China Readings for January 25th

"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner

  • Cooperation from Strength: The United States, China and the South China Sea | Center for a New American Security – American interests are increasingly at risk in the South China Sea due to the economic and military rise of China and concerns about its willingness to uphold existing legal norms. The United States and countries throughout the region have a deep and abiding interest in sea lines of communication that remain open to all, both for commerce and for peaceful military activity. China, however, continues to challenge that openness, both by questioning historical maritime norms and by developing military capabilities that allow it to threaten access to this maritime region.
    Cooperation from Strength: The United States, China and the South China Sea, a six-chapter volume featuring a capstone chapter authored by Patrick M. Cronin, CNAS Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program, and Robert D. Kaplan, CNAS Senior Fellow, helps U.S. policymakers understand the trends affecting American interests in the South China Sea. It includes insightful chapters on U.S. strategy in the South China Sea, maritime security, diplomacy and the rule of law, natural resources and partnership building by some of the world’s leading experts on the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Rules of American justice: a tale of three cases – – The Rules of American Justice are quite clear:

    (1) If you are a high-ranking government official who commits war crimes, you will receive full-scale immunity, both civil and criminal, and will have the American President demand that all citizens Look Forward, Not Backward.

    (2) If you are a low-ranking member of the military, you will receive relatively trivial punishments in order to protect higher-ranking officials and cast the appearance of accountability.

    (3) If you are a victim of American war crimes, you are a non-person with no legal rights or even any entitlement to see the inside of a courtroom.

    (4) If you talk publicly about any of these war crimes, you have committed the Gravest Crime — you are guilty of espionage – and will have the full weight of the American criminal justice system come crashing down upon you.

    So warped but clear are these Rules of American Justice that they produced darkly sardonic applications yesterday. Mazahir Hussein said: “Bradley Manning should’ve really considered committing some war crimes instead of exposing them.” Regarding this heinous story about a campaign manager of a Democratic House candidate in Arkansas coming home to find his child’s cat murdered with the word “LIBERAL” scrawled on the cat’s corpse, a picture of which made its way to the Internet to highlight how horrible a crime it was, one commenter applied the Obama mentality as follows: “We should look forward, not back on this cat killing. But perhaps whoever released that photo should be prosecuted.” And about the Kirakou case, John Cole sarcastically celebrated: “At Long Last, Someone Will Face a Waterboarding Related Prosecution, and then added: “He’s being prosecuted for blabbing about what happened- not the actual crime itself.”

  • Information Dissemination: America’s New Asiatic Fleet – Professor James Holmes has a piece online today in which he calls himself a "reluctant convert" to the idea of stationing LCS's in Singapore and according to Holmes, perhaps in the Philippines.  Here's a key thought from Holmes:  "The LCS, then, may be the right ship for the Southeast Asian theater while drawing the venom from Chinese rhetoric. In some ways, an LCS squadron would constitute a throwback to the U.S. Asiatic Fleet, which anchored the US presence in Asia until crushed by Japan early in World War II. The Asiatic Fleet was a light force, not a battle fleet. Its chief purpose was diplomacy."  I think Dr. Holmes' conversion is a good thing, and the strategic thinking behind it should be more closely examined.

    Holmes points to remarks made by the new OPNAV Director of Surface Warfare (N86), RADM Thomas  Rowden at the recent Surface Navy Symposium (Galrahn cited his speech here), which included the line “aggressively fielding the LCS fleet in order to meet our vital war-fighting gaps and forward-deploy additional American flags on LCS halyards.”  What both Holmes and Rowden are pointing to is that in the great game of "assurance", numbers matter, and what are friends and allies in the South China Sea need from us right now is assurance.  Assurance that our fiscal problems aren't going to cause us to look irredeemably inward, leaving them to make unsavory choices about whether to strike security bargains with the Chinese or to arm up themselves, and assurance that their sovereignty–including their rights in disputed areas–will not be subject to a Chinese fait accompli. 

  • The Influence and Illusion of China’s New Left – After the financial crisis, the New Leftists were quick to pronounce the death of the market-centric approach, and proposed with much fanfare the advance of “state capitalism” as a new development model that the Chinese leadership should adopt. Although the market-centric and efficiency-first doctrine has produced some glaring social inequities which require constructive policy attention, the solutions proposed by the New Leftists to strengthen state control over economic life unfortunately will not necessarily resolve the widening income gap and sense of social alienation, felt by many Chinese left relatively behind by 30 years of runaway growth. While their objectives are laudable, the New Left’s proposed solutions may indeed even exacerbate social stability issues. Nevertheless, in addressing social discontent, the incoming Chinese leadership in 2012 may continue to tilt toward the New Leftist proposals and concentrate more on diminishing the income gap by fiat, rather than drawing on market-oriented reforms.
  • Why China Will Democratize-Washington Quarterly – Over the last decade, terms typically used by Western academics to describe Chinese politics have included “authoritarian resilience,” “illiberal adaption,” and “rightful resistance,” indicating a pessimistic view of China’s democratic future. However, reality sometimes changes faster than scholars can reckon. China is moving closer to vindicating classical modernization theory, which states that economic development eventually leads to democratization. We argue that there is good reason to be optimistic that China will become a democracy, and forecast that China will embark on democratization around 2020 or so, although how it will happen, how long the process will take, and even whether it is desirable are issues beyond the scope of this article. Our relative optimism stems from four interlinked mega-trends: economic development, cultural change, political leadership trends, and the global environment.
  • Agony and Ivory | Culture | Vanity Fair – Highly emotional and completely guileless, elephants mourn their dead—and across Africa, they are grieving daily as demand from China’s “suddenly wealthy” has driven the price of ivory to $700 a pound or more. With tens of thousands of elephants being slaughtered each year for their tusks, raising the specter of an “extinction vortex,” Alex Shoumatoff travels from Kenya to Seattle to Guangzhou, China, to expose those who are guilty in the massacre—and recognize those who are determined to stop it.
  • How China is driving the grim rise in illegal ivory | Environment | – Demand from Asia is driving the killing of Africa's elephants for their tusks, with seizures hitting a record high in 2011 following a ban in 1989
  • 传团宝网CEO任春雷跑路 北京总部已人去楼空_互联网_科技时代_新浪网 – has (not groupon) ceo chun lei run away with his wife and the remaining cash?
  • A ‘Millionaires’ Tour Of Myanmar? Yours For $8,500 – Forbes
  • Chinese Law Prof Blog: Do judges have a duty to speak Mandarin in court? – This is where Prof. Kong may get himself in trouble, and not just for his un-Confucian way of expressing himself, which would seem more suited to a Legalist book-burning. In the trial of Li QInghong (黎庆洪) just conducted in Guiyang, the presiding judge decided on the third day of proceedings to stop speaking in Mandarin and began instead to speak on in local Guiyang dialect, making it difficult for Li's lawyer to understand the proceedings. When Li's lawyer objected and said that the judge was required under relevant law to speak Mandarin, the judge said that it was his right to use Mandarin or Guiyang dialect as he pleased. But perhaps Prof. Kong will surprise me and denounce the presiding judge as a bastard.
  • Chinese lessons in leadership | Al Jazeera Blogs – It was a very different campus from other places we'd visited. China's top schools for example, have modern, uninspiring campuses.

    The Communist Party, it seemed, had clearly saved the best for their own use.

    Indeed, there was probably a sense of triumphalism to appropriate what had once been a Catholic seminary and re-establish it as their administrative training centre.

    There are 80 million members of the Communist Party and more than half of them work in the government in some way – whether directly in a ministry or in a state-owned corporation. Training them in management and administration requires what is probably the biggest human resources department in the world: the Communist Party School system, with some 2,000 satellite campuses.

  • Reid Hoffman: LinkedIn Founder takes social to next level – Jan. 24, 2012
  • Beijing Food Delivery | Beijing Restaurant Take Out | Order Food Online | JinShiSong – very impressed w this service
  • How Youku is helping China’s film-makers get round the censors | Film | – China's answer to YouTube is bringing cinema – including 250 Hollywood films – to the country's 400m online viewers, and bypassing the censors at the same time $yoku
  • The Link_CEIBS–Eric Li – Twelve years after Eric Li founded Chengwei Capital Limited, the conglomerate owns 25 companies across a wide range of industries. With so much already on his plate, why does Li consider it an honour to be one of the newly appointed directors to the CEIBS Board?
  • Foreign firms eye China’s crowded express delivery market | Reuters – Foreign firms can deliver packages from abroad to destinations in China, but Chinese law forbids them from domestic delivery, packages sent between locations in China.

    This year, however, some are hoping to take a bigger bite out of this expanding pie, applying for licenses for parcel delivery in the Chinese market.

  • Is tide turning for London’s prodigal plutocrats? | Reuters – "They used to come in and say, 'I'll have it', but now they don't. The oriental customers still do; they come in and they'll buy six in one go," she added.

    Most of the retailers on Bond Street interviewed by Reuters said spending on luxuries by tourists and international buyers, particularly Chinese customers, remained strong, though cracks were appearing in the confidence of some London-based buyers.

  • China ‘protecting Kim Jong-nam’ – Telegraph – Kim Jong-nam, the oldest son of North Korea's late leader, is being protected by China as a fallback option if the regime of his half-brother, Kim Jong-un, collapses.
  • Red Kite Evangelicals Reap 47% Sowing Bet on China Copper Market – Bloomberg
  • In Police Training, a Dark Film on U.S. Muslims – – “This is the true agenda of much of Islam in America,” a narrator intones. “A strategy to infiltrate and dominate America. … This is the war you don’t know about.”

    This is the feature-length film titled “The Third Jihad,” paid for by a nonprofit group, which was shown to more than a thousand officers as part of training in the New York Police Department.

  • Obama Team to Break Silence on al-Awlaki Killing – The Daily Beast – Inside the White House debate over how to talk about al Qaeda’s Anwar al-Awlaki.
  • Western justice and transparency – Glenn Greenwald – – That simply serves to reinforce the message this Government repeatedly sends: as Marcy puts it, “We can kill you and we’ll never have to prove that doing so was just. You’ll just have to trust us!” The Yemen expert Gregory Johnsen added: “The US legal opinion on Awlaki is one thing, but it rests on assumptions made by the intelligence community, which won’t be revealed.”

    This no longer seems radical to many — it has become normalized — because it’s been going on for so long now and, more important, it is now fully bipartisan consensus. But to see how extreme this all really is, to understand what a radical departure it is, just consider what George Bush’s neocon Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, told the Israelis in 2001, as flagged by this Guardian Op-Ed by Mary Ellen O’Connell comparing Obama’s assassinations to Bush’s torture program:

    The United States government is very clearly on the record as against targeted assassinations. They are extrajudicial killings, and we do not support that.

    What George Bush’s Ambassador condemned to the Israelis’ face just a decade ago as something the nation was steadfastly against has now become a staple of government policy: aimed even at its own citizens, and carried out with complete secrecy. And those who spent years mocking the notion that “9/11 Changed Everything” will have no choice but to invoke that propagandistic mantra in order to defend this: what else is there to say?

  • Report: China police fire on Tibetans, killing 3 – Yahoo! News – The situation had calmed Tuesday in a politically sensitive Tibetan region in southwest China where witnesses and activist groups said security forces opened fire on protesters and killed as many as three people.
    Several thousand Tibetans in Ganzi prefecture of Sichuan province marched to government offices Monday and police opened fire into the crowd, an overseas Tibetan activist group said in statements. Three Tibetans were killed and nine wounded in the violence in the prefecture's Luhuo county, the International Campaign for Tibet said.
  • George Soros on the Coming U.S. Class War – Print View – The Daily Beast – Has the great short seller gone soft? Well, yes. Sitting in his 33rd-floor corner office high above Seventh Avenue in New York, preparing for his trip to Davos, he is more concerned with surviving than staying rich. “At times like these, survival is the most important thing,” he says, peering through his owlish glasses and brushing wisps of gray hair off his forehead. He doesn’t just mean it’s time to protect your assets. He means it’s time to stave off disaster. As he sees it, the world faces one of the most dangerous periods of modern history—a period of “evil.” Europe is confronting a descent into chaos and conflict. In America he predicts riots on the streets that will lead to a brutal clampdown that will dramatically curtail civil liberties. The global economic system could even collapse altogether.
  • Anti-vaccine activists, 9/11 deniers, and Google’s social search. – Slate Magazine-Morozov – Unfortunately, Google's recent embrace of social search, whereby links shared by our friends on Google's own social network suddenly gain prominence in our search results, moves the company in the opposite direction. It's not unreasonable to think that denialists of global warming or benefits of vaccination are online friends with other denialists. As such, finding information that contradicts one's views would be even harder. This is one more reason for Google to atone for its sins and ensure that subjects dominated by pseudoscience and conspiracy theories are given a socially responsible curated treatment.
  • Sundance 2012: Ai Weiwei screening becomes a political event – – no china soft power in sundance//

    The Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei has inspired activist gatherings around the world with his work and his statements about democracy. But on Sunday a new movie about him brought the politics of protest to a different place: a movie theater.

    "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival's Library Center Theatre and inspired a rare standing ovation and a general activist fervor at the Utah film gathering. Members of the audience praised the director and expressed a willingness to get involved as they nosily exited the theater.

  • K Street defends Egyptian raids – John Bresnahan – – Egypt has its own well-connected friends in Washington. They include three of the more powerful Washington lobbyists: former Reps. Bob Livingston (R-La.) and Toby Moffett (D-Conn.), along with Tony Podesta. The trio split a $90,000-plus per month lobbying contract to represent Egypt’s interests in Washington.

    The lobbyists quickly mobilized to provide Egypt with political cover, touching off a behind-the-scenes battle between K Street interests and U.S. officials — with potentially huge implications for the critical U.S.-Egyptian relationship.

    A lobbyist working for the Livingston Group immediately circulated talking points — which some Capitol Hill insiders suspect were drafted by Egyptian officials in Washington — claiming that the IRI and NDI were operating outside Egyptian law. These lobbyists vehemently opposed any calls for cuts in U.S. aid to Egypt. The United States gives Egypt roughly $2 billion per year in aid, mainly as military assistance.

  • Heard on the Street: Speeding Dragon, Hidden Debt Pile – – In 2011, China's gross domestic product came in at 47.1 trillion yuan ($7.4 trillion). That represented nominal growth of 17.5% from 2010, a blistering pace which makes many of the problems of debt and credit that trouble investors and hang over valuations for Chinese stocks appear a little more manageable.

    Take local-government debt. The government's own auditor put the end of 2010 number at 10.7 trillion yuan. In 2010 that was equal to 26% of China's GDP. In 2011, it had already shrank to 22%. Even if weaker demand and reduced inflation mean a slightly lower nominal growth rate in 2012, by the end of the year it could have shrank to 19%. Local-government debt may also be creeping up, but not enough to push the ratio in the wrong direction.

    Investors also worry about China's credit binge, which saw the ratio of loans to GDP soar from 96% at the end of 2008 to 119% at the end of 2010, as loan growth ran way ahead of GDP. An expanding economy means that ratio is also moving in the right direction—down to 116% in 2011. That smaller reduction in the ratio reflects the fact that banks' loan books continue to expand, though not quite as fast as GDP.

  • A Month or So in the House of Twitter | Seeing Red in China – chinese authorities are watching twitter and recording everything people "of interest" write. dangerously for Chinese who live in PRC to think they have free speech on Twitter.//

    The estimate is that there are close to 100,000 Chinese Twitter users, and I assume the number is for users who tweet in Chinese, regardless where they are. I tried to find how many Chinese from inside China are using Twitter but to no avail. Because Twitter, along with Facebook, Youtube and other social media sites, are blocked in China, it is no surprise that those who take the trouble to climb the GFW are those who feel the need to do so to access information and to congregate…

    But that nobody deletes your message doesn’t mean nobody is watching over what you say. Somewhere over a dim table, state security police are scanning every word. In November 2010, Wang Yi (@wangyi09), a well-known rights activist, was sentenced to one-year “reeducation through labor” for jokingly challenging angry “patriots” demonstrating against Japan to storm the Japanese Hall of the Shanghai Expo. She was the first person punished for a tweet, a tweet that consisted of 5 characters.

    Even I, a newcomer and an outsider to this community, am beginning to have inklings. For example, who is that ID that signed on to follow me the day before yesterday that has a dozen or so tweets in a language I can’t identify but follows a hundred or so Chinese dissidents and intellectuals? How come those a couple of IDs, very vocal and widely known, always have “inside news” that happens to help deescalate pressure for the government? Who are they really?

  • Chinese vice president Xi to visit U.S. next month | Reuters – Xi, who will be in the United States for several days, is also set to travel to Iowa and California, two states keen to boost already fast-growing trade with China and to court Chinese investment. The dates have not formally been announced for the rest of the trip.
  • Rise of the dragon: China isn’t censoring the Internet. It’s making it work. – – same piece that ran in huffington post. Beijing recently strengthened Internet regulations, particularly on the popular microblogging site Weibo. Critics warn that more government monitoring and self-censorship by hosting companies further violates freedom of expression. The reality is far more complicated.

    By George Yeo and Eric X. Li / /

    Beijing recently strengthened Internet regulations, particularly on the popular microblogging site Weibo. Critics warn that more government monitoring and self-censorship by hosting companies further violates freedom of expression. The reality is far more complicated.

    By George Yeo and Eric X. Li /

  • Chinese Professor: Hong Kong Residents Are Dogs – China Real Time Report – WSJ – Odious and inexcusable comments. But reporting on this should include context, specifically how many Hong Kongers treated mainlanders like dirty,stupid country cousins for decades. The tables have turned, irreversibly, and there is a lot of resentment towards Hong Kongers//
    For China’s newest battle in the South China Sea, look no further than Hong Kong.

    The semi-autonomous island is home to immoral people, most of whom are thieves, dogs and bastards, according to Kong Qingdong, a professor of Chinese studies at Beijing University.

    “As far as I know, many Hong Kong people don’t regard themselves as Chinese. Those kinds of people are used to being the dogs of British colonialists — they are dogs, not humans,” Mr. Kong said in a recent interview on Chinese news website

  • Gingrich Firm Releases Freddie Mac Contract – Bloomberg – Newt Gingrich’s consulting firm tonight released a copy of its 2006 contract with Freddie Mac (FMCC), which covers just one year of his multiple years of service and documents only $300,000 of the $1.6 million he received from the mortgage company.
    The Republican hopeful’s first contract, spanning 1999 to 2002 and worth between $1 million and $1.2 million, according to two people familiar with the agreement, wasn’t released because officials at the Center for Health Transformation can’t find it, said Susan Meyers, a center spokeswoman who also works for the Gingrich campaign. The 2006 contract also applied to 2007, she said, which means the total value of that contract was $600,000.
    “We’re not even sure we signed anything for 2007,” said Meyers.
  • China: A Country Where No One is Secure – Caixin Online – We need to realize several things. The impetus for reform comes from society, not from authority, and reform within the system is produced under the force of social strength. Fair and just rules are formed by interaction between various forces. Civil society is produced by the participation of citizens. Extrication from stagnation and the restoration of social vitality can only come from the start of civil consciousness and civil action. Only by empowering society and enlightening citizens can the strength to reform be developed.
  • Art Investors Lured by 12% Return Promise From $80 Million Luxembourg Fund – Bloomberg – Investors are being invited to join a European-based group that plans to buy about $80 million worth of art and forecasts annual returns of 12 percent.
    The Art Collection Fund will acquire high-quality modern, contemporary and even tribal works over a four-year period. The pieces will be sold after six years, or earlier, through private sales and auctions, the Luxembourg-based company said in an e- mailed statement.
    “The fund is aimed at people who want to invest in art and who haven’t time to be collectors,” the fund’s founder and chief executive, Stanislas Gokelaere, 43, said in an interview. “We want to educate them and bring them close to this world.”
  • Start-Up Phone Maker Tries to Outsmart Online – Caixin Online – Successful Internet entrepreneur Lei Jun and big-name backers are making handsets in hopes of profiting from online business
    Venture capital firms, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund and electronics giant Qualcomm recently raised their stakes in an upstart smartphone manufacturer founded by a rising star of the Chinese Internet sector.
    What's attracted investor attention is the Mi smartphone's unusual niche: The handset made by the Beijing-based Xiaomi Mobile Internet Co. and sold exclusively through a Chinese website is designed primarily as an Internet access tool.
  • Hackers Find Holes Behind the Great Firewall – Caixin Online – Millions of passwords stolen through maneuvers such as 'database sweeps' point to Internet security and legal lapses in China
  • China’s CCTV New Year’s Gala loses fans – Los Angeles Times – Another casualty of the new reign of censorship is popular singer Na Ying.

    CCTV refused to let her perform a song with a few words of English ("Always friends. Closest friends. Best friends."), part of a campaign by the broadcaster to reduce the use of English on television.

    Jiang Kun, a master of the Chinese comic art known as crosstalk, is also off the program this year, with columnists speculating it's because his skit touched on a train crash last year in Wenzhou.

    China's most famous female comic, Song Dandan, protested that she wouldn't appear on the gala "unless they arrest me, sentence me…. I really don't want to go."

    To drive home the point, many of the refuseniks appeared this year on a rival show that aired Jan. 17 on Hunan Provincial Television, a feisty regional broadcaster.

    The censorship has alienated many viewers.

  • Exit barriers for U.S.-listed Chinese stocks – Caixin Online – MarketWatch – Stung by scandals, U.S.-listed Chinese firms struggle to privatize
  • Barack Obama, Post-Partisan, Meets Washington Gridlock : The New Yorker – The making of a post-post-partisan Presidency.
    by Ryan Lizza
  • Al Jazeera for iPad for iPad on the iTunes App Store – Al Jazeera for iPad brings you the live broadcast of Al Jazeera English, free of charge, and for the first time, designed specifically for the iPad.
  • Mass Incarceration and Criminal Justice in America : The New Yorker – Six million people are under correctional supervision in the U.S.—more than were in Stalin’s gulags.
  • JIM O’NEILL: This Simple Fact Refutes All The Hype About The Chinese Real Estate Bubble – One other point for all the China bubble watchers out there. Official Chinese estimates now show that just over 50 pct of the population is urbanized. Based on most people’s estimates, including work I have been involved in, it is likely to move to 70 pct before one can assume China is urbanized. This involves around another 200 million people moving into cities. Quite how there is supposed to be a nationwide house price bubble with this prospect ahead I have no idea, but many don’t seem to appreciate this. Moreover, as I pointed out at the GS macro conference where I spoke, in complete contrast to the US, Chinese house prices have reversed in the past 18 months because policymakers deliberately stopped them from rising. At some point, when they reverse policy tightening, the house price “problem” will turn out to be not as big a deal as so many fear.
  • The American Lawyer Winter 2012 – Interview With Charlene Barshefsky on China and WTO