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China Today Updates

May 2024 Updates

10 Updates -Please click the blue address link.


1. Xi to pay state visits to France, Serbia, Hungary from May 5 to 10       

30th April 2024


2. Driving the dragon: China’s adaptive policymaking.       

30th April 2024


3. Chinese man, 86, marries first love in touching, lively ceremony decades after they dated at Peking University.       

29th April 2024


4. Countdown starts for China’s Chang’e 6 sample mission to the far side of the moon.       

28th April 2024


5. Panda Parley Highlights China’s Unique Bond with Others   

23rd April 2024


6. China hit by 'once a century' fear of flooding.       

21st April 2024


7. Knowledge and understanding deficit: The dire state of China Studies

18th April 2024


8. Western misinformation and the so-called Xinjiang genocide

15th April 2024


9. The untold human stories of China’s economic boom.

13th April 2024

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10. The Boao Forum Accentuates China’s Appeal     

1st April 2024






April 2024 Updates

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1. Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke with U.S. President Joe Biden on the phone Tuesday at the request of the latter.   

3rd April 2024


2. Xi plants trees in Beijing, urging nationwide afforestation efforts for beautiful China     

3rd April 2024


3. China to take firm countermeasures if the U.S. imposes visa restrictions on Hong Kong officials: spokesperson   

2nd April 2024


4. Investing in the Future   

1st April 2024


5. European companies: unpredictable and harder to do business in China       

22nd March 2024


6. China forbids US economist from speaking about HK   

8th March 2024


7. China vows to 'safeguard' national security   

8th March 2024



February 2024 Updates

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1. Xi's thought on ecological civilization guides Xiamen's green shift.

22nd February 2024


2. Chinese firm hacked foreign govts, activists: analysts.

22nd February 2024


3. Spring Festival Boom Propels Concerted Consumption

21st February 2024


4. Embracing a Vibrant Year of the Dragon

18th February 2024


5.  Pursuing Common Good for All under Heaven

5th February 2024



6. Spring Festival Celebrations Build a Global Cultural Community

5th February 2024



7. A Chinese Century

29th January 2024



8. Zeroing in on Zero 

29th January 2024



9. Small City, Hi-Tech Growth

29th January 2024






January 2024 Updates

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1. Red Sea attacks, Horn of Africa issues and war in Gaza set to dominate discussions during Wang Yi’s African trip

13th January 2024


2. China nurtures indigenous seed industry to reduce import reliance, secure food supply

13th January 2024


3. 41,000 scam suspects in Myanmar handed over to China

5th January 2024


4. China bars citizens from viewing film on Wuhan lockdown

4th January 2024​


5. Living a Happy Life, Enjoying the Primary Human Right

2nd January 20224


6. With Confidence and Strength, China Seeks to Make the World a Better Place for All

2nd January 2024


7. China blasted for rights activist’s trial

19th December 2023


8. China education: parents decry 50-50 shot at academic degree, and they’re rolling the dice on a costly plan B overseas for the kids

7th December 2023






November 2023 Updates

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1. Promotional event of 4th volume of "Xi Jinping: The Governance of China" held in Nepal.

24th November 2023


2. Chinese citizens decry ‘mass policing’ plan.

16th November 2023






October 2023 Updates

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1. Satirical song on youth unemployment, poverty goes viral in China

6th October 2023


2. Jimmy Lai marks a thousand days in prison for calling for democracy in Hong Kong

26th September 2023





September 2023 Updates

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1. Hong Kong students to go on more 'red' study trips to mainland China.

4 September 2023


2. China bans book about the early history of the Mongolian people.

3 September 2023


3. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi warns Southeast Asian countries ‘external forces’ are trying to ‘sow discord’ in region.

3 September 2023


4. Typhoon Saola slams southern China, batters HK.

2 September 2023


5. China’s Disinformation Fuels Anger Over Fukushima Water Release

31 August 2023


6. Meta removes China’s ‘online troll armies’

31 August 2023


7. The Guardian view on the UK and China: Britain is muddling along in dealing with Beijing.

30 August 2023


8. China continues coal spree despite climate goals.

29 August 2023


9. Why China's economy won't be fixed The Economist.

24 August 2023

10. Chinese economic slowdown is a result of debt supercycle

21 August 2023


11. China is too big for a Soviet Union-style collapse, but it’s on shaky ground

20 August 2023







June 2023 Updates 

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1. China aims to build quality, balanced basic public education by 2027

16th June 2023


2. Understanding inclusiveness of Chinese civilization

9th June 2023


3. China's green development philosophy is contributing to global sustainable growth

7th June 2023


4. Xi stresses building modern Chinese civilization

5th June 2023


5. Xi's commitment to empowering Chinese children

2nd June 2023


6. Launch of an "online" identity verification system for Muslim, Catholic and Protestant religious

23rd May 2023





May 2023 Update

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Hong Kong public libraries pull most books related to Tiananmen Square crackdown as 34th anniversary approaches

16th May 2023


March Updates 2023




2 Updates


1. The Sanhe Gods.

2. ’Sit, Eat, Wait for Death’: Life in the Shenzhen Sticks




The Sanhe Gods.




MIGRANT WORKERS seduced by the dazzling prosperity of the east coast of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have long travelled from poor villages and provincial townships to cities such as Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Beijing in the hope of crossing the threshold into urban life with all its riches. China’s Fourteenth Five-Year Plan, released in March 2021, reinforces this vision of imminent prosperity. Shenzhen’s own Five-Year Plan, promulgated in June 2021, promotes the southern city as a centre for technological development and urban renewal.

This story considers the impact of these plans on a group of migrant workers colloquially known as the ‘Sanhe Gods’ 三和大神. It situates the Sanhe Gods and their difficulties in the context of 2021 policies, which focus on prosperity but omit mention of those who will shoulder the burden of its achievement — those living at the very edges of urban life. The Sanhe Gods may no longer be the symbol of the marginalised in Shenzhen because the physical spaces they occupied have been erased, but they have adopted another identity, another story, as their everyday precarity persists. Or, as one online commentary put it: ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow, how many tomorrows will come?’1

Introducing the Sanhe Gods

Sanhe Gods is the name given to a group of mainly male migrant workers trapped by circumstance in the harsh precarity of China’s rapid economic growth. ‘Sanhe’ comes from the name of one of the two dominant labour recruitment agencies in the area that have sent millions of workers to a wide range of labour-intensive industries across the Pearl River Delta. The use of ‘god’ is affectionate and carries a sense of irony and self-ridicule. It suggests that through an existence detached from material pleasure, they have attained the desired state of enlightenment described in the Buddhist scriptures. However, the philosophy most associated with the Sanhe Gods is ‘Work one day and play for three’ 干一天, 玩三天. This creed rejects the control capital exerts over labour through long-term work contracts by its followers only accepting jobs that are completed and paid for in a day.

Since the 1990s, the labour markets in Shenzhen have attracted migrant workers from all parts of China. The ready supply of labour, and the favourable tax and regulatory environment for capital, set the stage for the city’s transformation into ‘the Silicon Valley of hardware’, where everything from iPhones and Sony PlayStation consoles to Amazon Kindle e-readers are manufactured.

In 2011, the municipal government declared the establishment of the Longhua New Area 龙华新区. The district of Longhua sits in the geographic centre of Shenzhen, where a ‘people’s commune’ existed less than forty years ago. More recently, it became one of the main production bases in Shenzhen, home to telecommunications equipment giant Huawei Technologies and Taiwan’s Foxconn. The area’s industries have helped power President Xi Jinping’ 习近平 Made in China 2025 strategy, announced in 2015, which aimed to turn the country into a technology superpower. Over time, Jingle Market 景乐市场, the area tucked between Longhua Sanlian Road and Donghuan First Road in Longhua, evolved into an ‘urban village’2 — a precarious ecosystem of day-labourers, recruitment agencies, cheap hostels, noodle stalls, and Internet cafés (serving the dual purposes of entertainment and ‘accommodation’ in the form of comfortable gaming chairs that can be accessed at any time of the day or night for the minimal cost of Internet usage fees).

Workers are sent to labour-intensive industries across the Pearl River Delta
Source: Sung Ming Whang, Flickr


For the Sanhe Gods, Longhua had become a ceaseless conveyor belt that looped back on itself; it sustained their life at the margins of existence but at the same time confined them there, not providing opportunities to move away or to change their precarious state. Gathered in Longhua, the Gods created their own community, with accepted cultural norms and a particular vocabulary. They took day jobs here and there, sometimes taking longer-term jobs at factories in neighbouring provinces when desperate enough. When the monotony of working on a production line at a ‘shady factory’ 黑厂 (one with poor working conditions, which does not pay the minimum wage, and/or makes unauthorised deductions for food and accommodation from wages) became unbearable, or they had accumulated enough savings, they would quit and return to life in Longhua. This act was known as ‘pick up your bucket and run’ 提桶跑路. The bucket is one of the few possessions of a God (and in fact, most migrant workers);3 it is typically red, symbolising that it carries good fortune. In Mandarin, the tense of the phrase ‘pick up your bucket and run’ is vague. It can refer to an act in the past or the future but can also imply a present continuous occurrence — a state of suspended animation running endlessly between jobs, bucket in hand. Thus, the phrase holds conflicting connotations, simultaneously connoting ‘challenge failed’ and ‘future opportunity’.

The existence of the day-labourers in Longhua has been romanticised as a lifestyle of ‘living in the moment’, but behind the romance is an undeniably grim socio-structural reality. Typical characteristics of the Sanhe Gods include being ‘left-behind children’ (children who remained in rural regions in the care of extended family while their parents migrated to work in urban areas)4 and having only a junior high school education. Many are in debt, have sold their ID numbers for fifty to 100 yuan on the black market to people wanting to register fraudulent companies, or have obtained online fraudulent loans5 and cannot afford the fare home. The Sanhe Gods refer to this state of extreme destitution as guabi 挂逼. The characters used here literally mean ‘hung and pressed’, but they stand in as homonyms for the slang ‘dead c**t’. The term does not have the equivalent harshness of the English and is more akin to calling someone ‘povo’. With a daily wage of 100 to 200 yuan, they can only afford plain ‘guabi noodles’ or a clear broth for four yuan or water for two yuan.6 It is hard to consider any tomorrow.

China’s Plan for Tomorrow

China’s Fourteenth Five-Year Plan for socioeconomic development officially aims at ‘improving the quality and effectiveness of development’, ‘maintaining a sustained and healthy economic growth’, and the ‘acceleration of the modernisation of the industrial system’. However, for the first time since the implementation of the First Five-Year Plan in 1953 — modelled after those of the Soviet Union — the plan does not include a specific growth target for gross domestic product (GDP). Instead, it specifies that GDP and other major economic indicators should be kept in a ‘reasonable range’ and an annual growth target will be set based on the specific conditions each year. This strategy aims to ensure that overall labour productivity grows faster than GDP, prices remain stable, and the urban unemployment rate is kept under 5.5 percent. To accelerate the development of a modern industrial system and develop the real economy, the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan also sets out a strategy for boosting manufacturing power, focusing on several core industries, including aviation and high-speed rail, high-end medical equipment, and robotics.7 There is no mention of the labourers who will sustain this development.

Shenzhen’s Five-Year Plan, which puts a local spin on the national goals, provides for the city investing more than 700 billion yuan in hi-tech research and development. The city will also upgrade 100 square kilometres of industrial parks and renovate another 100 square kilometres of ‘industrial land’. Low-value-added factories will be phased out and replaced with advanced, hi-tech plants. The value of the local economy is expected to reach four trillion yuan (AU$852 billion) by 2025 — up from 2.8 trillion yuan in 2020. Shenzhen’s per capita GDP is forecast to hit 215,000 yuan in 2025 (AU$45,795).8 The plan expresses concern for people’s livelihoods, with targets for disposable income, the supply of public housing, and a reduced unemployment rate. However, the blueprints gloss over the question of who will build Shenzhen’s tomorrow.

Official data show that rural to urban migration had already started to slow before the outbreak of COVID-19 and, in 2020, migration declined for the first time. Despite the pandemic being largely contained throughout 2021, and movement across the country permitted, millions of people did not return to urban areas for work. As of the end of March 2021, there were still 2.46 million fewer migrant workers in China’s major cities than the same period in 2019. Instead, the data show that migrant workers are staying closer to home — usually within the same province. In 2021, the floating population within provinces was 251 million — an increase of more than eleven million (or 85 percent) from 2010, whereas the interprovincial floating population only increased by about thirty-nine million (45 percent) during the same period.9 This trend is undoubtedly the result of several factors but, in Shenzhen at least, government policy, financial development, and industrial reforms are key among them.

Tomorrow Follows Yesterday and Today

As Shenzhen prospered in the early 2000s, housing prices and labour costs began to rise. Its labour-intensive manufacturing industry began to close. The profit margin of the manufacturing industry centred on the production of smartphones had also shrunk. From 2009 to 2016, many factories moved production lines to other cities with lower costs of living, including Yantai, Chongqing, and Zhengzhou.10 With the exodus of manufacturing, Longhua and its human resource agencies slowly became a ‘talent transfer centre’ for the factories of the Pearl River Delta; in other words, moving, and often selling, migrant labour to factories in other locations. In 2018, Shenzhen launched its ambitious ‘Urban Village Comprehensive Management Action Plan 2018–2020’ 深圳市人民 政府办公厅关于印发深圳市‘城中村’综合治理行动计划 (2018–2020 年)的通知,11 which aimed to ‘eliminate various safety hazards’ within more than 1,600 urban villages across the city by the end of July 2020. Longhua district and the urban village around the Jingle labour market were target areas for this gentrification policy. The cheap hostels were demolished in batches, city administrators began targeting unlicensed agents offering temporary employment, and regulations were introduced limiting Internet cafes to daytime operation only.

By the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit the area, Sanhe was well on the way to being ‘harmonised by the government’ 被政府和谐的 — a satirical phrase that references former president Hu Jintao’s 胡锦涛 Harmonious Society Policy and serves as a euphemism for censorship or the destruction of things deemed undesirable or threatening to the government.12 Factories, and the migrant workers who sustain them, had already been priced out of Shenzhen. The pandemic of 2020 simply expedited the gentrification process. To prevent the spread of the virus, Internet cafes were closed and the Sanhe Gods, along with the homeless, were moved off the streets into rescue stations operated by the Longhua District Government in two middle schools. These rescue stations provided free board and lodging and access to job opportunities organised by the neighbourhood office. During the peak of the pandemic, the two rescue stations accommodated thousands of people. In early 2021, recruitment agencies such as Sanhe and Huahui 华汇, which had played such an important role in the earlier development in Shenzhen, withdrew from the Jingle market.13

Jingle is working hard to frame its ‘struggle culture’ 奋斗文化14 (the English equivalent is ‘hustle culture’) in a positive light. Evidence of the exploitation and hardship left by the Sanhe Gods on the district’s façades has been either demolished or written over with phrases such as ‘Struggle in youth, a brilliant future to come’ 奋斗青春, 精彩未来 and ‘If you don’t work hard, no-one can give you the life you want’ 你不努力, 谁也给不了你想要的生活. In the southern area, ‘fight’ 拼 has become the theme, with ‘Fight unrestrainedly, chase dreams’ 放肆拼搏, 追逐梦想 and ‘How can you win without fighting hard’ 没有拼命哪能博得喝采 emblazoned across the walls in public spaces.15 On the walls outside rental houses are ‘Management Supervision Boards’ 网格管理监督牌 that display the photos, names, and mobile phone numbers of the relevant ‘Responsible Policemen’, ‘Responsible Building Managers’, and ‘Building Fire Safety Responsible Persons’. QR codes give potential renters access to the security rating of the rental apartments according to a traffic-light system. Many properties have installed video access controls and have been fully leased to a well-known real estate company, transformed into long-term rental apartments with monthly rents that can be more than thirty times the total monthly earnings of a Sanhe God.16

Tomorrow for the Sanhe Gods

For most of the Sanhe Gods, the erasure of Jingle does not spell the end of lives spent in suspended animation at the edge of subsistence. Many cannot return to their place of origin. The ‘left behind children’ have no close family to whom they can return; the children who left family behind to seek their fortune feel that admitting their failure would be too great a loss of face and so stay away. Yet, there is now no place for them in the gentrified Jingle and surrounding areas in Shenzhen. Kunshan China Garden 昆山中花园, Wuxi Chunchao Road 无锡春潮路, and other industrial zones have become the new hubs of desperate existence. Posts on Weibo call ‘brothers’ to these new urban villages, where there are still electronics factories with production lines that require large numbers of workers and offer the possibility of a tomorrow that resembles yesterday. Those who were once Gods in Sanhe have become ‘Red Bucket Roamers’, forced to pick up their buckets and go wherever they can continue eking out a precarious, ‘hanging’ existence.




‘Demystifying Shenzhen Sanhe Great God: Do day-end work, eat noodles, drink noodles, and play three days’, Min News, online at:


For more on Shenzhen’s urban villages, see: Pu Hao, Stan Geertman, Pieter Hooimeijer, and Richard Sliuzas, ‘Spatial Analyses of the Urban Village Development Process in Shenzhen, China’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol.36 (2013): 2177–2197.


Dingjing Ying, ‘Bucketing and running is not just the game of Sanhe Gods’ 挑战‘提桶跑路’, 不只是三和大神的游戏, Sohu, 20 March 2020, online at:


For more about left-behind children, see: Shaobing Su, Xiaoming Li, Danhua Lin, and Maoling Zhu, ‘Future Orientation, Social Support, and Psychological Adjustment among Left-Behind Children in Rural China: A Longitudinal Study’, Frontiers in Psychology, vol.8 (2017).


See Yeyuan Hu, ‘The Sanhe Gods wiped out by the epidemic: Internet cafes closed and nowhere to sell WeChat accounts for daily wages’, Tencent News, 6 July 2020, online at:




State Council, The Fourteenth Five-Year Plan for the National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China and the Outline of the Long-Term Goals for 2035 中华人民共和国国民经济和社会发展第十四个五年规划和2035年远景目标纲要, Beijing: State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 13 March 2021, online at:


The Fourteenth Five-Year Plan for the National Economic and Social Development of Shenzhen City and the Outline of the Long-Term Goals for 2035 深圳市国民经济和社会发展第十四个五年规划和二〇三五年远景目标纲要, Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government, 9 June 2021, online at:


National Bureau of Statistics, ‘Answering reporters’ questions at the press conference on the main data results of the seventh national census’ 第七次全国人口普查主要数据结果新闻发布会答记者问, Beijing: National Bureau of Statistics of the People’s Republic of China, 11 May 2021, online at:


For more information, see: Zhang Ye, ‘Tech firms seen leaving Shenzhen’, Global Times, [Beijing], 24 May 2016, online at:; David Barboza, ‘How China built “iPhone City” with billions in perks for Apple’s partner’, The New York Times, 29 December 2016, online at:


Shenzhen has been engaging in urban redevelopment since at least 2006. For more detail on Shenzhen City’s long-term strategy, see: Shenzhen City Government, Urban Village Rectification Master Plan (2019–2025) 深圳市城中村(旧村)综合整治总体规划(2019–2025), online at


For more on the evolution of the phrase, see: Xuan Wang, Kasper Juffermans, and Caixia Du, ‘Harmony as Language Policy in China: An Internet Perspective’, Language Policy, vol.15 (2016): 299–321.


Xiaohi Wang, ‘The Jingle New Market in the epidemic period: Day-to-day odd jobs under exceptional conditions’ 疫期的景乐新市场: 例外状态下的日结零工, Zhihu, 22 March 2021, online at:


Qinqing Lin and Raymond Zhong, ‘“996” is China’s version of hustle culture. Tech workers are sick of it’, The New York Times, 29 April 2019, online at:


‘Are some Shenzhen young people joining the Sanhe Gods? Bigger changes are worth waiting to be seen’ 一些深圳年輕人正加入「三和大神」? 更大的改變值得拭目以待, Hong Kong Commercial Daily, 31 March 2021, online at:






'Sit, Eat, Wait for Death': Life in the Shenzhen Sticks


Tian Feng is a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.


Around 5 a.m. each day, the quiet streets of Sanhe burst to life as the young migrants sleeping outside the labor market awaken to a quick calculation: Do they have enough cash to make it through the day? If they do, they’ll roll over and slip back into sleep. If they don’t, they’ll rush off to the market in search of work, preferably as couriers, construction workers, or security guards. The contracts are entirely verbal and paid out at the end of the day. The newly flush workers are free to roam for a few days — at least until their money runs out and the cycle begins anew.


The lives of young migrants to Sanhe, located in the southern 

megacity of Shenzhen, first attracted public attention around three years ago. Contrary to the conventional image of migrant workers as dreary automatons trapped on factory lines, the so-called Sanhe youth have little interest in formal work. Accustomed to low-quality and low-cost living, their mantra is simple: “Work for a day, party for three.” The most extreme among them, known for their abilities to tolerate near-absolute poverty, are referred as “Sanhe legends.”

By turns mocked and lauded, looked down upon and romanticized, the Sanhe legends are heroes of a unique subculture. Yet their popular image is symptomatic of a broader misunderstanding. Based on fieldwork my grad student Lin Kaixuan and I conducted in 2018, these youngsters don’t actually like their extremely unstable working conditions; rather, the lifestyle is thrust upon them by forces they struggle to escape. And while casual day labor is enough to meet their most basic necessities, it also locks them out of trust relationships and long-term cooperative networks, preventing them from properly integrating into the city.

After the advent of “reform and opening-up” in the late 1970s, millions of migrants from China’s interior poured into coastal cities in search of work in booming factory towns. Arguably nowhere benefitted more from this development than Shenzhen, which grew into one of the world’s largest manufacturing hubs. Factory workers toiled for long hours, often living and working in close proximity as their employers kept tight control over their personal time.

However, recent years have seen industries automate or move inland in search of cheap labor. Those still hiring along the coast, meanwhile, are struggling to connect with the high expectations of a new generation of workers, including air-conditioned dormitories and Wi-Fi, to say nothing of this cohort’s individualism and often adversarial attitudes.

On the ground in Shenzhen, many Sanhe youth complained to us about the unreasonable management and working conditions of factory life. They felt deprived, believing new technologies are welding them to the bottom rung of society, while a lack of education and work skills have stripped them of the capital needed to achieve upward mobility. A recurring theme in our interviews was an aversion to exploitation, to being nickel-and-dimed by their bosses, and to facing discrimination — that is, the results of 40 years of dehumanizing discourse around migrant laborers.

Refusing to become easily replaceable components, Sanhe youth want to find a job that can live up to their ideals. Failing that, they opt “to sit, eat, and wait for death.”


That doesn’t mean they reject Shenzhen. The Sanhe youth we spoke with have a strong desire to stay in the city and little interest in returning to their hometowns, where they’re fettered by traditional values and ways of life. Yet integration isn’t easy. They are faced with the prospect of long-term unemployment in the city due to a lack of skills and social connections, as well as exclusion and isolation from mainstream society. Unwilling to return home and yet unable to settle down, Sanhe youth occupy the fringes of the urban landscape, subsisting through a series of casual day jobs.

To be clear, this is not a new employment model, nor is it part of the freelance or tech-centered gig economy. Sanhe day jobs tend to be low-skilled, low-tech, and low-efficiency, such as working construction or security. They’re a simple exchange of time for economic benefits.

In the absence of fixed labor relations, however, workers’ lives are filled with uncertainty. When the demand for workers drops, job opportunities dry up and salaries fall, meaning that even if one can find work, it’s not necessarily worthwhile. This change directly impacts the lives of Sanhe youth, including by dictating the where they can sleep each night: in a bed, at an internet café, or by the roadside.

The plight of Sanhe youth reminds us to consider the disjunction between economics, land, and demography in China’s urbanization process. Rapid economic growth and the expansion of cities have not resulted in correspondingly large numbers of people automatically becoming “citizens” of those cities, thanks in large part to restrictive population policies and high entry thresholds.

In the rural parts of central and western China, where most migrants hail from, educational resources are insufficient to help residents clear these hurdles. Many Sanhe youth grew up as “left-behind children,” their parents employed as migrant workers away from home. Through the internet and cellphones, they have been exposed to a more diverse and individualistic urban culture, feel less wed to 

the idea of getting married and starting a family, and are more distasteful of the monotonous and humdrum work of traditional manufacturing — but have no means of actualizing these ideals.

Given the uncertainty that comes with working day jobs, some observers have wondered why Sanhe youth don’t simply change their lifestyles. However, as the economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo argue in their well-known book on poverty, “Poor Economics,” those in poverty “often behave as if they think that any change that is significant enough to be worth sacrificing for will simply take too long,” given the pressing problems they face.

Indeed, putting aside the question of whether Sanhe youth even want to make the necessary changes to improve their living conditions, it’s unclear whether they actually have the ability to do so. After a long time working informally and living on the margins of society, some Sanhe youth have lost their most basic possessions: their ID cards. This makes it difficult for them to secure work or even a place to stay, making changing their lives or moving up the social ladder look even more like a pipe dream.

Compared with solving the current plight of Sanhe youth, the more pressing goal facing Chinese society is keeping more young people born in the countryside from becoming like them. That means cities must alter their discriminatory policies against migrants. And at the national level, it’s vital to narrow the gaps between urban and rural development so young people born in central and western China can enjoy the benefits of a better education. Only then can they avoid becoming the next victims of the country’s urbanization.

Translator: David Ball; editors: Cai Yineng and Kilian O’Donnell; portrait artist: Zhang Zeqin.

(Header image: Young migrant workers congregate at the Haixinxin Talent Markets in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, April 16, 2017. Chen Jin for Sixth Tone).



February Updates 2023




4 Updates


1. Kinmen County calls for troop withdrawal to promote peace with Beijing.

2. Forty-seven HK pro-democracy activists tried under national security law over primaries.

3. China population shrinks for first time after 60 years.

4. China: Xi Jinping's continued tenure as leader a disaster for human rights.






8th February 2023

Administered by Taiwan, the islands are 10 km from mainland China and almost 200 km from Taiwan. For local councillors they are not defensible. A police force should replace soldiers in order to turn the area into a demilitarised zone where the two sides can talk.

Taipei (AsiaNews) – Two groups of councillors from Kinmen County, one cross-party and one non-partisan, are calling for the withdrawal of Taiwanese troops from their islands, which are just across from mainland China

In a broader effort to promote peace between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, the islands would become a demilitarised zone.

As reported by Focus Taiwan, the two newly created political alliances want the central government in Taipei to heed the concerns of the local population, which feels threatened by a possible attack from the mainland as tensions rise between China and Taiwan’s current, US-backed government of President Tsai Ing-wen.

Administered by Taiwan, Kinmen is located 10 kilometres from Xiamen, in the Chinese province of Fujian, 187 kilometres from the island of Taiwan.

In the 1950s, it was the scene of two major crises and was heavy shelled by communist China. At the height of the tensions, the county was home to 120,000 troops. Now 2,000 are deployed.

For the promoters of the demilitarisation initiative, troops currently stationed are too few to face a possible Chinese attack, but are seen as a provocation by Beijing, which considers Taiwan a rebel province to be taken, by force if necessary.

According to Shih Ming-te, former chairman of Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party, Taipei should also withdraw its troops from the Matsu Islands, which are also closer to mainland China than to the island of Taiwan.

Kinmen's counsellors suggest replacing troops with police and coast guard forces. They also ask to turn the area into a place where the two parties can meet for talks.

In order to promote local economic development, the two political groups envisage building a bridge to Xiamen and developing a special economic zone with the Chinese city.

All these initiatives require peaceful relations between Beijing and Taipei. However, Fujian is heavily militarised, and the reunification of Taiwan remains one of Chinese President Xi Jinping's primary objectives.

Meanwhile, the Tsai administration is boosting Taiwan’s defences. Today it announced that it signed a US$ 85.3 million maintenance agreement with the United States for its F-16 fighter jets.



Forty-seven HK pro-democracy activists tried under national security law over primaries.



6th February 2023

The defendants are accused of trying to overthrow Hong Kong’s government. The trial of the 16 who pleaded not guilty is expected to last three months. All face life imprisonment. The defendants include prominent figures like Benny Tai and Joshua Wong. The trial of Catholic tycoon Jimmy Lai will be held in September.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The trial of 47 activists arrested in February 2021 for organising or taking part months earlier in primaries for the pro-democracy camp opened today before three High Court judges.

In July 2020, the pro-democracy camp held primaries to choose its candidates for the September legislative elections (which were postponed).

The 47 defendants are on trial on charges of subversion under mainland China’s national security law. According to the indictment, they "plotted" to win 35 or more seats in the elections to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) and overthrow the government of Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

The trial will be conducted without a jury. The latter has been used for more than 150 under Hong Kong’s common law legal system, a legacy of British rule, but under China’s national security law, this type of cases will be tried by hand-picked national security judges.

The 16 defendants who pleaded not guilty will be tried over the next 90 days. They include former LegCo Member “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung who told the court that there is “no crime to admit.”

After the trial, the group of defendants who pleaded guilty, which includes former Stand News reporter Gwyneth Ho, jurist Benny Tai, and prominent activist Joshua Wong, will be sentenced. Four activists will testify for the prosecution.

All defendants face life imprisonment. Only 13 of them were granted bail, and many spent nearly two years in prison.

About 200 people lined up in front of the courthouse to secure one of the 39 seats available to the public. Another 367 were able to watch a live broadcast in court extensions. Western diplomats were also present as observers.

Police blocked a sit-in in front of the courthouse by the League of Social Democrats.

A member of the pro-democracy formation, Dickson Chau, was arrested for removing his COVID mask. The Hong Kong Free Press reports that Chau was fined for violating health regulations and then released.

The other major national security trial concerns Jimmy Lai, the 74-year-old pro-democracy Catholic tycoon jailed in December 2020 for participating in unauthorised protests.

He is currently on trial on four additional charges, including conspiracy to publish, sell, distribute and reproduce “seditious” material as well as collusion with foreign powers and “external elements”.

His trial was adjourned until September after Hong Kong authorities tried to ban Lai's foreign lawyer.

China population shrinks for first time after 60 years. 

17th Jan2023

China's population shrank last year for the first time in more than six decades, official data showed Tuesday, as the world's most populous nation faces a looming demographic crisis.

The nation of 1.4 billion has seen birth rates plunge to record lows as its workforce ages, in a rapid decline that analysts warn could stymie economic growth and pile pressure on strained public coffers.

The mainland Chinese population stood at around 1,411,750,000 at the end of 2022, Beijing's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported Tuesday, a decrease of 850,000 from the end of the previous year.

The number of births was 9.56 million, the NBS said, while the number of deaths stood at 10.41 million.

The last time China's population declined was in the early 1960s, as the country battled the worst famine in its modern history, a result of the disastrous Mao Zedong agricultural policy known as the Great Leap Forward.

China ended its strict one-child policy -- imposed in the 1980s owing to fears of overpopulation -- in 2016 and began allowing couples to have three children in 2021.

But that has failed to reverse the demographic decline for a country that has long relied on its vast workforce as a driver of economic growth.

"The population will likely trend down from here in coming years," Zhiwei Zhang of Pinpoint Asset Management said.

"China cannot rely on the demographic dividend as a structural driver for economic growth," he added.

"Economic growth will have to depend more on productivity growth, which is driven by government policies."

Warning signs 

Many point to the soaring cost of living -- as well as a growing number of women in the workforce and seeking higher education -- as being behind the slowdown.

Chinese people are also "getting used to the small family because of the decades-long one-child policy", Xiujian Peng, a researcher at Australia's University of Victoria, told AFP.

"The Chinese government has to find effective policies to encourage birth, otherwise, fertility will slip even lower," she added.

Many local authorities have already launched measures to encourage couples to have children.

The southern megacity of Shenzhen, for example, now offers a birth bonus and pays allowances until the child is three years old.

A couple who has their first baby automatically receives 3,000 yuan ($444), an amount that rises to 10,000 yuan for their third.

In the country's east, the city of Jinan has since January 1 paid a monthly stipend of 600 yuan for couples that have a second child.

'A real concern' 

Still, analysts argue much more needs to be done.

"A comprehensive policy package that covers childbirth, parenting, and education is needed to reduce the cost of childraising," researcher Peng told AFP.

"Women's job insecurity after giving birth should be addressed particularly."

Independent demographer He Yafu also points to "the decline in the number of women of childbearing age, which fell by five million per year between 2016 and 2021" -- a consequence of the aging of the population.

The Chinese population could decline each year by 1.1 percent on average, according to a study by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences updated last year and shared with AFP.

China could have only 587 million inhabitants in 2100, less than half of today, according to the most pessimistic projections of that team of demographers.

And India is set to dethrone China this year as the most populous country in the world, according to the United Nations.

"A declining and aging population will be a real concern for China," Peng said.

"It will have a profound impact on China's economy from the present through to 2100."



China: Xi Jinping's continued tenure as leader a disaster for human rights

25th October 2022


Responding to the announcement that Xi Jinping will serve as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China for a third term, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director Hana Young said:

“Confirmation of Xi Jinping’s third term is an ominous moment not only for the millions of Chinese citizens who have suffered grave human rights violations under his rule, but also for people around the world who feel the impact of the Chinese government’s repression. 

“President Xi’s decade in power has been characterized by sweeping arbitrary detentions, a ruthless nationwide crackdown on freedom of expression and association, crimes against humanity against Muslims in the Xinjiang region, and a dramatic escalation of repression in Hong Kong.

“The government’s policies and practices under Xi’s leadership pose a threat to rights not just at home, but globally. From the government’s campaign to silence and forcibly repatriate Uyghurs overseas to its attempts to redefine the very meaning of human rights at the United Nations, the arm of Chinese state repression increasingly extends beyond China’s borders.

“And as Chinese activists, human rights lawyers, independent journalists and other human rights defenders brace themselves for more of the same – or worse – the international community must redouble efforts to ensure the next five years are different. There can be no excuse for failing to hold the Chinese authorities to account over atrocities committed in President Xi’s name.”


Xi Jinping’s third term as paramount leader of the Chinese Communist Party was announced at the end of the Party’s 20th National Congress on Sunday.

In 2018, Xi Jinping engineered a constitutional reform that eliminated the previous two-term limit on the Presidency. He has been consolidating and concentrating his power since 2017 including through introduction of Xi Jinping Thought as a pillar of the Party and state constitutions, and through purges of the political and legal apparatus pursued through an anti-corruption campaign.

Xi Jinping holds three posts concurrently, giving him control of the Party, Military and State. These posts are General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Chairperson of the Central Military Commission of the Party and President of the People’s Republic of China.

The Presidency role will be officially confirmed in March 2023 at the National People’s Congress.

The Chinese government often tightens censorship during politically “sensitive” times, including major party meetings. In September, the country’s Cyberspace Administration announced a fresh operation to “purge rumours and fake news” on the internet. Since early October, there have been increasing reports of the government banning censorship circumvention tools such as VPNs.

More information on Amnesty International’s human rights concerns in China can be found here.










3 Updates


1. China's civil society collapsed under Xi.

2. Will China’s Xi become the next 'great leader?'

3. China policy drowning in empty rhetoric – time for an informed public debate.




China's civil society collapsed under Xi.

4th October 2022


UCA News -

Xi Jinping, on the brink of securing a third term, has overseen a decade in which civil society movements have been destroyed.

October 2022

China's President Xi Jinping (center) and Premier Li Keqiang (third from left) arrive for a reception at the Great Hall of the People on the eve of China's National Day in Beijing on Sept. 30. (Photo: AFP)




Published: October 04, 2022 06:16 AM GMT

Human rights activist Charles remembers a time when civil society was blossoming in China, and he could dedicate his time to helping improve the lives of people struggling in blue-collar jobs.

Now, 10 years into President Xi Jinping's rule, community organizations such as Charles's have been dismantled and hopes of a rebirth crushed.

Charles has fled China and several of his activist friends are in jail.

"After 2015, the whole of civil society began to collapse and become fragmented," he told AFP, using a pseudonym for safety reasons.

Xi, on the brink of securing a third term at the apex of the world's most populous country, has overseen a decade in which civil society movements, an emergent independent media and academic freedoms have been all but destroyed.

As Xi sought to eliminate any threats to the Communist Party, many non-governmental organization workers, rights lawyers and activists were threatened, jailed, or exiled.

AFP interviewed eight Chinese activists and intellectuals who described the collapse of civil society under Xi, though a few remain determined to keep working despite the risks.

Some face harassment from security officers who summon them weekly for questioning, while others cannot publish under their own names.

"My colleagues and I have frequently experienced interrogations lasting over 24 hours," an LGBTQ rights NGO worker told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that psychological trauma from the repeated questioning has compounded his woes.

"We've become more and more incapable, regardless of whether it's from a financial or operational perspective, or on a personal level."

'709 crackdown' 

The collapse of China's civil society has been a long process riddled with obstacles for activists.

In 2015, more than 300 lawyers and rights defenders were arrested in a sweep named the "709 crackdown" after the date it was launched -- July 9.

Many lawyers remained behind bars or under surveillance for years, while others were disbarred, according to rights groups.

Another watershed moment was the adoption in 2016 of the so-called foreign NGO law, which imposed restrictions and gave police wide-ranging powers over overseas NGOs operating in the country.

"In 2014, we could unfurl protest banners, conduct scientific fieldwork and collaborate with Chinese media to expose environmental abuses," an environmental NGO worker told AFP on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

"Now we must report to the police before we do anything. Each project must be in cooperation with a government department that feels more like a supervisory committee."


Today's landscape is markedly different from even a few years ago, when civil society groups were able to operate in the relatively permissive climate that started under the previous president Hu Jintao.

"At universities, several LGBTQ and gender-focused groups sprung up around 2015," said Carl, an LGBTQ youth group member, although he felt a "tightening pressure".

By 2018, the government's zero-tolerance of activism came to a head with the authorities suppressing a budding #MeToo feminist movement and arresting dozens of student activists.

"Activities quietly permitted before were banned, while ideological work like political education classes ramped up", said Carl.

In July 2022, Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University handed two students official warnings for distributing rainbow flags, while dozens of LGBTQ student groups' social media pages were blocked.

'Like grains of corn' 

Another harbinger of regression was a 2013 internal Party communique that banned advocating what was described as Western liberal values, such as constitutional democracy and press freedom.

"It treated these ideologies as hostile, whereas in the 1980s we could discuss them and publish books about them," said Gao Yu, a Beijing-based independent journalist who was either in prison or under house arrest between 2014 and 2020 for allegedly leaking the document.

"In a normal society, intellectuals can question the government's mistakes. Otherwise... isn't this the same as in the Mao era?" he asked, referring to Communist China's founder Mao Zedong.

Now, 78-year-old Gao endures social media surveillance, has virtually no income and is blocked from overseas calls or gathering with friends.

"We are all like grains of corn ground down by the village millstone," she said.

Replacing Gao and her peers are celebrity academics who parrot hawkish nationalist ideology, while others have been forced out of their positions or endure classroom surveillance from students.

"A kind of tattle-tale culture has flourished in China's intellectual realm over the past decade," said Wu Qiang, a former Tsinghua political science professor and Party critic.

"Students have become censors reviewing their professor's every sentence, instead of learning through mutual discussion."

'Unwinnable war' 

Faced with the increasingly harsh climate, many activists have either fled China or put their work on hold.

Only a handful persevere, despite growing hostility including online bullying.

"Perhaps right now we are at the bottom of a valley... but people are still tirelessly speaking out," said Feng Yuan, founder of gender rights group Equity.

For others, like the environmental organization worker, it is an "unwinnable war" against nationalist trolls who claim all NGO staff are "anti-China and brainwashed by the West".

"It makes me feel like all my efforts have been wasted," they said.

Charles's friends, #MeToo advocate Huang Xueqin and labor activist Wang Jianbing, have been detained without trial for over a year on subversion charges.

He believes authorities viewed their gatherings of young activists as a threat -- and the threshold for prosecution is getting lower.

"The government is now targeting individuals who do small-scale, subtle, low-key activism," he said.

"They have made sure there is no new generation of activists."



Will China’s Xi become the next 'great leader?'

8th September 2022

UCA News -

Chinese president, much like Mao and Deng, has found a place as a thinker, pathfinder and philosopher

People stand in front of images of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Museum of the Communist Party of China in Beijing on Sept. 4. (Photo: Noel Celis/ AFP)


Ben Joseph

By Ben Joseph

Published: September 08, 2022 11:19 AM GMT

It is going to be a bonanza for Xi Jinping — the all-powerful general secretary of the ruling Communist Party in China — at the upcoming 20th party congress starting on Oct. 16. The conclave, held every five years, is expected to thrust the 69-year-old Chinese leader into the same league as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

China learned from the collapse of the Soviet Union (USSR) 31 years ago. The Communist Party of China resisted all external and internal pressure to move toward parliamentary democracy and survived.

When the Communist Party was founded in China in 1921, it took a leaf out of the Soviet Communist Party book and borrowed essential features like a monopoly of political control, ownership of the means of production, and control over trade and finance, reinforcing the centralist, disciplinarian aspects of the Marxist ideology.

A centralized, authoritarian government, armed with a huge army held together a vast, ethnically diverse population with strong inbuilt fissiparous tendencies in their respective nations.

Both the USSR and China implemented the New Economic Policy — under Vladimir Lenin in the early 1920s and under Mao in the early 1950s. The whole economy was treated as a single unit, where the rural population was mobilized as a vital force for economic growth in both nations.

This state-controlled economic system with monolithic political control by the party thrived in China till the death of Mao in 1976 and in Russia until the ascent of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985.

"Introducing market reforms would speed things up and the party outlook in China was changed forever"

Deng, who took the helm in China in 1978, was not satisfied with this command economy and the relatively slow growth rate.

He was of the opinion that introducing market reforms would speed things up and the party outlook in China was changed forever.

While Mao tried to make China a key rival to the US-led capitalist bloc and wanted to export revolution to third-world countries, Deng sought to export Chinese industrial products to third-world nations after it shifted to a free market economy.

Both Mao and Deng are considered paramount leaders of the Communist Party in China. The next in line to become the supreme leader is Xi Jinping, who already has the party firmly in his grip.

At this year’s party congress in October, members of the central committee will be elected by delegates. This panel selects the party general secretary (the president) and the Politburo (seven currently, but can have eleven) to lead the country for the next five years.

Before Xi assumed office in 2012, China had launched its industrial build-up in its shift toward globalization. China’s inexpensive labor, subsidies and low-cost loans for domestic and foreign exporters earned the country large trade surpluses and provided China with an increased money supply to finance its historical growth.

"More than 800 million people have been lifted out of poverty in the last three decades"

Though China was deeply integrated into global capitalism, China under Xi resisted its full-fledged institutional convergence with the neoliberal market norms of Western nations.

The partial assimilation into the global capitalist system itself calls for the need to have a strong leader to guide the party and the country and Xi fits the bill in all sense to get an unprecedented third presidential term to take him into the league of Mao and Deng.

There is much about China to appreciate under Xi. More than 800 million people have been lifted out of poverty in the last three decades and China became one of the richest nations under his stewardship.

To secure his due place, Xi resorted to ultra-nationalism rather than communist principles. Xi sidestepped the rule of collective leadership introduced by Deng to dilute the one-man autocracy of the Mao era. Thus, there is little obvious challenge to his leadership in the party.

However, China has had to pay a high price for Xi’s reign. There is little political dissent, political rivals are jailed, the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province are persecuted and Taiwan is threatened with re-unification. Buddhists and Christians are forced to practice a sinicized version of their religion, which essentially meant submitting religion to the party.

The US-led sanctions are hanging over China like the sword of Damocles. Tensions with Washington cover a range of issues, like the South China Sea, cybersecurity, trade, human rights and intellectual property rights.

Globally, China’s image has been tarnished to a greater extent. China is traveling in two boats on the war in Ukraine as it has refused to condemn Russia while calling for peace.

Under Xi, China has constructed three artificial islands in the South China Sea, despite the concerns of its neighbors.

"Xi’s aspiration is to boost China to gain a prime role in the global power game and subdue the US dominance"

It launched the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, touted as the greatest investment project on the planet, helping a wide range of countries from Asia, Africa, Europe and even South America to come under the Chinese sphere of influence.

Since the BRI initiative is finding more takers across the continents and oceans of the planet, Xi is sitting pretty.

But two of its economic competitors and neighbors — Japan and India — are inching closer to the US more than ever.

Xi’s aspiration is to boost China to gain a prime role in the global power game and subdue the US dominance. He has already moved towards this goal.

Nowadays, no nation can afford to ignore Chinese goods for even a single day.

Xi’s success and achievements can help him bypass the two-term presidential limit though two leaders who preceded Xi in office, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, strictly adhered to the peaceful transfer of power.

Xi has found a place as a Chinese thinker, pathfinder, and philosopher, much like Mao and Deng. Thus, a third term may come naturally to him at the 20th party congress.

As a bonus, it is also likely that Xi will be anointed with the title of “great leader,” a term used to refer to Mao and Deng in Chinese Communist Party circles

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.



China policy drowning in empty rhetoric – time for an informed public debate.

21st August 2019

By: Joseph Camilleri

China is in the news and rightly so. If it’s not events in Hong Kong, it’s the China-US trade dispute, or tensions in the South China Sea, Beijing’s expanding influence in the South Pacific, the prospect of a Chinese military base in Cambodia, China’s treatment of the Uighur minority, or China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). For Australia, this is a time for uncomfortable soul searching.

Sadly, much public commentary to date has been less than helpful. Some are bent on treating each development in isolation, others use evidence selectively to paint a crude picture of the Chinese threat. Andrew Hastie’s alarmist and incoherent outburst is but the tip of the iceberg.

The confusion inevitably filters through to any discussions of policy options. Some stress the need for an even closer military alliance with the United States. Others float the idea of acquiring a nuclear arsenal. Others still think we can have our cake and eat it – maintain our lucrative trade with China, while actively seeking to contain China’s rise, whether in the South Pacific, the South China Sea, or Southeast Asia.

Much of this rests on the obsession with the ‘Chinese threat’, even though China’s capacity to project military muscle pales in comparison with America’s global military reach.

China, it is true, now has the world’s second largest military budget, as part of an extensive modernisation program. Its current defence spending has risen steady year in year out over the last two decades, and is estimated by SIPRI to have reached US$240 billion in 2018. It remains nevertheless well below the Pentagon’s 2018 US$640 billion budget. Over the last decade the US military budget as a percentage of total government spending has hovered between 12 and 9 percent. China’s has fallen sharply from 12 percent in 2001 to 5.5 percent in 2018.

As for claims that China is about to gain a string of military bases from Southeast Asia to the Middle East, little has yet come to pass. As of now China has just one military base on foreign soil, in Djibouti which also hosts US, French and Japanese bases.

The more likely outcome is that China will secure access to port facilities in various host countries that benefit from large infrastructure investments associated with China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

None of this approaches America’s overwhelming military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Its alliances with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia are complemented by extensive security arrangements with Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The forces of these countries are now closely enmeshed with the US military, having adopted common weapons, strategic doctrines, and training programs.

The Pentagon currently has some 25,000 troops stationed in South Kore and close to 54,000 military personnel and some 8,000 Department of Defense civilian employees in Japan, for which the Japanese Government provides some $2 billion per year to offset the cost of these deployments. Some 5,000 US troops are permanently stationed in Guam, with the Andersen base home to B-1 bombers and a squadron of F-16 fighters.

One other indicator of power projection deserves mention. In the course of the 20th century, the United States participated in 38 wars, or one every three years, and since 2000 in 10 wars, the equivalent of one every 1.7 years. The Iraq War alone resulted in half a million deaths (probably a conservative estimate). Hostilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2001 now account for over 150,000 deaths.

By contrast, China’s last military intervention was in 1979 when it made a massive incursion into Vietnam. The expedition, justified as punishment for Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia, proved an inconclusive affair, which China had the good sense to terminate once the month-long war resulted in tens of thousands of casualties on both sides.

In recent years China has built artificial islands around several reefs in the disputed Spratlys over which it claims territorial sovereignty. The United States has responded with Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea, which Chinese authorities regard as violating Chinese territory. The US in turn insists that its navy and air force are transiting through international waters, a stance foolishly supported by Australia.

Though there is a clear need for tension reduction measures in the South China Sea, no evidence exists of a direct or even indirect military threat to Australia. Even with regard to Taiwan, where China considers the reunification objective to be non-negotiable, Xi Jinping’s strategy is to rely primarily on economic and diplomatic rather than military levers.

This is not to say that the Chinese Communist Party’s management of China’s rise offers no cause for concern. This is precisely where careful analysis and sound judgment are crucial. What is most troubling about China’s current trajectory are its internal, not its external policies.

What we are witnessing, especially under Xi Jinping, is a ruthless determination to maintain the absolute dominance of the Chinese Communist Party, and ensure that no voice or minority group within the country can question that dominance.

In Xinjiang and Tibet we see the brutal treatment of China’s minorities, and in Hong Kong the steady erosion of democratic processes and the increasing use of force against the protest movement. Within China the heavy-handed silencing of artists, intellectuals and other critical voices continues unabated.

Especially disturbing is China’s introduction of a social credit system based on behavioural data gathered through an elaborate system of surveillance. Such behaviour violates individual and collective human rights enshrined in international covenants, and should not go unchallenged.

And yet, Australian policy-makers and advisers, who are often critical of China’s international role, have been conspicuously guarded and remarkably unimaginative in responding to these violations.

China, a country soon to become the world’s largest economic power and with one of its oldest and richest civilisations, is closing in on itself. This is a matter of deep concern, but not an occasion for mindless China bashing.

We need to demonstrate, in words and actions, to the people of China and to their leaders that we do not support efforts to contain China’s rise on the world stage. On the contrary, the message and the practice should be one of close consultation with China to address the pressing regional challenges we currently face.

At the same time, we need to convey firmly and clearly that we oppose the trend towards deepening authoritarianism. We object to the use of the iron fist in Hong Kong and elsewhere not just because it is contrary to our values, but importantly because a China that is not at peace with itself cannot play the necessary leadership role on the world stage.

To be able to communicate this message effectively, Australia has to act in concert with interested Asian and South Pacific neighbours and other like-minded governments. Collectively, we can use the many diplomatic and cultural levers available to us to impress on China the need for dialogue and acceptance of the principle that human rights advocacy can no longer be dismissed as mere interference in a country’s internal affairs. We are well past the point when national sovereignty can trump international responsibility.

In the Hong Kong case, we need to call for a full and independent inquiry into the way the authorities have handled the response to the protest movement. The actions of the few that foolishly resort to violent acts cannot be an excuse for repression of legitimate dissent, or failure to listen and constructively respond to the aspirations of what is now one of the largest social movements to have emerged in Asia in recent decades.

In the absence of such an inquiry we should be prepared to refer the matter to the Human Rights Council, and in the event of escalation to the UN Security Council.

To be credible, such a stance requires that we ourselves be open to international scrutiny of our own conduct on such contentious issues as Indigenous rights, the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, and the steady erosion of civil liberties. Equally, we must be critical of human rights abuses elsewhere, including the United States, where the police and judicial systems regularly violate the rights of African Americans, and where crying children and broken families are now victims of indiscriminate raids on immigrant communities.

Here the wider community has an important role to play. Universities, the business sector, churches and other faith groups, trade unions, professional associations, community organisations, and the media can exert subtle but effective influence by more extensive people to people contacts, and better use of the channels of communication made possible by the digital age.

Should the situation in Hong Kong, Xinjiang or elsewhere dangerously escalate, there will be no point lamenting at China’s misdeeds when it is all too late. And the outcome will be especially bleak if the United States and its ever faithful ally Australia were to use China’s repressive policies at home as justification to expand the US and Australian military presence in the South China Sea and the Asia Pacific region more generally.

If our concern is defence of human rights, then the key is to discern the early signs of instability, and develop a comprehensive and proactive set of policies.

Similarly, if we are to create a more peaceful and secure environment, we can in concert with others fashion policies for the demilitarisation of our region, including reduced military budgets, zones of peace and nuclear weapons free zones, and gradual removal of foreign military bases. Public discussion of these possibilities is dangerously overdue.

Joseph A. Camilleri OAM is Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. Visit his personal website here.


+ posts

Joseph Camilleri is Emeritus Professor at La Trobe University in Melbourne, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and President of Conversation at the Crossroads



May 2022 Updates




3 Updates



1. China tightens restrictions and bars scholars from international conferences.

2.Analysis of China made in 2010 by Martin Jacques - is a British Editor, Academic, Political commentator and author.   

3. Fan Shoui - The First Chinese person to tell of the West.





China tightens restrictions and bars scholars from international conferences.

30th March 2022



BEIJING – The international conference was supposed to gather some of the most promising and most established Asia studies scholars from across the world in lush Honolulu.

Instead, at least five Chinese scholars based in the People's Republic of China (PRC) were prevented from attending virtual events via Zoom, according to four people with direct knowledge of the matter.

They said Chinese security officers and education officials directly intervened, citing education regulations published during a global coronavirus pandemic which require all Chinese scholars to receive university permission to attend any international event in-person or online.

"After years of encouraging and funding PRC scholars to participate internationally, the intensifying controls of recent years are now full-scale, and academic work, at least on China, is to be quarantined from the world," said James Millward, a history professor at Georgetown University who attended the conference. "The doors have slammed shut fast."

The conference, which ended last weekend, was an annual gathering organized by the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), one of the largest membership-based organizations in the field. For emerging scholars as well as more senior academics, the conference is an opportunity to network and to hear the latest research on Asian countries across a variety of disciplines.

Because of the ongoing COVID pandemic, AAS decided this year to hold a mix of in-person events and online-only panels.

In one case, a group of police officers visited the home of a scholar in China after they had presented their research paper to an online Zoom panel earlier in the week, questioning the scholar for hours, in part because they considered the title of the paper "incorrect."

"It was deeply frightening," said one academic who attended the panel but requested anonymity to protect the identity of the scholar involved.

NPR reviewed the paper but is not publishing its title or subject to protect the identity of the writer. The paper did not touch on subjects which Chinese authorities normally consider sensitive, such as human rights, Tibet, Xinjiang or Hong Kong.

Chinese scholars on a separate virtual panel were also told by Chinese university administrators to cancel their presentations. Eventually, they emailed the other attendees to withdraw from the panel due to "medical reasons" but hoped to partake in AAS events again "in less sensitive times," according to two people with direct knowledge of the incident.

"Topics that have seemingly been considered nonpolitical are now being yanked or deemed not permissible to be exchanging with international colleagues," said another academic who attended the panel who also did not want to be named so as not to identify the Chinese scholars impacted.

Strict COVID prevention policies had already stymied the volume of intellectual exchanges between the PRC and the rest of the world. Those who study China have found themselves isolated by border closures that have made travel to and from China nearly impossible, rendering archives and field sites in China inaccessible for the last two years and counting.

Since 2016, China's education ministry has required its academics to seek university approval for all overseas trips and collaborations. In September 2020, universities began applying these rules for online events held by international organizations, as well, though such rules had not been extensively enforced until now.

Academics say these controls will further deplete the already-sparse exchanges between China and the rest of the world while hobbling the careers of young Chinese scholars.

"We have already been anxious, because for those of us in modern China studies, it's been two years with no end in sight about when we might be able to return to the archives," said a third academic who went to the AAS conference. "You keep thinking maybe things will get better, so after the [Winter] Olympics, after [October's Chinese Communist] Party Congress, there will be a loosening of restrictions, but unfortunately it continues to worsen."

The AAS said it was aware some PRC-based scholars were prevented from attending and now is trying to ascertain exactly how many scholars were impacted. "The AAS firmly supports the right of scholars worldwide to take part in the free exchange of ideas and research through conferences and other forms of academic cooperation," the association said in a statement posted on its website Wednesday.

AAS has previously come under heightened scrutiny within China. In March 2021, the Chinese Foreign Ministry sanctioned a member of one of AAS' governing councils because of her research examining Chinese state policy in the region of Xinjiang, where authorities had detained hundreds of thousands of mostly ethnic Uyghurs. The academic, Joanne Smith Finley, had organized two panels on Xinjiang for the annual AAS conference just days earlier.

* NPR is an independent, nonprofit media organization that was founded on a mission to create a more informed public




Analysis of China made in 2010 by Martin Jacques - is a British Editor, Academic, Political commentator and author.

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Fan Shoui - The First Chinese person to tell of the West

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March 2022 Updates




3 Updates



1. The total implosion of Hong Kong's freedoms gathers pace.

2. Olympics to break down walls and build bridges.

3. What happens when China Becomes no 1?  A lecture by Prof Kishore Mahbubani, distinguished Singaporean Professor,  at The Kennedy School of Governance, Harvard.




The total implosion of Hong Kong's freedoms gathers pace.

17th February 2022

UCA News -

The time has come for Beijing and its quislings in Hong Kong to pay a price for their actions

When I heard the news that the website of the organization I co-founded and lead, Hong Kong Watch, was blocked in Hong Kong, the Chinese Communist Party regime’s crackdown once again hit home, up close and personal.

Almost four and a half years after I was denied entry and effectively banned from Hong Kong, the charity I helped found to speak up for Hong Kong is now a target for the regime.

And less than a year after my weekly columns in Apple Daily’s English-language website abruptly stopped when Hong Kong’s one remaining Chinese-language mass circulation daily newspaper was forcibly shut down, people in the city are unable to access Hong Kong Watch’s own website.

These and other direct, first-hand experiences feel like a microcosm of the broader, all-out assault on Hong Kong’s basic freedoms.

When I first started speaking out for Hong Kong, in an individual capacity in the aftermath of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, I never imagined the situation would descend as rapidly as it has, or with the gravity that it has.

At the time, the situation appeared to be a gradual erosion, with disqualifications of pro-democracy legislators, the abduction of booksellers, “co-location” of mainland Chinese law at the Kowloon high-speed rail terminus, the expulsion of a few foreign activists or journalists such as me or the Financial Times’ Victor Mallet — all of which seemed deeply alarming but now look like mere early-warning signs in comparison with the total implosion of Hong Kong’s freedoms that we see today. Now Hong Kong is in daily freefall.

Today we face a scenario where almost every single pro-democracy voice in Hong Kong is silenced: jailed, sidelined, pushed out of the Legislative Council or driven into exile.

Up until perhaps six months ago, a few individuals in the city continued to speak out, but since then the number has rapidly dwindled to almost none. Understandably, everyone knows that jail is the fate that awaits anyone who dissents, and no one wants to go to jail.

Foreign correspondents tell me their biggest challenge is finding people in Hong Kong who will speak to them. I have gone from almost daily calls and messages with a wide range of people in the city two years ago to almost zero contact with people on the ground today. It is utterly heartbreaking. As someone put it to me not long ago, Hong Kong is becoming “Pyongyang with better lighting”.

I have written to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to request an explanation for the shutdown of Hong Kong Watch’s website, and I await an answer. Of course, there is no legitimate justification. Blocking our website denies Hong Kongers access to information about international advocacy initiatives, including, for example, the amendment proposed in the House of Lords last week by Hong Kong Watch patrons Lord Alton of Liverpool and the last governor of Hong Kong Lord Patten, who both happen to be Catholics. It looks likely that the British government may deliver on this, which would be very welcome.

As freedom is dismantled in Hong Kong, it should not surprise us if religious freedom is impacted. One by one, basic freedoms are being torn apart — in defiance of Hong Kong’s Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Freedom to protest, freedom of assembly, the ability to contest elections, freedom of the media and expression, online and offline, are dismantled, and as civil society space is shut down, trade unionism is curtailed and academic freedom is restricted. It is only a matter of time before freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief, Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, commonly known as “religious freedom”, is severely challenged. And I have written about this recently.

Today I will be speaking in a webinar highlighting the potential crackdown on Christians in Hong Kong. I hope many will join — the event and the cause. Let’s awaken consciences to these threats to humanity.

The rule of law, basic freedoms, treaty promises and any ideas of autonomy for Hong Kong are being ripped up. “One country, two systems” — the concept Deng Xiaoping devised — has been torpedoed by Xi Jinping. And so far, the lack of robust, tangible action from the international community in response has emboldened the Chinese Communist Party regime and the Hong Kong authorities to act with impunity. The time has come for Beijing and its quislings in Hong Kong to pay a price for their actions. The time has come for sanctions.

When I lived in Hong Kong, for the first five years after the handover, I could buy newspapers that provided a range of comment, I could go to churches freely, I could organize demonstrations openly, I could access the internet without difficulty and I could express my conscience without danger. That’s what I want for Hong Kong. It is what it has lost. It is what we must fight for. And it’s what the free world must defend and never ever take for granted.

Benedict Rogers is a human rights activist and writer. He is the co-founder and chief executive of Hong Kong Watch, senior analyst for East Asia at the international human rights organisation CSW, co-founder and deputy chair of the UK Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, a member of the advisory group of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) and a board member of the Stop Uyghur Genocide Campaign. He is the author of six books, including three books about Myanmar, especially his latest, “Burma: A Nation at the Crossroads”. His faith journey is told in his book “From Burma to Rome: A Journey into the Catholic Church” (Gracewing, 2015).
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.



Olympics to break down walls and build bridges

11th February 2022


Sunday Examiner - Hong Kong


The 2022 Winter Olympics have been underway in Beijing since February 4 amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The resurgence of the virus has been threatening the event, which skated on the thin ice of uncertainty until the seven torchbearers carried the flame into the Bird’s Nest, as Beijing’s Olympic Stadium is nicknamed, and President Xi Jinping declared the Games open. Earlier, Pope Francis expressed his prayers and hopes that the Beijing Olympics “will bring about a more fraternal world.” 

With its universal language, sport is expected to build bridges of friendship and solidarity between individuals and peoples of all cultures and religions. Besides the Winter Olympics, Beijing will also host the 2022 Paralympics from March 4 to 13.

Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca, the undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who oversees sports matters, wrote in L’Osservatore Romano that “in Paralympic athletes [are found] the best ambassadors to show the world the dignity of every human being. The Olympics and even more the Paralympics reveal all their potential for transformation, a unique opportunity to break down walls and build bridges.”

While the Winter Olympics in the Year of the Tiger are off to a roaring start in Beijing, hosting the world event during a pandemic is a test of grit for the government. Moreover, nine countries have decided on a diplomatic boycott, meaning that their athletes compete in the Games, but their government officials will not attend. According to CNN, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia are boycotting the Games “as a statement against China’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.” Japan, India and Taiwan are also boycotting the Games for various political reasons.

Apart from the politics, the event brings the opportunity to celebrate peoples and cultures. For the Catholic Church in Hebei, it is an occasion to tell the world about some of the early missionary activity and Christian presence in China. Some of the events of the Games are being held in Hebei province, where the Missionaries of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary [CICM] began nurturing a community of the faithful more than 200 years ago. 

Verbiest Update, a newsletter issued by the Ferdinand Verbiest Foundation, published a story of the Catholic community in Chongli, a district about 50 kilometres from the city of Zhangjiakou, which hosts some of the Olympic events such as cross-country skiing and the biathlon. One hundred and fifty years ago, the missionaries had built a Church in the village of Xiwanzi, which now is home to over 60,000 inhabitants.

If done in the right spirit, the Olympic Games could become an important event in the 200-year Church history of Chongli, serving as a moment of the unique experience of human brotherhood and peace. In his message for the Paralympic Games, the pope said the real the gold medal to win is learning from the athletes with disabilities to overcome prejudices and fears, and make our communities more welcoming and inclusive.

The Olympics reminds the world once again of its motto of Citius, Altius, Fortius — that is, “faster, higher, stronger” — together with the fourth motto of communiter, or “together,” to bring about a more fraternal world. Pope Francis, in his third encyclical Fratelli tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship, has been championing these messages of mutual understanding, friendship and solidarity. jose, cmf 



What happens when China Becomes no 1?  A lecture by Prof Kishore Mahbubani, distinguished Singaporean Professor,  at The Kennedy School of Governance, Harvard






February 2022 Updates


February 2022



2 Updates



1. Invitation to a Virtual ChinaSource Connect Event.

2. Year of the Tiger – a year of courage and hope.



Invitation to a Virtual ChinaSource Connect Event.



You are invited to attend a virtual ChinaSource Connect event on Thursday, February 24, at 1PM US Central Standard Time.

In our first virtual event of this year, we will provide a brief update on the current situation in China and share about recent developments within ChinaSource.

Feel free to submit questions in advance to

We will conclude the evening by providing break-out rooms for further discussion, fellowship, and prayer.  

This is an invitation-only event, so please do not share the invitation link. If you know someone who would benefit from attending, please contact Joann Pittman (  

Date: Thursday, February 24
Time: 1PM (US CST) / 7PM UK and Europe

Click below to registerClick CRegister

We look forward to seeing you on February 24.  

The ChinaSource Team 

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Year of the Tiger – a year of courage and hope.

4th February 2022

Sunday Examiner - Hong Kong

Year of the Tiger – a year of courage and hope


“Only in a dangerous environment can people train to become strong,” wrote Zhang Xiang Tao, a scholar of the Qing Dynasty. Life has not been easy for many people in Hong Kong in the past couple of years, and we walk into the Year of the Tiger with new hopes and aspirations. As the Zodiac image suggests, we hope to be stronger and braver in faith and spirit in the Tiger Year. 

In Chinese and other cultures, the Tiger generates both respect and fear. The Chinese language has many tiger-related sayings such as ???? (“Tigers are awe-inspiring”) and ???? (“Live life with might and courage like dragons and tigers”).  We say “A roaring tiger full of spirit” to describe a person of courage and “Walk like a dragon and step like a tiger” to refer to a person of impressive bearing and conduct. We wish these qualities upon all our readers in this Year of the Tiger. 

Looking back on 2021 [Year of the Ox], or on 2020 [Year of the Rat], not everything was going well for Hong Kong. The Year of the Rat was about survival amid the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the social unrest. The Year of the Ox was about anchoring ourselves in new political realities, facing economic challenges caused by pandemic, and maintaining vigilance against the invisible virus. 

The tiger is associated with Yang [masculine, active] energy in Chinese tradition. Therefore, may the Year of the Tiger be a year of adventure. Despite the threats from the numerous variants of the coronavirus, and subsequent restrictions even on everyday liturgical celebrations in parishes, we are finding enthusiasm again, with generosity at an all-time high, and social progress feeling possible once more. Many parish communities and religious groups are regularly distributing essential commodities to the homeless and to those from poor-income families. The pandemic has taught us patience, compassion and generosity. 

In addition to the animals, the Chinese Zodiac also cycles through five elemental types. The year 2022 is a year of water, and therefore is the year of the Water-Tiger. Water years bring out our emotions more than any of the other elements. Water Tigers are family-oriented and have excellent interpersonal relationships. Their goal is always to do what is best for everyone, not just for themselves. These are the virtues that the Church stands for. 

The tiger is vigilant and cautious, seeking to  avoid pitfalls and traps. This message is nothing new to us Christians. Jesus has been persistent with his demand to be vigilant, awake, and prepared. The tiger reminds us to walk carefully, and we must be wise in the Lord.

Despite the despair and anxieties of an uncertain future, we hope our faith life grows strong. Liturgy and sacraments seem distant, but stay close to the Word of God and acts of charity, and we will be tigers on the road of faith, repelling the devil, the enemy. St. Peter’s advice for the Church in Rome could be our New Year message: “Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for [someone] to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith….” (I Peter 5:8-9) jose CMF.



January 2022 Updates


January 2022



4 Updates



1. Shameless China tries to erase 1989 massacre from history.

2. China says Covid-19 vaccines for Africa is ‘top priority’.

3. Taiwan among 110 countries invited to US Democracy Summit.

4. Xi Jinping’s banner term, or qizhiyu (旗帜语), as a new leap in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context”.




Shameless China tries to erase 1989 massacre from history.

23rd December 2021

UCA News -

Rights & Wrongs

By: Benedict Rogers

Shameless China tries to erase 1989 massacre from history

Removal of a Hong Kong statue commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre must bring a united response from the free world

Dictatorships are always afraid of two things: the truth and the people. And they will do everything possible to prevent the people from knowing, or remembering, the truth.

That is true of every tyranny, but none more so than Xi Jinping’s brutal Chinese Communist Party regime in Beijing. It covered up the causes of Covid-19, silenced whistleblowers and angrily rejects calls for an independent international investigation. It lies about the genocide of the Uyghurs. It denies forced organ harvesting. It fears the people of Hong Kong and their desire for democracy. And for the past 32 years, the official line in China has been that “nothing happened” in Tiananmen Square and throughout the country on June 4, 1989.

As Louisa Lim describes so well in her book The People’s Republic of Amnesia, few people in China born after 1989 are even aware of the massacre, such is the regime’s propaganda and control of information. And as the BBC’s correspondent John Sudworth revealed when he showed images of Tank Man to Chinese people on the streets of Beijing, even those of a generation old enough to remember claim — presumably out of fear — that they don’t.

Late last night the Chinese regime attempted to inflict that forced forgetfulness on Hong Kong when, under the cover of darkness, Hong Kong University followed Beijing’s orders and removed the Pillar of Shame monument commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre. With great secrecy, workers hung curtains and plastic barriers around the area and boarded up windows at 11pm to obscure the view of the site while security guards refused access to reporters and cordoned off roads. A cargo container was brought in by crane. Construction noise could be heard, workers were seen pushing carts of rubble, and by 1am today local time, the statue had vanished.

The Pillar of Shame, which had stood on Hong Kong University’s campus for 24 years, was the work of Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt. He responded to the news with a statement saying: “I’m totally shocked that Hong Kong University is currently destroying the Pillar of Shame … It is my private property and the sculpture belongs to me personally … I will claim compensation for any damage to the sculpture. It is a disgrace and an abuse and shows that Hong Kong has become a brutal place without laws and regulations such as protecting the population, the arts and private property … And it’s even more grotesque that they use the Western holiday, Christmas, to carry out the destruction of the artwork.”

The move is the latest nail in the coffin of Hong Kong’s freedoms — a coffin which has had many nails hammered into it over recent years. Up until 2020, Hong Kong, due to its promised freedoms and autonomy under the “one country, two systems” principle, was the only city under China’s sovereignty where the Tiananmen Square massacre could be commemorated.

Every year on June 4, thousands of Hong Kongers gathered in the city’s Victoria Park to remember the 1989 massacre. Now, many of the organisers of the vigil are in jail, and the commemoration is banned.

The destruction of the Pillar of Shame shows the regime’s intention to ban not only vigils but any visible symbol, with the hope of erasing from the history books and future generations’ memories any knowledge of the tragedy that was unleashed on the people of China in 1989. It represents the regime’s campaign to turn Hong Kong into just another Communist Party-controlled city in China and incorporate it into the People’s Republic of Amnesia.

That’s why the rest of the world has a responsibility to ensure that the 1989 massacre is never forgotten, and that those who died or were jailed simply for protesting for democracy are always honored and remembered. In memory of them, and in solidarity with Hong Kong, there are two specific things we could do.

The first is to build Pillars of Shame outside as many Chinese embassies as possible, at least throughout the free world. From London to Tokyo, Washington to Seoul, Ottawa to Jakarta, Berlin to Wellington, Paris to Canberra, Delhi to Dili and beyond, Pillars of Shame should be erected outside China’s embassy or, if that is logistically impossible, on another significant site, such as in front of the legislature or government buildings.

And the second — in solidarity with Hong Kong University students — would be for university campuses around the world to build a Pillar of Shame. Students from Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, St. Andrew’s, Edinburgh, Bristol, Exeter, the London School of Economics, Imperial, University College and King’s College, London, and other major British universities, along with Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Georgetown, Columbia and campuses across the United States, as well as Toronto, McGill, McMaster, British Columbia, Melbourne, Monash, Queensland, Sydney, the University of New South Wales, Australian National University, the Sorbonne, Heidelberg, Bonn, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Yonsei, Seoul National University, Chulalongkorn, Mahidol, Chiang Mai and beyond should consider building replica Pillars of Shame in a global coordinated campaign of remembrance.

There may be other things to be done too. Cities could follow the example of London’s Tower Hamlets Council, which has passed a resolution to rename streets around the site of the new Chinese embassy as Tiananmen Square, Uyghur Court, Tibet Hill and Hong Kong Road. Lithuania’s capital Vilnius already has a Tibet Square and an attempt was made in Washington, DC, seven years ago to rename the street in which China’s embassy stands as Liu Xiaobo Plaza after the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who subsequently died in custody in 2017.

Others will have further creative ideas. But the key point is this: now that Hong Kong, for now, has been silenced by Beijing, those of us who live in the free world must step up, to stand with Hong Kong, to speak out when those in Hong Kong no longer can, and to ensure that the Chinese regime’s attempts to erase history never succeed.

Benedict Rogers is a human rights activist and writer. He is the co-founder and chief executive of Hong Kong Watch, senior analyst for East Asia at the international human rights organisation CSW, co-founder and deputy chair of the UK Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, a member of the advisory group of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) and a board member of the Stop Uyghur Genocide Campaign. He is the author of six books, and his faith journey is told in his book “From Burma to Rome: A Journey into the Catholic Church” (Gracewing, 2015). The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.



China says Covid-19 vaccines for Africa is ‘top priority’.

8th December 2021

South China Morning Post

China says Covid-19 vaccines for Africa is ‘top priority’

* A week after pledging an extra 1 billion doses for the continent, Beijing has started putting the supply logistics in place
* Diplomats are also promising Chinese investment in African renewable projects and boosted cooperation in a wide range of fields

By: Jevans Nyabiage

China has started putting in place the logistics to supply its promised extra 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Africa.

Senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi, on his second visit to the continent this year, said supply and transport of the vaccines to African countries would be arranged as soon as possible.

“Closing the immunisation gap and addressing the inequity of vaccine distribution is a top priority,” he told Chinese state news agency Xinhua in Sierra Leone on Monday.

Yang’s visit to Freetown followed hard on the heels of President Xi Jinping’s pledge of a further 1 billion doses to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Dakar last week.

China has also said it will undertake 10 medical and health assistance projects for African countries, send 1,500 medical staff and public health experts to the continent, and speed up the building of China-Africa friendship hospitals.

The extra doses will include 600 million as donations, with the remainder to be jointly produced in Africa by Chinese and African companies.

Beijing is also currently building a headquarters for the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in Ethiopia.

Donated Chinese vaccines have already arrived in some countries – including Somalia and Djibouti – since Xi’s announcement via video link to the FOCAC meeting.

Wu Peng, director general of the foreign ministry’s African affairs department, on Tuesday shared a tweet by the Chinese embassy in Somalia showing the arrival of half a million Sinopharm vaccines in the country.

“We’re acting to implement President Xi Jinping’s commitment of providing another 1 billion doses of vaccines to Africa to help the [African Union] achieve its goal of vaccinating 60 per cent of [the] African population by 2022,” Wu said on Twitter.

The discovery by South African scientists of the Omicron variant meant the need to address vaccine inequity in Africa was urgent, according to Folashade Soule, a senior research associate at the University of Oxford.

“The pledge to provide 1 billion doses is a very bold move that responds to this urgency. It shows again that China’s cooperation with Africa is built on tangible actions first,” she said.

Soule said the end game for China was to find local production sites for Chinese vaccine manufacturers. “What the unequal access to vaccines highlights is a lack of manufacturing factories for vaccine production on the continent.”

Several African countries have already signed agreements with Chinese manufacturers to produce vaccines locally. A Sinovac plant funded by China was launched in Egypt this year with an estimated annual production of 80 million vaccines, while another factory is being set up in Morocco.

“So there is also a market opportunity for China here and I think these opportunities are also envisioned in the other 400 million doses pledged by Xi,” Soule said.

In addition to China’s vaccine promises, the forum saw an agreement from Beijing to increase its investments in African low-emission projects, including photovoltaic, wind and other renewable energies.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, who were in Dakar for the event, held meetings with several of their African counterparts. Wang Yi took part in more than 30 events at the forum and met 25 African foreign ministers.

During his Sierra Leone visit, Yang said China would invest in low-carbon emission projects and stop building coal-fired power plants to help African countries fight the effects of climate change.

“China will work with Africa to advocate green and low-carbon development, develop solar, wind and other renewable energy sources,” Yang told Xinhua, adding that China would help the continent avert “the old path of pollution first, treatment later” while continuing to advance industrialisation.

In a meeting with Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio, Yang said China would boost cooperation in fields such as Covid-19 response, agriculture, fishery, education and infrastructure.

“China is willing to further deepen coordination and cooperation with Sierra Leone in the United Nations and other multilateral organisations, safeguard the common interests of China and Africa, as well as developing countries at large,” he said.

Bio said Sierra Leone firmly backed the one-China policy and supported the Beijing Olympic Winter Games.

Yang’s latest Africa trip began in the Republic of Congo, where he met President Denis Sassou Nguesso and promised to help the central African country fight the Covid-19 pandemic and develop infrastructure and industrial estates.

Yang’s visit to Congo-Brazzaville and Sierra Leone, and the back-to-back meetings of senior Chinese officials seemed like an effort to resolve problems, according to David Shinn, a professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

In the case of Congo-Brazzaville, Shinn said “it might have something to do with final agreement on debt rescheduling”. In June, Xi agreed to restructure Congo-Brazzaville’s US$2.4 billion worth of loans.

In Sierra Leone, Shinn said China had agreed to provide funding for a deep-sea fisheries port at a location that became controversial for fear it would threaten the rainforest, adversely impact the tourist industry, and result in excessive fishing by the Chinese fishing fleet.

Observers said the recent Chinese diplomatic advances into the continent could be driven by China’s worsening relations with the US and the West.
Yun Sun, director of the China programme at the Stimson ­Centre in Washington, said that with China’s deteriorating relations with the US, Europe and the West in general, “Chinese diplomacy is focusing a lot on the developing countries bloc these days – Africa, Latin America and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations”.

She pointed out that in the past two weeks, “we’ve seen FOCAC, China-CELAC Forum, and China-Asean Summit”.

The Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held its third ministerial meeting last week, chaired by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang.

* Jevans Nyabiage: Kenyan journalist Jevans Nyabiage is South China Morning Post's first Africa correspondent. Based in Nairobi, Jevans keeps an eye on China-Africa relations and also Chinese investments, ranging from infrastructure to energy and metal, on the continent.




Taiwan among 110 countries invited to US Democracy Summit.

24th November 2021

UCA News -

Taiwan among 110 countries invited to US Democracy Summit

The "Summit for Democracy" will take place online on December 9 and 10 ahead of an in-person meeting at its second edition next year




Joe Biden has invited Taiwan to a virtual summit on democracy alongside more than 100 countries -- a move bound to anger China, which is not on the list.

The conference was a campaign pledge by the US president, who has placed the struggle between democracies and "autocratic governments" at the heart of his foreign policy.

The "Summit for Democracy" will take place online on December 9 and 10 ahead of an in-person meeting at its second edition next year.

The meeting was long advertised, but the guest list -- published Tuesday on the State Department's website -- will be closely scrutinized.

Unsurprisingly, America's main rivals China and Russia are not on it.

But the United States did invite Taiwan, which it does not recognize as an independent country but holds up as a model democracy.

China baulks at any use of the word "Taiwan" that lends a sense of international legitimacy to the democratic self-ruled island, which Beijing claims as part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize -- by force if needed.

"I agree Taiwan more than qualifies- but it does seem to be (the) only democratic govt invited that the US govt does not officially recognize. So its inclusion is a big deal," tweeted Julian Ku, a Hofstra University law professor whose specialties include China.

India, often called "the world's biggest democracy," will be present despite increasing criticism from human rights defenders over democratic backsliding under Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

So too will Pakistan, despite its checkered relationship with Washington.

Democracy in decline

Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was dubbed an "autocrat" by Biden, did not make the list.
In the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq were invited. The traditional Arab allies of the US -- Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- are all absent.

Biden also invited Brazil, which is led by controversial far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

In Europe, Poland is represented, despite recurring tensions with Brussels over respect for the rule of law, but Hungary's far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban is not.

On the African side, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger are invited.

"For this kick-off Summit... there's a case for getting a broad set of actors into the room: it provides for a better exchange of ideas than setting a perfect bar for qualification," Laleh Ispahani of the Open Society Foundations told AFP.

Rather than using the summit as an anti-China meeting, Ispahani urged Biden to address "the serious decline of democracy around the world - including relatively robust models like the US."

This summit is being organized as democracy has suffered setbacks in countries where the US had placed great hopes.

Sudan and Myanmar have experienced military coups, Ethiopia is in the midst of a conflict that could lead to its "implosion," according to US diplomats, and the Taliban took power in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US troops after two decades.



Xi Jinping’s banner term, or qizhiyu (旗帜语), as a new leap in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context”.


By China Media Project



Xi Jinping's banner term, or qizhiyu (旗帜语), as a "new leap in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context"

The major event in Chinese official discourse in November 2021 was the release of the Resolution of the Central Committee of the CCP on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century (中共中央关于党的百年奋斗重大成就和历史经验的决议), passed at the 6th Plenum, only the third such resolution in the history of the Chinese Communist Party. The Resolution, which referred to Xi Jinping's banner term, or qizhiyu (旗帜语), as a "new leap in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context" and emphasized Xi’s "core" position, paved the way for Xi to continue as the Party’s unassailable leader beyond 2022.


November also brought the birth of a new political catchphrase, the “Two Establishes” (两个确立), appearing for the first time in the official People’s Daily newspaper on November 12, and registering a Tier 3 on the CMP scale for the month, with 30 total mentions. The full version of this phrase can now be seen in the Resolution as released in the wake of the 6th Plenum: “The Party has established Comrade Xi Jinping as the core of the CCP Central Committee and the core of the entire party, and has established the guiding status of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era.” 


[The November 15 Sinocism discusses long comments by Chen Yixin on the “two establishes” in which he says the concept “is the greatest political achievement and the most important historical experience since the 18th CPC National Congress”.]


The content of the “Two Establishes” are political matters that were successively established at the 6th Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the CCP in 2016, when Xi was formally designated as the “core,” and in the political report to the 19th National Congress of the CCP in 2017, when his banner term was formally unveiled. One crucial point of importance in the release of the 2021 Resolution on the history of the CCP was to solidify Xi Jinping’s ideological status by highlighting his ideas and legacy claims in an important high-level document. 


Focus Topic

The CCP’s Third Resolution on History

As we mentioned at the outset of this report, the major event in Chinese discourse in November 2021 was the passage at the 6th Plenum of the Resolution of the Central Committee of the CCP on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century. 


The resolution was the third of its kind since the founding of the CCP. The first was Mao Zedong’s Resolution on Certain Historical Issues (关于若干历史问题的决议), which was introduced in 1945. This resolution came against the backdrop of the Second Sino-Japanese War, drawing to a close that year, and the Yan’an Rectification Movement, the ideological mass movement within the CCP that had begun four years earlier. By March 1943, having achieved supremacy within the Party, Mao had carried out a purge of elements within the CCP opposed to his rule. The first resolution was meant to summarize the lessons of the political movement under the CCP since its founding in 1921, focusing on the period from the 4th Plenum of the 6th Central Committee (January 1931) and the supposed damage brought about by “left-leaning opportunism” (左倾机会主义).


The second Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China (关于建国以来党的若干历史问题的决议), was introduced in 1981 as a corrective by Deng Xiaoping to the “questions” raised by the Cultural Revolution. The document focused on “left errors” in the principles governing economic and political work, and the “confusing of right and wrong,” which resulted in extensive suffering that the resolution acknowledged, with grudging admission of Mao’s culpability, without undermining his revolutionary role.

Both of these first two resolutions were critical in nature, meant as appraisals of the performance of past leaders that firmly established the foundation for the authority of the current leadership group. Though covering a time-frame similiar to the previous resolutions, which were also separated by a period of around 40 years, the 2021 resolution has a purpose vastly different from that of its predecessors. 


The chief purpose of the 1981 Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China was to reach a basic consensus on historical issues, to establish the legitimacy (合法性) and rationality (合理性) of the new line focused on economic development, and to make a gesture of self-reflection by the Party on the errors committed during the Cultural Revolution. The clear male lead in the 1981 resolution was not Deng Xiaoping but Mao Zedong, who had passed away in 1976. In the 1981 text, running to 34,000 characters, Mao’s name appeared 113 times. The resolution took full account of Mao’s achievements and merits, but at the same time declared the CCP’s correction of the line. “Chief responsibility for the grave ‘Left’ error of the ‘cultural revolution,’ an error comprehensive in magnitude and protracted in duration, does indeed lie with Comrade Mao Zedong,” said the document. “But after all it was the error of a great proletarian revolutionary.


The male lead in the 2021 Resolution of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century is undoubtedly Xi Jinping. In the resolution, the top leadership has essentially used a century of CCP history as a stage on which to sing Xi’s praises, establishing him as the leading man in the national drama, and pinning his power and prestige to what is meant to be a hefty and profound historical document. In the 36,000-word document, roughly the same length as the 1981 resolution, “Xi Jinping” appears 22 times against 18 mentions for Mao Zedong, and the CCP’s other top leaders are left in the dust by comparison.


In this year’s resolution, in fact, it can be said that previous leaders, including Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, are to a large extent merely reference points for the elevation of Xi. The structure and wording of the resolution place the historical status of Xi Jinping and of his banner phrase, “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” on a higher level than that of even Mao and Deng, and far above the heads of both Jiang and Hu.


The clearest sign of this can be seen in the way the 2021 Resolution divides the 100-year history of the CCP into four distinct periods. The first two periods, the “New Democracy Period” (新民主主义时期) and the “Socialist Revolution and Socialist Construction Period” (社会主义革命和社会主义建设时期), are both defined as being under Mao Zedong’s leadership. The third and next stage, the “Reform and Opening and Socialist Modernization Period” (改革开放和社会主义现代化建设时期), covers not just Deng Xiaoping but also Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, a neat packaging of politics since the late 1970s all the way up through the end of 2012 that effectively diminishes Xi’s immediate predecessors, portraying them as extensions of Deng – or as part of a “post-Deng period” (后邓阶段) that does not merit its own status as the fourth of five stages. 


The fourth and final stage is a “New Era of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” (中国特色社会主义新时代), pioneered by Xi Jinping. And under this re-drawing of historical lines, Xi’s “New Era” is given the same order of magnitude as the periods of both Mao and Deng. A dedicated chapter in the 2021 Resolution dealing with the “New Era” along 13 different aspects forms the bulk of the resolution text. This chapter, which outlines Xi’s achievements since the 18th National Congress in 2012, runs to 19,249 characters, meaning that 53 percent of a resolution dealing with 100 years of history focusses on barely nine percent of that history. The 13 aspects dealt with in this “New Era” chapter include: “comprehensive strict governance of the Party” (全面从严治党); “economic development” (经济建设); “comprehensive deepening of reform” (在全面深化改革开放); “political construction” (政治建设); “comprehensive law-based governance” (全面依法治国); “cultural construction” (文化建设); “social construction” (社会建设); “ecological civilization construction” (生态文明建设); “national defense and military construction” (国防和军队建设); “preserving national security” (维护国家安全); “one country two systems and national unification” (维护国家安全); and “foreign policy work” (外交工作). 

We can contrast this voluminous treatment, essentially summing up what can be called “Xi Thought” (习思想) – though this shortened form of Xi’s banner has not yet been formally introduced – with the chapter in the 1981 resolution summing up the legacy of Mao and Mao Zedong Thought (毛泽东思想). This chapter in the second resolution elaborates Mao Zedong Thought along six aspects, the section running to 7,420 characters, just one-fifth of the entire resolution text. So we can see that the portion in the 2021 Resolution dealing with “Xi Thought” is well over double that dedicated to Mao Zedong Thought in the resolution forty years earlier. 


When looking at the specialized process of CCP framing of discourse, or tifa (提法), what may seem subtle differences in languages of translation can in fact mark significant points of departure. In the 2021 Resolution, we can see a prominent example of this in the way the text deploys the words “established,” or chuangli (创立), and “formed,” or xingcheng (形成). When the resolution discusses “Xi Thought,” the language used is identical to that used for Mao and Deng. The word “established” appears four times in the text of the Resolution, applied once each to Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory, and twice to “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” By contrast, both Jiang’s “Three Represents” and Hu Jintao’s “Scientific View of Development” were “formed.” In the official discourse, the gap between “established” and “formed” is unmistakable, the former suggesting agency and formidable contribution, while the latter suggests relative passivity. 


Another example of immensely important minutia comes with the use of the word “leap,” or feiyue (飞跃) [The November 11 Sinocism discussed the importance of the use of “leap” in much detail] , which is replete with historical significance as a description of immensity and progress. “Leap” is used seven times in the 2021 Resolution, and three of these instances deal with leading ideologies: 


  1. Mao Zedong Thought is the first historical leap in the sinicization of Marxism (毛泽东思想是马克思主义中国化的第一次历史性飞跃)


  1. The Party led and supported a great discussion on the issue of truth standards . . . . formed the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and realized a new leap in the sinicization of Marxism (党领导和支持开展真理标准问题大讨论,……形成中国特色社会主义理论体系,实现了马克思主义中国化新的飞跃).


  1. Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is contemporary Chinese Marxism and twenty-first century Marxism, the essence of the times of Chinese culture and the Chinese spirit, and has achieved a new leap in the sinicization of Marxism (习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想是当代中国马克思主义、二十一世纪马克思主义,是中华文化和中国精神的时代精华,实现了马克思主义中国化新的飞跃).


Interestingly, "with Comrade Mao Zedong as the core" also appears in the 2021 Resolution, while in the 1981 text he is identified instead as "with Comrade Mao Zedong as the chief representative" (以毛泽东同志为主要代表) and "with Comrade Mao Zedong as the head" (以毛泽东同志为首). The reason for this is not clear, but one possible explanation is that this choice again equates Xi Jinping, who was designated as the CCP’s “core” in 2016, to Mao Zedong. 


Following the release of the full text of the 2021 Resolution, a joke circulated online in China. It went something like this:


A man of letters lamented to himself that few sainted idols had emerged since ancient times. There was Pangu, of course, the primal living being, who had opened up the sky and created everything. He could be counted on one finger. Then there was Confucius, teacher of the world, admired by all. He too could be counted. After these two, however, the man of letters observed that no others were worthy of mention. After thinking about this for the rest of the day, he finally said to himself, "Well, sainted idols sure are hard to come by! Including myself there are just the three of us!"


In this tongue-in-cheek allegory, Pangu is Mao Zedong, the great leader (伟大领袖). Confucius, the great teacher, is Deng Xiaoping. And few readers online would have any trouble connecting the man of letters in the joke to Xi Jinping, whose conceit is to see history converging in this moment, his moment, to apotheosize him as history’s third sainted idol (圣人). By Xi’s own reckoning – or so the joke imagines – only Mao and Deng can claim to be his equals. 


2022 is just around the corner, and as momentum builds for the 20th National Congress next fall we can expect the year to be a busy one for official CCP discourse, with “Xi Thought” (习思想) positioning for dominance, and new terms emerging to give shape to the concerns and priorities of the leadership. But this online joke should serve as a simple reminder of the base and not at all learned claims that lie just beneath the surface of these exalted terminologies. And it should remind us, too, to keep our sense of humor. …




November 2021 Updates


November 2021



2 Updates



1. Europe stands with Taiwan, says visiting delegation.

2. Confucius would have been a climate activist.



Europe stands with Taiwan, says visiting delegation


4th Novmeber 2021

UCA News -

Led by French MEP Raphael Glucksmann, the group met Taiwan leaders despite warnings from China

AFP, Taipei

Taiwan's democracy is "a treasure" to be protected, the head of a visiting European Parliament delegation said today, promising to stand with the island as tensions between Beijing and Taipei spiral to their highest level in years.

China lays claim to Taiwan and has intensified efforts in recent years to isolate it on the international stage, bristling at any attempt to treat the self-ruled island as an independent state.

Recent Chinese air force incursions into Taiwan's air defence zone have been met with international support for Taipei, including from the United States which reiterated its long-standing commitment to supporting the island's self-defence.

Led by French MEP Raphael Glucksmann, a vocal China critic who was among five lawmakers sanctioned by Beijing in March, the group has been described as the first "official" delegation to Taipei from the European Parliament.

Glucksmann called Taiwan's democracy "a treasure that all democrats around the world should cherish and protect."

"We came here with a very simple, very clear message — you are not alone," he said as the delegation met with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen today.

"Europe is standing with you in the defence of freedom and the defence of rule of law and human dignity," he said, urging the European Union to step up cooperation with Taiwan.

"It's high time for us in the European Union to show that we are in the same boat ... next we need a very concrete agenda of high-level meetings and high-level concrete steps" to build an EU-Taiwan partnership.

The Chinese mission in Brussels had warned earlier that a Taiwan visit by MEPs would "damage China's core interest and undermine the healthy development of China-EU relations".

Beijing also reacted with anger when a group of French senators travelled to Taipei last month, and to Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu's recent visits to Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

China-Taiwan ties have plunged since Tsai took office in 2016, as she views the island as a de facto sovereign nation and not part of Chinese territory.

Taiwan's defence minister said military tensions with Beijing were at their highest in four decades, after record incursions by Chinese warplanes into the island's air defence zone last month.



Confucius would have been a climate activist

27th October 2021

Sunday Examiner - Hong Kong
MY TAKE by Alex Lo

The ancient sage and many science fiction writers would agree that the way we live now has doomed the Earth

By: Alex Lo

Perhaps I should qualify and say instead that Confucius would likely have been such an activist. I make this claim because lately, I have been experimenting and asking myself what so-and-so would do in such a situation.

Since I am no longer a Christian, it doesn’t seem right to ask that of Jesus. So, instead, I now try: what would Confucius do, in this case, about climate change?

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), starting on Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland, has been billed as our last chance to save the world. Hopefully, it’s hyperbole, otherwise we are all doomed.

To educate myself, I have been trying to digest the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released in August. It’s almost 4,000 pages long and it’s full of technical jargon and charts that I can barely make heads or tails of.

Still, some numbers, explanations and warnings stand out from the report, and they are scary. A good deal of the problems stem from the way we have behaved – or been encouraged to behave – as modern consumers.

According to Confucius, behaviour determines our character, not the other way around. And the ancient sage would not have condoned modern consumerism, its indulgence and hedonism; the ethical discipline he demanded would likely have been friendly to the environment.

But, if you are uninterested in talking about the ancients, let’s try science fiction instead. Many writers have predicted humanity will need to colonise another planet or live aboard a space-travelling Noah’s Ark – or more than one ark – as Earth becomes uninhabitable.

Now, consider this number from the IPCC report: 1.7. That’s the number of Earths we now need to sustain the current level of consumption of natural resources. Yes, we are way past that point – back in 1970 – when Earth could still recover on its own; now we are irreversibly depleting its resources.

Scientists don’t deal with certainty, but probability. Climate change deniers notwithstanding, we are responsible for global warming.

More specifically, there is a high degree of statistical confidence that we are directly responsible for almost all of the 1.1 degrees Celsius increase in global temperatures observed since the Industrial Revolution – natural factors played only a negligible role – leading to the loss of sea ice, rising temperatures, and acidity in the oceans.

Extreme weather with catastrophic consequences will become more frequent and widespread.

Interestingly, we have largely to thank the three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in physics for the high scientific confidence displayed in the many claims and warnings made in the IPCC report. Is it really just a coincidence that the trio – Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi – won in the same year that the report was released and the COP26 conference held?

They are pioneers in the study of what scientists call complex systems, of which the weather is a prime example. Manabe and Hasselmann won the prize “for the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming”, while Giorgio Parisi was acknowledged for discovering “the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales”.

The previous IPCC report in 2013 projected that temperatures could rise by 1.5 degrees in the 2040s. The latest prediction, alarmingly, has pushed forward that prediction by a decade, to the early 2030s. Even if world governments, miraculously, managed to cut emissions to the lowest possible scenario, we would still likely breach that temperature threshold by the early 2040s.

The increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires are destroying forests and turning them into emitters of greenhouse gases, rather than absorbers, as it’s already happening in the Amazon.

It’s estimated that to reverse course and save the planet, we collectively need to invest US$1.6 trillion a year from now till 2050 in the energy and tech sectors alone. Currently, we are only spending a fifth of that amount per year. How likely are we to come up with that financial commitment consistently over three decades, instead of spending on weapons to blow each other up? As a student of history, I would venture to guess that the latter is the much more likely outcome.

Our whole civilisational way of life – and that goes way beyond “the clash of civilisations” – would need to be overhauled, in agriculture, transport, manufacturing, energy and construction. That’s because all these economic sectors have been carried out in the same or similar ways, whether your society is Islamic, American, European, Asian or Chinese; and whether your government is democratic or authoritarian.

Does recycling work? No, we are way past that point now; there is, for a short answer, just too much plastic already. We need a system’s response, not just individuals’. Will American capitalism, European collective responsibility, Asian societal discipline, Chinese-style communism and/or Western-style democracy come up with a systematic solution to save the planet?

I am pessimistic. It might not have been so bad. My wife and I are in our mid-50s and all our pets are getting on. It’s unlikely we will live long enough to see the end of time. But our two children are still in college. I hate to think they and their friends will inherit a planet on fire.

Just for that, we will have to take responsibility. The IPCC report recommends reducing each individual carbon footprint by eating less meat, driving and flying less and using less plastic. We can do that. Why not?

During the Warring Period, Confucius thought an entire state or civilisation could be saved by the whole people collectively changing their behaviour and living according to virtue. Maybe it’s still possible for our collective civilisation to change the way we live, if not virtuously, at least environmentally. Who knows?






October 2021 Updates


October 2021



3 Updates



1. China's National Day is no cause for celebration.

2. Fan Shouyi: The first Chinese person to tell of the West

3. On the Significance of the Chinese Understanding of Technology in the Context of the International Discussion on Environment.





China's National Day is no cause for celebration.

1st October 2021


UCA News
Rights and Wrongs
By: Benedict Rogers

China's National Day is no cause for celebration

Over the past 72 years, a human tragedy has unfolded in China to rank alongside the Holocaust and Cambodia's killing fields

Today is China’s National Day, the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. But let’s be clear about something that is all too often confused: while China as a great and ancient civilization has much about it that deserves respect, with a rich and deep culture — from poetry, language, philosophy, art, music and cuisine — that should be celebrated, and a people who show extraordinary entrepreneurialism, creativity and grit in the face of adversity, those are entirely different from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that has ruled tyrannically for the past seven decades.

In reality, today is not China’s National Day in the truest sense — a day of celebration of China’s culture and people who have contributed so much to the world — but instead an anniversary of an ideological revolution that plunged one of the world’s great civilizations into more than 70 years of repression and now poses one of the most serious threats to the free world and the international rules-based order. As such, it is a day of mourning, not celebration.

Over the past 72 years, one of the modern world’s greatest human tragedies has unfolded in China, ranking alongside the Holocaust, the Soviet Union’s repression, the killing fields of Cambodia, the atrocities in North Korea and Myanmar and all the other mass atrocities which humankind has inflicted on its fellow humans.

Just the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution combined mean Mao Zedong killed more people than Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Add to that decades of killings in Tibet, the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, years of forced organ harvesting and the persecution of Uyghurs, which is now increasingly recognized as the contemporary world’s latest genocide, and you have a grim picture.

On top of these atrocities, in recent years — as the UK Conservative Party Human Rights Commission documented in its report, “The Darkness Deepens: The Crackdown on Human Rights in China 2016-2020,” published earlier this year — China is waging an intense assault on Christians, a crackdown on civil society, citizen journalists, dissidents, bloggers, whistleblowers and lawyers, and the rapid dismantling of Hong Kong’s freedoms.

When someone like Jimmy Lai, an entrepreneur and devout Catholic, is jailed in Hong Kong decades after fleeing mainland China in search of freedom, there is really nothing to celebrate and much to mourn today.

Furthermore, the CCP regime is infiltrating and subverting the free world’s morals in a frightening way. From Hollywood to the City of London, from Wall Street to the Vatican, Beijing’s tentacles are extending in ways that should concern us all.

Does it not strike you as odd, ill-advised, risky and unethical that some of the free world’s key pension funds are deeply invested in Chinese companies complicit in genocide, crimes against humanity and other grave human rights violations at a time when “environmental, social and governance” investing is de rigueur?

Yet this is the finding of a new report by Hong Kong Watch, published last week, which found that some of the world’s major institutional investors have put millions into companies such as Alibaba, which alongside Hikvision has produced facial recognition technology used by the CCP regime to target Uyghurs and has helped to construct China’s surveillance state and prison camps. Or Tencent, which is accused by Human Rights Watch of using WeChat, the social media app it owns, as a tool of surveillance and censorship for the Chinese state.

Moreover, as former Hong Kong legislator Dennis Kwok and my colleague Johnny Patterson have argued in the Wall Street Journal, “China’s increasingly unstable business environment looks likely to leave these financiers looking foolish or reckless. Beijing’s crackdown on private businesses has wiped out hundreds of billions of dollars in market value in the past two months.”

Does it not also strike you as odd that the Holy See is invested in a dodgy deal with Beijing which, far from leading to any improvement in religious freedom, has resulted instead in further persecution — and the pope’s silence?

I love Pope Francis and am always heartened by the fact that almost every Sunday when he prays the Angelus from his window onto St. Peter’s Square in Rome, he speaks about one issue of injustice, persecution or conflict or another — except China.

His silence on the Uyghurs, the persecution of Chinese Christians, forced organ harvesting, repression in Tibet or the dismantling of Hong Kong’s freedoms in flagrant violation of an international agreement — not to mention the jailing of many Catholics, in mainland China and among Hong Kong’s democrats — is both deafening and baffling. Couldn’t he at least pray for them?

And that’s the key point today. Let’s not get caught up in Beijing’s propaganda. Let’s instead pray and protest. Should we talk to the regime? Of course we should. We cannot ignore or isolate a country of China’s size and power. The question isn’t whether to talk but what about and on what conditions.

But the one thing we must stop doing is kowtowing. Especially today. We must remember that today isn’t a day to honor China — a country I love deeply and which has been a central part of my life since I first went to teach English in Qingdao aged 18 almost 30 years ago. Today is a day instead to protest its regime, pray for its people and their liberation and mourn those who have been murdered or jailed — and resolve to work for a better future.

Mao Zedong reportedly declared on this date 72 years ago that the Chinese people had “stood up.” Today it’s time the rest of the world stood up for the people of China and their right to human dignity and liberty.

* Benedict Rogers is a human rights activist and writer. He is the co-founder and chief executive of Hong Kong Watch, senior analyst for East Asia at the international human rights organisation CSW, co-founder and deputy chair of the UK Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, a member of the advisory group of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) and a board member of the Stop Uyghur Genocide Campaign. He is the author of six books, and his faith journey is told in his book “From Burma to Rome: A Journey into the Catholic Church” (Gracewing, 2015). The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.




Fan Shouyi: The first Chinese person to tell of the West


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August 2021 Updates


August 2021



2 Updates



1. In China, ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ Is the Only Accepted Religion.

2. China says it will provide 2 billion vaccine doses to the world.




In China, ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ Is the Only Accepted Religion


17th August 2021


The Diplomat

To understand China’s crackdown on religion, we need to look beyond the repression of any single faith.

By: William Nee

It is no surprise that China under President Xi Jinping is becoming increasing hostile to freedom of religion.

However, recent cases show some of the main tactics the government is employing to control and suppress Christianity in China. This includes forcing independent churches to join religious organizations supervised by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), suppressing the transmission of religious knowledge to the next generation, isolating Chinese Christians from the broader global community of practitioners, detaining Christians that criticize the government, and banning the sale of the Bible.

Rather than viewing these violations of freedom of religion as localized attempts to stifle potential political threats, it is arguably more fruitful to view the tactics of repression employed in these cases as part of a larger project of weakening faith systems that can challenge the CCP’s monopoly on ideology and Xi Jinping’s unique position as the ultimate arbiter of the Party’s ideology and “faith.”

Targeting Independent Churches and Their Followers

On August 7 of this year, Rights Defense Network learned that nine people involved in the congregation at the Golden Lamp Church in Linfen in Shanxi province had been taken away by police. This includes the pastor Wang Xiaoguang and preacher Yang Rongli.

A month before this, many personnel from the community’s social stability maintenance apparatus were engaged in investigating the church, finding out who its core members are. This indicated that the sudden detention of the church leadership was planned well in advance.

According to one church member who spoke with Radio Free Asia, the Golden Lamp Church repeatedly refused officials’ demands for the church to come under the control of the “Three-Self Patriotic Church,” the official Chinese Protestant church that is overseen by the CCP’s United Front Work Department. Yang Rongli had already been sentenced to seven years in prison in 2009, and the church building was torn down in 2018. The government has also withheld pensions and medical insurance payments to church leaders as a means to coerce them into cooperating.

As of this writing, it appeared that the nine members of the church are still in custody and presumed to be under interrogation, although their exact legal status is unclear. China Aid, an NGO that focuses on religious freedom in China, has found other instances in which the government has forced house churches to enter the Three-Self Church.

According to Rights Defense Network, on July 7, Zhao Weikai, 35, a practitioner at the Taiyuan Xuncheng Reformed Church, was criminally detained, and on July 20 he was arrested on the charge of “illegally possessing materials the that advocate terrorism or extremism.” His family’s arrest notice said that his arrest was approved by the Wenshui County Procuratorate and carried out by the Wenshui County Public Security Bureau, and that he is being held at the Fangshan County Detention Center.

Zhao had studied at (now imprisoned) pastor Wang Yi’s Huaxia Theological Seminary. Zhao and his wife have three children, and to avoid “brainwashing,” he had refused to send his children to state schools, and instead home schooled them – a matter that religious affairs officials, education committee officials, and national security police forced him to “talk about.”

Earlier this year, on May 17, Zhao and his wife Li Xin were summoned by police on the charge of “religious fraud.” Zhao’s cell phones and other belongings were taken away in a raid by a dozen police officers. Li was released but Zhao was given 15 days of administrative detention. The Xuncheng Reformed Church had been frequently harassed by authorities.

China has long tried to limit religious education for minors, and in many places, children are not allowed to attend church or engage in other religious activities, like summer camps.

Meanwhile, five other members of the Xuncheng Reformed Church were detained on July 28 on the charge of “illegally crossing the border,” ostensibly because they went to a religious conference called “KL2020 Gospel and Culture” in Malaysia in January 2020. The event was organized by the influential Indonesian pastor Stephen Tong, and was attended by prominent pastors including Tim Keller and D.A. Carson. The five apparently returned to China legally and without problems but were only investigated now.

China Aid has reported that Christian practitioners in other regions of the country who listened to online sermons last year from the “KL2020 Gospel and Culture” conference were questioned by local religious affairs authorities and national security police. Under the revised Regulations on Religious Affairs, the government’s religious affairs departments are required to conduct oversight on religious activities involving foreign entities.

On August 1, officials in the Xishen township of Pingchang county in Sichuan province raided the home of Cheng Xiangqi, a member of the persecuted Early Rain Church, the church founded by Wang Yi. The officials pinned him on the ground and stepped on his head before taking him away, according to Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch. They also injected him with an unknown substance.

On July 15, Cheng was also taken away and given 15 days of administrative detention. It is believed that this was related to a poem he wrote and shared among friends on WeChat, which called for the CCP to repent.

Surveilling the communications of religious believers on WeChat and limiting their ability to share their faith online is another means of control in China.

According to Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch and China Aid, four employees from the Shenzhen Tree of Life Company Ltd, whose company made devices that broadcast audio versions of the Bible, were sentenced at the Shenzhen Bao’an District Court on the charge of “illegal business operations.” Fu Xuanjuan, the owner of the company, was sentenced to six years and fined 200,000 renminbi, Deng Tianyong sentenced to three years and fined 50,000 RMB, Feng Qunhao sentenced to two years and six months and fined 30,000 RMB, and Han Li was sentenced to one year and three months and fined 10,000 RMB.

In April of 2018, China banned the sale of the Bible on all of the country’s e-commerce platforms. Since then, the only way to purchase a Bible is through government-sanctioned bodies.

The criminalization of “unauthorized” Bible sales is not an isolated incident. Duihua, a NGO specializing in criminal justice research, has found on court websites in China 11 court judgments involving 54 defendants who were convicted for illegally selling Christian books and/or audio Bibles since the ban on the sales of Bibles online came into force in April of 2018.

It’s important to stress that these tactics are not unique to Christianity: the Chinese govrnment has imposed similarly extensive restrictions against Tibetan Buddhism and Islam. According to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy’s annual report, the Chinese government has ramped up its control over Tibetan Buddhism, by equating any expressions of loyalty to the Dalai Lama with “inciting subversion.”

For example, Tibetan musicians Khando Tseten and Tsego were convicted of “inciting state subversion” and “sharing state secrets” for a song praising the Dalai Lama. Meanwhile, the government has subjected Tibetan nuns and monks to a compulsory political campaign consisting of workshops to ensure that these religious figures are “politically reliable” and “dependable during critical moments.”

In the Uyghur region, merely having any history of prayer or reading the Quran or other religious materials has been a criterion for arbitrary detention or processing through the criminal justice system. A recent report by the Uyghur Human Rights Project found at least 1,046 cases of imams who had been detained since 2014. Restrictions on Islam are not just applied to Xinjiang, but to Hui Muslims in Ningxia, and even to Hui in Hainan as well.

All of these restrictions and limitations on religion, of course, violate freedom of religion in international human rights law.

But some may ask, China has never really respected freedom of religion – so what’s new?

“Our Hearts Are Restless Until They Rest in Xi”

Arguably, there has been a significant change in the Xi Jinping era. Sinologists such as Ian Johnson have shown that there was a resurgence of religion in the “Reform and Opening” era (1978-2013), with many people newly interested in traditional Chinese beliefs, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and other practices. And despite restrictions, there was some space for religious practice, especially if people did not cross the “red lines” by challenging the CCP or organizing throughout the country. In some places, there was a degree of laissez faire in how religion was monitored, especially if the religious practice seemed to contribute to social harmony.

But the limitations on religious freedom in China in Xi Jinping’s “New Era” are arguably no longer primarily about the government limiting threats to its power on a case-by-case basis.

In 2016, Xi outlined a more hardline vision for the “management” of religion in a major speech on religious affairs. Xi called on the government to manage religion according to the law, to “guide” the faith-believing masses to love the country and support the CCP and socialism. He called for the “Sinicization” of religious practice while resolutely guarding against foreigners using religion to carry out infiltration. Xi also called for party members to be steadfast Marxist atheists, among other important points.

Xi’s vision for greater control has been subsequently codified in a series of new regulations, such as the revised Regulations on Religious Affairs and the Measures for the Administration of Religious Personnel, which states that religious personnel must:

... love the country, uphold the CCP’s leadership, uphold the socialist system, abide by the Constitution, laws, regulations and statutes, practice the socialist core values, support China’s religious principle of independence and self-determination, support China’s policy of Sinification of religion, support national unification, ethnic solidarity, and religious harmony and social stability.

But, ironically, Xi’s stress on party members being “steadfast Marxist atheists” does not necessarily mean that party members and the broader society should not have faith.

In his speeches, Xi Jinping frequently talks of the importance of “belief” and “faith” (??, xinyang, the same term used for religious faith), but he is referring to faith in “Marxism,” whose precise modern interpretations Xi Jinping oversees. It is no wonder that Study Times, an official journal of the Central Party School, boldly stated that Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, a term that has been added to the Chinese Constitution, represents a form of 21st century Marxism.

In other words, people must have faith in Marxism, according to Xi, and, conveniently for him, this faith is basically indistinguishable from Xi Jinping Thought, according to the CCP.

Thus, the new restrictions on Christian faith and the corralling of practitioners into venues where official ideology is prized above all else, should arguably be viewed as a means of slowly and deliberately ensuring that other religious faiths – competitor faiths, if you will, along with their own worldviews, ideologies, and sacred texts – have no means to expand. Instead of expansion through vibrant evangelization, competitor faiths like Christianity are being forced to be co-opted and slowly replaced by the CCP’s official faith, with Xi Jinping as the ultimate arbiter of its specific values, morals, ethics, and societal goals.


* The Diplomat is the premier international current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region.

* William Nee is the research and advocacy coordinator at Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), where he carries out research regarding a wide array of human rights concerns impacting human rights defenders in China.



China says it will provide 2 billion vaccine doses to the world

6th August 2021

The New York Times

The pledge, which included a $100 million donation to Covax, intensifies competition with the U.S. over leadership in ending the pandemic.

By: Sui-Lee Wee

China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, said the country would provide two billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to the world this year and would donate $100 million to a global effort to distribute the doses to developing countries, as Beijing attempts to take on a more prominent leadership role in curbing the pandemic.

Mr. Xi’s pledges were announced on Thursday in a written message to an international Covid-19 vaccine cooperation forum chaired by the Chinese government. “China will continue to do everything it can to help developing countries cope with the epidemic,” Mr. Xi said.

He did not specify whether the two billion doses were donations or sales, or whether they consisted of new supplies or included those already sold. China is the world’s top exporter of Covid-19 vaccines and has sold 952 million doses worldwide, according to Bridge Consulting, a Beijing-based research company. It has also donated 33 million doses.

The $100 million donation to Covax, a global initiative backed by the World Health Organization to provide vaccines to poorer countries, would give the organization much-needed financing to strike deals with vaccine makers at a time when it has been struggling to acquire and administer doses. The world is still short of $700 million for needed vaccines, according to the W.H.O. Mr. Xi did not give a time frame for the donation.

The provision of both vaccines and money would give Beijing an opportunity to promote its reputation as a leader in public health and improve its image, which has taken a beating in the West after the pandemic. China’s donations place it in direct competition with the United States, which has sent 110 million doses abroad and purchased another 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine — worth about $3.5 billion — to be distributed globally through Covax.

Even with those supplies, however, the world remains short of the 11 billion doses the World Health Organization says must be distributed globally to bring the pandemic under control.

Last year, Mr. Xi promised that a Covid-19 vaccine would be a “global public good.” But in the following months, China appeared focused on mostly striking bilateral deals with countries to win good will.

This year, Beijing showed more of an interest in participating in Covax. Last month, two of China’s vaccine makers, Sinopharm and Sinovac, signed an agreement to sell Covax more than half a billion doses by the first half of next year.

* Sui-Lee Wee is a China correspondent for The New York Times. She has covered China since 2010, focusing on health care, gender and demographics. - @suilee

* A version of this article appears in print on Aug. 7, 2021, Section A, Page 5 of the New York edition with the headline: China Pledges to Provide 2 Billion Vaccines And Donate $100 Million to Covax Program.





July 2021 Updates


July 2021



4 Updates



1. China: The Re-Emergence of the Middle Kingdom.

2. The religion behind a divided America and its conflict with China.

3. 'New research has found that Beijing is keen to reduce the population of mainly Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

4. Beijing allows up to three children per married couple.






China: The Re-Emergence of the Middle Kingdom.


May-June 2021

Article published in Doctrine & Life, vol. 70, no. 5


ALMOST 50 years ago, on February 23, 1972, to be precise, President Richard Nixon made a visit to China. The trip was the culmination of a period of intense diplomatic activity led on the American side by Henry Kissenger and on the Chinese side by Zhou Enlai. The objective from Nixon’s viewpoint was to establish a détente that would enable a US withdrawal from Vietnam and achieve, at least, a tacit alliance that might compel the Soviet Union to engage in arms control talks. Up to that point, China was second only to the Soviet Union on the American ‘bad guys’ list. China became a nuclear power and a serious threat to the West when it detonated an atom bomb on October 16, 1964.


The Chinese leaders, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, were motivated to talk because they needed US help to deal with a number of serious problems. First, the economy was in bad shape and there was even the very real prospect of famine. The country needed fertiliser, farm machinery and technology and was not getting any help from Russia. Second, security was actually at risk from an enormous buildup of Soviet forces on the Manchurian border while China was being continually harassed by the Taiwanese from the South. Finally, Mao desperately needed to erase the ‘humiliation’ China suffered in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries at the hands of Europe and Japan by bringing Taiwan back under Beijing’s control. It could not achieve


david begg served as secretary general of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions from 2001 to 2015.


Re-Emergence of the Middle Kingdom

these objectives without American agreement and support.


The veteran trade negotiator and sometime presidential advisor, Clyde Prestowitz, maintains that Nixon and Kissinger were outplayed by Mao and Zhou. He blames Kissinger, in particular, for conceding that American support for Taiwan had been a historical mistake and for promising to withdraw from the Western Pacific.1 Of the negotiations, Nixon stated, ‘This was the week that changed the world’.2 It was a claim not borne out in the passage of time since. The intention in this article is to explore the basis of Chinese exceptionalism and to explain why, despite its embrace of market capitalism, China has not joined the liberal international order as Presidents from Nixon to Obama had hoped it would.




Relations between the West and China are today arguably worse than they have ever been. The first high-level meeting between China and the new Biden administration held in Alaska in March 2021 produced an extraordinary public spat. The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, and his opposite number, Yang Jiechi, are reported to have disagreed strongly over China’s policy towards Hong Kong, the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and the status of Taiwan.3


This was quickly followed by a co-ordinated EU, US, UK and Canadian imposition of sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on key Chinese officials because of the persecution of the Uyghur population. China responded by imposing bans on ten EU individuals, including some MEPs, British MPs and academics.4 


Doctrine & Life

The government also incited a boycott of foreign retail brands such as H & M and Nike.


The Economist is not generally a publication given to hyperbole but in a feature on China it opines that we are facing into an epoch-de- fining contest between autocracy and liberal values. This presents the free world with a challenge: how should it best secure prosperity, lower the risk of war and protect freedom as China rises? The imme- diate manifestation of this challenge is Hong Kong. In March 2021 China slapped down democracy there effectively repudiating the ‘one country, two system’ agreement reached with Britain in 1997. This is not just a tragedy for the 7.5 million people who live there; it is also a measure of China’s determination not to compromise over how it asserts its will. 5


Chinese leaders are increasingly confident that their model of techno-authoritarian state capitalism is superior to the partisan squabbling, short-termism and selfish individualism they see in the democratic West. There is not much evidence in the reaction of big business to gainsay that conclusion. One might think that the death of liberalism in Asia’s financial centre, which hosts $10 trillion of cross-border investments, would trigger panic, capital flight and a business exodus. Instead, Hong Kong, according to the Economist, is enjoying a financial boom. Banks like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are deeply invested in a hub for the world’s reserve currency which last year hit a record $11 trillion cleared in Hong Kong. Hong Kong issues its own hard currency, the Hong Kong dollar, which is freely convertible against the American dollar, and offers Chinese firms access to some of the deepest pools of capital on earth.6


Nevertheless, Clyde Prestowitz believes that China’s efforts to control Hong Kong will ultimately undermine its status and value as a major international financial centre. His conclusion is based on the fact that its status was predicated on the rule of law left behind when the UK turned the territory over to Beijing. Now that Beijing has made its disregard for the agreement clear, he believes the money will move to safer territory.7 Time will tell.


In their first conversation in 1972 President Nixon is reported to have asked Zhou Enlai what he thought of the French Revolution. The answer was revealing. ‘It’s too early to tell’, replied Zhou. It was an indication that China frames its polity taking account of the long sweep of history.



It is China’s interpretation of history that conditions how it relates to the modern world. Samuel Huntington, writing in the 1990s, felt able to assert even then that the diffusion of technology and the eco- nomic development of China was producing a return to an historical pattern in which, for most of its history, China had the world’s larg- est economy.8 Certainly it is the view of China’s leader, Mr Xi Jinping, that ‘the East is rising and the West is in decline’.9


As articulated by Mr Xi, the Chinese dream is not to become a ‘responsible stakeholder’ in a global rules-based system created by the United States after World War II and the Cold War. It is, instead, to return to the grandeur of a 5,000-year-old civilisation that was the supreme world leader – militarily, culturally, technologically, admin- istratively and artistically – until the mid-nineteenth century, when the opium wars initiated ‘a hundred and fifty years of humiliation’ by the West. In Mandarin, the characters for ‘China’ literally mean Mid- dle Kingdom. The dream evokes the notion of restoring a globally dominant country surrounded by vassal states and barbarians from whom tribute may be exacted. This is what is behind China’s aggres- sive international relations posture towards the West and especially in its near region of the South China Sea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.10


While China’s sense of historical grievance against the West is not without justification, it tends to obscure some enormous unforced errors by the Communist Party since it came to power in 1949. Be- tween 1958 and 1960, China embarked on the Great Leap Forward. By requiring people to melt their household utensils, factory tools and farm machinery to make steel in backyard furnaces, it rendered itself unable to plant and harvest enough food for its population. As a result it suffered a famine which killed more than 40 million people.


It also experienced the Cultural Revolution, in which Mao tried to erase Chinese civilisation, with terrible consequences in terms of social upheaval. It was only with the death of Mao in 1976 and the subsequent rise to power of Deng Xiaoping that the country adopted the doctrine of ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ which allowed the country to begin to modernise and prosper. Even so, the Commu- nist Party still ruled with an iron fist, epitomised by the massacre of protesting students in Tiananmen Square in 1989.


Deng was succeeded by Jiang Zemin for 10 years and by Hu Jin- tao, also for 10 years. During this period, China experienced very rapid economic growth, hugely boosted by inward foreign direct in- vestment and by China’s accession as a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In permitting China to join the WTO in 2001, Western leaders believed that free trade and globalisation would in-evitably liberalise and democratise China. They were wrong.11


The Communist Party has total control of the economy and soci- ety in China. It is no longer a Marxist party in that it has embraced capitalism and inequality, but it is a Leninist party in that it follows Lenin’s concepts of how to obtain and maintain absolute power. Power is its highest priority. The Party is not subject to the rule of any laws, and it brooks no opposition. It monitors people constantly and comprehensively. It does not confine itself to the political sphere but enforces its will in art, religion, philosophy and all other aspects of life. For instance, China is the only country in the world where the government (that is the Party) names the priests in the Catholic Church.12



China’s international relations outlook does not formally admit of any allies except North Korea but in recent times it has repaired re- lations with Russia, which were broken in the split with the Soviet Union in 1960. In September 2019 their respective air forces engaged in joint operations over the Takeshima Islands near South Korea. Moreover, China has substantial economic influence in a large num- ber of states and regions.


For example, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia and Myanmar are al- most extensions of China, and the recent military coup in Myanmar would not have happened without its approval. China practically owns sub-Saharan Africa and has been strengthening many dictators there. It also has a strong security partnership with Pakistan. Even in Europe its investments in Southern and Eastern countries have cre- ated a dependency. As a result the EU, which requires unanimity on foreign policy matters, has found itself somewhat disempowered in criticising China. 


As Clyde Prestowitz argues, the long and the short of it is that, any country, company or person with any dependence on China may find itself compromised. This is a great problem with the global sup- ply chain much of which runs through China, because many corpora- tions and countries are vulnerable to coercion by Beijing.


China’s global strategy for challenging US global hegemony has two main components. One is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) fa- cilitated by global investment by state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in infrastructure like pipelines, roads, ports and telecommunications. The other is a massive military build-up that includes naval vessels, missiles and copies of the most advanced US military aircraft. As of 2018 the Chinese navy has 300 ships as against 290 for the United States.13


However, a recent article in Foreign Affairs argues that, while the Belt and Road Initiative is likely to enhance Beijing’s global influ- ence, it will not necessarily damage the United States and its allies directly.14 It also makes the case that, according to the 2016 China Statistical Yearbook, the United States and seven of its allies made up eight of China’s top ten trading partners. Given that the Commu- nist Party’s legitimacy at home is predicated on maintaining strong economic development, it would seem foolhardy to jeopardise these trade relationships. On that basis the article concludes that calls for a cold-war style decoupling from the Chinese economy is not only unrealistic but unwise.




Given that the growing military and economic strength of China is now seen as an existential threat to the West, it is an irony of his- tory that American presidents from Nixon on have facilitated that growth. In particular, Bill Clinton persuaded the advanced liberal market economies to allow China to join the World Trade Organi- sation (WTO) in 2001. This was done on the naïve expectation that China would play by the rules and liberalise its economy, including by privatising its state owned enterprises (SOEs). It was also believed that economic liberalisation would lead to democracy but the Com- munist Party (CCP) never had any intention of playing by WTO rules or of democratising the country. Why would they when the arrange- ments entered into gave them the best of both worlds – economic growth that legitimised the Party’s political dominance?


Thomas Orlik, former Chief Asia Economist for Bloomberg, writes that WTO entry was a more or less unalloyed positive for China. For the multinational corporations that gained access to the country, the price was being compelled to participate in joint ventures with Chi- nese partners, with forced technology transfers and export quotas of goods made in China.15 Nevertheless, these multinationals were willing to accept any number of impositions in order to benefit from cheap labour and freedom from regulation.


They had no qualms either about outsourcing jobs to China. Pre- stowitz points out that more than five million US jobs were lost be- tween 2001 and 2006, while wages stagnated in the European Union, the United States and Japan. Median US household income, which had grown at a rate of 5.3 per cent in the last 30 years of the twentieth century, fell 10 per cent in the decade after China’s entry to the WTO. Over the same period, US corporate profits doubled. Obviously, the creation of a China-centric supply chain was a great boon to big business, but not for ordinary citizens of the West.


It was initially cheap, unorganised, quasi-indentured labour, and

later other inducements like free land, reduced utility prices, capi- tal grants and the growth of Chinese markets, that led to the great wave of offshoring of US, European, and, to some extent, Japanese manufacturing to China between 1991 and 2018, and the great ex- pansion of what is now known as the global supply chain. It is this global supply chain which now makes decoupling of the West from China so difficult. A shortage of containers from ships has seen a huge increase in rail freight between China and Europe. In the first two months of this year, more than 2,000 freight trains ran from Chi- na to Europe. In 2020, China overtook the US to become the EU’s largest trading partner in terms of goods, with total imports from China rising 6 per cent.16



This presents a huge dilemma for the West. The vulnerability of a global supply chain so dependent on China was exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. More importantly, the current structure of cou- pling feeds capital and technology to a China that is actively opposed to Western values and concepts of human rights. Multinational cor- porations and their customers are directly complicit in a system that suppresses Tibetans in Tibet, Uyghurs in Xinjiang and demonstra- tors in Hong Kong. Moreover, it is now abundantly clear that Nixon’s hubristic declaration following his 1972 visit to China – ‘This was the week that changed the world’ – and all the wishful thinking of his successors, was wrong. It is critical to understand that the West cannot change China, neither can we easily decouple from her. We may have to wrestle with this dilemma for some time.


There can be little doubt that for the next 30 years or so, China will pose a challenge to the West greater even than the old Soviet Un- ion ever did. The Communist Party is not likely to be displaced as it was in the Soviet Union and it will continue to pursue an aggressive mercantilist high-tech import-substitution industrial policy. The It’s Made in China in 2025 policy statement issued by Prime Minister Li Keqiang in 2015 is intended to make the country a self-sufficient au- tarky in key technological and industrial areas.


In the longer run, though, China faces some serious problems. The most challenging is that of an aging population. China’s labour force is already shrinking and its total population will begin falling after 2029. This is likely to act as a drag on economic growth and the optimistic projections which sees the economy surpassing the United States may not be realised. The country may also be affected by water-supply problems. By 2050, Tibet’s glacial water supply will have fallen by two-thirds. Global warming and attendant rising sea levels could compound this problem and cause difficulties for a num- ber of coastal cities.


In the short term, the big concern would be an attempted inva- sion by China of Taiwan or some other incident in the South China Sea that could provoke a hot war with the United States. American military leaders have warned that this could happen within six years and are increasing their military build-up in the region against this possibility. Notwithstanding that Chinese nominal naval strength overall slightly exceeds that of the US, the latter has many allies and mutual defence treaties. It also has 11 major aircraft carriers to Chi- na’s two, and one each possessed by the United Kingdom, France and India. Overall, the US has the superior military capability and it ac- counts for about half of all defence spending in the world. China may calculate that America would not respond militarily to an invasion of Taiwan so far away but it is hard to see how it could credibly abandon a long-standing ally and still preserve its mutual defence treaties. The consequences for us all of a misjudgement could be catastrophic. Be-ware the Thucydides Trap.17


The case of China would appear to disprove the utility of Liberal

Internationalism as a theory of international relations. It looks as if the future will see relations between China and the West conducted on the basis of balance of power realism. It is a bleak prospect.


The renowned French Jesuit theologian, mystic and scientist, Teilhard de Chardin, lived, on and off, in China from 1923 to 1946. While working there on his scientific tasks in geology and palaeon- tology, his mind was asking profound questions about the nature and direction of cosmic and human evolution, the meaning and goal of life in the universe. He produced in his work one of the strongest affirmations of the Christian faith in the incarnation – the presence of God in all things through Christ. Sadly, he was treated with suspi- cion by the Church for most of his life. During a scientific expedition to Xinjiang in 1931 he wrote:

The more scientifically I regard the world, the less can I see any possible biological future for it except the active consciousness of its unity. Life cannot henceforth advance on our planet .... except by breaking down the partitions which still divide hu- man activity and entrusting itself unhesitatingly to faith in the future.18

It is, I think, a more hopeful note on which to conclude.

In my next international relations article, I will discuss what the terms of engagement with China might look like in a balance of power paradigm.


  1. Clyde Prestowitz, The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Strug- gle for Global Leadership (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2021), Chapter 6

  2. Alfred E. Eckes Jr. and Thomas W. Zeiler, Globalisation and the American Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 169

  3. Demetri Sevastopulo and Tom Mitchell, ‘Alaska meeting ends without break- through in US-China relations’, The Financial Times, March 20, 2021

  4. Michael Peel, Christian Shepherd and Demetri Sevastopulo, ‘China retaliates after sanctions move by US, EU and UK’, The Financial Times, March 22, 2021

    5. ‘The way it’s going to be: China is not just shackling Hong Kong, it is set on re-

    making it’, The Economist, March 20, 2021, pp. 14-16

    6. ibid

    7.Prestowitz, p. 222

    8. Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order

    (London: Simon & Schuster, 1997) p. 88

    9. The Economist, March 20, 2021 

    10. Prestowitz, p. 5. The Opium War was caused principally by British merchants trading opium for Chinese goods during the period of the Qing Dynasty. This opium trade created millions of drug addicts and many of China’s largest coastal cities were devastated. In an effort to rescue the situation, the Emperor Daguang ordered the seizure of all the opium in Canton, including that held by foreign governments. Britain responded by sending in the Royal Navy which quickly de- feated the Qing army. The war ended in 1842 with the signing of the Treaty of Nanking, which forced China to cede Hong Kong Island in perpetuity to Britain.

    11. Prestowitz, p. 42

    12. Ibid, p. 224 

     13. Centre for Strategic and International Studies. tion/.

    14.Thomas J. Christensen, ‘There will not be a new Cold War: The Limits of US-Chi- nese competition’, Foreign Affairs, March 24, 2021. Christensen suggests that the BRI may hamper Western diplomacy against China. As an example he cites the case of Greece, a NATO member, which blocked an EU human rights complaint against China after the Chinese shipping giant COSCO invested heavily in the Greek port of Piraeus as part of the BRI. Yet he concludes that this is more about defending the Chinese system at home than turning Greece into an offensive plat- form against NATO’s security interests. 

    15. Thomas Orlik, China The Bubble That Never Pops (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020) Chapter 9

    16. Thomas Hale, ‘China embraces rail to transport good to Europe’, The Financial Times, March 28, 2021

    17. The Thucydides Trap is a term popularised by the political scientist Graham Al- lison to describe an apparent tendency towards war when an emerging power threatens to displace an existing great power as the international hegemon. Thu- cydides was an ancient Greek historian and general who wrote a history of the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens in 411 BC

    18.Cited in Ursula Kind, Spirit of Fire: The Life and Vision of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (New York: Orbis Books, 1996), p.141





The religion behind a divided America and its conflict with China.

26th June 2021

South China Morning Post

The religion behind a divided America and its conflict with China

* The crises the US faces at home and abroad are the outgrowth of a peculiar American world view shaped by Christianity’s monotheistic belief system

* Until Americans are willing to move past the myth of ‘American exceptionalism’, the US is unlikely to be able to coexist peaceably with the outside world

By: Peter T. C. Chang

US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas reported last month that domestic terrorism was now the top threat to American national security. This real and present home-grown danger is an accretion of a toxic body polity mired in mistrust.

America’s democratic institutions, battered by misinformation and conspiracy theories, have suffered seriously diminished credibility and legitimacy. Take, for example, form president Donald Trump’s extraordinary assertion that the 2020 election result was valid only if he won.

The United States is deeply polarised and its social fabric looks to be fraying at the seams. Yet, a divided America appears united in confronting China. Purposefully anti-Trump in almost every other way, US President Joe Biden seems to have chosen to retain his predecessor’s China policy.

Not surprisingly, the US-China relationship continues to deteriorate, compounded by the White House’s decision to continue investigating the Covid-19 “lab leak” theory.

Identifying the origins of the virus is vital for dealing with future pandemics, but the scientific process has become so politicised that any “independent” investigation is unlikely to yield a result that will be accepted by both sides.

Trust between Washington and Beijing has hit an all-time low and the risk of open conflict is a real and present danger.

The crises the US faces at home and abroad have a common thread. They are the outgrowth of a peculiar American world view shaped by Christianity’s monotheistic belief system.

To begin with, the American faith in liberal democracy is the secular adaptation of the monotheist world view.

Just as most Christians believe there is no salvation outside the church, most Americans regard liberal democracy as the only pathway to a free and just international order. This has propelled the US into a global push to liberate and democratise the world.

Next is the American sense of manifest destiny as the “shining city upon a hill”. The doctrine has origins in the Jewish people’s self-identification as God’s “chosen people”. Later, Christianity universalised the elect, whereupon Jews and Gentiles alike could be converted into God’s chosen people.

These Christian beliefs underpin Americans’ view of themselves and the world. It is this monotheism-inspired world order with which China has run into conflict.

The Communist Party’s rebuff of liberal democracy is seen as an affront to what Americans regard as their divinely ordained global leadership.

The US is determined not to let China challenge or dilute its peculiarly unreserved self-belief.

In March, during his first extended discussion on US-China rivalry as president, Biden vowed not to allow China to surpass the US as the most powerful country in the world, saying: “That’s not going to happen on my watch.”

For conservative evangelicals, Communist-Party-led China poses an ominous existential threat to Western and Christian civilisation. In Christianity’s dualistic moral universe of good versus evil, the atheist Chinese regime has found itself on the wrong side of the moral divide.

But the Christian right is also vexed by an enemy lurking within, namely the liberal left and its seeming irreverence for and assault on the American way of life. The feeling of hostility is reciprocated.

The secular left is as agitated by the religious right’s purported contempt for American core values such as inclusivity, diversity and care for the marginalised.

America’s founding fathers envisioned a new world anchored on the Enlightenment principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. Of course, as slave owners, some of these framers of the constitution lived a life of contradiction.

Still, the ideals enshrined at the birth of the republic did pave the way for a more open and freer America, transforming it into a land of opportunity for many.

Last week, the US made Juneteenth a federal holiday to commemorate African-Americans’ full emancipation from slavery.

The context and backdrop of this celebration is telling, though – the “Unite the Right” rally at Charlottesville and the murder of George Floyd, among other things, point to a country still haunted by its original sin.

The recent spike in anti-Asian violence underscores the convoluted dynamics threatening America’s race relations.

In his testimony to the US Senate, Mayorkas warned that white supremacist militias represented the most persistent and lethal threat to the country.
Republican lawmakers quickly responded with claims that some of the recent unrest was linked to far-left extremists.

Unable to reach a consensus on the nature of the domestic danger confronting them, a fragmented America faces an increasing risk of descent into ethno-political tribalism and religious sectarianism.

The US is trapped in a religion-induced crisis at home and abroad. The republic has slipped into an era of absolutist, monotheistic morality with little room for nonconformity and ambiguity.

Unless Americans can find a way out of Christianity’s binary, puritanical world view, the country’s diverse constituents are unlikely to be able to sustain the enlightened common space needed for coexistence.

Until Americans are willing to move past the myth of “American exceptionalism”, the US is unlikely to be able coexist peaceably with the outside world, and with China specifically.

* Peter T.C. Chang is deputy director of the Institute of China Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.



'New research has found that Beijing is keen to reduce the population of mainly Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.


8th June 2021

UCA News -

Chinese policies 'may prevent millions of minority births

'New research has found that Beijing is keen to reduce the population of mainly Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang

AFP - Published.

Chinese policies aimed specifically at reducing the population of mainly Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang could prevent the birth of around 4 million babies over the next two decades, new research has found.

Projections show reduced minority birth rates could raise the proportion of Han Chinese — a majority in the rest of China — from the current 8.4 percent to 25 percent in the region.

Beijing has for years sought to tighten its grip on the vast border area historically marked by economic inequality and sporadic outbreaks of unrest.

Millions of Han Chinese relocated to Xinjiang in recent decades to find work in the coal- and gas-rich region in a settlement drive that has caused friction on the ground.

German researcher Adrian Zenz said publicly available papers by Chinese security researchers blamed the density of minority communities as the "underlying reason" for unrest and proposed population control as a risk reduction method.

At the same time, documented official fears about the arid region's lack of natural resources to support an influx of Han settlers suggest that Chinese authorities see birth suppression as a key tool for manipulating the area's demographic makeup, Zenz said.

China last week announced a major reform of policy governing the number of children a couple can have, increasing it to three as the country grapples with an aging population.

But scholars say Beijing does not view all babies as equally desirable in Xinjiang and is actively pursuing a policy of decreasing the number of children born to ethnic minorities.

Strategies include ramped-up birth control policies in the region, including imprisonment for having too many children and claims of forced sterilisation.

Focusing on four prefectures in southern Xinjiang and using models recommended by multiple Chinese scholars, Zenz calculated Beijing could aim to raise the number of Han in these "traditional Uyghur heartlands" to a quarter of the population.

Zenz said he found "an intent to reduce ethnic minority population growth in order to increase the proportionate Han population in southern Xinjiang."

Official data shows Xinjiang's birth rates nearly halved between 2017 and 2019 — the steepest drop of all Chinese regions and the most extreme globally since 1950, according to an analysis by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Zenz calculated the natural ethnic minority population growth in southern Xinjiang would have reached 13.14 million by 2040, but that suppression measures could prevent up to 4.5 million births among Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.

China has faced mounting international criticism over its policies in Xinjiang, where the United States says Beijing is committing genocide.

At least one million people from mostly Muslim minorities have been held in camps in the region, according to rights groups who also accuse authorities of imposing forced labour.

Beijing has hit back at the accusations, touting its counter-terrorism and economic achievements in Xinjiang, applying tit-for-tat sanctions, and supporting lawsuits against its loudest critics, including Zenz.




Beijing allows up to three children per married couple


31st May 2021

AsiaNews -

Beijing allows up to three children per married couple

The measure lifts the limit of two children per family unit. Decades of one-child policy have contributed to the country's demographic slowdown. Unspecified aid is provided for those who want to have children. Chinese youth do not want to procreate in order to maintain their current standard of living.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Chinese Politburo has decreed married couples can have up to three children, according to reports by state news agency Xinhua, noting that the decision was taken during a meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping.

The country is facing a very real demographic challenge. On 11 May the National Statistics Office revealed 2020 data according to which the population exceeded 1.4 billion, but compared to 2019, new births fell by 18%: from 14.65 to 12 million.

At the current rate, demographers expect a decline in the number of inhabitants shortly, with a sharp decrease in those of working age and eligible for recruitment. To remedy the problem, according to Xinhua, the Politburo has also decided to gradually increase the age at which a worker can retire.

In April, the Central Bank of China recommended that the government abandon birth control policies, because without such action the country will lose its economic strength. Economic researchers have essentially confirmed the failure of the past one-child policy. Its easing in 2016, with the possibility of having two children per family, did not change the situation.

Pregnant Chinese women give birth to 1.3 children each, far from the 2.1 needed to keep the population stable. The figure is also lower than that of Japan (1.37 children per woman), one of the fastest aging nations in the world. Some researchers estimate that over the next 10 years the percentage of Chinese women between 22 and 35 will decline by more than 30%.

The new family policy provides aid for couples who want to have children: however, the nature of the support is not specified. Experts suggest that women should receive subsidies to compensate for the expenses and professional sacrifices they face as a result of motherhood. Financial support should be concentrated in large cities, where housing and maternal care costs are higher.

Young Chinese people don't want to have children because it costs too much and the state doesn't help them enough. The new generations prefer to give up becoming parents to maintain their own standard of living. This is also the problem faced by many Western societies, which moreover have welfare systems that are far more generous than the Chinese one.

A survey on Xinhua's Weibo profile reveals that 29,000 out of 31,000 users replied that they did not want three children.







May 2021 Updates


May 2021



5 Updates


1. EU Parliament puts investment deal on halt until Beijing lifts sanctions.

2. China tells UN Africa needs more support in fighting Covid-19. 

3. China offers to host Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. 

4. China's repression sparks exodus from Hong Kong to Taiwan. 

5. China is the Myanmar Coup’s ‘Biggest Loser’. China is walking a tight rope in Myanmar.



EU Parliament puts investment deal on halt until Beijing lifts sanctions.


21st May 2021

AsiaNews -


MEPs freeze the ratification process by an overwhelming majority vote. Even Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic MEPs elected with the European People's Party back the resolution; the German chancellor is the real sponsor of the agreement. The European Commission is criticised for its weak stance vis-à-vis China, especially over human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.



Brussels (AsiaNews) – The European Parliament has frozen the ratification process for the investment agreement with China. This decision will remain in place until Beijing lifts sanctions  against European individuals and entities.


The European Parliament adopted a resolution to this end yesterday afternoon by an overwhelming majority: 599 votes in favour, 30 against and 58 abstentions.


The European People's Party, which includes Germany’s Christian Democrats (CDU) led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also voted in favour of the resolution. Driven by her country's exporters, the German Chancellor is the real sponsor of the agreement reached with China last December following negotiations that began in 2013.


MEPs strongly condemned Beijing's punitive measures, which were seen as an attack on fundamental European freedoms. China has imposed sanctions on five MEPs, the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, as well as a number of European academics.


Beijing’s move came in response to EU sanctions against four senior Chinese officials, believed to be responsible for suppressing the rights of Turkic-speaking Muslims in Xinjiang.


Supporters of the resolution have made it clear that lifting sanctions is a condition for starting the ratification debate, not for giving the green light to the agreement.


MEPs have reminded the European Commission – which is responsible for the negotiations – that they will take account of the human rights situation in China if they have to give their opinion on the deal.


This will also involve Hong Kong. Many MEPs have criticised the European Commission's inaction vis-à-vis the suppression of pro-democracy movement in the former British colony, especially its inability to overcome Hungary's opposition to targeted sanctions against Beijing.


The government of Viktor Orban is China’s best ally in Europe, as well as one the beneficiaries of its financial largesse.


Most MEPs also want the EU Commission to open trade negotiations with Taiwan, which China consider a “rebel province,” and address Beijing's “cyber” and “hybrid” threats.


In a tweet, Reinhard Bütikofer said that yesterday's overwhelming vote is not only a signal sent to Beijing, but also to the European Commission. The Green leader, head of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, is one of five MEPs blacklisted by the Chinese Government.


EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis appears to have heeded the message. Yesterday, at a press conference, he said that China’s retaliatory sanctions are “certainly not a conducive environment for working towards the ratification of the deal.”


China's Foreign Ministry has called on MEPs to “reflect deply” and ratify the agreement as soon as possible. However, Europeans seem bent on taking a tougher approach to Beijing. Earlier this month, the Commission announced a new law against foreign investors subsidised by their government and a review of industrial strategy to reduce dependence on imports in strategic sectors – two clear jabs at China’s large government-owned corporations.



China tells UN Africa needs more support in fighting Covid-19.

20th May 2021


South China Morning Post

* International community ‘should give more help in pandemic prevention materials, medical supplies, technology and funds’, Foreign Minister Wang Yi tells UN meeting

* Less than 2 per cent of the Covid-19 vaccines administered around the world were in Africa, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says

By: Rachel Zhang in Shanghai

China has urged countries around the world to provide more vaccines and more support to Africa to help build a “defence line” against Covid-19.

The international community should help ensure the “accessibility and affordability of vaccines” in the continent, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday while hosting a virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

China holds the 15-member council’s rotating presidency for the month of May.

“The international community should give more help in pandemic prevention materials, medical supplies, technology and funds, especially through free assistance, preferential procurement, technology transfer, cooperative production and other means to ensure the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in Africa,” Wang said.

“Africa is an important part of the global anti-pandemic effort. An urgent task now is to build a defence line against the pandemic in Africa … China calls on all countries with the ability to provide vaccines to Africa urgently,” he said.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said at the meeting, titled “Peace and Security in Africa”, that of the 1.4 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses administered around the world, only 24 million, or less than 2 per cent, had reached Africa.

Wu Peng, director of the Chinese foreign ministry’s Africa department, said on Thursday that China had provided vaccines to nearly 40 African countries.

The shots were donated or sold at “favourable prices”, he told a press conference.

In an apparent dig at the United States, Wu compared China’s actions to those of “some countries that have said they have to wait for their own people to finish the vaccination before they could supply the vaccines to foreign countries”.

“We believe that it is, of course, necessary to ensure that the Chinese people get vaccinated as soon as possible, but for other countries in need, we also try our best to provide vaccine help,” he said.

According to Bridge Consulting in Beijing, African nations have ordered about 33 million vaccine doses from China and been gifted 5.45 million by Beijing. China has also donated 10.5 million vaccines to countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Most of the Chinese vaccines sold overseas are made by Sinovac, while most of the donated shots come from Sinopharm, whose product was approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization on May 7.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, about 40 million Africans have been pushed back into extreme poverty during the pandemic.

The continent’s economic growth is forecast to be 3.4 per cent this year, against a global figure of 6 per cent.

“Equitable and sustainable vaccine roll-out worldwide is the quickest path towards a fast and fair recovery,” Guterres said.

“This requires sharing of doses, removing export restrictions, ramping up local production and fully funding the ACT-Accelerator and its Covax Facility.”

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday that Western countries, especially the US, had stockpiled excess vaccine doses and should “immediately lift export restrictions and increase supply to make up for the shortfall in developing countries”.

The US said on Monday it would share an additional 20 million vaccine doses in the coming six weeks, but did not say which countries would receive them.

* Additional reporting by Associated Press

* Rachel Zhang focuses on diplomatic reporting. She graduated with a Master’s degree in journalism from Boston University, and previously worked at an international relations think tank at Tsinghua University.



China offers to host Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

17th May 2021


South China Morning Post

* Beijing uses chairmanship of UN Security Council to press for immediate ceasefire and resumption of dialogue on two-state solution

* Foreign Minister Wang Yi also urges the US to stop obstructing the council’s role in taking action on the conflict

By: Sarah Zheng and Rachel Zhang in Shanghai

China’s offer to host Israeli-Palestinian peace talks is a bid to expand its influence in the Middle East as the new administration in Washington works out its playbook, analysts said.

During a virtual meeting of the 15-member UN Security Council on Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi again called for an immediate ceasefire between the two sides and for Israel to lift its blockade and siege of Gaza as soon as possible.

Wang also urged the US to stop “obstructing” the council in taking action on the conflict, and to support its efforts to ease tensions and to find a political resolution. China took over as rotating chair of the council at the beginning of May.

“We will continue to increase our efforts to urge for peace and promote talks, and fulfil our responsibilities as chair of the Security Council,” he said.
“We reaffirm our invitation to peacemakers from Palestine and Israel to come to China to open up dialogue, and we welcome negotiators from both sides to engage in direct talks in China.”

Wang said talks should resume for a two-state solution that would include the early establishment of an independent Palestinian state, based on the 1967 border with the contested East Jerusalem as its capital, that would coexist with the state of Israel.

He also said Israel needed to stop expelling Palestinians from their homes, to stop violence and threats against Muslims, and to respect the status quo of religious sites in Jerusalem. At the same time, the Palestinian side should avoid escalating the situation, including by firing rockets towards Tel Aviv, he said.

Along with Norway and Tunisia, China has sought a more active role in easing tensions between the two sides, with the three countries pushing for two earlier rounds of closed-door Security Council consultations. The three also released a joint statement calling for an “immediate cessation of all acts of violence, provocation, incitement, destruction and eviction plans”.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian did not directly condemn Israel when asked to comment on Monday, but stressed that the “vast majority” of the UN Security Council had a common voice on the issue and that the US needed to “fulfil its due responsibilities”.

Zhao said China strongly condemned violence targeted at civilians and said Israel should exercise restraint.

In the midst of their rivalry for global influence, Beijing has contrasted its diplomatic efforts with those of the United States – a close ally of Israel, saying Washington had blocked the Security Council from issuing a joint statement for the “immediate cessation of hostilities” between the two sides.
China has also come under greater pressure for its repression of Muslims and ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

Li Weijian, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Middle East Studies, said Wang’s remarks were more specific than on previous occasions, when China had “stayed more at the level of rhetorical appeals”.

“In the past, China has always called for a ceasefire, but it rarely mentions how and who would provide the platform for negotiations,” he said.
“Because China is now positioning itself as a global power, it needs to take up the responsibilities of a major power, so it cannot be absent on hot global issues.”

Li said Arab countries had also expressed the hope that China would play a greater role in the region.

Israelis and Palestinians have previously been invited to hold talks in China, including during Wang’s trip to the Middle East in March, but observers said the offers had not been taken seriously because Beijing was not considered an important actor in the conflict.

Huang Minxing, a professor at Northwest University in Xian, said China lacked experience in the region’s politics but its neutral stance could be effective.

“China has long pursued a policy of non-interference in other country’s affairs, and Middle Eastern affairs are also overly complex, so China would be more cautious about getting involved,” he said.

But Huang added that China had a chance to take on a greater role in the region, as US President Joe Biden was still developing his policy on Israel, and Europe had long had concerns over Washington’s bias towards Israel. While China maintained a neutral position, and tried to bring up a solution in terms of international justice, such a position may be objectively more inclined towards Arab countries, he said.

“As long as China actively communicates with the international community, there is an opportunity for practical action if it works to speak in a collective voice with the international community,” Huang said. “When the US is forcing the entire world to choose sides between China and the US, China would want to expand its own circle of friends and would work hard to do so to cope with US pressure.”

While Biden spoke separately with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on the issue, Wang conveyed his position on Saturday in a phone call to his counterpart in neighbouring Pakistan.

The US also said on Sunday it was willing to lend its support if the two sides decided to seek a ceasefire. It has also repeated its support for a two-state solution.

Guy Burton, an adjunct professor at Vesalius College in Brussels, said he was sceptical of China as an alternative influence in the conflict.

He also said the two-state solution was becoming irrelevant as an option for many Israeli Jews and Palestinians.

“Despite its rhetoric, its actions haven’t shown an interest in taking on a more active role or in providing a different path or outcome,” Burton said.

“There’s been no meaningful negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis for almost a decade. There’s no unified or representative leadership on the Palestinian side that could hold their own with the Israelis even if talks were to restart.”

Burton said Beijing struggled to get representatives from the two sides to sign a non-binding declaration at a peace symposium it organised in China in December 2017.

“While the Palestinians have always been keen to open up the peace process to other countries, Israel is less keen,” he said. “It has a good arrangement with the US in its corner, so why would it abandon that to invite an untested mediator like China?”

The hostilities in the last week have been the worst between the two sides in decades.

Israel has warned it would continue to bombard Gaza “for as long as necessary” in response to rockets fired from Hamas. At least 192 people have died in Gaza, including 58 children. In Israel, 10 people have been killed, including two children.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres raised concerns at Sunday’s meeting that the conflict could cause an “uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis” and a “new locus of dangerous instability” in the entire region.

* Additional reporting by Catherine Wong



China's repression sparks exodus from Hong Kong to Taiwan.


12th May 2021

UCA News -

Christians among 10,000 seeking new lives to escape persecution by communist authorities

UCA News reporter, Hong Kong

About 10,000 Hong Kong residents including members and leaders of Christian churches have moved to Taiwan this year after being accused of inciting subversion of the state under the repressive national security law in the former British colony, says International Christian Concern (ICC).

The mass exodus is another vivid example of how the communist regime in China has continued its persecution of religions within its borders and is determined to expand its reign of persecution beyond the mainland and even outside the country, ICC said in a press statement on May 10.

The global Christian body that documents Christian persecution across the world expressed grave concerns over the recent arrest, jailing and denial of bail to radio host Edward Wan, who launched a crowdfunding project last year to support Hong Kong protesters to study in Taiwan in collaboration with the Presbyterian Church.

Hong Kong police blocked access to the church’s website for breaching the national security law. Wan had raised funds through his programs and some funds were channeled to the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan to support asylum seekers in the country.

ICC lamented that since Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing administration of Carrie Lam, its Catholic chief executive, passed the national security law last June at the behest of Chinese authorities, religious leaders who had long supported democracy and freedom of speech in the city have faced significant pressure.

The law criminalizes a wide range of activities as subversive and seditious and against the interests of the hitherto autonomous city. It sparked a global outcry as it is deemed a blatant betrayal of China’s promise of greater autonomy and freedom under the “one country, two systems” framework when the British handed over the city in 1997. Critics described the law as the last nail in the coffin of freedom and democracy in Hong Kong.

Dozens of pro-democracy activists and politicians including Christians have been arrested, prosecuted and jailed under the law.

Many Christian leaders and church members have been accused of subversion and sedition under the law, triggering the exodus to Taiwan.

“Hong Kong pastors and Christian professors have sought refuge in Taiwan and more continue to come. Others have gone elsewhere, with some settling in the UK,” Pastor Huang Chun-seng of the Chi-Nan Presbyterian Church in Taiwan told ICC.

For years, China has been aggressively persecuting religious groups including Christians who are not associated with state-approved religions and religious bodies.

Hundreds of members of Christian churches including Catholics have been arrested and tortured for choosing to worship in institutions and house churches outside the state-run Three Self-Church and Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

Churches have been raided and closed, church leaders jailed and church members harassed and intimidated for practicing faiths deemed illegal by the state.

Chinese authorities have also continued to crack down on Christian charities including orphanages for poor and disabled children, accusing them of being illegally associated with religious groups and “indoctrinating children” for conversion.

A 2020 ICC report documented how China uses legal mechanisms including administrative decrees to suppress religions and religious practices in the guise of the Sinicization of religion — the imposition of strict rules on societies and institutions based on the core values of socialism, autonomy and supporting the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.

A Freedom House report ranks China among the worst 10 offenders against religious freedom in the world. In 2017, Freedom House found that “at least 100 million believers belong to groups facing high or very high levels of religious persecution, namely Protestant Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims and Falun Gong practitioners.”



China is the Myanmar Coup’s ‘Biggest Loser’. China is walking a tight rope in Myanmar.

22nd February 2021

A relationship decades in the making is now in jeopardy.




Protesters in yangon have in recent days gathered near the imposing red doors of the Chinese embassy in the city, denouncing China for what they say is its support of this month’s military coup in Myanmar. Conspiracy theories have swirled about the arrival of Chinese technicians to help Myanmar’s new junta build its own “firewall” to control the internet. Rumors abound about what is being transported on nightly flights between Yangon and the southern Chinese city of Kunming. Online, amateur sleuths have pored over photos of the protests, looking for Chinese military insignia on uniforms and even fair-skinned soldiers among the armed forces that have been deployed to the streets.

China, Myanmar’s largest neighbor, maintained cozy relations with the previous junta for decades, even as Western countries cut off contact and imposed withering economic sanctions, isolating the country and throwing unwavering support behind the opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. When Myanmar’s generals began cautiously opening up the country a decade ago, the move brought a rush of new foreign businesses, eager to move into a long-closed, underdeveloped market, as well as renewed diplomatic ties. China’s near monopoly on Myanmar appeared all but finished.

Thus, the military’s return to power in the country, popular thinking seemed to go, would be welcomed by China, happy to see itself again as Myanmar’s staunchest ally in a drastically depleted pool of diplomatic friends. The United States has already imposed targeted sanctions in response to the coup, as have Canada and Britain. Myanmar is a pariah once more, and Beijing should be freer to pursue its agenda with a leadership that seems willing to cast aside the concerns and misgivings of its population, forcibly if needed. Business competition will again fade. The more isolated Myanmar becomes, the better for Chinese exploitation.

Yet this narrative, although enticingly straightforward in a country where little is, is a dramatic oversimplification that ignores numerous factors: the coup’s destabilizing effects, including on major Chinese-backed projects; the Burmese military’s long-held wariness of China, including the junta leader’s personal distrust; and perhaps most important, the surprisingly friendly relationship that the National League for Democracy, Suu Kyi’s party, had cultivated with Beijing. A sharp rise in anti-Chinese sentiment in the days since the military’s takeover has made quick work of years of confidence building between Suu Kyi, a once-vaunted prodemocracy icon, and her authoritarian neighbor. The undercurrents of Sinophobia held at bay as she touted China as an ally have come flooding back with her detention by the military.

Read: Why did it take a coup?

Southeast Asian countries are often painted with broad brushstrokes when it comes to their relationship with Beijing and Washington: that democracy in the region will always be considered dangerous and bad by China, and that earnest American officials will always flock when they see a country making decisions based on the will of the people. But this binary—that China “wins” under authoritarianism and “loses” under democracy—misses layers of complexities and nuance. The Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte, who is wildly popular and democratically elected, has moved the country closer to Beijing, while Thailand’s junta-backed government remains a staunch U.S. ally.

Geopolitically, “China is the biggest loser from this coup,” Enze Han, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong who studies China’s relationship with Myanmar, told me. “The PR that it has done to improve its image over the past five years working with the NLD has all gone to waste.” Last Tuesday, the Chinese ambassador to Myanmar appeared to back this position, saying “the current development in Myanmar is absolutely not what China wants to see,” though, as is common with Chinese diplomatic statements, he left room for interpretation. He also dismissed rumors that China had aided the military, saying he hoped people could “distinguish right from wrong and guard against political manipulation, so as to avoid undermining the friendship between the two peoples.”


he accounts and experiences of Cheng Ruisheng, a former Chinese ambassador to Myanmar, illustrate the two countries’ complex ties. By the time Cheng arrived to serve as China’s envoy in 1987, he was well versed in their relationship, referred to in Burmese as pauk-phaw, a title denoting special, familial ties. Cheng had spent nearly two decades as China’s most senior Burmese-language interpreter, sitting alongside the likes of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping as they met their Myanmar counterparts. China’s foreign policy as it applied to Myanmar, Cheng wrote years later, could be summed up simply: “non-interference, non-involvement and keeping aloof.”

A year after Cheng’s arrival, a popular uprising vaulted the then–largely unknown Suu Kyi to seraphic stature, before it was put down by the military. Cheng kept in contact with Suu Kyi, even after acknowledging and beginning to work with the new military government, providing her husband with Tibetan language books and attending the funeral of her mother. Only when Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest in 1989 did Cheng cease contact with her, though he visited her party’s headquarters in 1990 to offer congratulations on its electoral victory that year. (The military tossed out the results and kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for some 15 years in total.)

From the September 2019 issue: What happened to Aung San Suu Kyi?

Through the more than two decades that followed—years marked by worsening economic conditions, horrific armed-forces campaigns, a stunning military purgeanother uprising followed by another crackdown, a devastating cyclone and the disastrous response to it—China remained the junta’s staunchest backer. Then, prompted in part by a wariness of China’s dominance, the military began a calibrated reentry into the broader world. The generals understood that “the more isolated they are, the more dependent they will be [on China] and the more influence China will exert over their country,” Yun Sun, the director of the China Program at the Stimson Center, in Washington D.C., told me. In 2011, a year after a quasi-civilian government was elected, the administration suspended a highly contentious Chinese-backed dam project that had met fierce resistance from ethnic groups and Suu Kyi. The same year, Suu Kyi met a Chinese ambassador for the first time since her final meeting with Cheng. Ambassadorial appointments are rarely noteworthy affairs, but the discussion garnered headlines in the international press and Chinese state media.

Cautiously, China began to adapt. Yang Houlan, a bookish and soft-spoken diplomat who became the Chinese ambassador to Myanmar in 2013, told me that year that Chinese companies in the country had adopted a mantra of “Do more, speak less,” that had grated on and alienated many citizens. Beijing, perhaps sensing that Suu Kyi’s immense popularity would translate into victory at the polls two years later, began courting members of her party. While not as brazen as other countries, which seconded diplomats to Suu Kyi’s office and had little time for the ruling administration, China invited NLD officials on nationwide tours. Beijing also undertook public outreach, much of it around highly contentious projects, and although not always the most sophisticated or successful, those efforts marked a change in tactics. When Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide, China’s outreach accelerated. “It turns out that China can work very well with the NLD government,” Sun said, “probably even better than with the military government.”


The NLD’s enthusiasm was not matched by the military’s, however. Although China is the largest arms supplier to Myanmar, the military suspects Beijing's involvement in the country’s multitude of internal conflicts. The issue is particularly personal for Min Aung Hlaing, the junta leader and commander in chief of Myanmar’s armed forces, who in 2009 commanded forces along the Chinese border against an ethnic Chinese minority rebel group, driving tens of thousands across the border into China. The group’s leader resurfaced five years later in The Global Times, a Chinese state newspaper, sparking speculation that Beijing was providing a haven for him and his troops, who launched renewed attacks against Myanmar shortly after.

Min Aung Hlaing “chafed at China’s role in Myanmar’s ethnic armed organizations,” a former senior diplomat who has met him on multiple occasions told me, asking not to be named because of the current political situation. “I did not see him as particularly friendly to China.” The suspicion extends beyond just one general: The military complained last year to Chinese President Xi Jinping about China’s financing of rebel groups, a charge that Xi denied.

Read: When you live next to an autocracy

There are, however, points of agreement: When Myanmar was receiving full-throated criticism from other countries over its treatment of the Rohingya minority in Rakhine State, China backed the military and Suu Kyi’s narrative that the allegations were overblown and the authorities were responding to a terrorist threat (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary). “Myanmar values China’s understanding of the Rakhine issue, which is complicated and delicate,” Suu Kyi said during a trip to China in 2017. Beijing, along with Moscow, stood by Myanmar at the United Nations, shielding it from the harshest condemnation. China’s position appears to have been doubly beneficial to Myanmar, as the U.S. was reportedly reluctant to declare the Rohingya crisis a genocide for fear of driving Myanmar toward China. Myanmar, for its part, aligned with China on Beijing’s priority issues of Tibet, Xinjiang, and Taiwan, and last year threw its support behind China’s implementation of a sweeping national-security law in Hong Kong, meant to snuff out the city’s prodemocracy protests.

This lack of “moral judgment,” as Sun described it, offered Beijing an economic opening. In March 2018, I sat in the conference room of a luxury hotel in Yangon as a speaker urged the audience—about 80 Western and local businessmen and women concerned about Myanmar’s international reputation and economic climate—to take it upon themselves to bolster the country’s image. “Go out and tell a positive story about Myanmar,” he urged from a small stage as the seminar wrapped up.

Among those in attendance was Henry Tun, whose firm works extensively in the country’s power sector. Later, over coffee, Tun told me that in meetings with senior officials and members of the NLD, he was encouraged to pursue deals with Chinese firms, instead of European or American ones. Officials explained that deals done with Western businesses could fall apart if companies were spooked by sanctions, or the threat of them. The view, he said, was that “the only one to turn to is China.”


The government at the time signed highly secretive contracts for dozens of projects as part of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, a grand plan of connectivity meant to link China to strategic points via Myanmar. These projects, worth billions of dollars, are now likely facing delays as the country roils with protests and civil-disobedience movements meant to disrupt government operations and services, again raising questions as to why Beijing would prefer working with the military.

The tensions, and the opportunities, between Myanmar and China are particularly pronounced in Kachin State, where logging and jade mining of varying degrees of legality are prevalent, and the spoils spirited over the border. Recently a border dispute with China and ever-expanding banana plantations run by Chinese firms have caused consternation.

Read: The Chinese ‘debt trap’ is a myth

Many in Kachin felt that Suu Kyi’s government was “selling out the whole country” to China, Khon Ja, a longtime activist who lives in the area, told me. But at the same time, she said, Myanmar had to deal with the economic realities of being a poorer, less developed country in the shadow of a rising power. “They don’t like Chinese companies,” she said, “but there are no other options.”

Outside the embassy on Wednesday, protesters were unswayed by the Chinese ambassador’s statement. Su San, a 24-year-old medical student, told me that no one should trust what China says and that the military wouldn’t have dared act without China’s blessing. As long as Myanmar was moving toward democracy, she said, Beijing would try to forestall it. “It is,” she added, “a curse for Myanmar to be a neighbor of China.”

Also unimpressed was Sandar Min, an NLD member who spent three months in China studying the Belt and Road Initiative, and who is now a member of the parallel government formed by the party in the aftermath of the coup. Beijing, she told me, should recognize only the elected, and now overthrown, government. China and Myanmar “cannot run away from each other,” she said. “So if China is a really good neighbor, now is the time to prove it.”

Additional reporting by Kyaw Ye Lynn in Yangon

TIMOTHY MCLAUGHLIN is a Hong Kong–based contributing writer at The Atlantic.





April 2021 Update



April 2021



1 Update


Book Review : Stein Ringen, The Perfect Dictatorship



Book Review

Stein Ringen, The Perfect Dictatorship: China in the 21st Century,


Hong Kong, HKU Press, 2016, 193 pp.


David Bartel



With The Perfect Dictatorship, Stein Ringen proposes to explain how a regime built on “much that is unpleasant” (p. 135) manages nevertheless to carry on, imposing on its population a form of compulsory arrangement that is unmistakably a silent victory for totalitarianism (p. 143). It is indeed intellectually uncomfortable to conceive that a country seemingly developing its way toward economic capitalism – so it is said – may continue to be politically Leninist (p. 165). We believe this book deserves our attention for three main reasons. First, each page denounces the complacent view that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is only a regime that is economically successful and efficient in what it delivers. This is not to take the country seriously, says the author. Second, devoid of sentimental bond to his subject, Ringen is rather immune to the often blinding glitter of the Chinese “state civilisation.” And third, the book pays serious attention to the political questions raised by the genuine economic rise of the country and to the no less genuine desire for power of its leadership in considering the Chinese state as a mature state. It therefore takes the Party at face value, cleverly avoiding the twin pitfalls of Chinese “otherness” and “political culture,” two trendy discourses seemingly incapable of sharply defining the reality of the present. Ringen, a professor at Oxford University and renowned specialist in state analysis, contributes to the debate on the nature of the Chinese state by bringing together scattered known arguments in an intellectually dense interpretative essay without concession.


2The first advantage of the book is that it is extremely clear about its own perspective, claiming from the outset that “China analysis should be grounded in an undisguised awareness that we are dealing with a dictatorial state” (p. viii). The objective of the book, says Ringen, is an attempt to analyse the Chinese regime from outside the box of China Studies. Ringen believes that the distance of detached observation remains an advantage, evoking the self-deception of the Mao era and pointing out some more recent publications, naïve or slavish to the point of embarrassment (p. 39). Ringen defends himself from any further Chinese ambition and sees himself as a social analyst and a methodological individualist. For him, a state manifests itself in what it delivers, down to the lower reaches of its population (p. 41).


3In the case of the PRC, if the term “authoritarian” is too accommodating, the terms “dictatorship” and “totalitarianism” are problematic and seem primitive and oversimplifying in defining the actual current nature of the regime, which must be reconsidered in the light of contemporary reality (p. 2). The PRC is a sophisticated dictatorship under which citizens are granted many liberties, but only up to a certain point, beyond which the Party intervenes with all the force considered necessary. The Party is here and everybody knows it. If it doesn’t tell everybody what they can do, it controls in detail what they cannot do, read, or listen to. Obviously, this subtle system of indirect control is more profitable in the long run than the mere application of brute force (p. 137). However, Ringen reminds us, “the threat of punishment, harassment, detention, the loss of job or home, retribution against family and friends, violence, and ultimately death” remain persistently present. It is totally possible to get on with life in the PRC today as long as the rules – the boundaries of which remain strategically obscure – are understood, integrated, and accepted. The pages devoted to the law are edifying and remind the reader of a fact commonly overlooked: in the PRC, the prevailing legal theory is that the law is in the service to the Party that makes the rules and that can consequently override legal decisions. The law exists only as long as it does not disturb the one who wrote it. Moreover, it is never clear what a law actually is (p. 79).


4The regime’s totalitarian essence permeates everyday life so deeply that the space of the political is shrunk to nothing. In the PRC, what remains of political life is “forced underground and into privacy, secrecy, and isolation” (p. 139). The in-depth study of the individual and corporate taxation mechanisms, social services, public sector, and social insurance and assistance offers a rational cartography of the regime’s capacity; if it possesses the necessary ability to uphold state determination, it remains “more effective than efficient” (p. 115). Following a thorough analysis of the state, its economy, and its power matrix (Party, military, executive, legislature, police, and administration), the author reaches the slightly ironic conclusion that if Chinese leaders undeniably invented a form of political regime, they actually reinvented dictatorship. He coins the neologism “controlocracy” (p. 138).


5The memory of the “three ghosts” haunting the leadership is the only mention of history in the book: the century of humiliation (1842-1949), the destructive excesses of the Mao era, and the fall of the USSR (pp. 2-3). From this triple determination was born the absolute priority of the party-state: to ensure its own perpetuation. The post-1978 reformed state operates therefore on a twofold agenda: on the one hand, economic growth must be secured to noticeably reward the population; on the other hand, for its own survival, the Party must rebuild the “machinery” of social control (p. 6). From this perspective, “reform” is not a mere copy of Western modernising mechanisms, but rather a strengthening and perfection of the regime (p. 166). Skilfully using official data, Ringen rapidly shifts from analysis of the political system and its social impact to a critical interpretation of the “model,” citing other examples of modernisation where political and social progress accompanied economic development. In Taiwan and South Korea, complementing economic growth allowed the governments to obtain the compliance of their populations. They purchased legitimacy through investment in education and social protection (p. 35). Ringen questions the motivation and objective of a reform project that in the PRC is obviously reduced to a heedless quest for economic growth devoted purely to the objective of national might. Nevertheless, in this pursuit of “greatness,” the PRC strives to impress only by a display of “bigness” (p. 35), a “growth-ism” confirming the feeling that if Chinese leaders understand the meaning of growth, they no longer know what growth is for (p. 48). Yet, Ringen adds, power without purpose is “a threatening constellation” (p. 49).


6The chapter focusing on the reality of poverty is eloquent. The perspective imposed on statistical tools permits the author to argue that if many people were lifted out of poverty, “many, very many were left behind in destitution” (p. 120). And the lives of those who, according to official data, emerged from poverty have probably not evolved very much; China remains a country of “massive and oppressive poverty” (p. 148). What Ringen adds accurately is that for poverty as for growth, the regime claims more than it deserves, and that the effective reduction of poverty has come on the back of economic growth that the state merely follows, rather than as a “result of redistribution through social policy” (p. 148). In terms of what it takes, the Chinese state is highly developed, while in terms of what it delivers, it is still underdeveloped (p. 164). For Ringen, the Chinese state “does less for its people than it would be able to and could afford to because it has other determination and priorities than to work for the good of the common people” (p. 166). Ringen’s book is then a meticulous deconstruction of the clumsiness of the “liberal myth” that relates the necessity of Chinese development to the inevitability of the political liberalisation of the country – a myth, he says, that should not have survived the drama of June 1989.   


7Ringen divides the phenomenon of corruption into three levels. The lower one, present everywhere in everyday life, is diffuse: services, authorisations, stamps, contracts, certificates, business, licenses, schools, hospitals… The second level, within the bureaucratic apparatus, corresponds to the buying and selling of position and promotion. Finally, at the highest level of the state, it is not embezzlement anymore; it is “organized crime” (p. 24-25). Consequently, for him, the present governmental campaign against corruption is invigorated by a dual ambition: the Party needs to purge its internal opposition, after which the competition of a parasitic oligarchy must be eradicated to reaffirm the Party’s direction in the political and economic realms, and ultimately in society (p. 28). Ringen extends the analysis by pointing out the radical inversion of priorities systematically corroding the entire bureaucratic apparatus. Civil servants do not serve the public anymore. They have to cultivate the upper stratum of their hierarchy, generally in charge of their position, in a never-ending game of obligation and reciprocity where the mere idea of public service is overturned to become a tool at the sole service of the Party.


8In terms of control, the author points to the co-optation of all civil society organisations. This takeover of potentially critical social movements is an important feature of the admirable dynamic stability of a regime frightened most of all by any social activism able to organise and to create networks (p. 140). It is not the organisation toward such objectives that poses a problem, but rather it is organisation itself (p. 141). The space the regime leaves to the people, and that gives the impression of a form of normality to everyday life, is composed only of areas of indifference conceded by the state, often to compensate for its continuing disengagement from the social realm: a retreat of the state that is not – never is – a retreat of the party-state (p. 137). The relationship of domination between the leadership and society has not fundamentally changed, even if it has been softened, and the totalitarian ambition seems not yet even questioned. It is obvious here that controlocracy is the most perfect dictatorship: it does not depend on the omnipresence of terror, and the regime can even afford to be parsimonious in its use of brute force. Nevertheless, the threat is ubiquitous (p. 141).


9The Chinese, like all human beings confronted with a state that is strong, cumbersome, and intrusive, have no other choice than to compromise. Strategies to respond and adapt are abundant: “by courage, by ingenuity, by helping and protecting each other, by opposing and protecting, by organizing, by subverting, by pretending, by surviving (…) as well as by acquiescence and obedience, by collaborating in oppression, by opportunism and cowardice.” Ringen adds: “the rich tapestry of the human condition (…) for the good and for the bad” (p. 40). Here we see the cultural alibi as well as the historicist excuse, both essentialising a so-called Chinese specificity, brushed away with convincing eloquence. The author further questions the ultimate primacy of stability. He argues that political opening could have unleashed more energy and creativity. And even if it might not have been workable, the official litany of its potential demise to justify the current state of affairs “is not credible” (p. 146). What remains true is that each and every attempt at political opening was immediately translated into claims for more democracy. The Party knows it does not have the genuine support of the population in a society that has become one of the most unequal on earth. The few reports available on the quality of life and happiness of the population completes a bleak portrayal of reality in today’s PRC. It proves again that there is no correlation between economic growth and the well-being of a population (pp. 149-150).


  • 1  To translate Zhongguo meng using “China Dream” rather than “Chinese Dream” makes sense if we accep (...)
  • 2  Claude Lefort, Le Temps présent. Écrits 1945-2005, Paris, Belin, 2007, p. 268. Michel Bonnin devel (...)


10To conclude this enlightening essay, Ringen engages the “China Dream” (Zhongguo meng) of the present leadership.1 He picks up a recent press article allowing no doubt of the link between national greatness and the individual happiness of each and every Chinese. Beyond the customary nationalist celebration, the Chinese leadership’s rhetoric seems aimed solely at the subordination of individual autonomy to the national might in a re-enactment of the terrible idea of the “People-as-One” coined by Claude Lefort, who defined the totalitarian phenomenon as the consubstantiality of state and society.2 An essential characteristic of totalitarianism, this fantasy of the unity of the people with their leader (be it an individual or a group), of a homogeneous organic society, pure and unique, is grounded on the denial of a divide between state and society. Fundamentally, repeats Ringen, the idea of unity between a nation and a person is a fascist idea, “the fascist idea,” he even insists (p. 176). The cold radicalism of this depiction of the Chinese regime will obviously generate criticism, disagreement, and debate. This may also be the reason why this book is essential reading.



1  To translate Zhongguo meng using “China Dream” rather than “Chinese Dream” makes sense if we accept that the dream of Chinese leaders may not be the dream of all Chinese.

2  Claude Lefort, Le Temps présent. Écrits 1945-2005, Paris, Belin, 2007, p. 268. Michel Bonnin developed Lefort’s idea in relation to China in “Comment définir le régime politique chinois aujourd’hui,” in Yves Michaux (dir.), La Chine aujourd’hui, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2003.



Bibliographical reference

David Bartel, « Stein Ringen, The Perfect Dictatorship: China in the 21st Century, », China Perspectives, 2016/4 | 2016, 90-91.

Electronic reference

David Bartel, « Stein Ringen, The Perfect Dictatorship: China in the 21st Century, », China Perspectives [Online], 2016/4 | 2016, Online since 01 December 2016, connection on 01 April 2021. URL : ; DOI :


About the author

David Bartel

David Bartel is a PhD candidate at the EHESS, and an associate researcher at the CEFC (

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March 2021 Update


March 2021



2 Updates


1.Freedom in the World 2021 - China 9/100

2. Pope blesses Taiwan for lunar new year




Freedom in the World 2021 - China 9/100


Freedom House

Freedom in the World 2021 - China 9/100


China’s authoritarian regime has become increasingly repressive in recent years. The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is tightening its control over the state bureaucracy, the media, online speech, religious groups, universities, businesses, and civil society associations, and it has undermined its own already modest rule-of-law reforms. The CCP leader and state president, Xi Jinping, has consolidated personal power to a degree not seen in China for decades, but his actions have also triggered rising discontent among elites within and outside the party. The country’s human rights movements continue to seek avenues for protecting basic liberties despite a multiyear crackdown.






Pope blesses Taiwan for lunar new year


11th February 2021


UCA News -

Pope blesses Taiwan for lunar new year

Island's president takes a dig at China by highlighting Hong Kong's struggle for democracy

UCA News reporter

Pope Francis has met with Taiwan’s ambassador to the Vatican to extend his special greetings and blessings to Taiwanese people for the lunar new year.

Ambassador Mathew Lee met the pope on Feb. 8 on the sidelines of the Vatican’s annual meeting with the diplomatic corps and conveyed new year greetings on behalf of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and the Taiwanese people.

“Pope was in good spirits, wished a good start to the lunar year and promised to continue to pray for Taiwan,” Lee reportedly said.

During the meeting, the pope described 2020 as the year of “despair” that saw the world fall “seriously ill” due to the coronavirus. He said religious freedom is a “primary and fundamental human right” that must be protected as the world races to protect lives from the virus.

Meanwhile, President Tsai extended a lunar new year message on Feb. 10 that had a special focus on Hong Kong and its struggle for democracy.

Tsai said that “though democracy is not perfect, it is mankind's best system and they should keep the faith on it.”

On Feb. 9, Tsai conveyed best wishes to China for the new year but also called for a resumption of dialogue with Beijing over unresolved bilateral issues.

Tsai’s government has offered support to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong since massive protests erupted over the draconian national security law introduced last year.

Taiwan has also offered sanctuary to many Hong Kong citizens who fled the massive crackdown in the former British colony, much to the chagrin of Beijing, which accused Taiwan of endorsing violence and crimes.

The East Asian island, officially called the Republic of China, is an independent democratic nation that borders China, Japan and the Philippines. Communist China claims it as its own territory but Taiwan maintains sovereignty thanks to considerable global support, especially from the West.

Taiwan has maintained non-diplomatic relations with the Vatican since 1922 and entered full diplomatic relations in 1942. The first Taiwanese ambassador to the Holy See was posted in 1943.

Taiwan has a population of about 24 million. Buddhists account for about 35 percent, Taoism for about 33 percent and Christians are estimated at about 4 percent, while some 18 percent of Taiwanese identify themselves as non-religious, according to the Index Mundi website.

Catholics in Taiwan are estimated to number more than 220,000 and covered by one archdiocese and six dioceses.






February 2021 Updates


February 2021



4 Updates


1. Biden bans linking Covid-19 to China in bid to quell racist backlash in US

2. Xi Jinping and Biden servants of the same economic power

3. Chinese bid farewell to Trump with mixed sentiments of criticism and sarcasm

4. China-US relations: Beijing says ‘new window of hope’ is opening as it offers Biden administration an olive branch





Biden bans linking Covid-19 to China in bid to quell racist backlash in US


27th January 2021

South China Morning Post

* Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders put ‘at risk’ by inflammatory and xenophobic descriptions of coronavirus, memo says
* No political leaders named but Donald Trump’s rhetoric was blamed for soaring attacks on minority groups last year

By: Teddy Ng

US President Joe Biden has banned references to Covid-19 by geographical location, after labels like “China virus” and “Wuhan virus” led to a racist backlash.

“Inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric has put Asian-American and Pacific Islander persons, families, communities and businesses at risk,” Biden said in a memorandum released on Tuesday.

“The federal government must recognise that it has played a role in furthering these xenophobic sentiments through the actions of political leaders, including references to the Covid-19 pandemic by the geographic location of its origin,” he said.

“Such statements have stoked unfounded fears and perpetuated stigma about Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders and have contributed to increasing rates of bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against AAPI persons.”

The memo said executive departments and agencies would ensure that official actions, documents and statements “do not exhibit or contribute to racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders”.

No political leaders were named in the memo, but Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump repeatedly used terms like “Wuhan virus”, “China plague” and “kung flu” to describe the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

One week after testing positive for the coronavirus last year, Trump said he was “in very good shape” and that “I beat this crazy, horrible China virus”.
He heard earlier said China would “pay a big price” for the pandemic.

These descriptors were blamed for a rise in attacks and abuse targeting minority communities in the US.

In the memo, Biden pointed out that 2 million Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders worked as health care providers and in other supporting roles, contributing to the effort to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the US.

Asian-Americans reported more than 2,600 hate incidents in just a few months last year, compared with a few hundred in most years going back to 1999, said Aryani Ong, an Asian-American rights activist and former civil rights lawyer.

Trump’s descriptions of the pandemic were furiously rejected by Beijing, which denied his allegation that the coronavirus might have emerged from a lab in Wuhan. Earlier this month, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Washington’s narrative – put forward by former secretary of state Mike Pompeo – was “full of fallacies” and “madness”.

China is also recasting the coronavirus narrative, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi suggesting the pandemic was likely to have been caused by separate outbreaks in multiple places around the world.

Chinese diplomats have promoted unfounded theories linking the virus to US military athletes, while state media has reported the virus could have entered China through imported frozen foods, following cases in Chinese ports and among cold storage workers.



Xi Jinping and Biden servants of the same economic power


26th January 2021

AsiaNews -

By: Bernardo Cervellera


In his Davos' speech, Xi asserts the winning strength of the "China model". Political stability at the cost of repression. Even the "US model", with its "democratic virus", has victims: immigrants, African-Americans, but also whites, small business owners, workers. Many victims of the globalized system were among the Washington demonstrators. The stock exchanges and the financial world are profiting from the Covid crisis. Financial power pulls the strings of both the "China model" and the "US model".

Rome (AsiaNews) - In the aftermath of Xi Jinping's irenic speech in Davos, there are those who once again assert the winning strength of the "China model". In his 20-minute speech, the Chinese president filled the atmosphere of the international trade elite with popular slogans: no to the "cold war"; yes, to "dialogue and collaboration"; "Multilateralism" and no to "domination over each other"; aid to poor and developing countries; etc…

A similar etching of so many clichés is evident from the very fact that Xi's own country refuses to sign the treaty banning nuclear weapons; that China continues to build military bases in the South China Sea, regardless of the claims of other Southeast Asian countries; that its military jets - and Xi Jinping himself - are threatening Taiwan with a possible recapture by force.

But the fiery sweet intervention had a clear message, or rather two. The first is that China alone can guarantee "political stability". Xi said: "The best criteria [in deciding the merits of a political system] is whether a country’s history, culture and social system fits its particular situation, enjoys people’s support, serves to deliver political stability, social progress and better lives, and contributes to human progress”.

The second, very similar to the first, is: do not choose the US model, still recovering from the assault on Capitol Hill a few weeks ago and marked by the virus of democracy.

The "value of the China model" has been discussed among economists, politicians and entrepreneurs for years. After the 2008 crisis, China alone has been able to show an impressive growth of its GDP. Moreover, as the pandemic has slowed its pace, it has been the first to recover. The fact that Taiwan has done better than Beijing is barely even considered: what really matters is applauding the economic and pandemic successes of an authoritarian system, a system that does not waste time listening to the different voices of society and the freedom of expression, so tied to freedom of trade.

The fact that this system produces victims is apparently unimportant. Entrepreneurs like Jack Ma find themselves held back in their globalization momentum; Uyghur Muslims are imprisoned in forced labour and de-Islamization camps; Christians are accused of being Covid infectors; intellectuals, dissidents, new citizens, journalists are silenced by throwing them into misery and prison. All of this is considered mere "collateral damage" in the name of the supreme good of "political stability".

Yet despite all of this, neither are we supporters of the "US model" or even the "Trump model": neither has the United States signed the anti-nuclear treaty and is in first place for the sale of arms worldwide (China is right behind it) ... Even American society has its "collateral" victims: immigrants, African-Americans, but also whites, small business owners, workers, ... As several scholars and observers have pointed out, the same assault on Capitol Hill cannot be dismissed as a subversive and presumptuous attempt by supremacists.

Many - most - of those who demonstrated on January 6 in Washington were the victims of a system that, under the guise of globalization, has forgotten their needs for healthcare, dignity, culture, work. From this point of view, Biden's attempt to bring everything under the inflexibility of the law, as if to erase these elements of civil society, is very similar to the "political stability" desired by Xi.

The real problem is that both in the United States and in China - as throughout the world – one power dominates, the financial one, which pays no heed to what happens in reality and detaches itself from it using Biden's law of "politically correct" or the despotic one of the Chinese Communist Party.

In 2020, nearly 2 million people died from the pandemic; millions of individuals have lost their jobs; the new poor have grown by at least 100 million; the global economy has lost a tenth of its wealth. Yet it is impressive that in the same period, the world of finance has gained more than ever: the stock exchanges have been positive, shares have grown in value. As economist Andy Xi notes and, “Tesla has grown 10 times; bitcoin five times and the Nasdaq almost doubled ". At the same time, in China, house prices have soared, just as cities were deserted with the lockdown.

We continue to argue about the tug of war between supporters of the "China model" or "US model", but in reality we should think about how to change this economy which is overly dependent on finance and not on the real production of wealth. It is this financial power that exploits first one, then the other model and finally both to increase its dominance, which is in turn good for Biden's power and for Xi's.



Chinese bid farewell to Trump with mixed sentiments of criticism and sarcasm


20th January 2021

Global Times

By: Yang Sheng and Wang Qi

As the end of Donald Trump's presidency draws nigh, thousands of Chinese netizens have commented and interacted with a Global Times post that asked them to describe the controversial outgoing US president and his contentious tenure in a few key words or phrases, with the overwhelming consensus one of negativity and mockery toward the 45th president of the US.

Experts and journalists reached by the Global Times also gave their thoughts on the eve of the inauguration of Trump's successor, president-elect Joe Biden.While they expect a much steadier administration, many admitted that it would not be as entertaining or interesting. Others warned that the effects of Trumpism will cast a shadow as Biden attempts to rebuild shattered US relations and heal a nation in turmoil.

The most common words and phrases mentioned under the Global Times posts include destruction, dishonest, selfish, populism, McCarthyism, unilateralism, protectionism, anti-globalization, untrustworthy, messy, crazy, arrogant, uncertainty, low-credit, funny, laughable, gravedigger of US hegemony, and enemy to pro-US sycophants. As of press time, the online quiz has received about 700 comments and 3,000 likes on Sina Weibo.

Chinese experts said it is unlikely many will make many compliments or positive comments regarding Trump, whether in China or in the US, because the changes that he has made to the US, China-US relations and international relations have been largely negative and destructive, and his governance has caused unprecedented and irreversible consequences.

But some journalists of international politics and China-US ties have mixed feelings about him because they no longer need to stare at his Twitter feed 24/7 in case of shocking tweet storms. The flip side is that Chinese journalists have lost a treasury and a comical window to observe US politics directly.

President of destruction

Many who commented on the Global Times post mentioned the word "destruction" in connection with Trump, as he has destroyed and broken many established rules, constructions, agreements, deals, and ties with other countries, and especially he has damaged the soft power and image of the US.

A web user said in a comment with more than 500 likes, "He just uncovered the dark side of 'democracy' in capitalist countries for us. So the sacred presidential election is actually full of fraud and cheating." Another joked, "Why didn't they let him be reelected? Then he can probably become the last president of the US."

Chinese experts have summarized Trump's legacies in the aspects of politics, economy and foreign affairs. He further divided American grass roots and establishment elites, failed to realize the promise of getting manufacturing industry back to the US from overseas, caused "post-traumatic stress disorder" to US-led alliances and made China-US ties worsen to the brink of a new cold war despite the administration launching no war, they said.

Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday that Trump represents a division of the US and a resurgence of McCarthyism regarding the international stage, especially toward China.

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, summarized the Trump administration as one of "subversive destruction" in general and "fundamental regress" when it comes to China-US ties. "He has blocked the trend toward integration between China and the US, turning the certainties of both countries into uncertainty," Li said.

Almost no one on social media remembered that at the beginning of Trump's term, he had expressed a friendly stance toward China and its top leadership. He showed video clips of his granddaughter, Arabella Kushner, daughter of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, singing a Chinese song and reciting Chinese poems on diplomatic occasions, and he praised China's assistance publicly on issues like mediating the US-North Korea tension.

The images that have most stuck in the minds of Chinese people are when he hyped Sinophobia and racism during the COVID-19 pandemic. He sought to assign blame and stigmatize China on almost everything to cover his failed governance, and he launched a trade war to the detriment of not only Chinese firms but also American interests. The US under his governance continues to become more hostile toward Chinese nationals and immigrants, more unequal between the black and the white and the rich and the poor, more incapable of protecting its own people from the coronavirus epidemic, and more divided and violent, even though the election is a done deal, said Chinese analysts.

"During his presidency, China-US ties reached the lowest point in [modern] history. Any worse situation would be unimaginable, so this could be good news for the future, because no matter what changes Biden is to make, they will at least be better than Trump's policies," Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"Although Trump has wrought some damage on China, the losses he inflicted on the US are much greater. Trump has brought unprecedented destruction to the legal legitimacy and moral legitimacy of the US. The huge damage to the credibility of the country will seriously undermine the US's status as a leader of the Western world," Lü noted.

The US is becoming increasingly unreliable and uncertain, and this is not an asset of a supposed leader of the world, Lü said. The Biden administration will inherit the fallout as well, because even though Trump's rules and policies will be overturned, if Trumpism returns, everything will revert. This uncertainty will make many countries, even loyal US allies, distance their own interests from the US.

During the Trump presidency, especially amid the pandemic, the world has seen grievous levels of individualism and brusque arrogance among the US. Trump's destruction of US-led alliances, of the system of global governance and of the system of capitalism, would be catastrophic. He has not only ruined the reputation of the US, but that of the whole Western world, as well as capitalism, Wang noted.

Although US allies are saying "welcome back" to the US, on concrete issues like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Iran nuclear deal, European countries and Japan are exercising caution. They decided to reach historic agreements on trade and investment with China as soon as possible despite the Biden team asking them to wait, and the China-EU investment agreement is evidence of this, Chinese analysts said.

The impact of Trumpism, which represents populism, anti-establishment, anti-elitism, and even encouraging overturning the election results with use of force, will be lingering and lasting long, Li said, noting that Trump's stepping down was a setback for the far right, but that Trumpism still has chance to rise in both the US and Europe again. Problems like immigration, ethnic and sectarian conflicts, and uneven development during globalization remain unresolved, he said.

Mixed feelings

Some Chinese netizens are still trying to have some fun on the last full day of Trump's presidency. Comments under the Global Times' online quiz include phrases describing Trump as "Comrade Jianguo" and "undercover agent of the Party." Jianguo literally means "build the country," but in this case, they mock that Trump is doing his best to build up China to the detriment of the US.

These words refer to a popular meme on Chinese social media that says Trump is "an agent sent by China to win the election in 2016 and disrupt the US to make it as messy as possible, so China can distract US suppression against China and win the competition easily."

One of the comments with more than 1,200 likes under the Global Times' quiz mocked that "His loyalty will be remembered in the East, as he brought disaster to the West."

This meme has become even more popular after the January 6 Capitol riots. Some netizens said they are reluctant to bid Trump farewell, hoping he will remain in the White House to wreak more trouble on the US and bring more advantages to China. Some Chinese web users suggested Trump should open an account on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like popular social media platform, after he leaves office, since all US social media platforms have blocked him.

"If American media, officials or people learn about this meme, they should not be surprised and angry, as this is the sense of humor of Chinese people to ease the pressure and anger against the US amid the unprecedented hostility from the Trump administration. The majority of us don't like Trumpism at all, and we hope the Biden administration can fix [bilateral] ties," said a Beijing-based journalist on China-US relations who asked for anonymity.

In a December 2020 survey conducted by the Global Times, 31.7 percent said they believe Biden will bring certain opportunities to ease China-US tensions, with 28.5 percent pessimistic about the new US administration, and 39.8 percent found the situation unclear.

Trump was thanked by many web users as he made many Chinese people become more informed on US politics. They said that Trump is "the enemy" to Chinese "public intellectuals" and sycophants who frequently flatter, with strong bias, the US and trumpet Western democracy to stigmatize the socialist political system of China.

Trump caused the fairy tales about US democracy created by Chinese "public intellectuals" to collapse, because his poor handling of the pandemic, his dishonest and anti-intellectual statements, faithless behavior on the international arena, and the riots incited by him to challenge the election made the puffery of US democracy increasingly unconvincing, and in comparison, more Chinese feel confident on China's path of socialism.

Li Xiang, editor-in-chief of the Wiews, a Beijing-based online media outlet, said "emotionally, I am a little bit reluctant to bid farewell to him, because we need a mighty internet celebrity like him to make the political news more popular and entertaining, but rationally, I hope he and his sidekicks like [Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo will go away as soon as possible, because the world doesn't need liars to be celebrities."



China-US relations: Beijing says ‘new window of hope’ is opening as it offers Biden administration an olive branch

2nd January 2021

South China Morning Post

* Foreign Minister Wang Yi urges incoming president to try to get relations back on track
* Wang says efforts to ‘start new cold war’ have hurt both countries after ties worsened under Donald Trump

By: Shi Jiangtao

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has offered an olive branch to the incoming Biden administration, saying a “new window of hope” is opening.

In a wide-ranging interview with state news agency Xinhua published on Saturday, he urged the Biden administration to adopt a sensible approach and restart engagement with China to get bilateral ties back on track despite “unprecedented difficulties”.

“China-US relations have come to a new crossroads, and a new window of hope is opening,” Wang said. “We hope that the next US administration will return to a sensible approach, resume dialogue with China, restore normalcy to the bilateral relations and restart cooperation.”

Wang and other Chinese officials have appealed for a fresh start on several occasions after President Xi Jinping congratulated Joe Biden on his victory in late November.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated sharply amid growing economic and technological decoupling; clashes over Taiwan, the South China Sea, Hong Kong and Xinjiang; and rows over issues such as the origins of the coronavirus and US sanctions on Huawei.

While China’s nationalist shift under Xi and its increasingly aggressive diplomatic approach are seen by many as contributing to the breakdown of bilateral ties, Wang put the blame squarely on deep-rooted bias and misperceptions about China’s rapid rise.

“What has happened proves that the US attempts to suppress China and start a new cold war has not just seriously harmed the interests of the two peoples, but also caused severe disruption to the world. Such a policy will find no support and is doomed to fail,” Wang said.

He also sought to address fears among American elites about Washington’s relative decline as the world’s dominant superpower, which showed signs of accelerating under Donald Trump, especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“[The] best way to keep one’s lead is through constant self-improvement, not by blocking others’ development,” he said. “We don’t need a world where China becomes another United States. This is neither rational nor feasible. Rather, the United States should try to make itself a better country, and China will surely become its better self.”

Observers said the conciliatory remarks may offer some hopes for many countries torn between economic dependence on Beijing and their ties with Washington, but warned China remained downbeat about relations in the future.

Pang Zhongying, an international affairs specialist at the Ocean University of China, said: “Few people in Beijing are actually optimistic about the US-China relations under the Biden presidency, with most expecting bilateral tensions to last, if not get much worse.”

He said the message was also intended for many other countries, which may also need to reconsider their stance on the US-China rivalry once Biden takes office. “His remarks are largely reminiscent of the good old days … during the pre-Trump era that are gone for good,” Pang said.

For Beijing’s perspective, one of Trump’s biggest mistakes was his disdain for dialogue and diplomatic exchanges, which led to the demise of America’s decades-long policy of engagement with China.

Wang suggested the two sides should still be able to resolve their differences through dialogue “as long as the United States can draw lessons from the past and work with China”.

He said: “This will allow the two major countries to establish a model of coexistence that benefits both countries and the world, and open up new development prospects in line with the trend of history.”

Wang, also put a positive spin on China’s troubled relations with its Asian neighbours, Europe and Africa.

China’s traditionally trade-driven relations with the EU have taken a drastic turn for the worse this year in the wake of the pandemic, as Beijing’s increasingly assertive diplomacy, its trade practices and repressive domestic policies faced tighter international scrutiny.

The two sides finally agreed an investment deal last month after years of negotiations – a development that prompted Wang to call for Brussels to work with China to tackle global challenges instead of “serving bloc politics”.

But Duncan Freeman, a visiting professor at the Free University of Brussels, said that while the deal helped balance China’s rapidly deteriorating relations with the US, it “does not fundamentally change either the economics or politics of the EU-China relationship”.

Wang also praised Russia, which has moved closer to China in recent years, saying there was “no ceiling to how far this cooperation can go” and said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership was a “historic breakthrough” in China’s relations with its Southeast Asian neighbours.

Philippe Le Corre, a non-resident fellow in the Europe and Asia programmes at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said China appeared to have been emboldened by its success at controlling the coronavirus despite feeling besieged as the rivalry with the US intensified.

“China aims at gathering third countries behind its banner – mainly in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and various parts of Asia, whenever possible. It is trying to secure support over its foreign policy, while the West is divided, at least in Beijing’s eyes,” he said.

“The reality is that many countries are not comfortable with China’s policy – not just in the West, but outside, as various surveys have demonstrated.”
Pang also said Wang’s remarks had largely glossed over the problems and challenges Beijing faced in the post-coronavirus world. For instance, he made no mention of Japan and India, which have an increasingly tense relationship with Beijing.

“We don’t see serious self-reflection or any signs of policy adjustments, which may be necessary to counter an emerging anti-China coalition,” he said.

But he said Beijing still had cause for optimism because of the disenchantment among US allies over Trump’s unilateral and confrontational approach to China.

“Wang’s remarks, especially his insistence about China’s success in making more friends, were also meant as a warning to Washington that it too faces an imminent turning point as countries may choose to stay further away from an increasingly populist and nationalist America,” Pang said.

* This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Wang holds out olive branch to Joe BidenWang holds out olive branch to Joe Biden





November 2020 Updates



November 2020    


2 Updates


1. The importance of respecting the rights of the weakest

2. China finally waves goodbye to family planning as country gets old, but is the damage already done?




    The importance of respecting the rights of the weakest


                                20th November 2020


Agenzia Fides -


ASIA - The importance of respecting the rights of the weakest within the framework of the trade agreement in East Asia, a driving force for development


Hanoi (Agenzia Fides) - The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the newborn economic cooperation agreement between 15 Asian nations representing globally about a third of the GDP and the world population raises hopes and concerns among civil society in the various countries of Asia. In the intentions of its creators, the pact will become a driving force for development in East Asia. But the official birth of the agreement - with the signing during a virtual conference on November 15 in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi - has also aroused concern, especially among civil society organizations because of the effects the agreement could have on the most fragile and weakest segments of the population such as farmers or craftsmen.


"The Covid crisis should be an opportunity to realize how important farmers, fishermen and other food producers are", commented the Indonesian NGO "Solidaritas Perempuan". Asian human rights monitoring networks and platforms such as "Focus on Global South" highlight dangers for people working in the informal sector, small manufacturing businesses and for farmers: all people who live on minimal profit margins with mediators who then export the goods. Drastically reducing tariffs on agricultural products, for example, could have tragic consequences for small producers and for women who work for the subsistence of their families in the context of small-scale agriculture. The situation, the NGOs warn, is aggravated by the presence of Covid-19.


The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (Apwld), based in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), referring to Rcep said. "In Asia, the pandemic has taken so many lives, destroyed economies, swept away millions of jobs and livelihoods in ways never seen before. Right now, any economic, fiscal and political decision must reflect the needs and priorities of the peoples".


From Manila, the NGO "Trade Justice Pilipinas" has also joined the chorus: "In the years in which we have followed the negotiations, we have constantly expressed our concerns about the negative implications of Rcep on the Philippine economy". The concerns are shared by trade unions in Indonesia, South Korea, Australia, Malaysia and Cambodia which, as stated by the trade union platform "Public Service International" have expressed their reservations about the effects of the agreement on jobs.


The Rcep negotiation marathon began 8 years ago with a negotiation started in 2011 in Bali during an ASEAN summit. Last year India, initially involved, withdrew, thus delaying the official inauguration of the agreement for a year. Rcep includes all ten ASEAN countries (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations which includes: Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia) and five countries of Oceania and East Asia: China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.


The agreement intends to gradually reduce custom tariffs on many goods and services, integrating the commitments already established with the World Trade Organization, by taking into account sectors such as e-commerce or intellectual property rights. Even if it will not be easy to align very different economic situations, the 15 signatory states which launched the Rcep have provided for safeguard clauses aimed at protecting specific products or countries. Rcep was also born as a multilateral cooperation structure in the search for mutual economic advantage. (MG-PA) (Agenzia Fides)



China finally waves goodbye to family planning as country gets old, but is the damage already done?



                                9th November 2020


South China Morning Post



China finally waves goodbye to family planning as country gets old, but is the damage already done?


* China’s ‘Jihua Shengyu’, or family planning, policy was not included in the latest national plan released by the ruling Communist Party

* China’s one-child policy, which became a two child policy in 2016, was in place for four decades until the social and economic costs became just too obvious to ignore


By: Zhou Xin


The era of family planning through birth restrictions is ending in China. This was made clear by the fact that the four character Chinese phrase, Jihua Shengyu, was not included in the latest 20,000 character national plan released by the ruling Communist Party.


I was born in 1979 and so was part of China’s first “only child” generation as Beijing rolled out its one-child policy across the country.


Jihua Shengyu meant that many of my classmates from primary school to university had older sisters and brothers, but few had younger siblings. It also meant my mother repeatedly telling me what a pity it was that she could not have a daughter. It meant that for my generation and the ones that followed, the default family size was three – a couple and one child. While it is a universal law to see family size shrinking and population ageing as a result of economic growth, China’s family planning policy has greatly accelerated the process.


After four decades of ruthless implementation, the family planning policy has left a collective mark on the Chinese people, profoundly changing their views of family.


There are many horrible stories related to Jihua Shengyu, including forced abortions, mandatory sterilisation, infanticide and hefty fines. For most Chinese families, the cost was just too high to challenge it. People just got used to it. As a result, the one-child policy, which became a two child policy in 2016, was in place for four decades until the social and economic costs became just too obvious to ignore.


Some Chinese officials had trumpeted the value of family planning in helping China’s economic miracle. It may be true that there were “demographic dividends” as young couples saved more, spent more and allocated more time to work – especially for young women – but the short-term gains came with long-term consequences that have just started to emerge.


The number of people over 65 will rise above 300 million in 2035, creating a huge challenge for China’s already underfunded state pension and health care systems. The country’s labour force will keep shrinking and consumer demand is likely to decline, as well, as older people generally consume less.


The problem of “shrinking cities” in many places is already obvious, especially in the northeast, as young and ambitious Chinese people increasingly seek opportunity in big cities and regional economic hubs.


In hindsight, Jihua Shengyu probably did more harm than good. Although it is a bit late, it is still good to wave a goodbye to the policy.


* This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Family planning backfires in ageing China



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