National China News

The way in which Xi deals with the age question in the make-up of the PSC will be a good indicator of the nature of his power and the extent of his success.

The News Lens

Date: 2017/09/23
By: Frances Kitt

On Oct. 18 the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party will kick off, and the

Photo Credit: Corbis/達志影像

new makeup of the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) will be revealed. The policy direction and success of President Xi Jinping’s next term depend on who makes the cut.

A mostly informal set of rules govern eligibility for a spot on the PSC. One important convention holds that promotion to or retention on the committee is dictated by the candidate’s age when the National Congress is held. This precedent, started and upheld since 2002, is encapsulated by the catchphrase “seven up, eight down” (七上八下) — if a candidate is 67 at the time of the Congress, they may advance upwards in the ranks. If a candidate is 68 or older, they probably expect to be retired.

In theory, this norm precludes five out of seven members from staying on the PSC this October. According to the age norm, only one member of the PSC (apart from Xi, aged 64) will not be of retirement age come October: China’s second-in-command, Premier Li Keqiang, who is 62.

If the age precedent is upheld, which candidates will fill the remaining five spots in China’s leadership? How will the leadership line-up change? What the age rule means in practice has sparked a flurry of speculation in the run-up to the National Congress — but perhaps a more illuminating question is whether Xi will uphold the “seven up, eight down” convention at all.    [FULL  STORY]

Apart from China’s rhetoric and actions, China’s domestic transition towards a green, low carbon economy will serve as the best explanation for its ambitions in Antarctica.

The News Lens
Date: 2017/08/28
By: Jiliang Chen

Concerns raised by China’s promulgation of the term “use” or “utilization” in its Antarctic diplomacy is causing mistrust in Antarctic governance.

The main cause for concern for some in the international community is China’s status as a “resource hungry nation” that craves fossil fuels and minerals to feed its growing economy. In the context of the Antarctic, China’s long-term interest in the region may be motivated by the fact that the 1998 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (the Madrid Protocol) will be up for review in 2048, which will include discussion of mining operations beginning in Antarctica.

Adding to this concern is the ambiguity surrounding China’s Antarctic agenda. China does not have comprehensive legislation or an official strategy for Antarctica. Deng Xiaoping(鄧小平)’s 1980s slogan “contribute to mankind’s peaceful use of Antarctica”(為人類和平利用南極做出貢獻), which the former leader used to capture China’s position on the region, can be widely interpreted. China has so far employed the term “rational use” as a reason to block negotiations on marine protected areas under the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). The term “use” in Chinese domestic laws — such as in the Law on the Protection of Wild Life — is controversial and associated with the poor practice.

But does China actually have any ambitions to re-shape the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) into a regime for resource exploitation?

China’s hunger for resources is driven by the need to fuel its rapidly growing economy. China’s economy is export driven, which means part of its demand for raw material originates from the consumption of other countries. Domestic demand for a better living also contributes to growth. But the need for natural resources will stagnate when China’s population peaks in the 2030s as predicted.    [FULL  STORY]

The percentage of people around the world who hold a favorable perception of China declined from 48 per cent in 2007 to 40 per cent in 2016.

The News Lens
Date: 2017/08/18
By: Sacha Cody

Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

Ten years ago, then-Chinese president Hu Jintao announced that China needed to develop its soft power. Progress is not good. The percentage of people around the world who hold a favorable perception of China declined from 48 per cent in 2007 when Hu made his announcement to 40 per cent in 2016.

Even in regions where China invests generously, things have not changed dramatically. Positive sentiment remains stable in most of Latin and Central America, and has dropped slightly across Africa. China fares much worse in Western nations. Over the same period, favorable perceptions dropped from 42 to 37 per cent in the United States and from 39 to 32 per cent in Western Europe. Only Australia has stable impressions of China: 52 per cent held a favorable view in both 2007 and 2016.

But a new ingredient has recently emerged in China’s quest for soft power — Chinese brands and their global influence. A recent study identified 30 Chinese brands that are ‘going global’ (meaning they derive a significant portion of their revenue and positive sentiment from overseas), including businesses in ‘traditional’ industries such as Lenovo and Huawei as well as newer internet and digital businesses like Alibaba and Elex.

Chinese government f66urious over lowered ranking in latest US human trafficking report  

Taiwan News
Date: 2017/06/28
By: Keoni Everingto6n, Taiwan News, Staff Writer

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The United States downgraded demoted China to “Tier 3,” its lowest

FILE – In this Dec. 6, 2012, file photo, Liu Xia, the wife of China’s jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, poses with a photo of herself and her husband during an interview at her home in Beijing. The newly arrived U.S. ambassador in Beijing Terry Branstad said Wednesday, June 28, 2017, that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate should be allowed to get treatment outside China after he was diagnosed with cancer while imprisoned for subversion. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

ranking6 in its 2017 human trafficking report on Tuesday.

The downgrading of China now places it in the same category as North Korea, Zimbabwe, Iran, Venezuela and Syria, a move which was a surprise to many this year after the Trump administration had avoided much public criticism of Beijing on any major issue in order to curry its support in pressuring North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapon program.

Standing with Ivanka Trump at his side while making the announcement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “China was downgraded to Tier 3 status in this year’s report in part because it has not taken serious steps to end its own complicity in trafficking, including forced laborers from North Korea that are located in China.”    [FULL  STORY]

European business leader Joerg Wuttke believes leadership is becoming less curious and eager to learn from the West

South China Morning Post
Date: 12 June, 2017
By: Wendy Wu

China has become less curious and keen to learn from and open up to the West despite its growing importance on the world stage, according to a European business leader and veteran China watcher.

Joerg Wuttke, former president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, has seen first-hand the dramatic change in mainland society over the past three decades.

“China is now very different from decades ago. When I first came here in the early 1980s, I noticed huge curiosity and eagerness to learn and to open up. But now China is far more globally engaged but far more closed up,” he told the South China Morning Post.

Wuttke added that today’s leadership was more insecure about opening up to foreign ideas despite increasing wealth on the mainland.

Xi Jinping is biding his time on market reforms, China watcher says

“China’s current leaders are quite different from their predecessors. Even if they look far more secure in office, more powerful and the country is much wealthier, it seems they have a stronger sense of insecurity – lashing out at criticism, cutting off ideas and challenging foreign non-government organisations,” Wuttke said.   [FULL  STORY]
Date: May `10, 2017
By: Sophia Yan

China has rapidly climbed the ranks to become the world’s second-largest economy. Now, the most populous nation on the planet wants to increase its influence by digging further into its pockets — flush with cash after decades of rapid growth — to splash out with its “One Belt, One Road” policy.

The initiative is meant to connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa to bolster trade and development. This weekend, hordes of foreign diplomats and business leaders are expected to descend on Beijing for a two-day meeting about the policy.

Here’s what you need to know:

What is “One Belt, One Road?”

President Xi Jinping first announced the policy in 2013; it was later named one of China’s three major national strategies, and morphed into an entire chapter in the current five-year plan, to run through 2020.

The plan aims to connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a vast logistics and transport network, using roads, ports, railway tracks, pipelines, airports, transnational electric grids and even fiber optic lines. The scheme involves 65 countries, which together account for one-third of global GDP and 60 percent of the world’s population, or 4.5 billion people, according to Oxford Economics.
Why does China want to do this?

This is part of China’s push to increase global clout — building modern infrastructure can attract more investment and trade along the “One Belt, One Road” route. It could be beneficial for western China, which is less developed, as it links up with neighboring countries. And in the long run, it will help China shore up access to energy resources.

China is right to worry about the dangers of Islamic extremism in its western provinces, but it must also recognize that this threat is a result of Beijing’s own policies.

The News Lens
Date: 2017/03/07
By: The Japan Times

China has long had an uneasy relationship with the Uighurs, Muslims who constitute a majority

Photo Credit: Reuters / 達志影像

of the population in the western province of Xinjiang. The Chinese Communist Party has worried about the threat of terrorism emanating from the region and has adopted increasingly repressive policies to counter that danger. The result, predictably enough, has been growing unrest. Beijing is now stepping up activities in the region and beyond its borders to check this threat; an indiscriminate heavy hand will do more harm than good.

China’s Xinjiang province is 45 percent Uighur, a Turkik-speaking Muslim group. While they are one of the 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities in China, Uighurs have complained that they have been discriminated against and their native culture denied as an influx of Han Chinese — who now constitute 40 percent of the population — have been brought into the region as part of a stabilization and pacification program. As in Tibet, the authorities claim that they are modernizing a backward part of their country and combating local groups that are terrorists or have terrorist inclinations.    [FULL  STORY]

Corruption and lack of oversight allow illegally logged timber to be traded from Africa’s heartland to the coast of China.

The News Lens
Date: 2017/01/25

By: Shi Yi

Muyeji Freddy and his team have scoured the bush for hours, but they haven’t found what f779xix4bovej5rr1qub3siz2lwibkthey’re looking for. Freddy would rather not return to camp so early in the day, with the sun still high, but the fruitless search leaves him no choice.

“Next week, we’ll move on and camp in another place,” he tells his group of loggers, some 40 young men from nearby villages.

Their home and hunting grounds are the vast highlands of the Katanga Plateau, in the deep south of the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa. Their prey: mukula trees, or bloodwood.

For the past two years, Freddy and his fellow loggers have followed the same routine; carrying just the bare necessities, such as tents and big cooking pots, they move through the forest to look for mukula trees, log them, and sell the wood to Chinese buyers in the provincial capital.

The News Lens
Date: 2016/11/11
By: Hunter Marston

The election of Donald Trump to the White House now paves the way for Beijing to exert

Photo Credit: Jason Lee / Reuters / 達志影像
Photo Credit: Jason Lee / Reuters / 達志影像

more influence and control in the region. It will also leave long-time allies nervous, and puts the U.S. at economic and strategic risk, writes Hunter Marston.
With the election of Donald Trump, American voters voiced support for “America-first” isolationism, rejecting the likely continuation of Barack Obama’s liberal internationalism. Southeast Asia will almost certainly shift to the backburner and lose the high level of attention it received during the Obama years. The implications for regional trade and security are grave, and mostly negative.

Trump has openly questioned the value of U.S. alliances in Asia and even suggested that South Korea and Japan should acquire nuclear weapons to fend for themselves. This cool indifference to the security of our Asian allies belies a fundamental misunderstanding of the benefits the United States derives from overseas alliances and basing agreements, and it opens the possibility of catastrophic conflict sparked by nuclear brinkmanship.

In Southeast Asia, risk of nuclear conflict may be absent, but the withdrawal, or weakening, of the U.S. security commitment enhances China’s influence to its south and will leave the U.S. outside the regional trade architecture.

The Philippines, which under populist President Rodrigo Duterte has tilted away from the United States and sought closer relations with China, will likely continue in this direction – though Trump and Duterte, who has been dubbed “the Trump of the East,” may find something in common with each other, which could in turn warm the frosty U.S.-Philippines relationship.     [FULL  STORY]

‘DEVASTATING BLOW’:The court said China had interfered with Philippine fishing rights at the Scarborough Shoal and had breached Manila’s sovereign rights near the Reed Bank

Taipei Times
Date: Jul 13, 2016

An arbitration court ruled yesterday that China has no historic title over the waters of the

Protesters throw flowers while chanting anti-Chinese slogans during a rally over the South China Sea dispute in Metro Manila, the Philippines, yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Protesters throw flowers while chanting anti-Chinese slogans during a rally over the South China Sea dispute in Metro Manila, the Philippines, yesterday. Photo: Reuters

South China Sea and has breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights with its actions, infuriating Beijing, which dismissed the case as a farce.

A defiant China, which boycotted the hearings at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, vowed again to ignore the ruling, and said its armed forces would defend its sovereignty and maritime interests.

Xinhua news agency said shortly before the ruling was announced that a Chinese civilian aircraft had successfully tested two new airports in the disputed Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) and the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said a new guided-missile destroyer was formally commissioned at a naval base on Hainan, which has responsibility for the South China Sea.

“This award represents a devastating legal blow to China’s jurisdictional claims in the South China Sea,” Ian Storey of Singapore’s ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute said. “China will respond with fury, certainly in terms of rhetoric and possibly through more aggressive actions at sea.”     [FULL  STORY]

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