Today’s China Readings May 20, 2012

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

In China Soft-Power Watch: the Yang Rui ‘Foreign Bitch’ Factor James Fallows weighs in on CCTV 9 Host Yang Rui’s comments about foreigners and the impact his outburst may have on both China’s soft power efforts and Yang’s own Dialogue show.

Yang Rui responded to Fallows on Sina Weibo and over the course of several subsequent messages seemed to try to walk back some of his more offensive statements, statements that have the support of many Chinese netizens. Yang’s key points–that foreigners should obey the law, they should not get special treatment and that western media coverage of China sometimes is biased–are not unreasonable. But his delivery destroyed any value in his message and turned what could have been fairly anodyne discussion into an international news event. China just launched CCTV USA, it is spending hundreds of millions of dollars pushing its media overseas, and Yang Rui’s Weibo outburst may have done significant and very expensive damage to those plans. As Fallows points out, which foreigners will now be willing to go on his show?

Coincidentally, James Fallows opened a Sina Weibo account a few days ago and already has 35,000 followers– JamesFallows的微博.

Is Yang Rui really a loose cannon? Yang did not get where he is by not being cautious and extremely sensitive to the political winds. You only get a CCTV News show by gaining the trust of those above you in the system. He may not have been directed to say such incendiary things, but perhaps Yang thought this attack was something that fits with the current environment and would be welcomed by those above him in the propaganda bureaucracy?  And he may also really believe it. His specific attack on Melissa Chan–“We kicked out that foreign bitch and closed Al-Jazeera’s Beijing bureau“–is strange. Why now, and why her? Is there an internal report about her case going around CCTV and other bureaucracies?

Yang Rui makes several references to foreign spies in China. This is worrying. In addition to the crackdown on illegal foreigners and the bellicose rhetoric towards the Philippines we have also a surge of official media warnings about foreign threats and Westernization. Even SASAC is now warning central SOEs to be on guard against hostile, and specifically foreign, forces–国资委:警惕敌对势力借维权煽动群众制造事端. It certainly feels like there is more going on here than a simple crackdown on misbehaving foreigners. I hope this is just a brief blip in an already strange year, but given the decelerating economy and the political environment…

Yesterday I joked on Twitter that “Yang Rui was the Lou Dobbs of China, and we foreigners are the Mexicans here.” If only China had a Stephen Colbert to give us the Yang Rui version of Estaban Colbert’s interview with Lou Dobbs. 

In good news for US-China relations Chen Guangcheng has Arrived in the U.S. NYU paid for his business class tickets on the United flight from Beijing to Newark, and while he and his direct family are now safe in America he has left many relatives behind.

In Chinese Security Chief Seems to Keep Grip on Power, the New York Times questions the recent Financial Times report that Zhou Yongkang has  given up China security roles but is being kept around to preserve the facade of political unity. As usual, I do not know who is right.

Question for readers: Now that I have added commentary I am thinking of changing the title of this post. Suggestions are welcome. Thanks for reading.

Today’s suggested readings:

  • Shanghai car plate auction hits new high – Xinhua |
    10k USD just to get a license plate in Shanghai//
    In the monthly auction ending at noon on Saturday, the average bid for a plate was 64,367 yuan (more than 10,000 U.S. dollars), about 2,700 yuan higher than the April average, according to official data.
  • Chen Guangcheng, Chinese Dissident, Arrives in U.S. –
    Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal advocate who made an improbable escape from virtual house arrest and sought refuge in the American Embassy here, arrived in Newark on Saturday, ending a fraught diplomatic drama that threatened to disrupt relations between China and the United States.
  • Revisiting the Dangers of Cultural Amnesia – Caixin Online
    Amnesia toward the Cultural Revolution can complement and interact with efforts to address today’s severe problems, raising stakes that the tragic history will be repeated.
    But what frame of reference should China use during its ongoing transition? Should the country move forward by deepening reforms, while advancing political reform, which at its core involve restraints on institutional power, or to fall back to the era of slogans and campaigning?
    Without democracy, the rule of law or constitutional governing, corruption will continue and social problems will become more acute, laying the groundwork for another Cultural Revolution.
    The author is a research fellow at the China Academy of Social Sciences
  • Death and Dying in the Provinces – Caixin Online
    Fault lines in the basic insurance system are appearing not only in disparities of coverage for those in the cities and countryside, but also in how health care institutions deal with the chronically ill
  • Philippine Mango Dumped into the South China Sea After Being Denied Access into China -Caijing
    Mangos, or at least Pakistani ones, were sacred objects in China for a few years during the Cultural Revolution//
    Several Philippine cargo ships with mangos expected to be sold to the Chinese were forced to dump their loads into the South China Sea after being denied break-bulk in China
  • 20 dead in expressway tunnel blast in central China – Xinhua |
    Twenty people were killed in an explosion inside an under-construction expressway tunnel in central China’s Hunan province Saturday
  • Chinese woman released from east Indian jail after two years – Xinhua |
    A Chinese woman was released from jail in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal Friday after serving a two-year sentence for having violated visa regulations, official sources said.
  • Commentary: Pentagon’s annual China military report exposes U.S. Cold War mentality – Xinhua |
    The Pentagon report is ridden with speculative descriptions and even distorts the reality.
    • As a champion of good-neighbor diplomacy, China has been aspiring for peaceful development.
    • This Pentagon move once again highlighted the U.S.’s lack of credit in dealing with China.
  • 证监会主席助理朱从玖空降浙江任副省长 – 政策速递 – 21世纪网
  • 俞正声:“不回避问题” – 宏观 – 21世纪网
  • 智能手机将进入新免费时代? – IT·科技 – 21世纪网
  • 杭州余杭区政府网站现“领导悬浮照”_网易新闻
    Floating municipal officials in Hangzhou. Bad photoshop job
  • 周永康以全票当选新疆十八大代表_网易新闻中心
  • Cyber Software Engineer 2 Jobs in Millersville, Maryland 21108 –
    Northrop Grumman Information Systems sector is seeking a Cyber Software Engineer 2 to join our team of qualified, diverse individuals. This position will be located in Millersville, MD, Colorado Springs, CO, or Sacramento, CA. This exciting and fast paced Research and Development project will plan, execute, and assess an Offensive Cyberspace Operation (OCO) mission
  • Chinese Security Chief Seems to Keep Grip on Power –
    New York Times doesn’t believe the FT report that Zhou has been effectively removed//
    Mr. Zhou joined President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao for a ceremony honoring police officials at the Great Hall of the People, a show of unity among the Chinese leaders, said a report by Xinhua, the state news agency. The event appeared aimed at quashing rumors and foreign news reports that there might be a split at the top of the Communist Party.In the wake of Mr. Zhou’s western tour, Xinjiang Daily, a state-run newspaper, announced Saturday that Mr. Zhou had been “unanimously elected” to be a member of the Xinjiang delegation to the 18th Party Congress in the fall, when China’s new leaders will be announced.
  • Google Wins Final Needed Approval for Motorola Mobility Purchase – Bloomberg
  • U.S., allies accelerating plans to secure chemical arsenal as Syrian crisis worsens – The Washington Post
    wonder where China would be in this?//
    The Obama administration is accelerating its planning with Middle Eastern allies for a series of potentially fast-moving crises in Syria in the coming months, including the possible loss of government control over some of the country’s scattered stocks of chemical weapons, U.S. and Middle Eastern security officials say.The planning, involving intelligence and military officials from at least seven countries, includes detailed arrangements for securing chemical arms with special operations troops in the event that parts of Syria are seized by militants, the officials said. Western and regional intelligence officials are increasingly concerned that Islamic extremists could attempt to seize control of whole towns and districts if the country slides into full-scale civil war.
  • No Guarantee « Patrick Chovanec
    In a recent report debunking “myths” about China’s economy (which could have been titled “China:  Don’t Worry, Be Happy”), CLSA’s Andy Rothman maintains (in Myth #13, p. 46) that there a “no shadow banks” in China.  “Anything in the shadows sounds scary,” he says, but never fear because all of China’s financial institutions, banks and non-banks, are under the firm control of the Party.  “They are,” he quips, “Party animals.”Indeed.  Zhongdan and other credit guarantee companies certainly seem to have been partying it up.  Only now is what they have done beginning to emerge from the shadows.  It looks pretty scary to me.
  • Blind Chinese Dissident Leaves on Flight for U.S. –
    he Chens, accompanied by American officials, were brought onto the plane shortly before takeoff and seated in the business-class cabin. Flight attendants drew a curtain around their seats and barred other passengers in the cabin from using the toilet while the plane was on the runway…
    The American Embassy bought the plane tickets but will reimbursed by New York University, said a source with knowledge of the arrangements. An embassy spokesman declined to comment on Saturday.
  • Chinese Tycoon Gets Life Sentence for Smuggling –
    Lai Changxing, an illiterate peasant-turned-billionaire whose legacy of bribery, smuggling and monumental profligacy came to personify the excesses of the economic reform era, was given a life sentence on Friday for his role in what the government has described as modern China’s biggest corruption scandal, according to the state news media.
  • Chinese communist leaders denounce U.S. values but send children to U.S. colleges – The Washington Post
    “This is about haves and have-nots,” said Hong Huang, the stepdaughter of Mao’s foreign minister Qiao Guanhua and a member of an earlier generation of American-educated princelings. “China’s old-boy network . . . is no different from America’s old-boy network,” said Hong, who went to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and whose mother served as Mao’s English teacher.“There is something about elitism that says if you are born in the right family, you have to go to the right school to perpetuate the glory of the family. Going to an elite college is a natural extension of that,” said Hong, now a Beijing-based style guru and publisher. Among her ventures is iLook, an edgy fashion and lifestyle magazine that offers tips on how to enjoy what a 2010 cover story proclaimed as China’s “Gilded Age.”Noting that the Communist Party has drifted far from its early ideological moorings, Hong said she sees no contradiction between the desire for an Ivy League education and the current principles of the ruling party and its leaders: “What part of China is communist, and what part of Harvard is against elitist authoritarianism?”
  • Sentiment Against Foreigners Flares in China –
  • Yang Rui – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • PRC hijacking Chennault legacy? – Taipei Times
    J.V. “Jay” Vinyard, an 89-year-old former member of the “Flying Tigers,” and Nell Calloway, granddaughter of General Claire Chennault, who led the legendary air squadrons during World War II, are both laughing away. Sitting next to them on the sofa is an unlikely figure: The military-attired man, who is looking with amusement at a photograph, is General Liang Guanglie (梁光烈), minister of national defense for the People’s Republic of China…
    Chennault would have found it absurd that one day, the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum in Louisiana, whose director, his granddaughter Calloway, would receive a check for US$50,000 on behalf of Huawei Technologies — a Chinese firm with suspected ties to the PLA — for its expansion. Or that the same company would underwrite a banquet last year for the museum’s expansion, complete with a lottery for a seven-day trip for two to China.
  • 主持人杨锐的微博 新浪微博-随时随地分享身边的新鲜事儿
    Yang Rui responds to @JamesFallows on Weibo… screenshot
  • 国资委:警惕敌对势力借维权煽动群众制造事端_新闻_腾讯网
    SASAC: Be on guard against hostile [foreign] forces who use rights preservation to incite the masses to create disturbance//
  • 胡锦涛亲切会见全国公安系统英雄模范立功集体表彰大会全体代表–时政–人民网
  • 全国公安系统英模表彰–全国公安系统英模表彰–人民网
  • 人民日报 May 19
    huge page 1 people’s daily spread of hu jintao w PSB heroes, w wen, xi and zhou yongkang
  • Zhou Yongkang off Hebei delegate list, but position seems safe|Politics|News|
    During the 17th National Congress, Zhou was only a member of Politburo and minister of public security. Now that he is a member of the Politburo Standing Committee and the director of the Central Political and Legislative Committee, which oversees China’s security forces and law enforcement institutions, it is reasonable to suspect that he may be nominated by other regions as a representative for the forthcoming comference. Many provinces have not yet announced their lists of delegates for the meeting so far.
  • China Soft-Power Watch: the Yang Rui ‘Foreign Bitch’ Factor – James Fallows – International – The Atlantic
    I will be interested to see the next few installments of Dialogue — and which foreigners agree to appear as guests.
  • Yang Rui, etc. | ChinaGeeks | analysis and translation of modern China
  • LA Police: 2 arrests in Chinese student killings – Yahoo! News
    Two young men were arrested Friday in the killings of two Chinese graduate students who were shot in an apparent robbery attempt last month near the University of Southern California, police said.
    Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Javier Bolden, 19, and Bryan Barnes, 20, were arrested on suspicion of the murders, which sent shockwaves through the university where nearly 1 in 5 students is from overseas. The victims’ parents filed a lawsuit this week accusing USC of misrepresenting the campus’ safety.
  • Bo Xilai given to personal ambition: Hu Jintao’s cousin|Politics|News|
    Hu Jinxing, chairman of the charity Shanghai More Love Foundation and cousin of China’s president, Hu Jintao, said in an exclusive interview with our sister newspaper China Times on Thursday that the disgraced politician Bo Xilai “has ability but is too much given to personal ambition,” a trait which is not suitable for modern China. Hu said by contrast that his cousin has always displayed leadership qualities but in a more understated manner.
  • 30家央企与重庆签订合作协议 总投资达3506亿元_地方经济_新浪财经_新浪网
    central SOEs sign contracts in Chongqing worth 350B RMB (@ 55B USD). Buying stability?

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2 thoughts on “Today’s China Readings May 20, 2012

  1. The commentary has definitely added more value in addition to the aggregating. As far as renaming the daily post how about Daily China Briefing [date] or Today’s China Briefing [date] ?

  2. » It’s Not Just Yang Rui 正名

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