Posts tagged ‘Zhou Enlai’


* China’s New Diplomatic Weapon: Red Flag Limos

WSJ: “Forget panda diplomacy. China has added a new weapon to its soft-power arsenal — home-grown luxury cars.

On Friday, Beijing donated 20 Chinese-made Hongqi, or Red Flag, sedans worth around $2.3 million, to the Pacific nation of Fiji.

At a ceremony in Suva, Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama described the gift as “generous” and “timely”— the cars will go straight to work next week as the country hosts a high-level meeting of G77 group of developing nations.

Fiji and China have been on friendly terms since 1975, when Fiji became the first South Pacific island nation to forge diplomatic ties with Beijing.

The Hongqi is no stranger to politics, either.

First produced in 1958, the luxury sedan was synonymous with Chinese power trips in the Mao era and the early reform years, used to transport top Chinese politicians and foreign dignitaries visiting China.

When former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai needed a nap, his own personal Hongqi had a switch he could flick that allowed him to stretch out in the back, an engineer who worked on the original design told state broadcaster China Central Television in an interview last year.

In the wake of global oil shocks manufacturer China FAW Group Corp ceased manufacture of the Hongqi in 1981. Production re-started in 1995.

Now FAW is priming Hongqi’s latest H7 model for a slice of China’s market for luxury cars.

FAW’s hopes for the old brand’s revival are high. The Hongqi H7 means the monopolization by foreigners of the high-end auto market in China could “be smashed at one stroke,” a statement on FAW’s website reads.

Yet sales thus far have been modest amid persistent doubts over quality and after-sales service. According to data from consultancy LMC Automotive, 460 Hongqi H7s were sold between the time it rolled off the production line in middle of last year and the end of March.

Those numbers could improve as the government steers its car fleet in a more domestic direction, away from the Audis and other foreign brands that have dominated over the last decade. State media recently cited FAW group president Xu Xianping as saying 10 provincial governments and some central government departments have plans to begin using Hongqi cars.

To that, add the government of Fiji. After the G77 powwow, the cars will be deployed to several ministries, according to reports in Fiji media.

As China extends its diplomatic reach, expect to see Red Flags chauffeuring the powerful on more streets around the world.”

via China’s New Diplomatic Weapon: Red Flag Limos – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


* Ex-minister blames China’s pollution mess on lack of rule of law

SCMP: “China had a chance to avoid environmental disasters some 40 to 30 years ago, the country’s first environmental protection chief has lamented amid worsening air and water pollution.


But Professor Qu Geping, who has overseen environmental policymaking since the early 1970s, said pollution had run wild as a result of unchecked economic growth under a “rule of men”, as opposed to the rule of law. Their rule imposed no checks on power and allowed governments to ignore environmental protection laws and regulations.

“I would not call the past 40 years’ efforts of environmental protection a total failure,” he said. “But I have to admit that governments have done far from enough to rein in the wild pursuit of economic growth … and failed to avoid some of the worst pollution scenarios we, as policymakers, had predicted.”

Qu, 83, was China’s first environmental protection administrator between 1987 and 1993. He then headed the National People’s Congress environment and resource committee for 10 years.

After three decades of worsening industrial pollution resulting from rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, China has accumulated huge environmental debts that will have to be paid back, Qu said.

He said recently he regretted that some of the very forward-looking strategies – emphasising a more balanced and co-ordinated approach to development and conservation, that were worked out as early as 1983 – were never put into serious practice when China was still at an early stage of industrialisation.

In 1970, premier Zhou Enlai had invited a Japanese journalist to give a lecture to senior government officials on the lessons Japan had learned from a series of heavy metal pollution scandals that killed several hundred people during a period of rapid industrialisation in the 1950s and 1960s, Qu said.

“But looking back, China fell into the same trap again,” he said. “In some cases, the problems are even worse now given the country’s huge population and the vast scale of its economy.”

via Ex-minister blames China’s pollution mess on lack of rule of law | South China Morning Post.

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