Today’s China Readings May 4, 2012

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

Thanks for reading, feel free to recommend to friends or donate on the site…

The Chen Guangcheng situation is still dominating the news. It is in both China’s and America’s interests to get this resolved as quickly as possible, perhaps by discovering Chen has some illness that can only be treated in the US, and allows him and his wife and child to leave. But that may be more a hope than a realistic outcome.

China has ramped up the rhetoric, attacking the US, and Ambassador Locke by name, in an editorial in today’s Beijing Times–北京日报:陈光诚是美国抹黑中国工具 (Chen Guangcheng is an American Tool To Smear China.)

From the outside the US does not look to have covered itself in glory, and the GOP is going use this to score political points against the Obama administration. The Americans were in an extremely difficult situation,  and so in the interests of avoiding excessive premature, criticism, here are some questions:

1. When Chen called the embassy for help Ambassador Locke was in Bali. Who made the decision to go out and bring him in (as detailed in A Car Chase, Secret Talks and Second Thoughts – NYTimes)?

2. Were Kurt Campbell, Harold Koh et al told by Secretary Clinton or anyone else in DC to get the Chen situation resolved before the start of this week’s Strategic and Economic Dialogue talks, at just about any cost? If so, did they commit China negotiating error #1 by setting a deadline, looking desperate, and giving the Chinese even more leverage than they already had?

3. We know the US had very little leverage. Was there any serious consideration to allow Chen to stay in the embassy as long as he wanted, and, assuming US diplomats were aware of the reported threats against Chen’s wife, was there every any discussion of publicizing those threats? Or was the focus on a quiet resolution before the SED started?

4. Chen has endured years of mistreatment and it is possible that the incredible stress of his situation has led to an altered mental state, which may in part explain his conflicting statements over the last 36 hours. Did the US give him a psychiatric evaluation while he was in the embassy? If not, should they have?

5. Did US diplomats agree to a deal with foreign ministry officials even though the foreign ministry was not willing to commit to it in writing? Did US diplomats believe the Foreign Ministry officials had the power to negotiate and implement the deal? And did the US negotiators believe they were dealing with “softliners” and that if they did not reach a deal quickly the “hardliners” would take over?

6. Did Campbell and Koh negotiate the deal without much focus on the very thorny implementation details?

7. Given Chen’s treatment in his first night of the hospital, and the barring of US diplomats from visiting him, does the US still believe they and NGOs can effectively monitor Chen if he stays in China?

8. If the US believes that China will not abide by its side of the Chen deal, should it have any confidence in any of the deals made at the SED?

9. Who was driving the car that picked up Chen, as detailed in A Car Chase, Secret Talks and Second Thoughts – NYTimes)? Let’s hope it was not anyone from the CIA station, as if this account is accurate they were not able to escape detection.

10. How does this get resolved?

11. How do the US and China avoid even deeper strategic mistrust?

Please add any other questions you think should be asked in the comments.

There is high probability of hearings on Capitol Hill. Maybe we will learn the answers to some of these questions then.

  • Blind Dissident Has China’s Tweeters Seeing Red – Bloomberg
  • 戴秉国:13亿中国人民有权走与西方不同的路_新闻_腾讯网
  • 北京日报:陈光诚是美国抹黑中国工具_新闻_腾讯网
    Beijing Daily: Chen Guangcheng is a US tool to defame/smear China. criticizes amb locke by name[导读]北京日报今日就陈光诚事件发表评论,批评美驻华大使骆家辉在事件中扮演极不光彩的角色,称陈光诚本人已成抹黑中国工具。
  • Luo Yuan: a profile « southseaconversations 讨论南海
    not as influential as some may think
  • Fraying deal on Chen Guangcheng shows power of China’s security apparatus – The Washington Post
    or maybe snookered by good cop/bad cop routine. us incredibly naive to accept these assurances, esp not in writing//HONG KONG — The swift unraveling of a U.S.-Chinese deal over blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng has highlighted a persistent problem in the United States’ dealings with China: Diplomats who speak for Beijing have no sway over a Chinese security apparatus beholden only to the upper reaches of the ruling Communist Party.
  • China Syndrome | Via Meadia
    Complicating matters further is the fact that Chen’s most trusted US ally and representative is Bob Fu, an evangelical China-born Christian who works on behalf of persecuted Christians in illegal house churches in China. Chen’s escape was apparently helped by an “underground railroad” of Chinese Christians aided by Fu.
    Fu bases his ministry in a place whose name is familiar to Americans: Midland, Texas, the longtime home of George W. Bush. He is reported to be en route to Washington to testify before Congress about the affair. Millions of American Christians, some of whom do not follow the foreign news with great care, will be following this news closely. Chen’s advocacy for Chinese women forced into sterilization and/or abortions for violating China’s one-child policy has electrified conservative Christians across the United States. Chen is a rare crossover figure: a hero to liberal European intellectuals and to conservative American mega-church members. While not as famous as the Dalai Lama, Chen’s support in the United States is if anything deeper, stronger, and more capable of sustaining a powerful political movement than the support of the exiled Tibetan leader.
  • Chen’s friend: U.S. conveyed Chinese threat against wife | The Cable
    Chen Guangcheng’s friend Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid, told a congressional commission Thursday that Chen only agreed to leave the U.S. Embassy in Beijing after U.S. officials conveyed a threat from the Chinese government that Chen would never see his wife again if he didn’t leave the embassy that day.Fu has been in contact with Chen directly throughout the ordeal and told the Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) today that he had spoken to Chen Wednesday night as Chen and his family remained in a Beijing hospital, unable to leave or receive visitors. U.S. officials have insisted that Chen left the embassy of his own volition after agreeing to the terms of a deal U.S. officials struck with the Chinese government.
  • Romney blasts Obama administration’s handling of Chinese dissident case – Political Hotsheet – CBS News
    PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The State Department’s handling of the situation involving blind Chinese dissident lawyer Chen Guangcheng is “a day of shame for the Obama administration,” GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney charged on Thursday.
  • Debacle in Beijing by Ian Johnson | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
    The story of a blind Chinese lawyer’s flight to the US Embassy in Beijing is likely to ignite accusations and recriminations until the US presidential election in November. But what few will acknowledge is a harsher truth: that for all our desire to effect change, outsiders have little leverage to shape China’s future.
  • NBC News’ top hagiographer – Glenn Greenwald –
    China’s propagandists could learn something//
    The role of Brian Williams is to glorify political and military leaders, but he really outdid himself last night..
    it was consummate American establishment journalism. Even if you’re someone who entirely approves of the raid and sees it as a rare American success over the last decade, uncritically bostering feel-good triumphalism about American political and military leaders is not the role of journalism (in theory, that is), and nobody should want it to perform that function.
  • Financial Times publishes article written by Chinese vice premier – Xinhua |
    LONDON, May 2 (Xinhua) — The Financial Times on Wednesday published an article written by Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang. The following is the full text of the article — “China Has Great Expectation for Europe.”
  • Geithner Says Yuan Gains Would Aid China Economic Shift – Bloomberg
    “A stronger, more market-determined” currency would “reinforce China’s reform objectives of moving to higher value- added production, reforming the financial system and encouraging domestic demand,” Geithner said today at U.S.-China talks in Beijing. “Future economic growth will require another fundamental shift in economic policy” akin to that of more than 30 years ago, he said.
    Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s remarks in March that the yuan may be near an equilibrium and the currency’s failure to gain against the dollar this year suggest that Geithner could be disappointed
  • 胡锦涛寄语中美两国关系:打破传统对抗冲突逻辑_新闻_腾讯网
  • Country Head – Nature Publishing, China at Nature Publishing Group in London, United Kingdom – Job | LinkedIn
    As part of a major strategic move by Nature Publishing Group (NPG) into China, NPG, publisher of the international science journal Nature, seeks a Country Head to lead the group’s future business and editorial activities in China.Based in new offices in Shanghai, the Country Head will be part of a broader initiative by the Macmillan Group (to which NPG belongs) that aims to establish a strong presence for Macmillan in China, with particular emphasis on science and education.
  • China dissident was prepared to spend years in embassy | Reuters
    “He knew the stark choices in front of him,” Locke told reporters of Chen, who at one point in talks with the Americans demanded to speak to Premier Wen Jiabao. “He knew and was very aware that he might have to spend many, many years in the embassy. But he was prepared to do that…”And he was fully aware of and talked about what might happen to his family if he stayed in the embassy and they stayed in the village in Shandong province.”
  • The Family and Corruption – Caixin Online
    China’s Gini co-efficient, a measure of income inequality, is estimated to have reached 0.55 last year, far exceeding the accepted red line of 0.4 that warns of social instability
  • A Dance with the Dragon: The Vanished World of Peking’s Foreign Colony (9781780760520): Julia Boyd: Books
    With its fossil hunters and philosophers, diplomats, dropouts, writers and explorers, missionaries and refugees, Peking’s foreign community in the early 20th century was as exotic as the city itself. Always a magnet for larger than life individuals, Peking attracted characters as diverse as Reginald Johnston (tutor to the last emperor), Bertrand Russell, Pierre Loti, Rabrindranath Tagore, Sven Hedin, Peter Fleming, Wallis Simpson and Cecil Lewis. The last great capital to remain untouched by the modern world, Peking both entranced and horrified its foreign residents. Ignoring the poverty outside their gates, they danced, played and squabbled among themselves, oblivious to the great political events that were to shape modern China unfolding around them. This is a dazzling portrait of an eclectic foreign community and of China itself.
  • The Useless Tree: The Core Issue in the Chen Guangcheng case
    So we should not blame Chen for the rather chaotic change of direction the story has taken.  But that change has put him and the US in a weaker position.  Quite simply, if the PRC leadership sees that the US values a certain outcome in this case, it will demand something in return.  And the fact that this is all happening while high-level negotiations are going on means that the PRC will likely try to link the resolution of the Chen case to other issues.  Will they say that Chen and his family can have passports and leave if the US backs off its plan to sell advanced jet fighters to Taiwan?  Of course, the US will not allow the Chen case to determine national security and other issues.  But the back and forth on this will drag on for a long time.The bottom line here is what it has long been.  If the PRC leadership – Wen Jiabao, Hu Jintao and company – want to treat Chen humanely, they can treat Chen humanely.  Up to this point, they have clearly demonstrated that they do not want to treat Chen humanely.  They have chosen inhumanity.  And that choice creates a systemic problem
  • United States Ambassador to China Gary Locke Briefs the Press
    Gary Locke Ambassador to China-Victoria Nuland Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson-Diaoyutai-Beijing, China-May 3, 2012
    MS. NULAND: All right, everybody. We are sorry to keep you waiting this morning. I am delighted to have with us Ambassador Locke. He is going to speak to you on the record briefly about his experiences with Chen Guangcheng leading – while he was in the Embassy and leading up to his decision to depart. He’ll have time to take a couple of questions about all of that, and then he’s got to go back and rejoin the S&ED, so that’ll be on the record and the audio is available for our review.
  • Background Briefing by Senior State Department Official
    Diaoyutai-Beijing, China-May 3, 2012
    SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: So as Ambassador Locke just made clear, the entire context here from the beginning, from our perspective, is that Chen Guangcheng reached out to the U.S. Government for help. We went out and got him. Our perspective throughout was to help him out of the extremely tough situation that he found himself in, and to try to help him meet his objectives for his future.
  • China bear Pettis says world coming around to his view | MacroScope
    consensus among economists a good contrarian indicator?//
    Few mainstream economists have been quite as downbeat on China as Peking University professor and noted China watcher Michael Pettis. Pettis has long held that the world’s No. 2 economy will grow at a maximum of 3.5 percent a year for the rest of the decade, well below a consensus call that appears to have settled into the 5-7 percent range. “And honestly, I think if I’m wrong, it will be to the downside rather than the upside,” he told Reuters.Lately, though, Pettis says that many people inside China and in some of the countries whose fortunes are tightly tied to its economy are starting to come around to his point of view. At a recent lunch with visiting European Union officials, Pettis said the mood among the attending Chinese economists, academics, think-tankers and policy advisors was universally gloomy. “I’m used to being the most pessimistic guy in the room, but in this case, they were much worse than I.”
  • 原信访局长因女儿坠亡下跪上访 称女儿遭人杀害_新闻_腾讯网
    former petition office bureau chief now a petitioner himself after daughter murdered. fujian
  • Bin Laden Raid Fallout – Aid Groups in Pakistan Are Suspect –
  • Blind Legal Activist Chen Guangcheng: “I Want My Family to Leave China as Soon as Possible” | Global Spin |
    Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal activist who left the U.S. Embassy in Beijing after sheltering there for the six days, says he now fears for his safety and wants to leave China. In a telephone interview with TIME, Chen said that he changed his mind after arriving at a local hospital and became concerned that he and his family are at risk. “I left the U.S. Embassy after an agreement was reached by the Chinese and the U.S. sides, and I believe the Chinese government when it promised to grant me full rights and freedom,” Chen said. “But since I left the embassy, I haven’t been able to see any of my friends, and I haven’t been able to contact my family back in Shandong. My cell phone was also cut off for a brief period last night. Now I don’t believe the government can keep its promises.”
  • Unraveling the Closure of a Great Wall Site – China Real Time Report – WSJ
    CYTS said it is working on the project with its Wuzhen Tourism Development Co. subsidiary, which helped renovate the Yangtze river town of Wuzhen into a tourist destination to generally positive reviews.As for the villagers, the company said the local government is preparing new apartments for them, which are visible from a road that passes near Simatai. Rather than belch coal smoke, as the villagers’ old shacks did, the new ones will have electrical systems, heat and gas for cooking. “The quality of the villagers lives will be improved,” the company said, adding that many may find jobs at the new site.
  • A little more China in your bowl | beyondbrics | News and views on emerging markets from the Financial Times –
    Not many people in the western world eat Chinese food for breakfast. Until now. On Wednesday Bright Food announced it had bought 60 per cent of Weetabix Foods, parent of the famous British breakfast cereal of the same name.
  • People’s Daily halted after price soars | beyondbrics | News and views on emerging markets from the Financial Times –
    Chinese state media is hardly a bastion of free speech, but the Communist party mouthpiece has apparently fallen victim to a different form of outside manipulation.On Wednesday, trading in People’s Daily Online, the recently listed web arm of the official newspaper, was halted.According to state media (who else?), shares were suspended in Shanghai, under rules “aimed at reining in speculative manipulation of share prices”.
  • Chen and embassy should not delude themselves-Global Times
    The political role he now undertakes is far from where he began. The West and its supporters in China always need a tool to work against China’s current political system. Those who become these tools have few choices of their own.It is certain that Chen’s case is only an interlude for China’s development. It will not undermine social stability, nor will it hinder the normal development and progress of China’s human rights. China can take a composed attitude when such cases happen again.
  • Chen Guangcheng Says He Felt Pressure to Take U.S. Deal With China –
    In a telephone interview Thursday morning from his bed at Chaoyang Hospital here, where he was receiving treatment as part of the deal between the Americans and Chinese, Mr. Chen, a lawyer who is blind, said he had left the embassy on his own volition after the Chinese government guaranteed that his rights would be protected. But he also said he had felt some pressure because he was told that Chinese officials had threatened to beat his wife to death if he remained under American protection.Asked if American officials had encouraged him to leave, he said, “To a certain degree.” While he was treated well there, he said, “the U.S. government was not proactive enough.
  • Wang Hui · The Rumour Machine: The Dismissal of Bo Xilai · LRB 10 May 2012
    Information is selected or fabricated according to political need, and then released through channels determined by the same considerations. Rumours have flourished inside and outside China, and there are signs of conspiracy everywhere. Rumours are a product of backroom politics, and at the same time provide the means for backroom politics to come out into the open. On 10 April, another rumour went round: the government was going to make an important announcement. The statement came not in the main news bulletin at 7 p.m., but in the 11 o’clock news, when it was announced that Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, had been arrested on suspicion of murdering Heywood. Bo’s suspension from the Politburo and Central Committee was also announced – allegedly to allow serious violations of party discipline to be investigated. As for Heywood, there are plenty of contradictory accounts there too: the official statement calls him a businessman, but some British reporters have suggested he might have been a spy.
  • [toread] China Rhyming » Blog Archive » Midnight in Peking Makes NY Times Bestseller List
  • Policy shift to crimp fast-growing overseas online buying|Business|
    New policies could curb China’s fast-growing market in online overseas purchasing, industry participants said.
    Over the past decade, many Chinese living overseas have taken advantage of policy loopholes by selling and shipping goods that would cost far more in China.
    The government has decided to close those loopholes using new policies that take effect on April 15.
  • Woman pretends to be artillery solider flaunting wealth on micro-blog faces legal action-Chinahush
    April 26, Sina Weibo verified account named “Second Artillery Liu Yuanyuan” exposed herself of drunk driving on micro-blog which attracted many Chinese netizens’ attention. Claimed a member of Second Artillery Corps Art and Cultural Troupe she also “flaunted wealth” by sharing her personal photos. People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Corps Political Department and Propaganda Department News Director Chen Shoufu made a public statement that the Second Artillery Corps did not have such person named Liu Yuanyuan. so-called “Second Artillery Art and Cultural Troupe member Liu Yuanyan” flaunting wealth, exposing drunk driving were all publicity stunts.
  • Clinton, China spar over rights – Associated Press –
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told China on Thursday that it must protect human rights, in remarks that rejected Beijing’s criticism of the United States for getting involved in the case of a blind dissident whose fate overshadowed the opening of annual talks between the powerful countries.
  • CECC Hearing on Chen Guangcheng
  • Congressman faults Obama administration for failing to help Chinese dissident | Fox News
    The Republican congressman to whom Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has apparently appealed for help is accusing the Obama administration of trying to sweep his concerns “off the table” to make way for “happy” diplomatic photo-ops at a round of Beijing meetings.Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., in an interview with, said he has not yet gotten in touch with Chen, who reportedly has asked for Smith’s help in leaving China. But he said the U.S. should “without a doubt” revisit his case and consider granting him asylum, as conflicting reports emerge about the safety of him and his family.
  • CNN Transcript: Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng –
    Q: Have the embassy people have left?
    A: Yes. They promised to stay here with Guangcheng — that would give us some sense of security. But we haven’t seen anyone since we checked into this hospital room. I was actually persuading Guangcheng to seek treatment in a hospital — but I didn’t know the embassy (people) were lobbying him to leave (the embassy).
  • Activist Chen Guangcheng: Let Me Leave China on Hillary Clinton’s Plane – The Daily Beast
    In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast’s Melinda Liu, blind dissident Chen Guangcheng says he’s been abandoned by American officials at a Chinese hospital and begs to leave the country on Hillary Clinton’s plane.
  • A Car Chase, Secret Talks and Second Thoughts –
    The matter was quickly brought to the attention of Harold Koh, the State Department legal adviser who was in China on another matter. After consulting with senior State Department officials, Mr. Koh determined that Mr. Chen’s injury and blindness qualified him for short-term humanitarian assistance in a “good Samaritan way,” one of the officials said. A rendezvous point was agreed upon in an area some miles west of the embassy where an official car would meet the vehicle carrying Mr. Chen. The plan was for the lawyer to be helped into the embassy car.But as the two vehicles were about to converge, the Americans noticed Chinese security cars tailing them, one behind the embassy car, the other behind the car with Mr. Chen and his friend, an American official who was briefed on the events said.It was clear the handoff would have to happen in a rush. As Mr. Chen’s car moved into an alley, the embassy vehicle drew alongside, and the lawyer was pulled into the American vehicle. The Americans evaded the two Chinese cars and headed for the embassy, the official said. ..
    The Americans said they suspected that if an accord agreeable to Mr. Chen was not speedily attained, hard-liners in the Chinese government would take over from the more amenable Foreign Ministry.

  • Chinese Activist ‘Very Disappointed’ in the U.S., Says Officials Lied To Him – Max Fisher – International – The Atlantic
    Chen Guangcheng, who had fled house arrest for the U.S. embassy in Beijing, portrays American officials as having manipulated him to encourage his departure…
    Some U.S. officials, according to Newton-Small, are worried that Chen’s interviews, like the one with CNN’s reporter (which actually went online after Time’s story) might “have complicated [the] delicate and unprecedented diplomatic deal, orchestrated by Chinese and American officials over the last three days.” In other words, in expressing his desire to leave China, he is embarrassing the Chinese officials who are now his protectors; he’s also alienating U.S. officials in the process.
  • 中国每年超生罚款可能超200亿-新闻频道-和讯网
    annual fines for illegal births in china surpass 20B RMB
  • Junior Seau, Famed N.F.L. Linebacker, Dies at 43 – Suicide Is Suspected –
    OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Junior Seau, regarded as one of the N.F.L.’s best linebackers over a 20-year career with the San Diego Chargers, the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots, died of a gunshot wound to the chest Wednesday at his home in Oceanside, Calif. He was 43.
  • Chen Guangcheng lawyer says dissident feels ‘pressure’ and fears for his safety – The Washington Post
  • [toread] 木桶网MOOOTON 在线选购优质进口葡萄酒
    friend’s wine ecommerce site. Beijing only right now, doing well, big investors including jason zeng, a tencent cofounder

Digest powered by RSS Digest

2 thoughts on “Today’s China Readings May 4, 2012

  1. A few more questions, in no particular order.  If there are already answers for them, my apologies.

    (a) Who were driving the “Chinese security” cars that chased Chen around Beijing in the NYT story, Beijing PSB or Shandong/Linyi thugs?

    (b) If Chen was able to speak with his wife before leaving the US embassy, why was she, according to most press accounts, a driving force in pressuring him to leave China?  Was she accompanied by Americans during the phone calls, or by Chinese security?

    (c) Did the Chinese side make assurances about the safety of Chen’s friends and supporters?

    (d) If they had heard Chen’s “I want to kiss you” sentence to Hillary Clinton as “I want to see you,” would the embassy have honored the request?
    (e) Why didn’t the embassy honor Chen’s request to speak to Rep. Smith?(f) Did the US side promise Chen they’d have personnel waiting for him at the hospital, or was that a misunderstanding? Did the embassy dispatch staff to watch over Chen because of his complaints?

Comments are closed.