Tag Archives: Hu Jintao

China News Update, July 5, 2012 – U.S.–China ties, South China Sea

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai speaks at the Asia Society in Hong Kong July 5, 2012.

  • Today’s news opens with a speech July 5 in Hong Kong by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, a key figure in Chinese relations with the United States. The speech calls for “building a new type of relationship between major countries here in the Asia-Pacific,” a key Hu Jintao phrase from the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) between the United States and China in May [speech in Chinese / in English]. The Xinhua storyabout the speech also emphasized this new relationship, suggesting that the idea of something like a U.S.–China “special relationship” is gaining traction in Chinese policy circles.

    The remainder of the speech emphasizes the need for expanded mutual trust between the two countries, and the importance of the Asia-Pacific region as a locus for this relationship. None of this is groundbreaking, but I think it’s worth noting that this is one of the highest-level speeches on the United States since the May meetings that coincided with a diplomatic tangle over the fate of Chen Guangcheng, the self-taught lawyer who escaped home detention and entered the U.S. embassy in Beijing, eventually ending up as a special student at New York University Law School. Cui specifically mentions S&ED as a successful development, and calls out U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, who, along with Cui, was reportedly at the center of tense negotiations over Chen.

  • The other big news come from U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration has filed a WTO complaint against China over auto tariffs. The timing had clear political content, as Obama is beginning a campaign trip in the Midwest, where much of the U.S. auto industry makes its home.
  • Meanwhile, the Committee of 100, a group of prominent Chinese Americans, released its 2012 survey of U.S.–China public opinion [pdf] about bilateral ties. The executive summary is worth a skim, as it contains a laundry list of findings.
  • Zhou Yongkang, for one, is not a fan of U.S. opinions on China. According to an AFP story:

    “We will never change in our endeavour to defend the party’s leading role and socialism with Chinese characteristics,” he wrote in the latest edition of a Communist Party publication, “Qiushi”.”We will resolutely resist the attacks of hostile forces on our nation’s political and judicial systems, and we will resolutely resist the influence of mistaken Western political and legal views.”

    Zhou was writing in his position as head of the party’s Politics and Law Commission, which oversees China’s courts, prosecution and police.

  • And the U.S. State Department expressed displeasure with Chinese online censorship after Bloomberg News’ website after its blockbuster story on the family finances of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.

As always, there has been movement in the South China Sea

  • The Philippines may ask for U.S. spy plane assistance in areas disputed with China, Philippine President Benigno Aquino said, reportedly referring to P3C Orion aircraft. (July 2)
  • The People’s Daily that day also accused the Philippines of attempting to stir up trouble in the region ahead of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting July 9. (English of full article.)
  • The Philippine military has “no problem” with Chinese patrols near disputed islands, according to a media report, as long as they stay in the “freedom of navigation area”—i.e. international waters where any ship has a right to be. (July 3)
  • The Philippines issued a new “note verbale,” a type of diplomatic communication, objecting to China’s plans with its newly upgraded administrative distinction for the administration of some of the islands it claims in the South China Sea, a Philippine news site reports. “Sansha city” officially includes both an island disputed with Vietnam and the Scarborough Shoal, which China and the Philippines disagree over. (July 4)
  • Chinese Maritime Surveillance ships are patrolling within 1 nautical mile of the Nansha islands, Xinhua reported.
  • The Chinese government announced it would open a research station in the “Zhongsha” islands, part of the controversial Sansha City. A quick check suggests these “islands” are not even above water all of the time, and they have not been part of the recent dust-ups with Vietnam or Philippines. (July 5)
  • An Economist story comes with a nice map that includes oil claims.

Hu Jintao says foreigners out to 'westernize' China

This from the AFP via the South China Morning Post (subscription only):

“Hostile international powers are strengthening their efforts to Westernise and divide us,” Hu wrote in the article, noting “ideological and cultural fields” are their main targets.

“We must be aware of the seriousness and complexity of the struggles and take powerful measures to prevent and deal with them.”

Hu also called for greater efforts to develop Chinese culture to meet the “growing spiritual and cultural demands of the people” in the mainland.

“The overall strength of Chinese culture and its international influence is not commensurate with China’s international status,” Hu said.

“The international culture of the West is strong while we are weak.”

With so many debates over the years about “American exceptionalism,” this presents an opportunity to remind us that a Chinese exceptionalism can be seen as a pillar of Chinese politics.

Then again, what country is not convinced it is exceptional?

UPDATE: Ed Wong of The New York Times adds a story.

Text of the U.S.–China joint statement

This idea stolen from Josh Rogin. I’m putting this here so I have it in the future. Source: White House. See also Rogin’s post on China bashing on Capitol Hill.

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 19, 2011
U.S. – China Joint Statement

1. At the invitation of President Barack Obama of the United States of America, President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China is paying a state visit to the United States of America from January 18-21, 2011. During his visit, President Hu met with Vice President Joseph Biden, will meet with U.S. Congressional leadership, and will visit Chicago.

2. The two Presidents reviewed the progress made in the relationship since President Obama’s November 2009 State Visit to China and reaffirmed their commitment to building a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive U.S. – China relationship for the 21st century, which serves the interests of the American and Chinese peoples and of the global community. The two sides reaffirmed that the three Joint Communiqués issued by the United States and China laid the political foundation for the relationship and will continue to guide the development of U.S. – China relations. The two sides reaffirmed respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Presidents further reaffirmed their commitment to the November 2009 U.S. – China Joint Statement.

3. The United States and China committed to work together to build a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit in order to promote the common interests of both countries and to address the 21st century’s opportunities and challenges. The United States and China are actively cooperating on a wide range of security, economic, social, energy, and environmental issues which require deeper bilateral engagement and coordination. The two leaders agreed that broader and deeper collaboration with international partners and institutions is required to develop and implement sustainable solutions and to promote peace, stability, prosperity, and the well-being of peoples throughout the world.

Continue reading

Online Voices Aren't Everything in China

In the months leading up to the Beijing Olympics, which began Friday, English language media have published countless stories on China and its capital. But many of these stories echo each other and few break new ground in the world’s understanding of China. Many emphasize a consistent set of outside concerns and, in portraying conflict, oversimplify the wide variety of viewpoints to be found even without leaving Beijing.

Reporting in China is not easy, and difficult conditions while pounding pavement encourage an over-reliance on the easily accessible but skewed commentary online. After the unrest in Tibet this year and demonstrations on the Olympic Torch Relay route, especially in France, a torrent of nationalist commentary and push-back emerged from people who thought China was being portrayed unfairly, and there were dozens of stories on “angry Chinese youth.”

Writers (including this one) have also written frequently about internet censorship and efforts to circumvent restrictions. In the last year, LexisNexis finds more than 350 mentions of “great firewall,” one of several ways reporters refer to China’s online controls.

But internet phenomena can only be so big in China. If the government’s July numbers are correct, the country now has 253 million internet users, more than any other country in the world. But with a population of 1.33 billion, that’s still only 19 percent of the population. That’s compared to more than 70 percent in the United States, the second largest national internet population, and a global average of 21 percent, according to Kaiser Kuo at Ogilvy.

What happens online in China, therefore, doesn’t involve most of the laobaixing, a term used widely in China to refer to “regular people.” Further, in a poll conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than 80 percent said they thought the internet should be controlled, and just as many said the government should be in charge of those controls.

Even if reporters do get off the internet and mingle with the 80 percent of Chinese who don’t log on, it’s impossible to tell the full story of how the laobaixing see the Olympics. But I’ll relate one story that unfolded over several weeks in my former neighborhood in central Beijing.

Across from the entrance to my alley, the flags of the Communist Party, China, and the Olympic rings flew above a small home that had until recently also been a dried fruit and beverage store. The residents had erected the flags and plastered much of the exterior with pictures of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping (whose son still lives in a large complex nearby, according to neighbors), and the current Chinese president and premier, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao.

Their home had been marked for demolition in a pre-Olympic beautification effort. In a pattern that played out dozens or hundreds of times during Olympic preparations, the residents were concerned that they might not get sufficient compensation and resisted leaving as long as possible.

On several evenings when the demolition was thought to be imminent, hundreds of neighbors and passers-by gathered on the street waiting and talking. A police van and some plain clothes officers kept an eye on the crowd most of the time, but people were outspoken and opinions divergent.

Some echoed the residents’ slogan posted atop the small home, “Premier Wen Jiabao should look out for the livelihood of the laobaixing.” Some said they thought the family should just move out, or were sympathetic but thought the Olympic flag shouldn’t be involved. Some spoke of frustration with the Olympics for making life so complicated this year in Beijing, and some said they were proud to welcome the world to their city, despite recent inconveniences. Some neighbors didn’t care one way or another about the Games but were strained by higher food prices, which they attributed to a ban on outside trucks entering Beijing. Others mused that it’s been an unusually hot summer and wondered why I kept wearing long pants.

The home was torn down in late July. The internet is still censored. Some people are enflamed about perceived anti-China statements. But if a news story makes any of this sound simple or un-nuanced, remember the multitude of opinions on one street corner.

Note: This column was prepared for a different publication that elected not to publish it. (Please forgive the lack of hyperlinks.) It was written about a week ago in Berlin, and I’m posting now from Bologna, Italy. This site will remain mellow in the coming days as I make my way to the United States, where I begin graduate school studying East Asia next month.

Demonstrations in Tokyo During Hu Visit: Could Be Worse

From Reuters:

But even as Hu spoke, about 200 protesters waved signs outside the university gate saying “Free Tibet” and “No Pandas, No Poison Dumplings,” the latter referring to Hu’s offer to lend two pandas to a Tokyo zoo and a row over Chinese-made dumplings laced with pesticide that made several Japanese people ill.

When I was in Japan recently, the contaminated jiaozi/gyoza scandal was one of the first things most Japanese friends asked me about on learning I now live in Beijing. It seems like a bit of progress if anti-China demonstrators (who weren’t particularly numerous) are complaining about human rights and food safety rather than history-related issues. Anti-U.S. slogans were not as substantial when I happened upon a much larger demonstration on Sept. 11, 2004, at Tokyo’s Omotesando.

“I just want to say ‘Free Tibet’. I want to say ‘No’ to China‘s oppression of human rights,” said 29-year-old Atsushi Hanazawa, who carried a guitar along with a Tibetan flag.

Again, this makes Japanese protesters in a similar position as many around the world. No comment on who’s well informed.

Some Waseda students were more concerned about getting to class. “I can’t get through the gate. It’s a pain,” said 18-year-old Takuhiro Waki of the protest.

About two dozen right-wing activists yelled anti-Chinese slogans such as “Hu Jintao, Go Back to China.” Earlier, some right-wing Waseda alumni protested against Hu’s speech in a blog.

There’s the nationalism. But two dozen? Pretty weak from people who get crowds twice that size in front of sound trucks on anonymous Tuesdays near busy train stations and somewhat regularly clog the streets near the Chinese embassy.

Nearby around 50 Chinese students held their own rally, yelling “Go, China” in Chinese, “Sino-Japanese Friendship” in Japanese, and “Yes, We Can” in English.

“When I hear the anti-Chinese slogans, I feel that the Chinese people’s character has been maligned,” said 28-year-old Chinese graduate student Cao Shunrui.

There’s a little more nationalism, perhaps, from the other side. I’m not sure what to make of that, but the “Sino-Japanese friendship” message is considerably more helpful than some of the vitriol on both sides in U.S. campuses, from Grace Wang’s experience at Duke to a few dozen other reported rallies.

Hu later shed his suit jacket to play ping-pong at Waseda with popular players from both countries, but Fukuda, 71, declined to pick up a paddle.

“I’m glad I didn’t play ping-pong with him,” Fukuda told reporters. “He’s very strategic. I thought you can’t be too careful.”

I wouldn’t play him either. If he’s playing with popular players, he’d kick my ass. Unless Prime Minister Fukuda has been training, it’s probably wise to save the embarrassment and watch a friendly match.