Pomfret's China

May 2009 Archives

May 1, 2009 9:41 AM

Did the Communists Really Win in China?

This is a really interesting review of a new book that reconsiders Chiang Kai-shek.

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May 4, 2009 10:01 AM

China vs. Mexico in the Battle of Swine Flu

China and Mexico are battling over China's treatment of Mexicans traveling to China in the wake of the H1N1 outbreak in Mexico. More than 100 Mexicans have been quarantined even though many have not had any contact with the disease. Now the two governments, who are bickering publicly about the issue, are talking about dispatching planes to each other's country to pick up their nationals. The Wall Street Journal has the best piece so far on China's treatment of Mexicans.

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May 6, 2009 10:26 AM

Smoke More to Help China's Economy!

From the China Daily today

A local government in central China has backed down on an order which
asked civil servants to smoke more to help boost the regional economy,
the Beijing News reported Tuesday.
The Gong'an County government of Hubei province found itself at the
center of public outrage after it demanded local officials to consume up
to 23,000 packs of locally-produced cigarettes annually, worth 4 million
yuan (US$588,235), using public money.

The full story is here.

May 6, 2009 3:11 PM

China's Little Election That Could(n't)

There's a lot of talk these days in China about anniversaries. This year marks the 90th since the May 4th student movement that introduced Mr. Democracy and Mr. Science to China. The 60th since the founding of the PRC. The 20th since the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

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May 6, 2009 4:17 PM

Talk about a Peace Dividend. Get Ready for PRC Investments in Taiwan

This is a really smart op-ed by Dan Rosen on the new hope in the economic relations between China and Taiwan.

The operative graph for me is this:

Until now, Taiwan has blocked inward investment from China -- despite WTO obligations -- ostensibly out of national security concerns. While unofficial estimates of Taiwanese investment in mainland China range from $200 billion to $400 billion, reciprocal Chinese investment in Taiwan stands near zero. During the most recent round of direct China-Taiwan talks in Nanjing, agreement was reached to resolve this asymmetry. As a result, many sectors of Taiwan's economy stand to benefit from new inflows from across the Strait, including real estate, information and communications technology, areas of financial and business facilitation services, biotechnology and other sectors.

May 8, 2009 10:21 AM

Death Tolls and Press Controls on Quake's Anniversary

A year after the horrible earthquake in Sichuan province, China released statistics that said 5,335 school-aged children died in the quake. Many of them died in shoddily-built schools. About 70,000 people altogether died in the quake. Parents of the dead children have lobbied the government for reparations and to punish corrupt officials who built the lousy schools.

Covering the quake's aftermath isn't easy. Here's an example from the Financial Times.

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May 14, 2009 10:21 AM

Are Zhao's Memoirs Real? Seems So.

Here's what we know about the authenticity of Zhao Ziyang's memoirs,which will be published in English on May 19 (20 years to the day when he was removed from his post as general secretary of the Communist Party). Zhao's editors say the following:

1) They liaised with people whom they knew to be close to Zhao. (Bao Pu was one of the editors and his father, Bao Tong, was Zhao's political aide. If Bao Pu didn't know the people personally, his father did.)

2) The memoirs were dictated by Zhao into tapes. Zhao numbered them in his own hand. His voice on the tapes sounds exactly like his voice on other tapes of him speaking, although you do have to take age into account.

3) Other sources close to Zhao knew of the tapes.

4) A transcript of one of the tapes has already been cited in an appendix to a book in Chinese by the author Yang Jisheng. (The tapes, however, apparently have no relation to "Zhao Ziyang: Captive Conversations," a book by Zhao's longtime friend Zong Fengming.)

May 14, 2009 1:36 PM

China's Changing Views on June 4th

Here's a (non-exhaustive) list of what the Chinese government has said about the June 4th crackdown. Over time, the government's tone has morphed into something a bit less strident. In the early '90s, the PRC called it "counter-revolutionary turmoil" or just "turmoil" for short. Then it modified that to "the Tiananmen incident." In a 2003 interview with the Post, Premier Wen Jiabao gave what I thought to be the most illuminating answer, framing the "incident" as something that occurred "in the last century" with the clear implication that it was irrelevant to today's China.

Compiled by Nicholas Bequelin:

June 1989
Zhang Gong, spokesman of the army

Nobody was killed in the Tiananmen Square, and there was nobody crushed by tanks in the Square.

June 6, 1989
Yuan Mu, spokesperson of the State Council

During the "clearing" of Tiananmen Square, 5,000 soldiers were injured, and 2,000 civilians and "rebels" were also injured, 300 soldiers and "law-breaking criminals" died, including 23 university students.

June 16, 1989
Yuan Mu(interviewed by the U.S. news station ABC)

The news clips shot by ABC depicting troops entering the Square killing civilians and students were actually created by "advance technology" with the aim of twisting the facts.

1990, Jiang Zemin, General Secretary
Dismissed international condemnation of the Tiananmen Massacre as "much ado about nothing."

January 2001, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao
Defended the use of deadly force against unarmed civilians in June 1989 as "...timely and resolute measures...extremely necessary for the stability and development of the country."

November 22, 2003 Interview with Premier Wen Jiabao with The Washington Post

"In the last century, at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, drastic changes took place in the Soviet Union and countries of Eastern Europe. In China, a political disturbance occurred. At that time, the party and government of China adopted resolute measures in a timely fashion to safeguard social stability and became more determined to press ahead with China's reform and opening up. Our development over the past years has proven that stability is of vital importance for China. As premier of this country, I think the most important issue for me is to ensure stability and development. This is because China has 1.3 billion people."

2008 Qin Gang, spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry
Regarding the political incident that took place at the end of the 1980s, there is already a clear conclusion.

2009 Zhao Qizheng, spokeperson of the Chinese People's Consultative Conference
The government has already reached the verdict on "June Fourth", and the stability of the country was the foremost priority.

May 15, 2009 2:24 AM

Will Zhao's Book Shake China? Don't Bet On It

Someone asked me whether I thought Zhao Ziyang's posthumous memoirs -- "Prisoner of the State" -- was going to cause some type of controversy on the mainland or add to the worries of the Chinese Communist Party.

My answer? Nothing major and not much. The book's Chinese edition will sell well in Hong Kong. Other than that, the reaction will probably be like this:

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May 18, 2009 3:47 PM

Jon Huntsman to China

This is the smartest piece so far that I've read on Obama's pick for ambassador to China.

May 27, 2009 10:29 AM

Why China Won't Do More With North Korea

Reading all the stuff about North Korea's nukes, one thing strikes me: the United States seems to want to outsource not just its jobs to China, but also its diplomacy. "It's up to China!" and "China can do more!" are the operative phrases emerging from DC-think-tanks and the US government. As if....

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May 28, 2009 6:20 PM

China's Military Game Changer?

Check out the cover of this month's US Naval Institute's Proceedings. It depicts a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in flames, smoke billowing from the deck. The headline asks a simple question: Chinese Carrier Killer?

Proceedings Magazine
This month's Proceedings magazine cover.

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May 29, 2009 1:51 PM

The Chinese Pedicurist Who Struck Back

This is a really interesting piece from the South China Morning Post on a story that has captivated China.

Two reporters beaten as gag on case tightens
Pressure on activists over accused killer's plight
SCMP He Huifeng May 29, 2009
Two reporters were beaten in Hubei's Badong county as local authorities sealed off the epicentre of a scandal involving a cadre allegedly killed by a hotel pedicurist. Two reporters - Kong Pu from the Beijing Times and Wei Yi from the Nangfang People Weekly - were beaten yesterday morning by officials in Yesanguan town, according to media sources. They were interviewing a grandmother of the 21-year-old pedicurist, Deng Yujiao . The reporters were left bruised by the attack and both had their cameras smashed, the sources said. They were detained from 1pm to 5pm, and there were a number of security personnel monitoring their hotel after their release. Both reporters said they had proper media credentials.
A media gag was introduced by central government censors on Tuesday. News organisations were ordered to halt their reporting on the case and recall reporters from Hubei, saying the case was under judicial investigation. Deng's plight has sparked one of the biggest civil rights movements on the mainland in recent years as various groups showed their solidarity with her. Many netizens and reporters have travelled to Yesanguan to follow the case voluntarily. But a group of five women's rights activists who arrived in Yesanguan on Monday said the town was eerily quiet because access to it had been cut by local authorities.
"We were told by local residents that the ferry from Yichang to Badong had been suspended since Tuesday," said Zhou Li, one of the activists. "Every vehicle entering Badong county is being checked. If drivers or passengers are not locals, they are told to turn back." Ms Zhou said hotels in the town had been told not to receive outsiders. Some shops had even been shut since Wednesday.
"We've been followed by more than a dozen plain-clothes police since we arrived in Badong. Now, the electricity and water supply to our hotel has been cut off. They are trying to make us give in," said Ms Zhou. "Five Yesanguan officials, including the chief of police, came [on Wednesday night] and asked us to leave. They said they could not guarantee our safety if we stay here. We came here to show support for the powerless and anger at officialdom. We'll be here until the end."
The dead official, Deng Guida, the head of a trade promotion department in the town, reportedly demanded "special services" - a euphemism for sex - from Deng at Yesanguan's Xiongfeng hotel on May 10. In the presence of a subordinate, he threw money in her face and pushed her to the sofa several times before she stabbed him with a fruit knife. The subordinate was injured.
The reported behaviour of the officials sparked fury among netizens, and this was heightened when local authorities appeared to tone down the description of the officials' activities in a way that could see them avoid charges of demanding sexual services or rape. On Wednesday, Deng was released from custody and placed under house arrest. Commentators said the move would help to address public mistrust in the government. They also said the house arrest could be an indication of official back-pedalling from the earlier murder charges and an attempt to defuse public anger.

« April 2009 | June 2009 »

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