Tag Archives: China

China Confirms Dictatorship

They move from pretend non-dictatorship to unabashed totalism.

China has approved the removal of term limits for its leader, in a move that effectively allows Xi Jinping to remain as president for life.

The constitutional changes were passed by China’s annual sitting of the National People’s Congress on Sunday.

The vote was widely regarded as a rubber-stamping exercise. Two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes.

Xi’s Ongoing Purge

“Anti-corruption”… uh huh.

Since becoming China’s leader in 2012, Xi Jinping has overseen a vast and ruthless anti-corruption drive in which more than a million officials have been disciplined.

A BBC study has found that more than 170 ministers and deputy minister-level officials have been sacked and many jailed under Mr Xi, accused of charges such as corruption, misconduct and violation of party discipline.

It has been described by some as a massive internal purge of opponents, on a scale not seen since the days of Mao Zedong, in whose Cultural Revolution many top officials were purged.


Based on official data, a staggering 1.34 million officials at high and low levels – the so-called “tigers and flies” – have been brought down by corruption and disciplinary charges during President Xi’s first five years in office.

No walk of life has been spared – those felled range from village chiefs and factory managers to government ministers and generals.

The so-called “great purge” goes right to the very top of government – the biggest scalp so far was once the third most senior leader in China, Zhou Yongkang. He had been in charge of the vast internal security apparatus until he retired.

Sun Zhengcai, who was sacked as Chongqing party secretary, was only the fourth sitting politburo member ever to be expelled from the Communist Party. Promoted before Xi Jinping took office, Mr Sun, 54, was the politburo’s youngest member and had been tipped for the very top.

Marathon Speeches

Those silly Communists and their loooooong speeches.

Some call Xi Jinping a Chinese Putin. Others a 21st-century Mao.

On Wednesday morning he was China’s Hugo Chávez, testing his comrades’ eyelids – and their bladders – with a three-and-a-half hour, 65-page sermon in which he outlined his brave new vision for the Communist party, and the world.

“The Chinese dream is a dream about history, the present and the future,” Xi declared towards the end of his unexpectedly long-winded address to the opening of China’s 19th party congress. By the conclusion of this eastern answer to Aló Presidente! more than a few of Xi’s audience appeared to have entered a dreamlike state.

Communist Party Determines Future of China

Yes, China is still a totalitarian regime where one party controls the lives of over a billion people. What will the next 5 years hold?

China’s biggest political event, the Communist Party congress, has begun in Beijing under tight security.

Party leader and Chinese president Xi Jinping is addressing more than 2,000 delegates in the capital.

The closed-door summit, which takes place once every five years, determines who rules China and the country’s direction for the next term.

Mr Xi, who became the leader in 2012, has been consolidating power and is expected to remain as party chief.

China Flexes Muscles

While China has liberalized economically in the past few decades, we can’t forget that it is a totalitarian communist state that is built on repression.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told his troops ‘a strong army is needed now more than ever’ during a huge military parade

XI, wearing military clothing, warned the ‘world isn’t safe at this moment’ as he watched the display at Zhurihe Training Base in China’s remote Inner Mongolia region.

Among the terrifying weapons on display was China‘s Chengdu J-20 stealth jet fighter as well as its new DF-31AG intercontinental ballistic missile. The rocket is mounted on an all-terrain vehicle to make it harder to track.

The event, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army, was at Asia’s largest military training centre which features life-size mock-up targets, including Taiwan’s presidential palace.

It came as a number of the world’s superpowers flexed their muscles in massive parades to showcase their military strength.

Trump Indulges in Waffles

Actually, “waffle” isn’t the right word… these are complete flip flops.

US President Donald Trump has said Nato is “no longer obsolete”, reversing a stance that had alarmed allies.

Hosting Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House, Mr Trump said the threat of terrorism had underlined the alliance’s importance.

He called on Nato to do more to help Iraqi and Afghan “partners”.

Mr Trump has repeatedly questioned Nato’s purpose, while complaining that the US pays an unfair share of membership.

The Nato U-turn wasn’t Mr Trump’s only change of heart on Wednesday.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said he would not label China a currency manipulator, despite having repeatedly pledged to do so on his first day in office.

He was right the first time on both counts. China is a currency manipulator. And NATO is obsolete in its current form. It was designed to counter a single threat that no longer exists.

70% of Millennials in China Own a Home

Interesting cultural differences.

While young people around the world are struggling to get on the property ladder, an HSBC study found that 70% of Chinese millennials have achieved the milestone.

A sizeable 91% also plan to buy a house in the next five years, according to the survey.

The mortgage lender spoke to around 9,000 people based in nine countries.

While China came out top of the pack, Mexico was next with 46% of millennials owning property, followed by France with 41%.

China Maintains Spending on Military

This is a handy reminder that China has been rapidly expanding its military for decades – and will continue to do so irrespective of what the United States does.

China says it will increase military spending by about 7% this year, just days after Donald Trump outlined a boost to the US defence budget.

The scheduled announcement was made ahead of the annual National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing.

China has been modernising its armed forces recently as its economy expands.

China’s announced defence budget remains smaller than that of the US. But many China observers argue the real figure could be much higher.

The announcement marks the second consecutive year that the increase in China’s defence spending has been below 10% following nearly two decades at or above that figure.

It means that total spending will account for about 1.3% of the country’s projected GDP in 2017, the same level as in recent years, said government spokeswoman Fu Ying.

China Strengthens Alliances in SE Asia

As America has intentionally stepped back from exerting her influence in the past several years, other large powers have filled the void.

But there are also two strategic benefits. First, Cambodia uses China as a counterweight to Vietnam. Among ordinary Cambodians, anti-Vietnamese sentiment runs deep. Many bitterly recall the Vietnamese occupation and some demand the return of “Kampuchea Krom”—the delta of the Mekong river, which today is part of Vietnam, but is home to many ethnic Cambodians and was for centuries part of the Khmer Empire. Since Vietnam harboured Mr Hun Sen, the opposition depicts him as a Vietnamese puppet. Closeness to China helps to defuse such claims.

Cambodia also uses China as a hedge against the West. Chinese money comes with no strings attached, unlike most Western donations, which are often linked to the government’s conduct. When Mr Hun Sen mounted a putsch against his coalition partners in the 1990s, Western donors suspended aid. China boosted it. Westerners may threaten to cut funding again if, as is likely, the government rigs elections next year (this week Mr Hun Sen again sued Sam Rainsy, the exiled leader of the main opposition party, for defamation, one of many steps seemingly intended to neuter his opponents). Chinese money will make it much easier for Mr Hun Sen to shrug off Western protests.

As for China, it gets a proxy within the ten-country Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Cambodia has repeatedly blocked ASEAN from making statements that criticise China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea, even though they conflict with those of several other ASEAN members. Last year, less than a week after Cambodia endorsed China’s stance that competing maritime claims should be solved bilaterally, China gave Cambodia an aid package worth around $600m. (Mr Hun Sen insists the two were not related.)

It will be interesting to see if Trump’s new foreign policy is more like China’s than not.

China Takes U.S. Drone

Some might call that a “provocation.”

(CNN)The Pentagon is demanding that China return an “unlawfully seized” underwater drone after a Chinese warship took the device from waters near a US oceanographic vessel.

“We call upon China to return our UUV immediately, and to comply with all of its obligations under international law,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement, using the abbreviation for “unmanned underwater vehicle.”
In the latest encounter in international waters in the South China Sea region, the USNS Bowditch was sailing about 100 miles off the port at Subic Bay when the incident occurred, according to the official.

Trump Questions One China Policy


President-elect Donald Trump has questioned whether the US should continue its “One China” policy.

US policy since 1979 has respected China’s stance on Taiwan, which it sees as a breakaway province.

But Mr Trump said that without concessions from Beijing on trade and other issues, he did not see why that should continue.

Relations with China became strained when Mr Trump took a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Mr Trump went on to post a series of tweets criticising China for its exchange rate policy and its operations in the South China Sea.

Speaking in an interview with Fox News broadcast on Sunday, Mr Trump said: “I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”

What’s interesting is that Trump was making these remarks a few days after meeting with former SOS Henry Kissinger. Kissinger was key to opening up China in the 70’s and has been a staple in advising incoming presidents since the 80s. He is also a proponent of the One China policy under the belief that the more the Western world can integrate China into international norms, the more it will dilute its communism. History would suggest that the One China policy has been largely successful – even if it came at the expense of Taiwan. (BTW, I highly recommend reading Kissinger’s “On China.” It’s a good read.)

But Trump’s statement suggest that he believes that the Once China policy has run its course and that China’s increasing economic and military belligerence over the past few years invites a more adversarial relationship. He might be right. China’s interests in the West, like owning American debt, property, trading interests, etc., make a firmer stance more effective. After all, in 1979, China was almost completely isolated and could flip off the West with few internal consequences. Now, there are powerful people in China who would lose billions should their government sever relationships with the West.

Of course, that assumes that Trump has thought this through at all.

China’s Tarmac Diplomacy

Did you know that our government had such a thing as a “Twitter operative?”

However, a Twitter operative of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) – a secretive spy unit within the defence department that advises on intentions and capabilities of foreign nations and entities – appears to have made things worse, the Wall St Journal reported.

The “Classy as always China” tweet linked through to a New York Times article on the protocol incident, it said.

The DIA felt compelled to issue a speedy apology, saying the posting did “not represent the views of the DIA. We apologize.”

Here’s what it was about:

When President Barack Obama arrived in Hangzhou there was no red carpet and he had to leave by a different plane exit.

There was also a row on the tarmac when a Chinese official shouted “This is our country!” as reporters and US officials tried to bypass a cordon.


More tensions between the two sides broke out at the West Lake State House, where Mr Obama met President Xi Jinping.

White House aides, protocol officers and Secret Service agents became embroiled in a row with Chinese officials as to how many Americans should be allowed into the building before Mr Obama’s arrival. At one point there were fears the confrontation could become physical, the New York Times reported.

The Chinese have done stuff like this since the emperors elaborately staged diplomatic visits right on to Mao’s legendary use of time and space to manipulate visits from foreign dignitaries. They do it to influence and control the visits themselves as well as for use in internal propaganda. And here they have done it again at the expense of our President. Don’t think for a minute that this wasn’t an intentional slight on the part of the Chinese government.

Unfortunately, Obama has brought this upon himself. His willingness to endure any slight from a foreign government – particularly one hostile to America –  in the name of “diplomacy” invites such treatment. But that doesn’t make it any less infuriating. As an American, it angers me to see my president treated this way. I wish he had just sat in his office on Air Force One until the Chinese treated him as a President of the United States should be treated.

China Launching 2nd Strike Force

These are the same Cold War calculations that the U.S. and Soviet Union were making in the 1950’s and 60’s, but they are just as relevant today.

Mounting concern within the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) over the vulnerability of its land-based nuclear deterrent and the ability to deliver a retaliatory second strike has prompted China to place some of its nuclear warheads on board submarines.

Two years ago, China deployed the Jin-class ballistic missile submarine for the first time, each armed with 12 JL-2 nuclear missiles.

Operating from a state-of-the-art base near Sanya, on Hainan island’s southernmost tip, Jin class submarines are now patrolling the depths of the South China Sea. But in order to be within range of the US, they must be able to break out into the Pacific Ocean.

Before the submarines achieve this, they must leave their base in Hainan and cross the South China Sea to reach the Pacific Ocean undetected. The Pentagon believes that the first such Pacific patrol will occur this year.

Chinese Continue to Provocate

And we make excuses for them.

A U.S. spy plane conducting a routine patrol over international waters in the East China Sea on Tuesday was intercepted by two Chinese fighter jets.

U.S. military officials in the Pacific told Reuters that one of the Chinese planes came within “an unsafe excessive rate of closure” to the U.S. aircraft, but blamed the incident on “improper airmanship, as no other provocative or unsafe maneuvers occurred.”

The altercation underscores the geopolitical power struggle in maritime Asia between the U.S. and China. Beijing has claimed most of the contested reefs, rocks and islets of the South China Sea as its own territory. But Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have competing claims to various parts of the region.

Beijing responded to the incident by accusing Washington of “deliberately hyping up the issue of the close surveillance of China by U.S. military aircraft,” according to a statement quoted by Reuters.

Official China Ignores 50th Anniversary of Cultural Revolution

Let’s just hope that they don’t forget it, lest they repeat it.

The 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution, which plunged China into a decade of chaos, has been met with silence in state media.

On 16 May 1966 Communist leader Mao Zedong began a campaign to eliminate his rivals. At the same time he called on Chinese youth to “purge” society.

Years of bloodshed and turmoil ensued, ending with Mao’s death in 1976.

How to handle the era’s contentious legacy has remained a challenge to China’s Communist rulers to this day.

On Monday, the main state media outlets made virtually no mention of the anniversary, focusing on coverage of the South China Sea and other domestic issues. No official events were planned by the authorities to mark the 50-year milestone.

China’s Baby Cops Get New Job

Ahhh… totalitarianism is grand.

The man she calls Uncle Li belongs to China’s army of family planning officers. Stationed in every city, town and village in China, for the past 35 years their job has been to hunt down families suspected of violating the country’s draconian rules on how many children couples can have.

But with the end of the one-child policy at the beginning of this year, some, like Li Bo, are being retrained for a different role. Now he could even be mistaken for a Chinese Father Christmas visiting remote villages in the mountains of Shaanxi province with a bag full of toys and picture books.

Along with 68 of his colleagues, Li is part of a pilot programme involving academics from Shaanxi Normal University and Stanford University’s Rural Education Action Programme. His new job is to teach parents and grandparents how to develop toddlers’ minds by talking, singing and reading to them.

China Denies Port Access to U.S. Carrier


(CNN)China has denied a U.S. aircraft carrier entry into a Hong Kong port, according to Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban.

“We were recently informed that a request for a port visit by a U.S. carrier strike group, including the USS John C. Stennis and accompanying vessels, to Hong Kong was denied,” he said. “We have a long track record of successful port visits to Hong Kong, including with the current visit of the (command ship) USS Blue Ridge, and we expect that will continue.”

It was not immediately clear why the Stennis was denied port access.

A spokesman for the Hong Kong Security Bureau declined to comment on the decision, saying the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government wouldn’t comment on the individual visit application of foreign warships.

The port access denial comes just two weeks after Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited the Stennis while the carrier was operating in the South China Sea. The area is at the center of heightened tensions between the United States and China, with Beijing building and militarizing man-made islands in the contested waters.

China Securing Control of South China Sea

At this point, it seems to be a fait accompli.

By building air bases and hardened bunkers on tiny islands, some of which are reclaimed from the sea, and by installing sophisticated radar and missile defense systems, China has shown it is determined to achieve military primacy in the region, Admiral Harry Harris said.

Beijing’s claims to almost all of the South China Sea are widely disputed and the body of water has long been viewed as a potential flashpoint.

“If China continues to arm all of the bases they have reclaimed in the South China Sea, they will change the operational landscape in the region,” Harris told Pentagon reporters.

“Short of war with the United States, China will exercise de facto control of the South China Sea.”

“Very Serious Conversation”

I’m sure that China is worried about a finger-waving harangue from John Kerry.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the missile batteries had been set up on Woody Island in the Paracels chain, which has been under Chinese control for decades but also is claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

A U.S. defense official also confirmed the “apparent deployment” of the missiles, first reported by Fox News.

“There is every evidence, every day that there has been an increase of militarization of one kind or another,” Kerry told reporters when asked about the reported deployment. “It’s of serious concern.

“We have had these conversations with the Chinese and I am confident that over the next days we will have further very serious conversation on this.”

Kerry Fails to Get ASEAN Support in Dispute with China

Speaking of China, the U.S. has lost much of its influence in Asia.

Kerry was in Cambodia after a visit to neighboring Laos as part of an effort to urge unity among leaders of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations before a summit with President Barack Obama in Sunnylands, California, next month.

In Phnom Penh, Kerry met Hun Sen, Asia’s longest serving prime minister, and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong for what Kerry described as “candid and constructive” meetings.

Hor Namhong said Cambodia’s position on the South China Sea was unchanged. It believed individual countries should settle disputes among themselves without the involvement of ASEAN, he said.