ago, the state is minting a set of commemorative coins, including 300m five-yuan (75-cent) pieces that will go into circulation. It is a signal honour for a non-Communist. The party views Sun as a proto-revolutionary.

He makes an unlikely hero. Sun spent much of his life not in the thick of action but abroad. Half-a-dozen revolts that he helped organise against an ossified Qing dynasty were failures. As for the Wuchang uprising of October 1911, the catalyst for the end of three centuries of Manchu domination, he learnt of it from a Denver newspaper. He was back at the head of China’s first republican government early the following year, but merely as “provisional” president. Lacking the military strength to pull a fractured country together, he said he was the place-warmer for a strongman, Yuan Shikai. The nascent republic soon shattered and Yuan crowned himself emperor. Pressure from Western powers and Japan exacerbated China’s bleak situation. By 1916 Sun was back in exile again, in Japan.

For all that, Sun had brought down a rotten empire. For years he had raised the alarm over China’s direction, denouncing the Manchus and the rapaciousness of external powers. All his life, Sun had strived for a new republican order to turn a stricken China into a modern nation-state.

His ideas were hardly systematic, but he never deviated from the priorities of fostering national unity among Chinese, promoting democracy and improving people’s livelihoods—his “Three Principles of the People”. While railing against foreign depredations, he called for Chinese to embrace Western freedoms and rights (Sun’s messianic drive may have derived from his version of Christianity). His was an astonishingly more cosmopolitan world-view than that displayed by today’s Chinese leaders.Yet the longest-lasting impact of Sun on Chinese political life derives from something different. In the early 1920s he listened to advisers from the Soviet Union, which had won his admiration by renouncing territorial claims in China. He reorganised the KMT along Leninist lines, giving himself almost dictatorial powers (in Leninspeak: “democratic centralism”). The immediate effects were striking: an alliance between the KMT and the young Communist Party and a northward military advance in 1926 under Chiang Kai-shek, Sun’s heir, that toppled the warlords who were then wreaking havoc. Sun had died of liver failure the year before. He did not live to experience the brief national unity that Chiang imposed, nor the parties’ fatal split and descent into bloodshed, nor their struggle over Sun’s mantle.

Follow the Sun

And his legacy today? Consider that among his three principles, the two 20th-century dictators, Mao Zedong in mainland China and Chiang Kai-shek on Taiwan, gave a damn only about the first, national unity, on which, by their standards, they must be judged poorly. Sun’s Leninist party organisation—never one of his hallowed principles—had a far more profound impact on the two autocrats, and still does on China’s rulers today.

In Taiwan dictatorial KMT rule began crumbling a few years after Chiang’s death in 1975. Democratic development since then, including within the KMT, and the growth of a prosperous civil society, seem in line with Sun’s second and third principles relating to democracy and prosperity. But as for the first, a Chinese nationalism: forget it. Sun’s portrait still hangs in schools and government offices, and looks serenely down on the frequent fisticuffs in Taiwan’s parliament. But after resounding defeat in elections early this year, the KMT struggles for relevance on an island that is proud of its separateness from China. If there is any echo of Sun’s idealism, it is in the student “Sunflower Movement”, which wants to keep China at bay. For many Taiwanese, the Republic of China, Taiwan’s official name, is a figleaf for independence; Sun is an old ineffectual ghost. The current president, Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, performed no yaoji this year.

And China? Democratic centralism still prevails—exemplified by the party’s monopoly on power, Xi Jinping’s autocratic rule and the suppression of dissent. Were Sun to speak from his tomb, he might remind Mr Xi how, under the Communist Party, national unity, real democracy and even broad-based prosperity remain elusive. He might point out, too, that when Sun adopted Leninism it was to advance rather than trump his beloved principles. In his final will, Sun wrote: “The work of the revolution is not done yet.” “Blimey,” he might now say: “Couldn’t you think of trying something different?”

Source: China and Taiwan struggle over Sun Yat-sen’s legacy | The Economist

04/11/2016

Xi Jinping gets a new title | The Economist

COMMUNIST leaders relish weird and wonderful titles. Kim Jong Il, the late father of North Korea’s current “Great Leader”, was, on special occasions, “Dear Leader who is a perfect incarnation of the appearance that a leader should have” (it doesn’t sound much better in Korean). China’s rulers like a more prosaic, mysterious epithet: hexin, meaning “the core”.

Xi Jinping—China’s president, commander-in-chief, Communist Party boss and so forth—is now also officially “the core”, having been called that in a report issued by the party’s Central Committee after a recent annual meeting.

The term was made up in 1989 by Deng Xiaoping, apparently to give his anointed successor, Jiang Zemin, greater credibility after the bloody suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests. Just as Mao had been the core of the first generation of party leaders and Deng himself of the second, so Mr Jiang was of the third. (Hu Jintao, Mr Xi’s predecessor, was supposedly offered the title of fourth-generation core but modestly turned it down.)

Being core confers no extra powers. Mr Xi has little need of those; he is chairman of everything anyway. Status, though, is what really matters in China (Deng ruled the country for a while with no other title than honorary chairman of the China Bridge Association). And Mr Xi seems to be finding that all his formal power does not convey enough. Early this year, in what looked like a testing of the waters, a succession of provincial party leaders kowtowed verbally to Xi-the-core. But the term soon disappeared from public discourse. Its revival makes it look as if Mr Xi has won a struggle to claim it.

That may augur well for him in his forthcoming battles over the appointment of a new generation of lesser officials (the peel?) at a party congress next year. Mr Xi wants to replace some of the 350-odd members of the central committee with his own people, while keeping as many of his allies as he can. In a sign that he might be able to do that, officials have started dismissing as “folklore” an unwritten rule that members of the Politburo have to retire at 68. The rule is commonly known as “seven up, eight down” (qi shang, ba xia), meaning 67 is fine, 68 is over the hill. Getting rid of it would seem to open the way to the non-retirement of several of Mr Xi’s close allies, notably 68-year-old Wang Qishan, who is in charge of fighting graft. It might even pave the way for Mr Xi’s own refusal to collect his pension when his second (and supposedly final) term as party chief is up in 2022, and he will be 69.

There is another parallel between political language now and in 1989. The recent meeting eschewed the party’s usual practice of tying current events to the triumphs of earlier Communist history and instead set the scene by referring mostly to the congress in 2012, when Mr Xi became leader. Another time when the party ignored history in this way was after the Tiananmen killings, when it wanted to draw a veil over what had just occurred and signal a fresh, dictatorial start. Mr Xi seems to be saying, implicitly, that a new era has begun with him, core among equals.

Source: Xi Jinping gets a new title | The Economist

01/06/2015

Beijing public smoking ban begins – BBC News

Public smoking in China‘s capital, Beijing, is now banned after the introduction of a new law.

China has over 300 million smokers and more than a million Chinese die from smoking-related illnesses every year.

Smoking bans already existed in China, but have largely failed to crack down on the habit.

These tougher regulations, enforced by thousands of inspectors, ban lighting up in restaurants, offices and on public transport in Beijing.

Analysis: Martin Patience, BBC News, Beijing

Smoking in China often seems like a national pastime. The country consumes a third of the world’s cigarettes. More than half of men smoke. It’s seen by many as a masculine trait – women, in contrast, rarely smoke.

A common greeting among men is to offer a cigarette – the more expensive, the better. A carton of cigarettes also remains a popular gift.

Anti-tobacco campaigners say many smokers are simply unaware of the health risks of their habit. They accuse the authorities of being addicted to the tax revenues generated by cigarette sales and therefore not warning smokers about the dangers.

But now there are signs the government has changed its mind. In the past, China’s leaders such as Chairman Mao and his successor Deng Xiaoping were rarely seen without a cigarette in hand. But the current President Xi Jinping has bucked the trend: he’s quit. And he’s also banned officials from smoking in public in order to set an example.

via Beijing public smoking ban begins – BBC News.

25/02/2015

Xi Jinping Hopes to Count in Chinese Political History With ‘Four Comprehensives’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Connoisseurs of Chinese political numerology can finally take a breath: After more than two years in office, Chinese President Xi Jinping has uncorked his own ordinal political philosophy.

In the past, Chinese leaders have tended to fall into two camps when expounding their theories of development: those who favor numbered lists, and those who opt for more conventional proclamations. Late Premier Zhou Enlai and former President Jiang Zemin were in the former camp, pushing the “Four Modernizations” and “Three Represents,” respectively. Meanwhile, Deng Xiaoping (“Reform and Opening Up”) and former President Hu Jintao (“Scientific Outlook on Development”) opted to eschew the integers.

Questions have loomed about what slogan Mr. Xi, who replaced Mr. Hu at the helm of the Communist Party in November 2012, would use to represent himself in the party’s theoretical pantheon. For a time, some thought he might follow his non-numeric predecessor and go with the “Chinese Dream” of national rejuvenation, a notion he put forward shortly after taking power.  It now appears he has decided otherwise.

On Wednesday, the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily and other Chinese media gave blanket coverage to what Mr. Xi has taken to calling the “Four Comprehensives,” a set of principles emphasizing the need to “comprehensively build a moderately prosperous society, comprehensively deepen reform, comprehensively govern the nation according to law and comprehensively be strict in governing the party.”

Aside from the idea of a moderately prosperous society — a Confucian ideal revived and popularized under Mr. Hu — the other catch-phrases are all closely associated with Mr. Xi, who has cracked down hard on corruption in Communist Party ranks while pushing for legal reforms and warning of the need to be resolute about reforms in general.

It wasn’t the first mention of “Four Comprehensives” in the Chinese press. Mr. Xi introduced the idea during an inspection tour in eastern China’s Jiangsu province in mid-December, according to People’s Daily, and the phrase made a few scattered appearances on Chinese-language news websites earlier this month. But Wednesday was the first time the theory was propagated on a wide scale, suggesting that it had earned widespread acceptance at the top of the party.

via Xi Jinping Hopes to Count in Chinese Political History With ‘Four Comprehensives’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

26/01/2015

China’s Xi Builds Support for Big Move: Putting Politics Ahead of the Economy – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Many observers—including U.S. President Barack Obama – claim that Chinese leader Xi Jinping has already consolidated his political power and now commands more authority at a far earlier point than his predecessors did when they ruled China.

On the surface, there seems to be ample evidence for this conclusion. In his first two years at the helm, Xi has taken out powerful political rivals, become a ubiquitous presence in the party media and put himself in a position to dominate policy making.

There’s also been unusual attention in the press to Xi’s experiences as an adolescence and his early days as a Communist party member, which praise Xi’s stamina as a sent-down youth (in Chinese) and his problem-solving talents as a cadre (in Chinese). Chinese media refer to China’s president colloquially as “Big Daddy Xi” and extol his visits and musings as major events. And last week, a series of oil paintings were unveiled on the website of the Ministry of Defense depicting Xi in his role as China’s paramount leader.

This hagiography seems to suggest Xi’s unassailable status.But there’s a better explanation for this relentless publicity: Because Xi’s embarking on a very different path for China, he needs all the positive promotion he can get.

Xi knows as well as anyone that governance in China has shifted. The move away from a Maoist-style dictatorship to a collective leadership means that only by enacting and implementing reforms can a Chinese leader stay upright and ahead politically. It’s authority over policy decisions–not power for its own sake–that drives China’s leaders.

For much of the last half-century, changing China through economic reform seemed to make far better sense than transforming the country through political revolution.

Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of China’s economic transformation, changed the national focus to getting rich and kept conservative critics at bay; his successor, Jiang Zemin, extended Deng’s achievements by bringing businessmen into the Communist Party and ushering China further into the international economic order. Hu Jintao, who followed Jiang, concentrated on the parts of China’s population left behind by a booming economy—and worked to underwrite those officials who agreed with that approach.

Then along came Xi, looking to invert this equation—to put politics back in command of economics.

In Xi’s view, China’s economic boom hasn’t always enhanced the party’s image, because it’s also offered opportunities for government officials to engage in graft. The Communist Party’s previous emphasis on economics wasn’t the cure so much as part of a larger disease that made too many officials more concerned with growing their bank accounts instead of developing the country. The state of China’s GDP may be a major concern for some, but Xi’s focus on getting the party rectified first indicates that he disagrees. For Xi, only by pushing economics aside and focusing on politics—specifically, ideology–can party rule be protected.

In recent days, Xi and his supporters have been advertising ideology to supplant economics more ardently.

For example, instead of asking China’s universities to become engines of innovation that might invigorate economic growth, Xi and his comrades are seeking to enforce the Party’s control over the classroom.

Xinhua summarized a recent proposal to tighten ideological oversight, quoting a document instructing administrators, that “higher education is a forward battlefield in ideological work, and shoulders the important tasks of studying, researching and spreading Marxism, along with nurturing and carrying forward socialist values.”

The party main theoretical journal, Qiushi, jumped in with a widely-reprinted essay (in Chinese) that slammed those professors who “as part of some new fashion, use their positions of authority to discredit China.” These instructors, the commentary contended, “present views that are not part of the social mainstream.”

Others are also under pressure to bend to politics.

The China Law Society was told last week, according to one report, to “improve its decision-making advisory service to establish itself as a key think tank [by placing] more emphasis on collective thoughts rather than individual thinking.”

That’s a signal to institutions that are largely under party oversight to forego suggestions that hint at dissent and get back in line.

And a few days earlier, People’s Daily, the party’s flagship newspaper, sounded the same refrain of increasing ideological oversight of officials who might be still skeptical of Xi’s changes, devoting an entire page of its Tuesday edition to the need for “political discipline,” with one essay stating emphatically (in Chinese) that “without rules, there are no standards; without standards, a political party cannot exist.”

That sort of talk inspires politically conservative cadres who enjoy their reform in the shape of smackdowns. And building a high public profile is Xi’s way of saying to cadres and citizens alike that he’s the best man to prove that China needs politics to push economics.

via China’s Xi Builds Support for Big Move: Putting Politics Ahead of the Economy – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

24/01/2015

China’s Risks in Shedding Debt-Fueled, Investment-Led Growth – Businessweek

Few Chinese leaders are as revered as Deng Xiaoping. His late-1970s modernization drive led to an unrivaled run of high-speed growth. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has big reform ambitions of his own, often evokes the memory of the paramount leader, who died in 1997. In 2012, shortly before he assumed the top government job, Xi signaled his own liberalization agenda by retracing Deng’s famous tour in 1992 of southern Guangdong province to promote economic reform. Last August, in a speech marking the 110th anniversary of the revolutionary leader’s birth, Xi, like his predecessors, recycled Deng-era slogans such as “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Is China Coming Down to Earth?

Deng’s legacy as the architect of Chinese modernity rides on a record of 10 percent average annual growth from 1980 through 2012. Xi oversees an economy that’s decelerating and that grew 7.4 percent in 2014, the weakest performance since 1990, when it grew 3.8 percent. The International Monetary Fund predicts that Chinese expansion will steadily decline to 6.8 percent this year and 6.3 percent in 2016, when archrival India is expected to eclipse China at 6.5 percent. All of which raises a question unthinkable a few years ago: Is the China growth miracle winding down for good?

China’s transformation from an agrarian backwater to a $9.2 trillion economy with globally competitive companies, including Xiaomi, Huawei, Baosteel, and Alibaba, has been remarkable. And plenty of countries would be thrilled with 6 percent growth. Yet China is also home to income inequality on par with that of Nigeria and Mexico, a rapidly aging populace, and a world-class environmental crisis. Years of politically driven investment with diminishing returns have led to too much debt and industrial overcapacity, as well as ghost cities with unfinished hotels and absurd ambitions. (You can soon visit Tianjin’s replica of Manhattan, provided you like your replica cities free of actual humans.) Loose credit conditions contributed to an unsustainable six-month, 63 percent stock price increase, prompting regulatory authorities on Jan. 19 to order the nation’s three biggest brokerages to stop adding new margin-trading accounts. The Shanghai Composite index tumbled 7.7 percent on Jan. 19, the biggest one-day drop since the financial crisis in 2008.

The total debt of the world’s No. 2 economy is roughly $18 trillion, or about 200 percent of GDP

China’s investment spending binge is packing less of a punch than it used to, according to the World Bank. From 1991 to 2011, it took $3.60 of investment to generate $1 of GDP growth. At the end of 2012 it required $5.40. Meanwhile, the country’s total debt—government, corporate, and household—is now roughly $18 trillion, or about 200 percent of total gross domestic product. “We’ve got the biggest debt bubble that the world has ever seen, and credit is continuing to grow [about] twice as fast” as the Chinese economy, says credit analyst Charlene Chu, a partner with Autonomous Research Asia in Hong Kong. Chinese officialdom is keenly aware of the problem. The growth model that delivered productivity spurts in the late 1990s—powered by reforms of state-owned enterprises and new technology brought in by foreign investors after the country’s admission into the World Trade Organization in the early 2000s—has lost its edge. As early as 2007, China’s then-Premier Wen Jiabao described his economy to the National People’s Congress as “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable.”

Michael Pettis, a finance professor at the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, says the Chinese experience has much in common with Brazil in the 1960s, the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and Japan in the 1980s. All resorted to what economists call the financial repression of households to accelerate development. Family savings were channeled primarily into bank accounts with regulated and below-market deposit rates. Banks then recycled the capital into low-interest loans for businesses to build factories at home and to export abroad.

When it works, and it did stupendously for China, the economy hits the fast lane and incomes grow so fast that consumers don’t mind getting low returns on their savings—or being ruled by an unaccountable one-party state. Unfortunately, research by Pettis shows, “every investment-led growth miracle in the last 100 years has broken down.”

Xi and Premier Li Keqiang are trying to avoid that fate by guiding China onto a more sustainable path that would bolster the role of consumer spending (about 34 percent of GDP, vs. 68 percent in the U.S. in 2013, the World Bank reports) and shift the economy to a more services-oriented model. They say they’ve mapped out more than 300 reforms that over time will reduce state intervention in the economy and energy price controls that favor manufacturers; the changes will also improve the social safety net and encourage market-driven deposit rates to get Chinese families saving less and spending more.

via China’s Risks in Shedding Debt-Fueled, Investment-Led Growth – Businessweek.

10/12/2014

China plans hike in cigarette taxes, prices to deter smokers | Reuters

China is considering raising cigarette prices and taxes, a health official said on Wednesday, as the world’s largest tobacco consumer fights to stub out a pervasive habit.

A man flicks ashes from his cigarette over a dustbin in Shanghai January 10, 2014.  REUTERS/Aly Song

Smoking is a major health crisis for China, where more than 300 million smokers have made cigarettes part of the social fabric, and millions more are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Campaigners for tougher curbs face hurdles, but reforms of the tax system offer China an opportunity to rein in tobacco use, Yao Hongwen, a spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, told a news conference.

 

 

“Our country is deepening reforms of the tax system,” he said. “We believe this presents a hard-to-come-by historic opportunity to implement a tax hike for tobacco control.”

via China plans hike in cigarette taxes, prices to deter smokers | Reuters.

07/11/2014

Foreign policy: Showing off to the world | The Economist

THE factories have closed down for a few days, and millions of cars have been ordered off the roads. Clear blue skies appearing over a usually smog-choked Beijing always mean one thing: a big event is about to get under way.

From November 10th President Xi Jinping will welcome world leaders to this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit. Not since the Olympics in 2008 have so many leaders gathered in the capital, and they will include the heads of the United States, Russia and Japan. It is a defining moment for Mr Xi’s foreign policy. Having established himself at home as China’s most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping, he now seems to want to demand a bigger, more dominant and more respected role for China than his predecessors, Deng included, ever dared ask for.

Respect begins by putting on a good face to guests. Chinese bullying over disputed maritime claims has done much to raise tensions in the region. But now Mr Xi appears to be lowering them. In particular, China’s relations with Japan have been abysmal. The government has treated Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, with both venom and pettiness, implying he is a closet militarist. The relationship had sunk to such a low that it will count as notable progress if Mr Xi shakes Mr Abe’s hand—even if he does little more—at the summit.

On November 11th and 12th, Mr Xi will host a state visit in Beijing for Barack Obama. It is the second summit with the American president, following one at Sunnylands in California in 2013. It will be a good show, with a scenic walk and all that. But the substance appears less clear. At the time of Sunnylands, there was much Chinese talk of a “new type of great-power relationship” with America. Yet since it implies a diminished role for America, at least in Asia, Mr Obama does not seem inclined to go along. The two men appear likely to co-operate in a few areas, including climate change, trade and investment. They will agree to a bit more communication over respective military movements in and over the seas near China. But hopes that cordiality at Sunnylands might lead the relationship to blossom may come to little.

In truth, Mr Xi does not have much respect left for Mr Obama; the Chinese dismiss him as weak-willed in foreign policy. And so much of Mr Xi’s ambition lies elsewhere. Above all, the dream is to return China to its rightful place in a world in which, according to Bonnie Glaser of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank, “China will be at the centre, and every other nation will have to consider China’s interests.”

This attitude is most familiar to China’s neighbours in the South China Sea and East China Sea. China has upset the Philippines by grabbing a disputed reef; Vietnam, by moving an oil rig into contested waters; Japan, by challenging its control over uninhabited islets; and even South Korea which, though on good terms, was concerned along with others when China declared an “Air Defence Identification Zone” over the East China Sea, demanding that planes inform it when entering it.

Yet Mr Xi has also courted friends under the catchphrase of “peaceful development”. He has pushed multilateral initiatives, including a new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which many of China’s neighbours, including India, have signed up to. A New Development Bank has also been set up with fellow “BRICs”—Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa.

One of Mr Xi’s playmates is President Vladimir Putin. China and Russia have a history of mutual distrust, but Mr Xi’s first trip abroad as president, in March 2013, was to Moscow. Since then the two countries have struck a long-stalled gas deal and, according to Kommersant, a Russian newspaper, a pact on cyber-security. China backs Russia’s pro-Syrian stand in the UN Security Council and has refused to condemn Russia’s territorial incursions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine—though it loves to preach non-interference.

A strong thread that binds the two countries is American dominance in international affairs. “No country”, said Mr Xi at a security summit earlier this year to which Mr Putin was invited, “should attempt to dominate regional security affairs or infringe upon the legitimate rights…of other countries.” Mr Xi did not name America, but a month earlier Mr Obama had in Tokyo emphasised that America’s security pact with Japan extended to the Japan-controlled Senkaku islands, which China claims and calls the Diaoyu.

Is Mr Xi’s foreign policy succeeding? Only in parts. China’s maritime assertiveness has pushed some neighbours closer to Japan and America. But for long China will remain Asian nations’ biggest trading partner. It is busy pursuing regional and bilateral trade agreements while an American-led trade initiative, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is bogged down. At APEC Mr Xi will seek to build on those economic relationships. And, given China’s heft, by and large he will succeed.

via Foreign policy: Showing off to the world | The Economist.

30/09/2014

China’s Norinco Is Defense Giant on Global Growth Path – Businessweek

At the Africa Aerospace and Defence expo in September, weapons buyers from across the continent descended on Air Force Base Waterkloof in the South African capital of Pretoria for a bit of shopping. There they were wooed by Chinese defense gear giant Norinco, which has honed its pitch to an art.

China's New Export: Military in a Box

Namibia Deputy Defense Minister Petrus Iilonga, wearing Prada sunglasses and a Lenin pin, studied models of battle tanks before representatives from Norinco, a state-controlled conglomerate also known as China North Industries Group, ushered him into a room marked VIP for some personal salesmanship. Nearby, the Tanzanian military chief, General Davis Mwamunyange, furrowed his brow while a company official in a charcoal suit and orange tie described a truck with a radar device mounted on the back. “Just about a month ago, we did a live test on this one,” the Chinese official confided.

Norinco has even devised a novel way to make buying weapons easier: It bundles together starter kits of basic defense gear—everything from rifles to howitzers, laser-guided bombs, armored personnel carriers, tanks, and drones—for governments that want to quickly outfit their armed forces. Chinese state media has dubbed the package a “military set meal.”

STORY: Why Japan’s Controversial Shrine Infuriates China and Korea

More than three decades after Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and the Communist Party founded Norinco, in the wake of a humiliating border war with Vietnam that ended in a stalemate, the company sits atop a military-industrial complex that increasingly rivals the U.S. war machine in firepower and influence.

via China’s Norinco Is Defense Giant on Global Growth Path – Businessweek.

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