The Sinocism China Newsletter For 10.13.12

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

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Mo Yan held a press conference Friday and said of Liu Xiaobo that “I hope he can achieve his freedom as soon as possible.”

Ai Weiwei, who yesterday called the award to Mo an “insult to humanity“, told the Wall Street Journal that:

“I want to welcome Mo Yan back into the arms of the people,” he said. “If this sort of courage is the result, I hope more Chinese writers will be given Nobel prizes.”

Howard Goldblatt, Mo’s English translator, told Reuters that:

“I think Mo Yan could actually, in a very nuanced way, make a difference and get some of this stuff happening,” Goldblatt said by telephone from Boulder, Colorado, referring to improving freedom of speech and conditions for writers.

To be honest with you, I doubt that he will. I think he’s just a novelist who doesn’t want to be involved in those things.”…

“You know, he respects and likes the dissidents,” said Goldblatt.

“He just doesn’t want to become one of them in exile.”

I wonder how many of Mo’s strident critics have actually read his works? Stories about officials eating babies do not exactly paint the Party in a good light. As the New York Times tells us:

Eric Abrahamsen, a literary translator and publishing consultant in Beijing, noted that many of his richly detailed stories are subversive in their depiction of Chinese officialdom, even if couched in the magical realism that has become his trademark style.

“He doesn’t keep bashing himself against the wall by writing about forbidden topics, but most of what he has written is critical of party politics,” Mr. Abrahamsen said. “His work is essentially a chronicle of how the Communist Party has messed up China.”

Mo’s contribution to the recent “One Hundred Writers’ and Artists’ Hand-Copied Commemorative Edition of the ‘Yan’an Talks” looks bad, especially since Wang Anyi, another writer and literary official, declined to participate and appears to have suffered no repercussions.

Mo Yan cultivated the system while criticizing it in his works. Now that he has the glory, and the responsibility, of a Nobel Prize will he begin to push back more vocally against that system?

Today’s links:


The Weekend Interview with Zhang Weiying: China’s Anti-Keynesian Insurgent – – Chinese officials no longer treat Mr. Zhang as a pariah. He reports that Ministry of Agriculture officials tell him they enjoy reading his articles. Other ministries and local governments, including in Henan and Liaoning provinces, invite him to speak. He says that when he recently wrote an article praising the late Austrian economist Murray Rothbard, the Communist Party secretary of Shanghai—a fairly high-level apparatchik—told him he liked it.

China Loans Trail Estimates as Wen Struggles to Fuel Rebound – Bloomberg – Banks extended 623.2 billion yuan ($99.5 billion) of local- currency loans, the People’s Bank of China said on its website today. That compares with the median estimate of 700 billion yuan in a Bloomberg News survey of economists.

Why so strong the CNY? | beyondbrics – whichever way you look at it, the strength of the currency appears not to square up with the state of the economy. With a raft of data out over the next week – culminating in GDP on Thursday – a clearer picture should emerge, and it may not be so bullish for the redback.

Regulating shadow banking|Comment| – Unsurprisingly, although Chinese banks’ non-performing loans are at a low level of 0.9 percent, the potential risks are worse than the official data suggest.

China close to meeting annual affordable housing targets – Xinhua | – China has basically completed construction on 4.8 million affordable housing units in the first nine months, bringing the country one step closer to hitting its annual target of completing 5 million such units, the country’s housing authorities said Friday.

Major Steel Companies Report CNY 3Bln Loss in Profit in Jan.-Aug: Paper-Caijing – Chinese steel companies reported more than 30 billion yuan of losses in the first eight months this year, adding to signs of deterioration in the staggering industry.

Four-Day Strike at Henan Appliance Maker Ends – Caixin – Employees of Xinfei Electric Co. wanted a pay raise, but also complained company was being poorly run



New Details of How Gu Kailai Thought She Was Poisoned – – The wife of Bo Xilai, the disgraced Chinese politician, was told several years ago by a doctor that her nervous system had suffered irreversible damage because she had been steadily ingesting poison that someone had slipped into the capsules of her daily herbal medicine, one of her lawyers said in an interview this week.

Let a Hundred Volunteers Bloom:What a New Documentary on Ai Weiwei Reveals About Activism in China--Foreign Affairs – The Chinese government has long alleged that dissidents and civil society groups are “hostile forces” or foreign agents, regarding much activism as a threat to national security. But as more and more ordinary people in China take it upon themselves to better their communities, improve their legal system, and participate in public policy discussions, the government will be unable to simply dismiss their work. Mass organizing may appear “hostile” to a political party that is bent on controlling it, but it has become central to the lives of many Chinese, who now believe that they have a right to participate in public life.

要坚定不移地打好改革攻坚战–中国政协新闻网–人民网 –

Watch: Huge crowd forms outside police station to attack murder suspect: Shanghaiist – mob violence never far below the surface// Police officers attempted to bundle the suspect through the crowd as their co-workers desperately held the mass of people back. Despite this some were able to get through and attack the man, while others threw rubbish and stones at him.

Chinese property ‘uncles’ – the bloggers are coming | beyondbrics – Chinese bloggers have scored another success in their campaign to catch out officials living beyond their means. Cai Bin, who earns around Rmb10,000 ($1,600) a month from his job with the Guangzhou Municipal Urban Management and Law Enforcement Bureau, has been suspended after he and his wife were discovered to own 21 properties – worth an estimated Rmb40m.

China’s Fear of Contagion: Tiananmen Square and the Power of the European Example” – Harvard – Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs – These new sources, combined with older ones, show the extent to which Chinese political leaders were obsessed with the democratic changes in Eastern Europe and were willing to take violent action to prevent similar events on their territory. This obsession has received mention from a few scholars, but until now it has played too small a role in the current understanding of Tiananmen. New evidence documents that one of the main motivations for the CCP in deploying the army in June 1989—on the same day as semi-free elections in Poland—was its desire to combat possible contagion from the events in Europe. These sources also show that the CCP knew it had little to fear from reprisals by the United States, which it predicted would take “no real countermeasures.”



China and Japan Say They Held Talks Over Islands Dispute – – A senior Chinese diplomat made a secret visit to Tokyo this week to hold talks aimed at defusing tensions between Japan and China over a group of disputed islands, Japan’s top government spokesman said Friday.

China calls for Japanese progress in upcoming talks – Xinhua | – A Foreign Ministry spokesman on Friday called on Japan to sincerely correct its mistakes and take concrete action while contributing to upcoming bilateral vice ministerial-level talks.



Tencent: WeChat App Has Gone Global, No Longer Dominated by Chinese Users [INTERVIEW] – bet usage still dominated by Chinese// The big [WeChat] markets are Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam. […] We’re really growing in the US and Arabic regions.



Missionaries in the Middle Kingdom – Economic Observer – Proselytism remains officially illegal in China, yet many Christian missionaries are saying they’ve never felt more welcome. They’re pouring in both legally through the official church and clandestinely through other channels. But among both Chinese public opinion and official policy, the line of acceptable missionary behavior remains hazy.

“国车”红旗的往世今生_视听频道_财新网 – Caixin Video on the “Red Flag” brand of cars, past and present



Seas of Sewage – Caixin – The wastewater treatment plants are there but the water isn’t getting any cleaner – how lagging water pipe infrastructure is clogging China’s waterways with trash

Watery grave – – While the words are often uttered as an angry curse, many people have literally heeded the advice. At least 10,000 bodies have been recovered along an 80-kilometer stretch of the Yellow River’s Lanzhou section in Northwest China’s Gansu Province since the 1960s. Around 300 bodies are pulled from the river annually, according to local authorities and corpse collectors who work on the river.

Contaminated strawberries from China infect over 11,000 children in Germany: Shanghaiist – The cause of the outbreak was quickly traced to one common denominator in the diets of the infected children: frozen strawberries from China. While the Robert Koch Institute confirmed the frozen Chinese strawberries as the trigger for the diarrhea and vomiting in lab tests, Chinese media continues to deny the results



Exclusive Excerpt: Nobel Winner Mo Yan’s ‘Sandalwood Death’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ – “Sandalwood Death” is set in the time of the Boxer Rebellion, and centers on the relationship between a woman, Sun Meiniang, and three paternal figures in her life, including her biological father, Sun Bing. The book exhibits a range of styles, from arias and poems, and its language includes the idiom of late Imperial China as well as contemporary prose. It has been translated into English by Howard Goldblatt.

The Writer, the State and the Nobel – – Later that year, in an interview with China Newsweek magazine (which can be read here, in Chinese, on the China News site), Mr. Mo responded to critics who said he had toed the state line too closely at Frankfurt, where he walked out of a literary symposium, along with Chinese officials, to protest the presence of two dissident writers, Dai Qing and Bei Ling, creating a storm of controversy that would dog the fair: “I had no choice,” he said.

China’s front pages go to town on Mo Yan’s Nobel Prize | Danwei – The face of the first ever winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature who is a Chinese citizen living in China, Mo Yan, is all over the front pages of China’s newspapers today alongside formulaic headlines.

The best way to see this daily post is to subscribe by email, especially if you are in China, as Sinocism is blocked by the GFW. You can also follow me on Twitter @niubi or Sina Weibo @billbishop