Xi Leadership and Third Plenum Communiqué

Third Plenum of the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, which was held from 9 to 12 November, has come up with a communiqué which gives a sense about what issues are currently on the agenda of China’s top decision-makers. China Digital Times published a very useful collection of commentaries on Third Plenum Communique by reviewing international and Chinese newspapers. It can be reached here.

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Comparing Chinese and Russian Political Regimes

Ivan Krastev, in his well-informed Eurozine article, argues that we should go beyond the formal institutional design of political regimes when discussing to what extent they are democratic. And, comparing China’s and Russia’s political systems he states that “Power rotation, listening to the people, tolerance of dissent, recruitment of elites and experimentation: the truth is that, in all of these respects, China is more democratic than Russia. And China’s decision making is undoubtedly superior too.” This article important to me in that against a commonplace and misleading image of the Chinese political system, in the eyes of many Western observers, as a static one-party system and one that is rested on just coercion, it underscores the importance given by Chinese decision-makers to accommodating people’s demand and to good governance, along with repression and coercion, so as to contest the legitimacy of the Communist Party of China.

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Netizens are challenging Xi Jinping’s Chinese dream

As known, Xi Jinping has adopted the Chinese dream- i.e. the “realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”- as his one of the key political slogans since his take over of the general secretary of the CPC in November 2012. He defines the Chinese dream as such: “attaining the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is to achieve national prosperity, revitalize the nation, and [bring about] the happiness of the people”. I think it is safe to say that this can be seen as just another ideological move for maintaining the legitimacy of CPC in the eyes of different parts of the Chinese society. To this end, in his term, Hu Jintao chose the “harmonious society” as a key slogan in his effort to be seen as a responsible leader of the nation. However, it seems that Xi’s this nationalistic and collectivistic idea of the Chinese dream is being challenged by the alternative perspectives of Chinese netizens.Netizens have different dreams than that of Xi such as constitutional government, free elections and the like. Some netizen opinions can be found here and here  This challenge of netizens became more clear with overwhelmingly negative opinions of voters about the CPC and the Chinese dream in a People’s Daily survey, the mouthpiece of the party. China Digital Times’ report on this matter and the screenshots of the now-deleted survey can be found here.

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A response from China to China-bashing

Today the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the CCP, published an article criticizing China-bashing that has become popular in US politics during the election campaign. Everybody knows such tough discourses on China is specific to the election campaigns, and withdraw with the end of campaigns, i.e. after elections a more reasonable and cooperative discourse on China replaces the China-bashing. A CNN article cynically points to this: Elections bring China-bashing season. Chinese as well are aware of what the China-bashing means. People Daily’s article criticizes this as a dishonest attempt to create an imaginary enemy in order to disguise the real domestic sources of its economic problems.

Indeed anti-China discourse is an important card to play for candidates as China is seen as a threat, especially as an economic threat, by a remarkable portion of the US public. Rew’s survey is very useful to have an idea about how Americans see China. Its importance also results from that it reveals opinion differences between experts and the US public on China.The full text of survey is can be found here.

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Social protest and the CCP’s legitimacy

I came across Martin Whyte’s book today, “Myth of Social Volcano:Perceptions of Inequality and Distributive Injustice in Contemporary China”. The book challenges a commonplace argument that social protests against the rising inequality that have reached huge numbers in recent years  challenge the CCP’s rule. For Whyte this is just a myth as his nationwide survey on perceptions of inequality reveals that most Chinese think that income distribution in Chinese society is not so unfair and they feel optimistic about the future of Chinese economy. Even if Chinese public has some complaints about the socio-economic development in the country, the overall assessment on the orientation of Chinese economy is positive. According to a review of the book, the survey results suggest that they complained about  the party cadres’ privileges in economic life and the discrimination against migrants workers. They also see government intervention as necessary to reduce inequality .

Actually, a CASS publication dated 2007 ( the so-called “Blue Book” on the state of Chinese society) suggests that trust in central government is very high and a large portion of Chinese people is optimistic about future, and more crucially above 60 percent of Chinese society feel that their standards of living increased compared with five years ago. Joseph Fewsmith’s analysis on the survey can be found here.

On the one hand huge numbers of protests against injustices,  and a positive public mood on China’s socio-economic development on the other… It seems we need further studies and more detailed analyses on the Chinese public’s perception about fairness or otherwise of the China’s current socio-economic order.

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Yuezhi Zhao on China’s neoliberal transformation

The embedded above is an excellent presentation of Yuezhi Zhao, professor of communication at Simon Fraser University, on the transformation of China in the age of neoliberal globalization with a focus on communication issue. She begins with the political economy of China’s rise, and  stresses the human cost of the China’s rise in international politics.She points to the neoliberal nature of China’s transformation through figures about inequality within Chinese society,and also through the stories of who suffer from the social results of the transformation. Then she forcefully ask : Which China are you talking about?. I think this question is quite meaningful for the students of International Relations since it remembers us the domestic problems and weaknesses of China that is often depicted as a superpower challenging the US by Western observers from both media and academia. Actually, an analysis that pay more attention to crucial domestic problems of China such as rising social inequalities and social unrest, ethnic minorities, corruption, environmental degradation and the like would suggest another China which is far from being a superpower. Crucial in this respect, an overwhelming majority of Chinese public already does not see China as a global power. On the other hand, China’s image abroad is quite different: a 21-nation poll found that 41 percent of people said China was the world’s leading economic power. It seems that this remarkable difference on the China’s power among Chinese people and foreigners can largely be explained with the biased coverage of China in the Western media (or Western-based but global media) .

Then she moves into the media and censorship matter. What is interesting in her comments here is that the Western media has ignored the censorship on popular voices against neoliberalism on the Internet while overstressing the censorship on liberal human rights discourse in the media- even though she does not reject that China has real problems in terms of realizing liberal rights.

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A Chinese Perspective on China’s Place in International Order

An article on China’s evolving place in the international order by a party-affiliated magazine, China Newsweek. It is important in that it reflects a Chinese perspective to the matter in hand. We owe the translation of this article, which was originally published in Chinese, to the Marco Polo Project.

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A pessimistic assesment on China’s current economic slowdown

According to Minxin Pei, the problem is not simply about China’s export dependence and low domestic consumption; China has to deal with deep institutional problems for a healthier economy. For detailed information and quantitative data on China’s economic slowdown you may look at Tom Orlik’s piece.

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A piece on Chinese Intellectuals’ view on the West, by Mukul Devichand

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18741088

How do Chinese intellectuals see the West? Do they think that Western model of economy and governance is suitable for China? Actually, they differ in the answers they give to these questions. Some think that China should transform itself toward Western-like liberal democracy which is based on multiparty system and market economy. That is the solution for the intellectuals whose intellectual background rely on Western tradition of liberal thinkers and neoliberal economics. But some, much of whom are so-called New Leftist, argue for an economic and political model peculiar to the Chinese context. They draw insight from variety of critical thinkers, from Edward Said on Orientalism to  Neo-Marxists on the uneven nature of globalization. Mukul Devichand’s piece on the matter offers vivid examples about how Chinese intellectuals see the West.  Also a subtle commentary on the Chinese Liberalism and the Chinese New Left (and a fledgling Third Way)  can be found in Gloria Davies’ article.

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A documentary on Bo Xilai

a documentary by WSJ that summarizes well the Bo Xilai case, from the emergence of the Chongqing model to his purge from the CCP  http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2012/06/29/bo-xilai-a-wsj-documentary/?mod=WSJBlog

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