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Yan'an, where it all began
A victorious Xi leads the standing committee on a field trip to the geographical heart of the 'core'
Xi leads the team to Yan’an, where Mao finally made himself and his policies core to the party itself. Photo: Xinhua via Twitter.
General Secretary Xi Jinping has led his seven-member dream team on a pilgrimage to Yan’an, Shaanxi Province, where the Communist Party of China hid out and consolidated while Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces fought the invading Japanese.
That of course is not the CPC narrative: in the latter, Yan’an is a place of miracles, the site of the 1945 7th party congress, where Mao asserted himself and his principles as “core” to the party’s struggles to claim their historically mandated right to rule over China uncontested forever.
It’s fair to assume that Xi’s first field trip after the 20th party congress is signaling that it is time again to embrace “struggle” and privations in the cause of establishing a New Era – one with consequences beyond the Chinese border, but then so did Mao’s in 1945; Tibet and East Turkestan would fall in the years ahead.
Meanwhile, Wang Yi, foreign minister and wolf-warrior pioneer – a propagandist with bite, as some have described him – has been appointed propaganda chief in an unsurprising move, reports the Wall Street Journal. Qin Gang, China’s US ambassador is expected to become foreign minister.
Qin and Wang are leading exponents of the muscular diplomacy that Mr. Xi demands, driven by the leader’s vision of an ascendant and uncompromising China that challenges the U.S. for global pre-eminence. The personnel shuffle, to be completed over the coming months as Mr. Xi assigns portfolios for his third leadership term, suggests that Beijing remains committed to an adversarial stance toward Washington, undeterred by rising tensions, experts say.
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If you have the constitution
ChinaDiction is not going to dwell on revisions to the CPC charter because others do it far better, or at least with more commitment.
Case in point, fellow Substacker Manoj Kewelramani at Tracking People’s Daily:
And of course Bill Bishop over at Sinocism, where there’s a full analysis of charter/constitutional changes:
You can read the full text of the new Constitution of the Communist Party of China yourself, if you like. It is of great significance, and also happens to work better than Valium if you’re having sleep problems.
For the second time in a week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that China is undermining the “status quo” that has provided “decades-long” peace in the Taiwan Strait, reports Bloomberg.
Beijing is trying to “speed up” its seizure of the island, Blinken reportedly said.
The latest comments from the top US diplomat rebuking China over Taiwan expand on Blinken’s argument from last week that China may seize Taiwan on a “much faster timeline” than previously thought.
It’s worth bearing in mind that invasions of Taiwan are predicted with even more regularity than the “coming collapse of China.”
In 2019, for example, the Global Taiwan Institute warned that 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2023 could all provide windows of opportunity for an invasion. The year 2027 is popular with many “pundits” and – worst case scenario, speaking on behalf of the PRC – is 2049, the 100th anniversary of the founding the People’s Republic.
It will happen – short of a magical change in political direction on one or both sides of the strait – when China is feeling cocky enough to do it.
Meanwhile, some context to Blinken’s remarks: China also accuses the US of abandoning the “status quo.”
As the United States Institute for Peace put it in June this year, the “hopeful – indeed, wishful — thinking … was that the issue would naturally take care of itself over time.”
Neither Washington nor Beijing foresaw how the Taiwan issue would be fundamentally altered by remarkable transformations on the island itself. Taiwan’s polity evolved in the late 1980s and 1990s from an austere authoritarian regime to emerge in the new millennium as one of the world’s most vibrant democracies. This complete political makeover discombobulated Beijing’s cross-strait calculus and pushed Washington to view Taipei in a far more favorable and sympathetic light.
Put simply, the “status quo” has been marginalized by the fact that Taiwan is a phenomenon that cries to be neutered from China’s perspective – “vibrant democracy” a female president, what next? – and increasingly calls for respect and defense from a US perspective.
Into this heady mix, throw Taiwan’s dominance in the semiconductor sector, who controls the Pacific and Taiwan’s crucial position in the first-island chain.
In short, Blinken’s remarks are probably best read as China is prioritizing unification with Taiwan as part of its “new era,” “great rejuvenation” project under Xi and everybody needs to be prepared for the worst – and sooner probably than later.
‘You’re under arrest: I’m a policeman from Fuzhou’
Uncredited photograph, reportedly of Fuzhou ‘police’ in Italian media.
Safeguard Defenders, a Spain-based NGO with a focus on how China runs things according to its own unique playbook, is providing information on how China has essentially gone about quietly setting up police stations in cities all over the world.
They’re called “overseas service stations,” and provide “administrative services, such as the renewal of Chinese driver's licenses,” according to the report.
But basically they were established to control “transnational crime, especially telecommunications fraud, which has already seen the arrest of a large number of Chinese nationals living abroad,” Newsweek reports.
Between April 2021 and July 2022, Chinese authorities arrested 230,000 suspects this way, the majority from Southeast Asia, the NGO said.
The truth is, we probably don’t know at this point how many “overseas service stations” are operating abroad and where, but Safeguard Defenders provisionally puts the number at more than 50.
Just for example, Italian news outlet Il Foglio has an English-language report on overseas service stations, first focusing on their presence in Rome and then:
Liu Rongyan, Director of the Police and Overseas Chinese affairs office of the Fuzhou Public Security Bureau Office, announced in late January the opening of 30 similar stations in 25 cities in 21 different countries. From Barcelona to Budapest, from Dublin to Buenos Aires, the "Overseas 110" operation is heralded by statements that emphasize its administrative utility, but the authority behind it is not connected to the usual activities of the Chinese consulate or embassy, instead the offices are directly connected to the Fuzhou security forces.
China denies the existence of policing abroad, according to Bloomberg via Yahoo, and indeed as they come into the spotlight in Western media some do appear to be shutting down, or moving premises.
“One of the aims of these campaigns, obviously, as it is to crack down on dissent, is to silence people,” said Laura Harth of Safeguard Defenders, PBS reports. “So people are afraid. People that are being targeted, that have family members back in China, are afraid to speak out.”
Newsweek quotes the Safeguard Defenders’ report (PDF) “110 Overseas. Chinese Transnational Policing Gone Wild” as:
Abandoning any pretext of due process or the consideration of suspects' innocence until proven guilty, targeting suspects' children and relatives in China as 'guilty by association' or 'collateral damage,' and using threats and intimidation to target suspects abroad, is now itself becoming an endemic problem.
The problem with Germany
Ideally, the European Union – particularly given the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia – would be shoulder to shoulder on not selling out to hostile dictatorships, but it’s proving difficult to rally team spirit.
Germany’s cabinet, for example, has allowed China’s Cosco to buy a stake in a terminal in Hamburg, the country’s largest port, “in a decision pushed through by Chancellor Olaf Scholz,” reports Reuters.
OK, there’s been opposition to the move within Germany:
The painful experience of being too dependent on Russian gas has changed many politicians' attitude towards strategic foreign investment. The foreign ministry was so upset over the approval that it drew up a note on the cabinet meeting documenting its rejection, Reuters was told by two government sources.
The investment ‘disproportionately expands China's strategic influence on German and European transport infrastructure as well as Germany's dependence on China,’ the document, seen by Reuters, says. It points to ‘considerable risks that arise when elements of the European transport infrastructure are influenced and controlled by China – while China itself does not allow Germany to participate in Chinese ports.'
Meanwhile, Financial Times reports that German small- and medium-sized enterprises are seeing rapidly declining exports to China, ending what one analyst described as the “golden age of the German economic model,” seen during the later stages of Angela Merkel’s 16-year reign as chancellor.
Competition — fair and otherwise — remains a problem. ‘Our members know that every technology they bring into China, in a relatively short time, will be part of the Chinese market, said Ulrich Ackermann, head of foreign trade at VDMA. ‘We say, be aware you can be kicked out in a short time.’
Chancellor Scholz is scheduled to visit China next month with a delegation of business leaders and to come up with a broad position on China trade by early next year. There will be pressure on him not to fold from within Germany and from EU “partners” such as France, which want to take a more combative role against China.
Covid outbreaks continue
Covid’s back in the news, with scattered lockdowns from Wuhan and Zhengzhou to Lhasa, reports Reuters.
As always, little is known about what is really happening outside Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, but we have to assume that analysis such as the following is based on something.
As of Oct. 24, 28 cities were implementing varying degrees of lockdown measures, with around 207.7 million people affected in regions responsible for around 25.6 trillion yuan ($3.55 trillion) of China's gross domestic product, according to Nomura.
Reports of protests against lockdowns in Lhasa, Tibet, appear to be mostly by Han Chinese immigrants, but again Tibet is a black box in terms of news.
The Greater Sinosphere
Patriotic poetry only, please
When no prize was awarded in the poetry section of the 16th Biennial Chinese Literature Awards, the Secretary for Culture, Kevin Yeung, said that it was possible that the three works under consideration didn't comply with the law, reports RTHK.
Yeung said that as the organiser, the department had to ensure that its events and anything it promotes are legal, reach certain academic levels and match the moral standards of society.
China reportedly detained hundreds of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in a “Strike Hard” campaign leading up the party congress, according to RTHK.
In early October, authorities implemented a travel ban in Xinjiang to prevent residents from leaving the region unless absolutely necessary. The ban came on the heels of strict residential lockdowns from August to September that prevented Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities from leaving their homes. Some reportedly died of malnourishment or untreated illnesses.
The great seer on Taiwan
Thomas Friedman deep in thought. Photo: Charles Haynes; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0.
If you’re Thomas Friedman you can make the daily news in Taiwan simply by pre-recording a video for a business forum in Taipei with some platitudes about how not to get invaded.
But what exactly did he have to say?
Well, the three-times Pulitzer Prizer winner said “Taiwan should make itself ‘indispensable’ for the global economy and refrain from provoking China.”
Yes, he’s heard about the “chips” because he did actually mention them later in his talk.
He also said, “If I were president for a day of Taiwan, I would be focusing on building and reinforcing my strengths.”
We all know that’s complete nonsense. He’d spend the day writing a New York Times column about what it said about Taiwan’s “vibrant democracy” that even he – a three-times Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times columnist – could be president for day on the gutsy little self-ruled island.
In a more profound moment, Friedman warned the Taipei business forum – referring to China as a “bear” and not a “dragon” in a bold departure from metaphorical norms – not to be “looking to poke the bear … because you never know when the bear is just going to swipe you with its paw.”
China swipes former Taiwan embassy, Taiwan lets it ride
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday (Thursday) that it would not pursue legal action against Nicaragua over giving Taiwan’s former embassy building to China, reports Focus Taiwan.
It would appear that MOFA came to the conclusion it would be a costly waste of time …
Jason Lien (Lián Jiànchén, 連建辰), head of MOFA's legal department, said the decision was made after consulting with related government branches and international legal experts on the feasibility of a potential legal action.
‘Considering the cost-effectiveness of a potential suit and the related risks, we decided to put the plan on hold for the time being,’ he said.
The Liberty Times (Chinese language) reports that Miaoli County investigators are seriously looking into the antics of former KMT candidate Dong Zhongli, who ChinaDiction has already reported on in “Murderer, adulterer and 'hoodlum' leads local election.”
But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about making up with Miaoli and revealing to readers its softer side, its bucolic beauty and care for nature.
There’s consolation to all things in the thought that a county in Taiwan cares enough about the future of the spiny Taiwan niviventer that it’s prepared to help the species safely cross roads.
Yes, it’s Taiwan’s dastardly ingenious secret program to bring China to its knees by taking out Shaolin Temple with an array of tricks that astounds.
Obviously, it dates back to times when the loss of Shaolin would basically have been the end of any attempted Chinese invasion, but it can now be safely tagged with other “shelved strategies.”
This week in history
China and the US make up with a summit
Not exactly the summit in question – another Jiang-Clinton get-together in 1999, but the two major players. Photo: David Scull; Public domain.
On October 26, 1997 – a long time ago on Wednesday this week – the US-China summit got underway in an attempt to maneuver around the awkwardness surrounding the Tiananmen massacre and resume business as usual.
The New York Times ruminated on the occasion that Bill Clinton’s meeting with Jiang Zemin was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s attempts to improve relations with the Soviet Union.
The Times wrote:
This week's visit of President Jiang Zemin has shown the difficulty of trying to construct a stable relationship with China.
Presciently, the commentary continued that, even though Clinton had been accused of being too accommodating to China on human rights issues in the past, he showed “plenty of spine,” emphasizing the two countries could not develop a normal relationship until China modifies its repressive policies.
Beijing has given little ground on this issue, and Mr. Jiang's stony defense yesterday of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre suggests that no greater tolerance for political reform will come of his visit.
Looking back on that 25 years on, good call by the Times, as much as most of us usually find their smug lecturing detestable.
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