Posts tagged ‘Li Keqiang’

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.

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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

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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

01/11/2016

For China’s Leaders, Age Cap Is but a Moving Number – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The past three turnovers in the inner circle of China’s Communist Party leadership have come with an age guideline for retirement: Those 67 years old or younger could stay; those 68 or older had to go.

Now, comments from a senior party functionary are adding fuel to speculation that President Xi Jinping may break with the norm at a once-every-five-years party congress late next year.Speaking to reporters Monday, Deng Maosheng, a director at the party’s Central Policy Research Office, dismissed the qishang baxia (“seven up, eight down”) retirement convention as a “popular saying” that “isn’t trustworthy.”

“The strict boundaries of ‘seven up, eight down’ don’t exist,” said Mr. Deng, whose office is headed by one of Mr. Xi’s top policy advisers. Rather, he said, retirement rules are “flexible” and subject to revision as circumstances require.

His comments were the most public expression to date of what some party insiders have been saying privately for months. The age norm is a burden to Mr. Xi as he works to sideline rivals and hold on to allies in the next leadership lineup in the party’s Politburo and its standing committee, the inner sanctum of Chinese political power.

Political observers say one of those allies is 68-year-old Wang Qishan, who has directed the president’s withering crackdown on graft and, increasingly, political disloyalty. Under the qishang baxia norm, Mr. Wang is among five members of the Politburo Standing Committee, which currently numbers seven, due to retire at the next party congress.Party insiders have also speculated that the 63-year-old Mr. Xi may try to defy another recent convention, by not promoting a potential successor to the Standing Committee next year. That could set him up to remain in power after the expiration in 2022 of his second—and by recent custom, final—term. He would be 69 by then.Mr. Deng’s comments send “a clear signal that Xi will be a ‘rule modifier’ rather than a strict rule follower,” said Jude Blanchette, a Beijing-based researcher who is writing a book on Mao Zedong’s legacy. The rules are merely norms, and not well settled, he said.

As for the age norm, China politics experts say it was introduced by Jiang Zemin, then the outgoing party chief, to push a rival into retirement at the 2002 congress. According to Mr. Blanchette, that episode showed that Chinese leaders have “readjusted” malleable party norms “to fit political exigencies.”Or, as Mr. Deng put it in a news briefing in Beijing, the “strict organizational procedures and sufficient democratic processes” used in selecting top party leaders are “subject to adjustments in accordance with practical conditions.”

Mr. Xi’s growing clout may represent just such a practical condition. A top-level party conclave last week designated him as the party leadership’s “core,” an arcane title that political observers say signified his pre-eminent status. It was previously applied to Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Mr. Jiang but not Mr. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao.

At Monday’s briefing, Mr. Deng of the party’s policy research office said the designation reflects Mr. Xi’s unanimous support within the party and broad public acclaim, but doesn’t threaten a return of a Mao-style “cult of personality”—which the party has explicitly banned—or contradict the party’s principles of collective leadership. Rather, the title was necessary to help the party and the country overcome new economic and political challenges, he said.

Mr. Hu, according to Mr. Deng, repeatedly declined to be designated as a “core” leader.“That time had its own circumstances,” he said. “The present has its own needs.”

Source: For China’s Leaders, Age Cap Is but a Moving Number – China Real Time Report – WSJ

20/05/2015

China Unveils Blueprint to Upgrade Manufacturing Sector – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China unveiled an ambitious plan to enhance the competitiveness of its manufacturing sector by encouraging innovation and raising efficiency in an effort to boost economic growth. As the WSJ reports:

The blueprint, titled “Made in China 2025,” comes as China’s factories are struggling with sluggish demand, increasing competition from other developing economies and a slowing domestic economy.

The manufacturing sector is facing new challenges: bigger constraints from the environment and resources, rising labor costs and a notable slowdown in investment and exports, the State Council, or cabinet, said on the main government website Tuesday.

“The key to creating a new driver of economic growth…lies in the manufacturing sector,” it said.

The government vowed to boost 10 high-technology industrial sectors including robotics, aerospace, new-energy vehicles and advanced transport.

via China Unveils Blueprint to Upgrade Manufacturing Sector – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

17/05/2015

China, India sign more than $22 billion in deals: Indian embassy | Reuters

China and India signed 26 business deals worth more than $22 billion in areas including renewable energy, ports, financing and industrial parks, an Indian embassy official said on Saturday.

Namgya C. Khampa, of the Indian Embassy in Beijing, made the remarks at the end of a three-day visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which he sought to boost economic ties and quell anxiety over a border dispute between the neighbors.

“The agreements have a bilateral commercial engagement in sectors like renewable energy, industrial parks, power, steel, logistics finance and media and entertainment,” Khampa said.

At the same event, Modi encouraged Chinese companies to embrace opportunities in India in manufacturing, processing and infrastructure, announcing “now India is ready for business” with an improved regulatory environment.

“You are the ‘factory of the world’ whereas we are the ‘back office of the world’,” Modi said.

via China, India sign more than $22 billion in deals: Indian embassy | Reuters.

12/05/2015

Optics as well as substance important as India’s Modi visits China | Reuters

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the ancient city of Xian on Thursday at the start of a visit to China, he will be met by Chinese President Xi Jinping, in an unusual departure from normal protocol.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi September 18, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Top Chinese leaders almost never travel outside Beijing to meet senior foreign guests on bilateral visits, and Xi’s appearance in Xian, located in Xi’s home province of Shaanxi, underscores China’s determination to set aside past rancor between the world’s two most populous nations, experts said.

“It definitely indicates the significance our president puts on Mr. Modi’s visit,” said Li Li, an India expert at the government-backed China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

“From the Chinese side, we were very impressed by the hospitality extended by Mr. Modi during Xi Jinping’s visit to India,” he added, referring to Modi greeting Xi in his home state of Gujarat when Xi visited India last year.

Modi will visit a Xian pagoda connected to Xuanzang, also known as Tripitaka, the monk who bought the Buddhist sutras to China from India thousands of years ago, according to people briefed on the trip.

“It is sending a very important message,” Li said of Xi’s going to Xian to greet Modi, a place closely connected to the deep historical links between China and India.

Still, the list of problems both countries face are considerable, ranging from a festering border dispute to China’s support for India’s arch-rival Pakistan.

Mistrust runs deep, something Xi will be keenly aware of despite the bonhomie and billions of dollars in deals likely to be signed.

Modi’s new account on Chinese social media site Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, was filled with messages soon after launching this month asking him to return what China calls South Tibet, otherwise known as the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

“This is the great, great pressure the Chinese government is facing,” said Mao Siwei, a former senior Chinese diplomat who was based in India and Pakistan, talking about the need to manage Chinese public concern about the disputed area.

China claims more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas.

India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

In September, the two armies faced off in the Ladakh sector in the western Himalayas just as Xi was visiting India for the first summit talks with Modi. This time, the border has been quiet ahead of Modi’s arrival.

While chances of a breakthrough on the border look distant, the exchange of visits by Modi and Xi so soon after both took office is a positive sign, said Ram Madhav, a senior leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a hardline Hindu nationalist organization that has close ties to Modi’s BJP.

“There is an earnest eagerness to connect with the Indian leadership,” Madhav told a forum in Beijing.

“Prime Minister Modi has chosen to come in his first year (of office) to China. It shows that the leaders on both sides are seriously attempting to … bridge the most important challenge between the two countries – the trust deficit.”

via Optics as well as substance important as India’s Modi visits China | Reuters.

13/03/2015

Bargaining With Chinese Characteristics: Labor Group Defends Practices – China Real Time Report – WSJ

When Chinese Premier Li Keqiang omitted a reference to collective bargaining in an annual policy speech last week, labor scholars worried that Beijing may be backing away from a much-needed policy tool for dealing with rising industrial unrest.

China’s state-controlled trade unions are seeking to allay such concerns. They are pledging to keep promoting collective bargaining in a way that calms labor tensions without derailing growth in the country’s already-slowing economy.

“Collective wage bargaining is something we will continue to promote,” said Li Shouzhen, a senior official at the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, or ACFTU. “It is a tried-and-tested process that’s practiced by successful enterprises.”

via Bargaining With Chinese Characteristics: Labor Group Defends Practices – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

06/03/2015

Chinese city shuts factories as environmental law bites | Reuters

An industrial city in eastern China has closed several factories, including many steel and nickel pig iron producers, in an apparent sign the government is stepping up enforcement of a new environmental law in the face of growing public discontent over pollution.

Premier Li Keqiang told the annual session of the National People’s Congress, or parliament, on Thursday his government would do everything it could to fight pollution.

China’s vast and energy-intensive steel sector is at the heart of the government’s war on pollution, but it also encapsulates the challenges of curbing smog without denting the economy. Complying with stricter standards would have knock-on effects throughout industry and raise costs for steel producers who are already feeling the pinch of tepid demand.

Most steel producers in Linyi, a city in coastal Shandong province, appear to have been shuttered, industry sources said.

“Almost all the steel-making production in Linyi has closed, and there is no date for when to resume production,” said an official with Linyi Yuansheng Casting Co Ltd, one of the mills in the city, who declined to be identified.

via Chinese city shuts factories as environmental law bites | Reuters.

05/03/2015

China 2015 defense budget to grow 10.1 pct, lowest in 5 years – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China on Thursday announced a 10.1-percent rise in its national defense budget in 2015, the lowest growth in five years as the country confronts mounting pressure in the face of an economic slowdown.

According to a budget report released shortly before the country’s top legislature starts its annual session, the government plans to raise defense budget to 886.9 billion yuan (about 144.2 billion U.S. dollars).

That would make China the second largest military spender in the world following the U.S., whose defense budget amounted to 600.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2013.

Nonetheless, the 10.1-percent rise represented the lowest expansion in China since 2010, when the defense budget was set to grow by 7.5 percent.

The figure has thereon been riding on a multi-year run of double-digit increases, expanding 12.2 percent last year.

Thursday’s budget report did not explain the rationale behind this year’s abated growth, but a government work report to be presented by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang may offer some clues.

According to the report, national defense development would be coordinated with the country’s economic growth.

The Chinese economy grew 7.4 percent in 2014, registering the weakest annual expansion in more than two decades. The government set this year’s growth target to approximately 7 percent, brewing new concerns that the world’s economic powerhouse is losing steam.

But the report played down such concerns, stressing that China is now in a “new normal” state, where a balance ought to be stricken between growth and structural optimization.

via China 2015 defense budget to grow 10.1 pct, lowest in 5 years – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

16/02/2015

Li gives residents keys to ‘new life’|Politics|chinadaily.com.cn

The set of keys that Xiao Wenmei received from Premier Li Keqiang opens up not only her new apartment but her future.

Li gives residents keys to 'new life'

Li visited the newly finished Yu’an community in Guiyang, Guizhou province, and helped distribute keys to the new apartments on Saturday.

“Have you seen your new apartment?” Li asked as he handed keys to Xiao. “It is not only the key to your home but also to your new life.”

He then posted a fu character, a traditional Chinese paper cutting for Spring Festival, at the community’s main office.

“A new community is not only about building new houses but also about people’s new lives, so they can live in a comfortable and safe environment,” he said.

Xiao, 32, was still excited as she recalled the moment she received the keys from the premier. She said her family is busy preparing to move into the new apartment before Chinese New Year’s Eve “as a good start of the year”.

She has lived with her husband and kids in a nearby village, where houses leaked and roads became muddy during rainstorms. The local government invested 3 billion yuan ($481 million) in 2009 to build 8,500 apartments for 5,000 households in Xiao’s community.

Xiao’s family was allotted two apartments, about 300 square meters, as were some other families.

“We’ll move into one apartment and rent the other out,” she said. “A new house is like a big dream for my family.”

The Chinese government has counted heavily on the rebuilding of urban shantytowns to drive domestic demand and improve people’s living conditions.

via Li gives residents keys to ‘new life’|Politics|chinadaily.com.cn.

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