Shades of grey ChinaDiction #84
Nobody's ever accused Chinese politics of being lively, or fun, but why do so many of us take it seriously?
Li Qiang was tipped to be the new premier at the time of writing, even if he looks like the kind of guy who should be running a chain of 7-Elevens. Photo: China News Service via WikiCommons.
Xi is making all his moves while he can, writes the Wall Street Journal and that’s my brief nod to the 2 Sessions.
I could, for example, do this, but I’m not going to:
But I do have some breaking news up my sleeve – and based on my own observations … Has nobody noticed that the Chinese political elite are breaking with the jet-black-dyed hair tradition?
Look at Li Qiang above – definite hints of grey in that shock …
Over to Xi Jinping:
Definite grey highlights … Sorry, Getty Images, I pinched one of your photos, but it’s for a worthy cause.
And this is the one that really got me thinking:
The 2 Sessions will indeed see Xi and the party consolidate their power – what else are they going to do? Xi’s clinging to the back of a tiger.
But ChinaDiction also thinks that we’re going to be seeing a more relatable Communist Party of China – a party that’s relaxed with aging gracefully, and given the plan to stay in power until hell freezes over, that’s probably smart.
A ‘reasonable’ defense budget’
That’s how the reporting started out.
Reuters reported that China’s latest defense budget was secret after Wang Chao, spokesman for the National People's Congress, was asked “at a news conference by how much China's defense budget would increase this year, and whether any increase would be larger than in previous years.”
In a surprise move, he declined to comment.
He did say, however, that “The modernisation of China's military will not pose a threat to any country.”
That was soon updated by another Reuters report via Yahoo that China will boost defense spending by 7.2% “as Premier Li Keqiang called for the armed forces to boost combat preparedness.”
That’s a hell of an increase just for defense purposes.
Xi wants some love from foreign lawyers
This Bloomberg (paywall) piece deserves kudos just for the headline: “China Tells Foreign Law Professors to Prove They’ll Obey Xi.”
The gist of this, based on a “tweet by James Zimmerman, a media lawyer with law firm Perkins Coie, and who posted a document on Twitter” that basically says that syllabuses by foreign lawyers must be
‘Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, this course places a focus on every aspect of students’ morality education.
Bloomberg helpfully explains – and the use of ‘esoteric’ is kind:
Xi Thought is an esoteric concept the ruling Communist Party wrote into its five-year development blueprint in 2020, helping to elevate his political standing to the level of Mao Zedong — the founder of the People’s Republic whose likeness appears over Tiananmen Square and is printed on the currency. Xi is poised to be named president for another five years at the annual National People’s Congress meeting starting Sunday.
Pharmaceutical costs double during pandemic
According to CIDRAP, Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, prices of some active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from China have more than doubled.
Chinese export of the affected APIs, including those for important oral and injectable antibiotics, over-the-counter pain- and fever-reducing medications, and the diabetes drug metformin, has been complicated by pandemic-related supply-chain chaos and, more recently, the lifting of the country's zero-COVID policy.
It’s an issue that does not affect India alone.
Together, India and China manufacture the APIs needed to make 60% to 70% of the generic drugs on the US market, according to the Resilient Drug Supply Project (RSDP) at the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), publisher of CIDRAP News.
The Greater Sinosphere
Opposition leader gets 27 years
Kem Sokha in 2019. Photo: Bunnarith Chhea; Wikicommons.
The New York Times reports that Kem Sokha, co-founder of the defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party, has received a 27-year house detention in news that that comes thanks to China’s love of cultivating autocrats.
Kem Sokha, Cambodia’s most prominent opposition politician who is still in the country, was sentenced to 27 years of house arrest Friday on a charge of treason and barred from running or voting in elections.
Cambodian courts are not an independent branch of government, and the sentence is the latest step that Prime Minister Hun Sen has taken as he crushes what remains of a political opposition in advance of a July election. Mr. Hun Sen, who has been in power for 38 years, has said he is planning to run in that election and has anointed one of his sons, Lt. Gen. Hun Manet, to succeed him in the future.
Outside the courthouse, where several ambassadors had gathered to hear the verdict, W. Patrick Murphy, the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, said the case was fabricated and a miscarriage of justice.
Calls for compassion
Cladia Mo, detained since 2021. Photo: 湯惠芸, WikiCommons.
British MPs and public figures are calling for the release of a former Hong Kong lawmaker so she can visit her critically-ill husband, reports the BBC
Claudia Mo, 66, has been in detention since being arrested in 2021 under a controversial national security law.
Her husband, British journalist Philip Bowring, has pneumonia and is in a Hong Kong intensive care ward.
According to RFA, a “cross-party group of 54 U.K. parliamentarians and public figures called on Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to ask the Hong Kong government for the immediate release of former pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo, on compassionate grounds.”
A panel of three handpicked national security judges and no jury is currently in the process of trying 47 former pro-democracy lawmakers and political activists including Mo for "incitement to subvert state power" at Hong Kong’s High Court.
Xi biographer publisher freed after 10 years,
Yao Wentian, 83, who was arrested while preparing to release an unauthorized biography of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, has been freed after serving a 10-year prison sentence in souther China, reports the Associated Press
Yao had been sentenced to 10 years and fined for ‘smuggling common goods’ after he brought construction materials into China to help a friend who was refurbishing his apartment … He was accused of failing to declare the value of the goods at customs, not normally a crime punished with such a harsh sentence.
High times in Taoyuan
Looks like a good grow op, given Taoyuan’s climate, but the Taiwan government does not approve. Photo: Taoyuan Police.
The Taiwan News reports that eight people were sentenced by the Taoyuan District Court in Taiwan’s biggest weed bust.
The marijuana was seized in September 2022 from a field next to an army base in Longtan.
Two Taiwan nationals said to be the head of the growing and distribution operation received prison sentences of 11 and 9 years. Six Indonesian migrant workers also involved in the operation received two-year prison sentences and deportation orders upon their release.
Terry Gou pulls out the divine big guns
Terry Gou, founder of Foxconn. Photo: WikiCommons.
Website Nomanisanisland reports that mecurial Terry Gou, founder of Foxconn, strikes again, claiming that that he now not only has Matsu, Taiwan’s patron goddess of the sea on his side for a presidential run, but also has the God of War, Guanyu, backing him.
There are procedural – as well as divine celestial – issues to Gou running: he needs to rejoin the KMT (again) and he’s potentially crowding the field of would-be KMT contenders, while the DPP are looking very disciplined at least on who will be beading their presidential bid.
And on that note …
Nantou legislative by-election sees DPP victory
OK, you say, so what?
But the result on Saturday was the first victory for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) since Vice President Lai Ching-te (Lài Qīngdé, 賴清德) took over as party chairman in January, following the ruling party’s poor performance in the yearend local elections.
And if you’re interested in an informed backgrounder on the man who could very likely be Taiwan’s next president, the son of a coalminer from a family of six children, who has called himself a “political worker for Taiwanese independence” the Jamestown Foundation has an excellent, and relatively short piece.
In addition to emphasizing what is now seemingly the mainstream position of the DPP that ‘Taiwan is a sovereign, independent nation and therefore does not need to declare independence’ and that ‘only the nation’s 23 million people have the right to decide Taiwan’s future,’ Lai claims that his position as a ‘political worker’ is based on a practical and pragmatic stance on independence, which depends on ‘building up Taiwan and making it stronger and more attractive to people so that they support it.’
Garlic with that Americano?
Frankly, could be a very healthy morning pick-me-up that keeps unwanted, pre-lunch conversations at bay.
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