Posts tagged ‘People’s Liberation Army’

19/08/2016

The return of the Xia | The Economist

CHINA’S leaders are immensely proud of their country’s ancient origins. President Xi Jinping peppers his speeches with references to China’s “5,000 years of history”. The problem is that archaeological evidence of a political entity in China going back that far is scant.

There is some, including engravings on animal bones, that shows the second dynasty, the Shang, really did control an area in the Yellow river basin about 3,500 years ago. But no such confirmation exists for the legendary first ruling house, the Xia. Even inside China, some historians have long suspected that the country’s founding story—in which Emperor Yu tames flooding on the Yellow river (with the help of a magic black-shelled turtle, pictured), earns for himself the “mandate of heaven” and establishes the first dynasty—was either a Noah’s-Ark flood-myth or perhaps propaganda invented later to justify centralised state power. This month, however, state-controlled media have been crowing over newly published evidence in Science, an American journal, that at least the flooding was real. This, they say, has made it more credible that the Xia was, too. Not everyone is so convinced.

Catastrophic floods leave their mark on soil and rocks. Qinglong Wu of Peking University and others have examined the geology of the upper reaches of the Yellow river. In the journal, they conclude that a vast flood did take place in the right area and not long after the right time for the supposed founding of the Xia. Although their evidence does not prove the existence of an Emperor Yu or of the dynasty he founded, it does provide a historical context in which someone might have gained power with the help of flood-taming exploits.

According to Mr Wu, a vast landslide, probably caused by an earthquake, blocked the course of the Yellow river as it flowed through the Jishi gorge on the edge of the Tibetan plateau. For six to nine months as much as 16 cubic kilometres (3.8 cubic miles) of water built up behind the accidental dam, which, when it finally burst, produced one of the biggest floods ever. At its peak, the authors calculate, the flow was 500 times the normal discharge at Jishi Gorge. Mr Wu reckons the ancient flood could easily have been felt 2,000km downstream in the area of the Yellow river said by Chinese historians to have been the realm of the Xia.

At about this time, either coincidentally or (more probably) because of the flood, the river changed its course, carving out its vast loop across the north China plain. The significance is that, while the river was finding its new course, it would have flooded repeatedly. This is consistent with old folk tales about Emperor Yu taming the river not through one dramatic action, but by decades of dredging.

The ancient flood can be dated because the earthquake that set the catastrophic events in motion also destroyed a settlement in the Jishi gorge. Radiocarbon dating of inhabitants’ bones puts the earthquake at about 1920BC—not 5,000 years ago but close-ish. Xinhua, a state news agency, lauded the study as “important support” for the Xia’s existence. Xu Hong of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences challenged this, saying the scholars’ findings had not proved their conclusions. The first dynasty has gone from myth to controversy.

Source: The return of the Xia | The Economist

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07/11/2015

Oppose Taiwan independence, China’s Xi says at historic meeting | Reuters

China and Taiwan must not let proponents of Taiwan’s independence split them, China’s President Xi Jinping told Taiwan’s president on Saturday at the first meeting between leaders of the two sides since China’s civil war ended in 1949.

Ma Ying-jeou, president of self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, where anti-Beijing sentiment has been rising ahead of elections, called for mutual respect for each other’s systems and said Taiwan people were concerned about mainland missiles pointing their way.

The talks, at a luxury hotel in the neutral venue of Singapore, lasted less than an hour but were heavy with symbolism.

The two leaders shook hands and smiled in front of a mass of journalists when they met, with Xi wearing a red tie, the color of the Communist Party, and Ma a blue one, the color of his Nationalist Party.

Moving into a meeting room, Xi, speaking first and sitting opposite Ma, said Chinese people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait had the ability and wisdom to solve their own problems.

“No force can pull us apart because we are brothers who are still connected by our flesh even if our bones are broken, we are a family in which blood is thicker than water,” Xi said.

In response, Ma said he was determined to promote peace across the Taiwan Strait and that relations should be based on sincerity, wisdom and patience.

Ma also asked Xi indirectly to respect Taiwan’s democracy.

“Both sides should respect each other’s values and way of life to ensure mutual benefit and a win-win situation across the straits,” he said.

China’s Nationalists, also known as the Kuomintang (KMT), retreated to Taiwan after losing the civil war to the Communists, who are still in charge in Beijing.

The mainland has never renounced the use of force to bring what it considers a breakaway province under its control.

Speaking to reporters after the talks, Ma said he hoped Xi could pay attention to China’s missile deployment – the island has long fretted about batteries pointed its way – to which Xi replied that was not an issue about Taiwan, he said.

“I at least raised the issue, and told him that the Taiwanese people have questions and concerns about it, and hope he will treat it with importance,” Ma said.

Zhang Zhijun, the head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Xi told Ma that the biggest threat to the peaceful development of relations was pro-independence forces. “The compatriots on both sides should unite and firmly oppose it,” Zhang said.

Source: Oppose Taiwan independence, China’s Xi says at historic meeting | Reuters

03/09/2015

China military parade commemorates WW2 victory over Japan – BBC News

China has held a lavish parade in Beijing to mark the defeat of Japan in World War Two, showcasing its military might on an unprecedented scale. President Xi Jinping in his opening speech paid tribute to “the Chinese people who unwaveringly fought hard and defeated aggression” from Japan. He also said the People’s Liberation Army would be reduced by 300,000 personnel, but gave no timeframe.

Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) march at the beginning of the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, 3 September 2015

China’s growing military power is being keenly watched amid regional tensions. China has several territorial disputes with neighbours in the South China Sea, as well as with Japan in the East China Sea. Ahead of the parade, the US said five Chinese ships had been spotted in the Bering Sea off Alaska for the first time. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the world’s largest military, with 2.3 million members. China also has the second biggest defence budget after the US.

Source: China military parade commemorates WW2 victory over Japan – BBC News

18/06/2015

China military says two more top officers probed for graft | Reuters

China’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that two more former senior officers were being investigated for corruption, as part of a sweeping campaign against graft which has already felled dozens of senior people.

In a brief statement, the ministry said that Kou Tie, former commander of the Heilongjiang military region in northern China, had been put under investigation last November for suspected “serious discipline violations”. He was handed over to military prosecutors last month.

The other officer was named as Liu Zhanqi, a former communications division commander for the paramilitary People’s Armed Police, also suspected of “serious discipline violations”, common wording for corruption. He was handed to military prosecutors last month as well.

The ministry gave no further details. Neither case had been reported before.

Weeding out graft in the military is a top goal of President Xi Jinping, chairman of the Central Military Commission, which controls China’s 2.3 million-strong armed forces.

Serving and retired Chinese military officers have said military graft is so pervasive it could undermine China’s ability to wage war, and dozens of senior officers have been taken down.

The anti-graft drive in the military comes as Xi steps up efforts to modernize forces that are projecting power across the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas, though China has not fought a war in decades.

via China military says two more top officers probed for graft | Reuters.

03/04/2015

New app collects Xi’s wisdom – Xinhua | English.news.cn

Like Mao’s Red Book? In danger of fostering the cult of personailty?  See alsohttps://chindia-alert.org/2015/03/11/chinas-risky-mao-style-focus-on-the-personal-life-of-president-xi-jinping-china-real-time-report-wsj/

Xi Jinping 习近平

Xi Jinping 习近平 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A new application featuring Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s remarks and works was launched on Thursday, an attempt to promote socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The free app, developed by the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, makes available Xi’s books including “The Governance of China” and “Shake off Poverty” alongside quotations and a collection of his speeches.

Commentaries on Xi’s thoughts by experts from the school are also provided.”

via New app collects Xi’s wisdom – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

11/03/2015

Ideology: Class struggle | The Economist

IN THE first week of March university students in China will return from a break of six weeks or more. They will find a new chill in the air. While they have been away, officials have been speaking stridently—indeed, in the harshest terms heard in years—about the danger of “harmful Western influences” on campuses, and the need to tighten ideological control over students and academic staff.

Universities have always been worrisome to the Communist Party; they have a long history in China as wellsprings of anti-government unrest. The party appoints university presidents. Its committees on campuses vet the appointment of teaching staff. Students are required to study Marxist theory and socialism. They are not allowed to study politically sensitive topics such as the grievances of Tibetans or the army’s crushing of the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

There is no sign of an anti-party campaign developing on campuses (students are signing up for party membership in droves, believing it to be a path to career success). But since Xi Jinping took over as China’s leader in 2012, the party has been trying to reinforce its control in numerous areas. In the army it appears that Mr Xi has been leading the effort personally (see article). In the academic realm, his involvement in the crackdown now unfolding is less certain. But he has shown no sign of resisting it, and some of the rhetoric warning of the dangers of Western values echoes his own. Mr Xi is certainly no liberal. In his rule he has tightened controls over the media, and there have been numerous arrests and trials of civil-society activists.

That officials have begun to turn their attention to campuses became evident on January 19th, when Xinhua, a state-controlled news agency, published a summary of a document issued secretly by the central authorities in October. It directed universities to “strengthen” their efforts to spread the party’s propaganda and promote its ideology. It told them to educate students better in the history of the party, as well as about the “Chinese dream” (a pet idea of Mr Xi’s). The document also urged educators “firmly to resist infiltration by hostile forces”. It was suffused with the same sense of a party under assault by Western liberal thinking that permeated a secret directive issued in 2013, known as Document Number Nine. That spoke of the threat posed by ideas such as universal values, civil society and press freedom—positive mention of which had occasionally surfaced in some Chinese newspapers and still occurs frequently in university classrooms.

An old-style propaganda campaign is now unfolding. On January 29th Yuan Guiren, the education minister, declared at a conference that “textbooks promoting Western values” would not be allowed in classrooms, nor would “slandering” of the party leadership. Officials at the same meeting echoed his views, including the party chiefs of Peking University and Tsinghua University, the country’s most prestigious colleges. On February 6th a commentary in the People’s Daily, the party’s main mouthpiece, quoted the party chief of Renmin University in Beijing as saying that Marxist thinking must “enter textbooks, enter classrooms and enter brains”.

via Ideology: Class struggle | The Economist.

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.

18/02/2015

China orders compensation to acquitted death row prisoner | Reuters

A court in China’s southern city of Fuzhou ordered compensation of 1.14 million yuan ($182,000) to a former death row prisoner who was acquitted on charges of poisoning two children, state media said on Tuesday.

The rare acquittal of Nian Bin, a former food stall owner who was freed in August after a court in Fujian province found there was insufficient evidence, prompted renewed calls for the abolition of the death penalty in China.

Nian, 39, was accused of poisoning his neighbors with rat poison, leading to the death of two children and injuries to four others in July 2006.

But he said he was tortured into confessing during police interrogations and had pursued his appeals for years, an effort closely watched by human rights lawyers in China and global rights groups.

He was convicted several times and spent 8 years in prison before being acquitted.

The intermediate court made the ruling on Sunday, and on Tuesday announced that Nian “should be paid 589,000 yuan for loss of personal freedom and another 550,000 yuan for mental suffering,” the official Xinhua news agency reported.

China’s ruling Communist Party has said it aims to prevent “extorting confessions by torture” and halt miscarriages of justice with a “timely correction mechanism”, after a series of corruption investigations involving torture outraged the public.

via China orders compensation to acquitted death row prisoner | Reuters.

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.

15/12/2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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