‘China the Next Decade’: CNBC

Miranda Carr, head of China research at NSBO, in a few minutes laid out the options for China’s leadership coming up as well as the current situation. Worth a careful view:

‘Watch: Mrs Xi Jinping, Peng Liyuan, Sings About How The PLA Saved Tibetans From Themselves’: Shanghaiist

I once spent a morning watching musical performances by ‘General’ Peng Liyuan, wife of Xi Jinping, and I found her and the other performers to be great. After decades of watching Chinese variety programs, I’ve come to appreciate these shows.

So, today when I saw one of Ms. Peng’s videos on my rss feed that was new to me,  I watched immediately. Great costumes and dancing, and fine singing by the star. The lyrics weren’t too interesting. (‘Who is going to help us harvest barley?’) But, that’s the problem with a lot of patriotic songs. You probably need to be Chinese to get the full impact.

Or perhaps Tibetan. After watching, I read the description on the original post in Shanghaiist. Turns out I was watching ‘…the “Laundry Song”, a 50-year-old propaganda classic which purports to be sung by Tibetans desperate for the PLA and the Communist Party to liberate them.’ Okay. Missed that, either too dazzled by Ms. Peng or too dense.

More description:

Tibetan overseas website High Peaks Pure Earth:

The song tells the familiar Socialist narrative of the army and the people being one. For the Sino-Tibetan relationship though, the song puts the Tibetans firmly in a position of subservience, as natives, full of gratitude for the help of the benevolent People’s Liberation Army. The trope of washing clothes fits in also with the Socialist preoccupation with Patriotic Hygiene, [since] observing hygiene rules came to be seen as patriotic.

And, a final thought: ‘There have been 57 self-immolations by Tibetan protesters since February 2009.’

Needless to say, how you react to the video, armed with its meaning, depends on your stance here. For me, sure looked different the second time through. Have a look for yourself:

“Laundry Song” Performed by Peng Liyuan from HPeaks on Vimeo.

First Reactions To NYT On Premier Wen’s Wealth

The reactions to David Barboza’s blockbuster article about the wealth of Premier Wen’s family are starting to come in. Start with Reuter’s ‘Breakingviews: The Cost Of China’s Old Boys Club’:

More to follow!

‘Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader’ Premier Wen Jiabao: NYT

First Bloomberg got blocked in China for exposing the wealth of Xi Jinping’s family. Now, it’s the New York Times turn.

David Barboza of the New York Times has done an incredible job of investigation in ‘Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader’ that tracks the wealth of the family of Premier Wen Jiabao:

Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.

Grandpa Wen, say it ain’t so.

The article goes seven pages, all worth close reading. But, before you read it, have a look at the accompanying video:

And, after you watch the video and read the article, go to the chart showing ‘The Wen Family Empire’:

Ai Weiwei, Gangnam Style

After some pretty broad attempts to connect China and Gangnam Style, I have an indisputable relationship: Ai Weiwei has come out with his own cover of the hit song and video. Pretty bad, but, hey, its Mr. Ai, and the significance of handcuffs is obvious, if overdone.

Fortunately, Mr. Ai is an extraordinary visual artist–and heroic dissident, ’cause he sure can’t dance

Still I love it, and he remains my hero.

For a few bits of analysis, see the NYT’s ‘Ai Weiwei Covers ‘Gangnam Style’ Video.’ And, if you don’t know what ‘grass-mud horse’ also sounds like in Chinese, write me.

‘Dropping ”Mao Thought” Suggests Reform’: Vancouver Sun–Or Not

The Vancouver Sun (and other publications) notes that ‘Dropping ‘Mao thought’ suggests reform:Recent policy statements lack references to Marxist-influenced ideological leader’:

The subtle dropping of references to late Chinese leader Mao Zedong from two policy statements over the last few weeks serves as one of the most intriguing hints yet that the ruling Communist party is planning to move in the direction of reform.

What is means has drawn mixed views. This from the Vancouver Sun:

“It’s very significant,” Zheng Yongnian, the director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore, said of the removal of a reference to Mao Zedong thought and the implications of that for the direction leaders were taking.

And, this from the China’s Global Times:

In addition to political reforms, the public has also directed its attention to the amendment of the Party constitution at the upcoming Congress.

A Xinhua report on a Politburo meeting on Monday, during which Party leaders discussed a draft amendment to the Party Constitution and a draft report to the 18th National Congress, didn’t mention the words “Mao Zedong thought” and “Marxism-Leninism,” leading to speculation by Western media that the amendment would drop the wording in the Party constitution, which signals the CPC’s intent on reform.

However, Zhang [Xixian, a professor with the Party School] refuted such speculation as groundless, saying that it was an over-interpretation.

Over-interpretation or not, some interesting shifts may be taking place. Here’s NDTV’s take on the issue:

All worth following.

Debating China: President Obama and Governor Romney

In their third debate, this one about foreign policy, President Obama and Governor Romney spent about 15 minutes on China and related (sort of) issues.

Ahead of the debate, Reuters presented ‘Four burning questions on China ahead of final debate – The Trail’:

Here’s a recap of the questions. All pretty good. Unfortunately not discussed.

  1. ‘What bargaining chips does the U.S. have to pressure China, and how would you use them to win concessions on trade?’
  2. ‘As China prepares to change leadership, what opportunities and risks do you see for the U.S.? Could it be turning point in U.S.-China relations?’
  3. ‘Could rising tensions between China and Japan over the South China Sea draw the United States into an Asian conflict?’
  4. ‘What is your specific plan to combat cybersecurity treats from China?’

After the debate, CNBC wrote ‘U.S. candidates pass over tough China questions in final debate.’ Somewhat different tough questions from Reuters, but the point is the same.

Next, reaction for Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia prof and Nobel Prize winner in economics. ‘Stiglitz: Romney’s stance on China “scary” – Fast Forward (3:40)’

To here what about China was discussed, here’s the China portion of the debate itself: More

‘China Econtracker’: Wall Street Journal’s Great Tool

The Wall Street Journal’s ChinaRealTimeReport has a handy tool, the ‘China Econtracker.’ You can see graphs on key economic factors for one year or over time, by month or by year. As a bonus, you get the ChinaRealTime Twitter feed.

‘Foreign Affairs Focus: China’s Political Transition with Damien Ma’: Foreign Affairs

Excellent analysis by Damien Ma of the Eurasia Group, interviewed by Foreign Affairs, about:

‘…China’s political transition, economic slowdown, and social inequality. Ma unpacks U.S.-Chinese relations, the Diaoyu (Senkaku) Island dispute, and the potential economic consequences of the Chinese political handover.’

‘Putting Candidates’ Assertions of ”Getting Tough with China” in Context’: Ken Lieberthal Versus Gordon Chang

If you thought it’s just Obama-Romney and Biden-Ryan who disagree about everything this election season, have a look at the debate between Ken Lieberthal of Brookings and Gordon Chang of The Coming Collapse of China fame.

They faced off on  PBS NewsHour, in a segment called ‘Putting Candidates’ Assertions of ”Getting Tough with China” in Context.’ Here’s the summary:

During the presidential debate at Hofstra University, Mitt Romney called President Obama’s trade policy weak and China ‘a currency manipulator.’ Kenneth Lieberthal of the Brookings Institution and Forbes.com’s Gordon Chang talk with Jeffrey Brown about contrasting approaches to U.S.-China geopolitical issues and trade relations.

And, here’s the 7 1/2 minute video:

Watch Putting Candidates’ China Assertions in Context on PBS.