"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner
No commentary today, just some China book recommendations as you start to think about holiday shopping. I have read all these books and in the interests of disclosure if you do click through and buy one I get a 6.5% commission from Amazon (it is a good way to support Sinocism…). This is not an exhaustive list and if there are other books you think should be on here please send me a note.
I am looking for good, recent fiction about China; of the 8 books on this list all but one are non-fiction:
China’s Superbank: Debt, Oil and Influence – How China Development Bank is Rewriting the Rules of Finance by Henry Sanderson and Michael Forsythe
The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor
Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French
The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo: How A Murder Exposed The Cracks In China’s Leadership by John Garnaut
The Bo Xilai Scandal: Power, Death, and Politics in China by Jamil Anderlini
China Airborne by James Fallows
Mao: The Real Story by Alexander V. Pantsov
Red Cell a fictional spy tale by CIA analyst Mark Henshaw
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
Magnus on China’s investment cliff | FT Alphaville– Of course, for now, the Chinese Minsky Moment is being put off by plenty of state intervention. That’s the upside to China’s managed economy, and something the West couldn’t do until it was too late. Though in Magnus’ eyes this is the equivalent of ‘kicking the can’ and leads to the risk of a harsher and more disruptive adjustment later. We understand why it’s logical to come to this conclusion. But we still think there’s something to the theory of James White, featured on FT Alphaville in July, that China could possibly be the world’s first post-capital economy –in which case these rules don’t necessarily apply.
China Manufacturing Data Signals Rebound Gathering Pace: Economy – Bloomberg – A Chinese manufacturing index signaled the first expansion in 13 months, adding to signs that economic growth is rebounding after a seven-quarter slowdown. The preliminary reading was 50.4 for a purchasing managers’ index released today by HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and Markit Economics. It compares with a final level of 49.5 for October. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.
Sany to move HQ to Beijing from Changsha |Companies |chinadaily.com.cn– Company plans to garner up to 50% of its sales from overseas markets China’s largest construction machinery company, Sany Group Co Ltd, is reported to be moving its headquarters from Changsha to Beijing, a senior Sany executive confirmed to China Daily on Thursday.
经济参考网-温州金融改革12条细则落地 建立民间利率“温州指数” 试行高收益票据 –
Whistleblowers | China Accounting Blog | Paul Gillis – There were 31 whistleblower tips from China (including Hong Kong (2) and Taiwan (2)). China could be a fruitful location for making whistleblower claims. There are many Chinese companies listed in the U.S. and they have had a particularly high incidence of fraud. The problem is that the fine has to be more than $1 million to qualify for a reward and the SEC has to collect the fine. I think it is going to be very difficult for the SEC to collect fines from U.S. listed Chinese companies.
POLITICS AND LAW
Chinese vice premier vows further reforms to boost economy – Xinhua | English.news.cn– Deepening reform means to not only liberate thinking or transform mindsets, but also reshuffle interests, because economic and social development will lack vitality if interest layouts turn rigid, Li said. The market economy is, in essence, the rule of law economy, and it is complementary to each to reform systems and build the rule of law, Li said
Next premier Li Keqiang sets out case for reform | South China Morning Post– Analysts said the remarks by Li, 57, who was elevated to No 2 in the party hierarchy last week and will succeed Premier Wen Jiabao in March, could be viewed as a strong political message calling for bolder reform. Professor Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based analyst, said: “It is very encouraging to see that our next premier has shown strong support for reform despite all the difficulties we have encountered and the disputes about the future direction of the country.
Premier-in-Waiting Li Keqiang: Reform is China’s Biggest Dividend-Caijing – If Li’s speech could be summed up in two words, it would be “reform, reform”; and if in three words, “reform, reform, reform”, the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece newspaper for the ruling party, said Thursday in a glowing review.
Hu’s last decision may be legacy – The China Post– Hu’s avowed intention to genuinely retire should also inhibit other retired leaders from attempting to interfere with the Xi administration. It means that for the first time in decades, those charged with running the country will actually be able to do so. This is a very positive development for China. Political analysts have pointed out that Hu failed to get many of his supporters onto the standing committee, which is packed with Jiang acolytes. But this is actually a much better situation from the standpoint of governance. A standing committee more or less evenly divided between two factions could conceivably have resulted in deadlock.
Amid Growing Graft Problem, Some Call for Dawn of Sunshine Law -Caixin – A 1995 decree issued by the central government and the Communist Party says officials in mid-level positions and higher must submit an annual report on their personal assets to internal government monitors. “It’s not open to the public, so the reporting process becomes mostly perfunctory,” said Wang Yukai, a professor in the public management department at the Academy of Governance, an institute of higher education in Beijing that trains civil servants. “The result is many corrupt officials flee overseas with massive illegal gains.”
Civil-service exams: The golden rice-bowl | The Economist – The chance of advancement is small indeed. Of China’s 6.9m civil servants, about 900,000 are, like Mr Zhang, at the lowest official rung of government above entry-level. Roughly 40,000 civil servants serve at the city or “bureau” level. Many promotions are handed out on the basis of relationships, gifts and the outright sale of offices. Even when they compete for promotions on merit, some officials will pad their CVs with fake graduate degrees. If college graduates knew what careers awaited them after the civil-service exam, they might reconsider the roiling seas of commerce.
Chen Guangcheng: Rebel of the Year: Men of the Year: GQ –
Video Fells China Official In Latest Internet Takedown – China Real Time Report – WSJ– Local Communist Party officials in the Chinese megacity of Chongqing ousted a mid-level local official on Friday after a video featuring him and a young woman became an Internet sensation, according to state media. The ouster of Lei Zhengfu offers the latest example of technology bringing a new level of scrutiny to Chinese public officials.
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
Beijing warns Tokyo not to destabilize region |Politics |chinadaily.com.cn– Japan is urged not to do anything that will harm regional security and stability as right-wing forces rise in the country ahead of an election next month, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Friday. Japan should review its own acts to see whether they benefit regional peace and stability, Hua Chunying said.
Shinzo Abe of Japan Resolves to Take Tough Line on China – WSJ.com – Mr. Abe stressed his resolve to maintain a tough stance in confronting China over the Japanese-controlled islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the face of persistent appearances of Chinese patrol ships in sensitive waters nearby. “What we have now are furious fights between coast guards,” Mr. Abe said. “For now, we need to focus on making sure we defend these islands. We need to display our strong resolve and action.”
Xi Jinping promotes PLA general |Politics |chinadaily.com.cn – Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, conferred the rank of full general on Wei, a Central Military Commission member and commander-in-chief of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Second Artillery Corps.
中央军委举行晋升上将军衔仪式 魏凤和晋升上将_网易新闻中心 –
人民日报-中央军委举行晋升上将军衔仪式 习近平向晋升上将军衔的魏凤和颁发命令状并表示祝贺 范长龙宣布命令 许其亮主持 常万全房峰辉张阳赵克石张又侠吴胜利马晓天出席 –
China publishes map of Sansha, South China Sea islands – Xinhua | English.news.cn – The map displays the geological locations, oceanic terrain, natural resources, marine and land transportation, airports and harbors as well as administrative boundaries of the city and the islands.
China angers neighbors with sea claims on new passports | Reuters– China’s foreign ministry said in a faxed response to questions that the new passports met international standards. “The passports’ maps with their outlines of China are not targeting a specific country. China is willing to actively communicate with the relevant countries and promote the healthy development of Sino-foreign personnel exchanges,” it said.
Banyan: Churning the oceans | The Economist – Indian strategists, however, tend towards paranoia where China is concerned. China’s close strategic relations with India’s neighbours, notably Pakistan, have given rise to the perception that China is intent on throttling India with a “string of pearls”—naval facilities around the Indian Ocean. These include ports China has built at Gwadar in Pakistan; at Hambantota in Sri Lanka; at Kyaukphyu in Myanmar; and at Chittagong in Bangladesh.
Four Chinese hostages released in Colombia – Xinhua | English.news.cn – An air ambulance transporting four Chinese workers of an oil company is seen upon landing at the airport in Bogota, Colombia, on Nov. 22, 2012. Four Chinese hostages who were kidnapped in Colombia by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group last year have been released, the Chinese embassy in Colombia confirmed Thursday.
Foreign Policy Under Xi Jinping–The Diplomat – the work report underscores the dominance of the most important factor in China’s foreign policy: domestic politics. Only about 10 percent of the report addressed externally-related issues (i.e, defense policy, Taiwan and foreign policy). The remainder emphasized the economic and social challenges that the party must confront – roughly matching perhaps the amount of time that China’s top leaders spend on foreign affairs. In this sense, Chinese foreign policy under Xi Jinping is likely to remain inherently reactive and not proactive.
Chinese student held on $2M bail in Des Moines crash | Local News | The Seattle Times – hope he does many years in prison..did not know seattle had an area called des moines// A 19-year-old community-college student was charged Thursday with four counts of vehicular assault, accused of driving his newly purchased Mercedes-Benz at freeway speeds on a residential street in Des Moines on Saturday afternoon, running a stop sign and slamming broadside into another car, seriously injuring four people.
HONG KONG AND TAIWAN
China’s new passports unacceptable, harmful to mutual trust: Taiwan – CNA ENGLISH NEWS– “The move completely ignores reality, only provokes disputes and harms the basis of mutual trust that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have been striving to build in recent years,” the MAC said in a statement with language harsher than used in recent years as ties with China have improved. The controversial move has also hurt the feelings of Taiwan’s 23 million people and is absolutely unacceptable to
TECH AND MEDIA
Are micro blogs a blessing or a curse? |Op-Ed Contributors |chinadaily.com.cn – weibo may have peaked in this cycle. sina knows this// I’ve found myself browsing weibo only when major news breaks out due to a micro blog. And I always end by tapping “unfollow” on my smartphone to delete those influential “friends” who try to mesmerize fans with the one-liners that randomly pop into their heads.
SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY
When Tradition is Flattened by Policy – Caixin – Officials in Henan have leveled millions of graves in the drive for land, and a bureaucratic system that cares little for people’s feelings is to blame
Grave wrecking to continue in Henan – Globaltimes.cn– The civil affairs department in Zhou-kou, Henan Province, now says its controversial grave removal campaign will continue and the recovered lands will be returned to farming. Hu Chaoyang, an official with the city’s civil affairs department, denied previous reports that the city has stopped razing tombs and insisted that the move benefits the city’s 12 million residents by returning the land to farming, according to the Legal Daily.
randian – Getting Over Ai Weiwei – Ai Weiwei is right in drawing our repeated attention to the debilitating injustices of totalitarian power within China. He is also right to upbraid western viewers for their inability to see past what are for them the pleasurable ambiguities of contemporary Chinese art. Less convincing, however, is Ai’s wholly reductive view of the critical possibilities of contemporary art in China. By insisting on his own stridently oppositional approach towards power as the only legitimate game in town, and because we are already highly familiar with that approach, it is he and not the Hayward who has misrepresented the contemporary Chinese artworld. One might add that Ai is also romanticizing the conditions of criticality in the West.
Guizhou man who broke awkward story sent on ‘vacation’ | South China Morning Post – Li Yuanlong, a former Bijie Daily reporter, has written four postings on Kdnet.net – a popular online bulletin board on the mainland – since last Friday detailing the circumstances that led to the five boys’ deaths in a wheeled refuse bin in Bijie’s Qixingguan district that morning.
China dairy industry whistle-blower dies after assault | South China Morning Post – Jiang Weisuo died at aged 44 after he fell into a coma after the assault on November 12th in a hospital in Shaanxi province. Jiang was assaulted and critically injured on November 2 after he attended his meeting with his distributors at his dairy company, Xinhua reported.
» Villagers Clash With Police Over Proposed Power Plant, Flip Over Vehicles [VIDEO] Beijing Cream – Video footage shot by villagers and posted to the video-sharing site Youku showed white smoke billowing while police in riot gear with shields and batons retreating into vegetable fields as villagers overturned an SUV into an irrigation canal.
In China Schools, a Culture of Bribery Spreads – NYTimes.com – meritocracy does not come cheap //At some top-ranked high schools, students with low admission test scores can “buy” a few crucial points that put them over the threshold for admission. According to an unwritten but widely known policy at one elite Beijing high school, students receive an extra point for each $4,800 their parents contribute to the school. “All my classmates know about it,” said Polly Wang, 15, a student who asked that the school not be named to avoid repercussion.
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH
HIV patient denied lung surgery, vice premier asks medical equality – Xinhua | English.news.cn – Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang recently requested that medical practitioners offer equal treatment to people with HIV/AIDS and protect themselves in the course of treatment.
Endangered and Targeted: Fight to Save Oriental Stork Captivates China – NYTimes.com– Each of the birds, which stand around 1.2 meters, or almost four feet, with a wingspan of about 2.2 meters, fetches about 200 renminbi ($32) in local wild game restaurants, the Beijing News reported — not much, but clearly worth it to the hunters. The newspaper quoted one hunter at the Beidagang reserve, whom it gave the alias of “Lin Long,” who said that using carbofuran to kill birds was so widespread that these days hunters greeted each other with the question: “Have you laid pesticide or not?” a variation of the traditional Chinese greeting: “Have you eaten or not?”
FOOD AND TRAVEL
KFC原料鸡被曝45天速成 饲料可毒死苍蝇_网易新闻中心 – Yum Brands/KFC may have a new China food scandal
BOOKS AND LITERATURE
The Diseased Language of Mo Yan | Kenyon Review Online – Mo Yan’s language is striking indeed, but it is striking because it is diseased. The disease is caused by the conscious renunciation of China’s cultural past at the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Mo Yan’s writing is in fact a product of the aesthetic ideologies of Socialist China.
This idea that Howard Goldblatt’s English translations are better than Mo Yan’s originals is not new. A Chinese professor of Chinese literature at Harvard once said the same thing to me more than ten years ago. I’ve heard the same criticism of Mo Yan (or praise of Goldblatt) several times since. Perhaps there’s something to it. For my part, I find Mo Yan quite tedious (his books are simply way too long!), but certain passages are spectacular. No discipline? Poor editing? The English versions are often quite a bit shorter than the Chinese.
Also, once heard Prof. Goldblatt say that Chinese as it is spoken in the Mainland had been generally dumbed-down over the years following the founding of the PRC. His feeling was that the same thing did NOT happen in Taiwan or HK.Not heard much about Mo Yan these last few weeks. Wonder why?
Prc gutted Chinese by switching to simplified characters
China warning Japan not to destabilize the region. Precious. Not a shred of irony.
I think “Mao’s Great Famine” by Frank Dikötter deserves a place on your book list.