"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner
I am heading off to Beijing tomorrow, if I can get outside the Great Firewall there may be some issues between now and then, otherwise I will be back mid-August. Today’s issue is a quick and dirty one, I have missed much but wanted to send something out before heading to China.
Normally early August is slow in the PRC because of the Beidaihe meetings. This year I am not so sure…
The latest North Korean missile test is another sign of the progress in their program and the failure of existing approaches, or more likely the lack of any credible options that have any reasonable chance of achieving denuclearization without the incineration of parts of Seoul, Tokyo and possibly Northern China.
President Trump slammed China in two tweets earlier this evening:
First he wrote:
I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet…
…they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!
Expect the US to announce another round of secondary sanctions, likely with more teeth and targeted at more important institutions and individuals than the last round.
Trump and Kim Jong-un are literally raining on Xi’s parade.
Xi is presiding over a military parade at Zhurihe training base in Inner Mongolia for the 90th birthday of the People’s Liberation Army. Xi’s review of the troops is streaming live on Youtube here. Perhaps of significance is that the troops call Xi “Chairman 主席” instead of “首长 Commander (or chief/boss?)”, as they did at the PLA parade in Hong Kong last month.
This is just one more sign of Xi’s centralization, consolidation and personalization of power. Another was a remarkably hagiographic treatment of Xi in the July 28 issue of Study Times.
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学习时报–习近平总书记的成长之路, which I will loosely translate as “General Secretary Xi Jinping’s Road To Maturity”, is a remarkable paean to Xi. The South China Morning Post has a couple of articles—The early years: the troubled times that ‘forged Xi Jinping’ and Xi personally behind island-building in the South China Sea–that discuss some of what is in the article, but it really should be read in its entirety. I hope someone will translate it (and if you do please send me a link).
Heading into the Beidaihe meetings Xi looks large and in charge with a series of recent meetings, personnel moves and propaganda packaging that certainly make it appear Xi is in a position to run the organizational table at the 19th Party Congress, possibly get a theoretical contribution if not Xi Jinping thought written into the constitution, and maybe obtain the titles of Supreme Leader 最高领袖 and/or Party Chairman 党主席.
There is no publicized date yet for the Party Congress but do not be surprised if it meets in late September or October, not November as some expect. An earlier than expected Congress would likely be another strong indicator that Xi is getting what he wants.
Expect the top leadership to disappear from public view almost entirely between now and mid-August as they enjoy the Hebei seaside. And so likely will the newsletter, until I return to the Internet outside the GFW around the same time.