THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT
‘President Xi Jinping seeks his place in history – among the party greats’ | South China Morning Post A strong desire to leave a legacy comparable to that of Deng Xiaoping and a sense of crisis over the survival of the Communist Party are driving President Xi Jinping’s relentless fight against corruption, say people connected to the party’s inner circle. The president will use the crusade against corruption to sweep away resistance to his ambitious reform agenda, as entrenched interest groups have become too powerful and are reluctant to change, they say. Xi, who greatly admires Deng, wanted to become a leader in a similar vein, who could lead China into a new era of reform and growth, said sources including senior officials and “princelings” – the children of former high-ranking leaders.
Related: Media Watch: After Long Wait, Media Floodgates Open on Zhou Yongkang Case – Caixin unlike previous cases, the statement says the party’s Central Committee has decided to “open a case for review” of Zhou’s violations rather than “open a case for investigation.” Both of these differences signal that the investigation into Zhou is at a relatively late stage, People’s Daily Online quoted Ren Jianming and Yang Xiaojun, professors of public administration, as saying. Similar announcements usually use the word “comrade,” a title that applies to party members, as a sign that the official has not been expelled from the party yet. And the use of “review” rather than “investigate” signals that the internal party investigation is essentially complete, and needs only to be reviewed and finalized before a punishment is decided or the case is handed to the courts
周永康案全纪录_政经频道_财新网 Caixin’s package on all things Zhou Yongkang
Related: How Are Your Tiger-Catching Skills? After Zhou, Chinese Media Make Hay Online – China Real Time Report – WSJ This week, while many Chinese newspapers may have stayed circumspect in echoing the official Xinhua reports on their pages, the country’s more free-wheeling Web-based platforms had a field day with the political demise of onetime top-echelon leader Zhou Yongkang. On Tuesday night, for example, once the news was announced that the former security czar was under official investigation, well-respected publication Caixin published a series of articles collectively spanning some 60,000 characters. It also ran an impressive online interactive allowing readers to trace the links between Mr. Zhou, various family members and associates, as well as numerous companies. Such was reader demand for its stories that Caixin’s traffic surged more than 10-fold after the news broke, according to Caixin staff.
Shanghai to feel full force of Xi’s anti-corruption onslaught – FT.com Jiang Zemin’s “stronghold” // A large task force from the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, an extralegal body tasked with investigating allegations of crimes or wrongdoing committed by party members, has arrived in Shanghai and will remain until the end of September…Political insiders say Mr Xi is incensed by Mr Jiang’s pervasive lingering influence in both the party and the military. Anti-corruption investigations have already targeted several people with close ties to the former president, including Xu Caihou, a former Military Commission vice-chairman and close ally of Mr Jiang. Mr Xu is almost certain to go on trial, making him the most senior military officer to face public charges in China in at least three decades.
China Leadership Monitor | Hoover Institution Summer 2014: Issue 44
Press Release: IMF Executive Board Concludes 2014 Article IV Consultation with the People’s Republic of China Directors agreed that vulnerabilities have risen to the point that containing them is a priority and broad-based stimulus should only be deployed if growth risks slowing significantly below the authorities’ target. If such stimulus becomes necessary, it should be applied through fiscal policy, on-budget, with measures aimed at protecting the vulnerable and advancing reforms. Regarding the growth target for 2015, while most Directors concurred that a range of 6½ to 7 percent would be consistent with the goal of transitioning to a safer and more sustainable growth path, a few other Directors considered a lower target more appropriate. // the report (PDF)
Related: China should set less ambitious 2015 growth target, refrain from stimulus: IMF | Reuters In line with the modest economic cooldown, the IMF estimated that annual inflation in China may ease to 2 percent this year, a good way under the government’s 3.5 percent target. The fund also repeated its assessment that the yuan is “moderately undervalued”, and said it supported China’s attempt to move towards a more flexible exchange rate that is not subjected to “sustained, large and asymmetric intervention”. The IMF stuck with its assessment that the yuan is between 5 and 10 percent undervalued, based on China’s current account surplus relative to gross domestic product
Where Is the CEO of Edelman’s China Holding Company? | Advertising Age The CEO [Steven Cao] of PR giant Edelman’s China holding company has not reported to work for over a week, apparently because he has been asked to “cooperate” with Chinese authorities leading an investigation, a top executive said Wednesday…”It is our understanding that Steven Cao is cooperating with authorities on the investigation,” Mr. Brain said. “We have not been in contact with Steven, so we don’t have any further information about Steven’s whereabouts.” For now, senior China management is overseeing operations at the company, Mr. Brain said, and business in the country is running as usual. Edelman employs more than 300 people across its four brands in China. // This can’t make clients feel confident…Edelman looks to be in big trouble in China. Pegasus investment so soon after Rui attacked Edelman client Starbucks just a coincidence? Could any Edelman foreign clients have risk as this investigation progresses? And could Edleman have FCPA exposure with the US government?
Ilham Tohti Faces Criminal Trial Over Uighur Advocacy – NYTimes.com Authorities in China’s far west Xinjiang Province have formally charged the Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti with separatism, a serious crime that carries a potential death sentence. Prosecutors in Xinjiang announced the news on their microblog account, saying they had filed a motion with the Intermediate People’s Court in Urumqi, the regional capital, where Mr. Tohti has been held since shortly after he was taken from his Beijing apartment by the police in January. // 中央民大原讲师伊力哈木涉分裂国家罪被
China steps up the arms race in the digital cold war | Business Spectator The era in which US technology firms have dominated the globe at the same time as its government engages in the most far-reaching espionage may be drawing to a close. Snowden’s revelations are starting to look like a catalyst of sorts that is accelerating the process of China’s own rise as an internet and technology force. Chinese President Xi Jinping is clearly taking a personal interest in selling China’s technological prowess to countries who are now more open to alternatives to potentially compromised US products and services. In Brazil two weeks ago, Xi witnessed the launch of the Portuguese version of China’s Baidu search engine. Baidu’s Robin Li, Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Huawei’s Ren Zhengfei had accompanied Xi to South Korea just a few weeks earlier.
BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE
With Urbanization as Goal, China Moves to Change Registration Rules – NYTimes.com “I think there’s more hope of substantive change this time,” said Lu Yilong, a professor at Renmin University in Beijing who studies household registration divisions and their effects. “This is more a coordinated, top-down reform, unlike in the past when local governments had more room to set their own rules. There have been changes already, and now we need a more systematic approach.”
China Eases Internal Passport System in Latest Urbanization Push – Bloomberg “Getting rid of the administrative difference is the first step to prepare for the changes in the fiscal and social-security systems,” said Yao Wei, China economist at Societe Generale SA in Paris. “This is not an ending. It is a beginning.”
‘Deepening Reform’: The Organization and the Emerging Strategy | Hoover Institution by Barry Naughton Monday, July 28, 2014 The Chinese leadership has set up an elaborate top-level apparatus to advance the reforms announced at last year’s Third Plenum. This apparatus extends down to local governments and strongly incentivizes local governments to push forward with local reforms as well. However, these reforms are still not well defined, and specific guidance from the top level has lagged behind the creation of “reform leading groups.” The resulting pattern is one of broad movement but relatively slow delivery of actual reform measures. As proposals percolate up from below and “top-level designs” are further fleshed out, we can anticipate an additional protracted stage of bargaining, conflict, and slow consensus-building. Important reforms will emerge over the next few years, but there are also risks that irreconcilable conflicts may emerge or that botched reforms may incite a backlash.
Official calls for improving commercial credibility – Xinhua Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Liu Qibao on Wednesday called for improving “commercial credibility” in China. Liu, head of publicity for the CPC Central Committee, said credibility is the foundation for the government to win people’s hearts and for a person to gain fame. He asked authorities and media to strengthen publicizing good examples in credibility building and meanwhile exposing local governments and enterprises that are doing bad in this regard.
China diners test McDonald’s, Yum says food scare hurts KFC, Pizza Hut sales | Reuters Yum said on Wednesday that the scare, triggered by a TV report earlier this month showing improper meat handling by a supplier, Shanghai Husi Food, caused “significant, negative” damage to sales at KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants over the past 10 days. “If the significant sales impact is sustained, it will have a material effect on full-year earnings per share,” Yum said in a regulatory filing. Shares in Yum, which counts China as its No. 1 market, tumbled more than 6 percent in extended trading.
Papa John’s Closes China Store Over Expired Pizza Dough – Bloomberg Papa John’s International Inc. (PZZA) closed an outlet in eastern China after it used expired pizza dough, fueling further concerns about food safety at fast-food chains in the country. One of the pizza-maker’s five branches in Nanjing city was found to have used the expired ingredient two days after it passed the expiration date, Zhang Lie, a spokesman for the Louisville, Kentucky-based company, said. Local food regulators are investigating the case, he said.
CRC Adapts to Changing Economy by Agreeing to Ship New Kinds of Cargo – Caixin “My company can get 12 train cars to carry our deliveries on the new express trains between Beijing and Guangzhou,” said Xiong Dahai, vice president of operations at Shentong Express Co., a large courier company. The changes are the result of a pilot program that CRC worked out with companies in April to open six train routes that focus on e-commerce deliveries, such as clothes, food, household appliances and other items bought on popular online shopping websites. The efficiency of the negotiations was unprecedented, an industry source said. The CRC began to reform its freight services in June 2013, in an attempt to boost cargo volume involving dark goods, an industry term for coal, crude oil and other raw materials. But volume did not rise. Meanwhile, road transport rose sharply, mostly due to the need to ship goods like clothing and everything other than raw materials. This prompted the CRC to try to lure the burgeoning e-commerce industry to use its services as a cheap alternative.
Microsoft’s Ties with Gov’t on Rocks as Offices in Four Cities Raided – Caixin In June 2013, companies in China complained that Microsoft did not release information about Windows operating systems and Office software, and the lack of information caused compatibility problems with other software. Companies also griped they had to buy the entire Office package as one, instead of being able to separately purchase Word and PowerPoint, for example. There were also complaints that Internet Explorer and other software had to be installed along with Windows. The regulator said that after investigating for one year it could not dispel suspicions that Microsoft’s behavior violated the country’s Anti-Monopoly Law.
China’s property minnows take big hit as downturn bites | Reuters A number of small developers – the kind that by sheer weight of numbers dominate China’s vast property sector – are set to report big drops in earnings or even losses as the industry grapples with tight credit, sluggish sales and excess supply. The first-half results are likely to stand in contrast to the performances of larger players, which have weathered the downturn relatively better thanks to their greater exposure to top-tier cities, pricing power and easier access to credit.
Alibaba-Wanxiang, Fosun-Juneyao partnerships hope to set up private banks -Securities Times | Reuters Two Chinese partnerships, one of which involves Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd’s financial services affiliate, are still hoping to get private banking licences after missing the initial batch of approvals for China’s very first private lenders, the Securities Times said on Thursday.
China Stock Indexes Cap Biggest Monthly Gain Since December 2012 – Bloomberg The Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) rose 0.9 percent to 2,201.56 at the close, the highest level since Dec. 12. The measure rallied 7.5 percent this month amid signs of monetary easing, along with accelerated government spending and gains in manufacturing industries. A report tomorrow will probably show a factory gauge rose to an eight-month high in July, according to economists polled by Bloomberg.
The TPP and RCEP: Regional Trade Agreements with Tim Stratford-Carnegie-Tsinghua Center In this podcast, Paul Haenle and former U.S. Trade Representative Tim Stratford discussed the economic and geopolitical nature of the two massive Asia-Pacific trade agreements currently under negotiation: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The two agreements differ in their ambitions, Stratford explained. The RCEP’s aims are more modest, focusing on tariff cuts and flexibility, while the TPP is a high-standards agreement aimed at establishing WTO-plus trade standards for the region.
“12津天联”实质违约 担保方亦陷信用危机_金融频道_财新网 another default in the works? // 在上交所挂牌的“12津天联”
地方政府纵容李嘉诚囤地 多项目4年仅完成1%开发-搜狐新闻 on the large amount of undeveloped land Li Ka-shing has in mainland China…have heard for a while that one of the motivations for his “pulling out’ was that he had a ton of land that Beijing was refusing to allow him to develop…not sure what happened with his China government relations…
POLITICS AND LAW
More Already on the Central Committee’s Leading Small Groups | Hoover Institution by Alice L. Miller Monday, July 28, 2014 The Xi Jinping leadership has substantially revised the array of top-level leading small groups that prevailed under the Hu Jintao leadership. In doing so the Xi leadership has unveiled aspects of the groups’ role in the policymaking and policy implementation, their leadership, and their varieties in the broader political order. Although much about these informal groups remains obscure, the steps toward transparency shed new light on the leadership’s policy processes.
PLA, Armed Police back graft probe of Zhou Yongkang – Xinhua The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Armed Police fully support the decision to investigate Zhou Yongkang, the latest and highest-ranking “tiger” in the anti-corruption campaign, a military newspaper said Thursday.
What’s Wrong With this Chinese Town?–Foreign Policy as the story percolated, many realized that Sihong was not only the birthplace of the amusing bean fiasco, but also the hometown of a group of seven petitioners who on the morning of July 16 had gathered outside the offices of the China Youth Daily, a state-run paper, in Beijing and swallowed pesticide. The mass suicide attempt was intended as a protest against land seizures by officials back home. The group had tried bringing their grievances to government officers earlier, but to no avail. Here was a story smack at the intersection of awful and the absurd.
CDIC Merges Departments to Better Hunt Absconded Officials – Caixin hope the US government offers cooperation, or at least the California State government, or the Orange County government…getting harder for corrupt officials to get family and money out, wonder if we will see slowdown in overseas housing purchases // The International Cooperation Bureau was formed by combining the Foreign Affairs Bureau and the Corruption Prevention Office, said Xie Guanghui, deputy director of the clean government research center at the Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC). “One of the bureau’s primary functions is to recover embezzled money from overseas and hunt down fugitives,” he said. It is probably also charged with pursuing government officials who have fled, including senior executives at state-owned enterprises, more vigorously than before, said Huang Feng, director of Institute for International Criminal Law at Beijing Normal University.
Closer Look: Unifying the Hukou System Is a Start, but It’s Just That – Caixin The aim of the reform announced by the cabinet is to provide people across the country with the same level of public services. One way to do this is to improve what is being offered in rural areas by providing better pension, education and health benefits. The other way is to provide public services to all permanent residents of cities. Only by making these improvement will reform of the hukou system succeed.
传央视原女主播沈冰被查 或与周永康案有关(图)-搜狐体育 former CCTV anchor Shen Bing detained as part of Zhou Yongkang probe? Been rumors for a while…our kids were classmates with her daughter in preschool. We knew she was rich and could arrange interesting teachers for her child but did not know the details…hope her daughter is ok
Four Keys to Understanding the Zhou Yongkang Investigation – China Real Time Report – WSJ Deng Yuwen // Those who argue for a more structural approach to reform say that an anti-corruption approach that only comes in waves can’t solve the fundamental problem. To be sure, a campaign like the one directed against Zhou might be needed at first to foster an atmosphere of anti-corruption. But following this week’s news, the fight is nearing a critical turning point. Now it’s high time to focus on instituting procedures and systems that make officials harder to corrupt. The Fourth Plenary will be a measure of whether the Communist Party is determined to do so.
Zhou Is Butt of Online Jokes as China Allows Mirth Over His Fate – Bloomberg Brave enough to touch the tiger’s butt? That’s the challenge in a game featuring the image of a tiger on Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat messaging app regaling users since a corruption investigation into retired security chief Zhou Yongkang was announced this week.
State-Appointed Muslim Leader Killed in China – WSJ The state-approved leader of China’s largest mosque by size was killed in the far western Chinese city of Kashgar, according to multiple accounts, in the latest violence in a region beset by ethnic and religious strife. An official in the religious affairs bureau of the Xinjiang region said Jume Tahir was killed Wednesday morning, but didn’t know who killed the imam or how. Mr. Tahir was the leader Kashgar’s ancient and symbolic Id Kah Mosque.
China’s Domestic Insurgency | China in Central Asia in June the government held a second major work conference on Xinjiang, with a major conclusion that the current approach of heavy economic investment was not ample to resolve the problems. President Xi has spoken of increasing regional ethnic integration and improving educational attainment in the province. He also highlighted the importance of religious tolerance, of focusing on economic benefits reaching minorities in the province and other messages that seemed to suggest a desire to push beyond the traditional dual track approach of economic investment paired with the heavy hand of state security. Whether these messages are getting through on the ground is not always clear, however, with stories circulating of authorities in the province telling officials they could not fast during Ramadan – something that seems at odds with a tolerant approach to religion. It is also not clear that the approaches towards affirmative action in terms of companies in the region hiring minorities is new, with similar proclamations having been made before.
Wife of Party Official Killed in Xinjiang ‘Revenge Attack’ The wife of a ruling Chinese Communist Party official in the restive Xinjiang region was stabbed to death and her husband severely wounded in an attack which authorities said was an act of revenge for a raid on ethnic minority Uyghur Muslims during a mosque prayer session. Unknown assailants wielding axes and knives burst into the home of party secretary Rejep Islam in Hotan prefecture’s Qaraqash county at around 3:00 a.m. on July 19, killing his wife Zeynep Memtimin and leaving him in need of urgent medical care, according to the chief of his village, Memetjan Jumaq.
The Xinjiangistan Connection–Foreign Policy Beijing appears to trust the top ranks of the Pakistani army — including the new Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif — but worries about the younger generations that have come through the system since the “Islamization” of Pakistani society and the army over the last 35 years. “We’re not worried about the generals, we’re worried about the brigadiers,” one Chinese analyst put it. In other words, top officers are sufficiently secular for Chinese tastes; the lower ranks are not. Privately, Chinese officials and experts complain that the Pakistanis have given Uighur militants a heads-up. “When we provide them with intelligence on ETIM locations they give warnings before launching their attacks,” groused a Chinese analyst familiar with intelligence issues. // sounds like leverage for Pakistan. Why would they play this game any differently with the Chinese than they do with the Americans?
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
习近平八一前接见驻福州部队师级以上官兵_凤凰资讯 Xi Jinping visits with PLA officers in Fujian // 八一建军节到来之际，中共中央总书记、国家主席、
PLA lets foreign press attend monthly briefing for first time in bid for greater transparency | South China Morning Post Officers who oversee the briefings say the new invitations reflect a desire by the top brass to allay foreigners’ concerns over fast-expanding budgets, vast hardware improvements, and an increasingly clear determination to use the military to assert China’s interests and territorial claims. “It’s very important that we explain Chinese defence policy in a way that is understood. We especially hope that international society will have a correct and objective understanding of the Chinese military,” spokesman Yang Yujun said at a briefing to announce the change.
China’s NDU recommends 400-strong Y-20 fleet – IHS Jane’s 360 Written by NDU’s Center for Economic Research, ‘Chinese Military and Civilian Integration Development Report, 2014’ was revealed on 25 July by Chinese state media outlets. Containing six parts, the report covers the theory and practice of civil-military integration and reviews its progress in China along with recommendations for its improvement. While it is not clear whether the NDU report reflects thinking within the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) leadership, it is significant as the PLA almost never openly discusses future requirements for major military systems.
泰国将建两条高铁 穿过老挝与中国西南部联通|老挝|泰国_凤凰资讯 Thaila
HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN
Macau gambling kingpin facing charges in the US was an envoy for San Marino | South China Morning Post Asian gambling kingpin and alleged triad member Paul Phua Wei-seng was San Marino’s ambassador to Montenegro for more than three years until the tiny city state revoked his diplomatic status shortly after his arrest in Las Vegas earlier this month on illegal betting charges.
TECH AND MEDIA
Talking to China’s “Web Junkies” – The New Yorker Opening August 6th at Film Forum, “Web Junkie,” by the Israeli filmmakers Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia, takes us inside an Internet-addiction treatment center in Beijing, one of hundreds across China, to chronicle the ways in which technology, wealth, and autonomy are altering the ties between young people and the elders who strain to comprehend those changes. The film’s best moments have the patience of ethnography, lingering in the background of communities that are usually out of view. Alongside Shlam and Medalia, the credits for “Web Junkie” contain a list of Chinese “fixers” and other crew members, and anyone who has worked in China will know how important that was to building trust with the participants.
Xiaomi’s One More Thing | TechCrunch harsh, Xiaomi needs to up its international PR game, starting to get some nasty overseas press…Baidu’s Kaiser Kuo or Google Motorola’s Will Moss would be perfect hires for them // The young electronics company Xiaomi is exploding in China and seems posed to take over the world. In the four short years since its founding, Xiaomi has become the electronics brand to watch in the most populous nation on earth. Xiaomi is the now the real deal — thanks in part to its unabashed appropriation of design cues from companies like Apple. But if Xiaomi wants to maintain its growth and expand outside of China, it must be prepared to accept the consequences for its tendency to blatantly rip competitors off.
Xiaomi’s star rises as Chinese handset makers gnaw at Samsung’s share: report | Reuters Xiaomi Inc, the three-year old company known as the Apple of China, has become the world’s No.5 smartphone maker by market share while Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s lead has continued to shrink, a report by Strategy Analytics shows. Three out of the world’s top 5 smartphone sellers were Chinese manufacturers in the second quarter, Strategic Analytics said, as China’s low-cost offerings on the Android operating system whittle away Samsung’s market share.
小米在台湾虚报红米销售数量 遭罚60万元新台币|销量|小米_凤凰科技 XIaomi fined 600,000 Taiwan Dollars for exaggerating Redmi sales figures
Tracking Microsoft Xbox’s strategy in China Lisa Hanson, Managing Partner at Niko Partners, discusses the pricing strategy of the Xbox in China and explains why the launch of the console will be a long-awaited alternative for Chinese gamers.
Snapchat Said to Have Had Talks With Alibaba on Potential Investment – NYTimes.com Snapchat has held talks to sell a stake to the Alibaba Group, the Chinese Internet giant, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday. The negotiations may not lead to a deal, these people said. Evan Spiegel, Snapchat’s founder and chief executive, and Jim Wilkinson, a spokesman for Alibaba, declined to comment on the talks, which were first reported by Bloomberg News. The report put the potential valuation of the financing round at $10 billion.
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH
China to build underground neutrino lab – Xinhua China plans to build a large underground laboratory for neutrino experiments in Jiangmen of the southern Guangdong Province by the end of this year. The project is led by China with more than 200 scientists from over 50 research institutes and universities around the world, according to a statement issued by the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences on Wednesday.
China’s climate change policies | Lowy Institute In this Analysis the 2014 Lowy Institute-Rio Tinto China Fellow, Lisa Williams, argues that despite China’s reputation for being a climate change laggard the country is putting real effort into reducing carbon emissions. The Analysis identifies the key drivers and domestic players in China’s evolving climate change policies.
Chinese scientist plans parachutes for every plane passenger made of world’s lightest material | South China Morning Post contingency planning for China’s forthcoming commercial airliners? // Zhejiang University professor Gao Chao said the development of the material, known as carbon aerogel, had boosted the possibility of parachutes one day becoming standard safety equipment on civilian airplanes.
FOOD AND TRAVEL
Melamine found in milk candies produced in Guangdong: Shanghaiist Police smashed a food factory in Chaozhou City, Guangdong province believed to be producing and selling milk candies tainted with melamine, the same industrial chemical held responsible for six infant deaths and the hospitalization of 300,000 more in 2008. Yang, the factory operator was arrested, Apple Daily reports. Police seized 12.05 tons of manufactured products and 13.5 tons of semi-manufactured products in the operation. They found the candies had been distributed widely in China, and 12 provinces are currently under investigation as authorities aim to crumble the criminal network.
三鹿女董事长减刑细节未明 家人期望两三年能保外_凤凰资讯 former chairwoman of Sanlu, the dairy firm responsible for the melamine poisonings in 2008, has twice had her original sentence of life in prison reduced
BOOKS AND LITERATURE
In ‘The Dog,’ Jack Livings Writes of a Modernizing China – NYTimes.com Mr. Livings — an editor at Time Inc., who taught English in China and studied there as an undergraduate — writes less as an outsider, observing the exotic customs and traditions of a foreign land, than as a sort of Chekhovian observer, attuned to the absurdities and ironies of his characters’ lives; their entrapment by family, tradition, party politics and government bureaucracy; and their struggles to clear for themselves some small measure of personal space and freedom. Together, his tales open a prismatic window on China, showing us how part of the country is rushing to embrace the 21st century, even as its history continues to exert a magnetic hold over people’s thinking and expectations.
The Dog: Stories: Jack Livings: Amazon Set in the shifting landscape of contemporary China, Jack Livings’s The Dog explodes the country’s cultural and social fault lines, revealing a nation accustomed to rations, bitter struggle, and the stranglehold of communism as it confronts a generation rife with the promise of unforeseen prosperity. In this riveting, richly imagined collection, a wealthy factory owner—once a rural peasant—refuses to help the victims of an earthquake until his daughter starts a relief effort of her own; a marginalized but powerful Uyghur gangster clashes with his homosexual grandson; and a dogged journalist is forced to resign as young writers in “pink Izod golf shirts and knockoff Italian loafers” write his stories out from under him. With spare, penetrating prose, Livings gives shape to the anonymous faces in the crowd and illuminates the tensions, ironies, and possibilities of life in modern China