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Updated: 51 min 26 sec ago

Minitrue: The Scottish Referendum

9 hours 20 min ago

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

The media must not hype or comment on the Scottish referendum. All websites must take care to control content on interactive platforms. (September 20, 2014)

苏格兰公投一事,媒体不要评论炒作。各网站注意控制互动环节的内容。 [Original Text]

China has offered no official statement on the September 18 referendum for Scottish independence, which ended with the clear majority voting to stay in the United Kingdom. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei has refused to comment, as it is another country’s internal affairs. By contrast, several pieces in Chinese media gleefully attacked the referendum as a sign of British democracy’s failure to ensure stability.

The authorities are wary of comparisons between Scotland and Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, or Taiwan. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Titus Chen Chih-chieh of Taiwan’s National Chengchi University said the “implications for Hong Kong and Taiwan were a serious concern”:

“The mainland obviously does not want to see how the Scottish decide their fate to be an example for Taiwan and Hong Kong,” he said.

[...] Su Hao, a professor with China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, said China would follow if the United Kingdom recognised the independence of Scotland, but that did not mean China recognised the legitimacy of such referendums. [Source]

The Wall Street Journal interviewed passersby in Beijing about the Scottish referendum. No one supported secession by popular vote in Xinjiang or Tibet, saying that those territories are an integral part of China and that only a minority want independence. But Tea Leaf Nation has found that the discussion on Weibo to be a different story:

Some on Weibo appeared to disagree with Beijing’s latest move [on Hong Kong's elections for chief executive]. Seemingly addressing the referendum—and perhaps Beijing’s propensity to quiet alleged separatists in western regions Tibet and Xinjiang with force—one wrote pointedly, “there’s nothing wrong with undertaking a referendum, without outside interference, to determine the future of a people.” He applauded U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s reliance on “persuasion, not mobilizing troops” as the only “civilized and respectable way” to maintain unity. Another user wondered aloud “why every time I hear about dissolution, it’s outrageous, heinous, the end of the world. What’s so wrong with splitting up?” One was indifferent to the vote’s outcome, writing, “The fact that a people comprising one-third of the land mass of the existing country can vote on their own independence is already amazing.” [Source]

Weibo user 微博搞笑排行榜 calls Scotland’s no vote “the end of an era that wanted to begin.”

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Alibaba Shares Surge in IPO Debut

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 20:11

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, opened at $92.70 a share on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, making it the highest initial public offering in U.S. history. Drew Harwell at The Washington Post reports:

Alibaba Group, the Chinese Web juggernaut that has become the world’s biggest online retailer, will sell its first shares to the public Friday in one of the most lucrative debuts in stock market history.

Though little known in the United States, the tech powerhouse has in 15 years transformed life in China, where 80 percent of online sales pass through an Ali­baba site. Its colorful, chaotic marketplaces, where consumers can buy nearly anything, saw $248 billion in sales last year, more than and eBay combined.

[...] The company, trading under the ticker symbol BABA, said Thursday that it had priced its shares at $68 each, valuing the megafirm at $168 billion — more than the value of

The company’s initial public offering is expected to raise $21.8 billion, although its underwriters could exercise an option to buy more shares, sending its total past $25 billion. That would better the largest U.S. IPO, Visa, which raised $19.7 billion in 2008, and the $22 billion raised by the Agricultural Bank of China in 2010. [Source]

Despite the frenzied interest that Alibaba’s IPO has generated in investors, analysts suggest that there are still reasons to be concerned. From Market Watch:

But Alibaba’s IPO is far from a sure bet and its strongest asset–namely being a Chinese company–is also its biggest risk, according to Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management Group.

Here are the risks as Stone sees them:

  • Margins likely to decline as acquisitions and lower mobile monetization rates become a bigger part of revenue. Risk of counterfeit product activity prevalent in China could force Alibaba to mobilize fund to battle fakes.
  • Transparency is a challenge when investing in foreign companies, particularly for investors who are not familiar with China.
  • Alibaba serves as an intermediary for buyers and sellers, with few physical products or assets.
  • The Internet in China is highly regulated and sensitive to government policy. Alibaba’s size could trigger a higher level
    of scrutiny. [Source]

At the Guardian, Suzanne McGee explains that the e-commerce giant’s top-down ownership structure effectively limits the influence that IPO investors have on the company’s internal operation and management.

It can be summed up this way: we will take your money, but we’re not interested in your ideas.

[...] At the Chinese company, power will be concentrated in the hands of a 28-person partnership. That group will have the right to name a majority of the company’s directors, thus giving them effective control of the business.

[...] A small group of insiders will control the company’s strategic direction. If they’re unhappy with the way Alibaba’s management team, lead by founder Jack Ma, is handling the business, or if they want to insist that the company consider an unsolicited acquisition offer, there is literally nothing that an unhappy outside investor can do other than to sell his shares. [Source]

Due to state regulations, Chinese investors will not be able to purchase Alibaba’s shares directly. Instead, investors in China must go through an expensive investor program that only the wealthy can afford. Bloomberg Businessweek reports:

Though Chinese consumers have driven Alibaba’s financial success, they’ll largely be left out of the company’s stock offering. Mainland investors can’t purchase overseas equities directly due to government restrictions and only the wealthiest can buy them indirectly through qualified investor programs.

[...] Chinese investors can purchase foreign securities indirectly through what’s known as a Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor program. Such funds are run by asset managers who give broad guidelines of what they plan to invest in and then choose specific stocks.

[...] That fund will be limited to the richest Chinese. The minimum investment in these programs is about 1 million yuan ($163,000) with an expected yield of about 120 percent and investment period of three months, the paper said, citing a company prospectus. Rongtong Capital officials weren’t available to comment on the report. [Source]

At China File, David Woolf discusses why Alibaba’s ties to the Chinese government and its connections to the offsprings of high-ranking Communist Party members will not hurt the company and its prospects.

After such an offering, speculation would grow about Jack Ma’s residual ties to the government and the company’s relationship with Xi Jinping’s administration. Analysts would cast a revisionist eye on the company’s history, seeking out the critical junctures where it simply have been government help that allowed Alibaba to beat eBay, Paypal, Amazon, and a legion of local competitors. It is, after all, far more comforting to ascribe the extraordinary success of others to special privilege than it is to think that they were faster, smarter, and better than we. And in a nation where special advantages have been at the heart of so many successful enterprises, it is somehow far more convincing than a singular Horatio Alger story with Chinese characteristics.

But does it matter? Even if the worst happens—even if Wall Street and the Chinese people believe that Alibaba succeeded because of its connections—the juggernaut is unlikely to be slowed. Taobao and Alipay have market positions akin to public utilities in China, key parts of the life infrastructure of two generations of Chinese people. Investors, rather than be deterred by the prospect of strong government support, will be encouraged by it. The only thing that could impede Alibaba now would be for the Xi administration to cast its anti-corruption beacon on the company and its investors. There is only one person in the world who knows whether that will happen, and he seems busier promoting China’s Internet giants than hobbling them. [Source]

At Time magazine, Michael Schuman looks at some of the important changes and trends that Alibaba’s IPO reveals about the world economy and its future direction:

More and more of the world’s most prominent companies will be from the developing world.
We still have this image of China as one big factory floor where millions of poor people slog away on assembly lines churning out cut-rate toys, clothes and electronics. Sure, there are still factories like that, but ever more that low-cost manufacturing center guise is becoming the Old China. The world’s most populous nation is developing so rapidly that it is already producing companies that are major players in all sorts of industries. Lenovo is now the largest PC maker in the world, while Huawei is challenging the best of the West in telecom equipment.

[...] Emerging markets are creating blue chips.
Ever since the idea of investing in the developing world became popular in the early 1990s, there has been a line drawn between these “emerging markets” and the more established bourses of the U.S., Europe and Japan. Emerging markets were supposed to be riskier, where only the bolder of investors would dare tread, compared with the supposedly more trustworthy and less volatile options in New York City and London. The Alibaba IPO shows how that great wall is breaking down. That a company based in a town like Hangzhou can raise more money in its IPO than one based in Menlo Park, Calif., (Facebook) shows that investors are starting to treat firms from the developing world on par with those in the developed world. Of course, the stigma staining companies from China and elsewhere won’t go away overnight — Chinese companies that have listed in New York City have had a sad history of accounting disasters. But going forward, your stock portfolio is going to hold more companies with addresses in Shanghai, Mumbai, Istanbul and São Paulo. [Source]

Alibaba is one of the world’s most valuable Internet companies. Together with Tencent, Baidu, and, Alibaba’s success illustrate the rise of Internet powerhouses in Asia. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Silicon Valley dominates the Internet, but this week’s initial public offering by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. shows how much action is shifting to Asia.

[...] Combined, Alibaba, Tencent Holdings Ltd. 0700.HK +1.87% , Baidu Inc. BIDU -1.54%and Inc. JD -4.06% are worth about $426 billion, assuming the offering by Alibaba after the U.S. market close on Thursday values the company at about $165 billion. The four biggest U.S.-based Internet companies— Google Inc.,GOOGL +1.36% Facebook Inc., FB +1.18% Inc. AMZN +1.94% andeBay Inc. EBAY -0.57% —have $797 billion in combined stock-market value.

Twenty-six other Internet companies based in China, Japan or South Korea already have gone public so far this year, raising a total of $4.45 billion, according to Dealogic. Alibaba is expected to increase Asia’s total by $25 billion. In the U.S., 21 Internet companies with IPOs in 2014 have raised $3.2 billion, while nine Internet companies in the U.K. have completed IPOs for a total of $4.7 billion. [Source]

Read more about Alibaba, via CDT.

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Dalai Lama Hails Xi Jinping as “More Open-Minded”

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 16:14

Last week, the aging 14th Dalai Lama said in an interview that he might be the last reincarnation of the high lama, de facto global ambassador of Buddhism, and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people—an announcement that scholar Robert Barnett said was likely intended to de-politicize the historical institution ahead of Beijing’s probable attempt to nominate his successor. Despite this comment—a clear reflection of long-held tensions between Beijing and the Dalai Lama—the spiritual leader made favorable comments about Xi Jinping earlier this week as the Chinese president was on a diplomatic tour of India. The South China Morning Post reports:

The Dalai Lama hailed Xi Jinping as “more open-minded” on Thursday as the president held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a rare visit to India.

“Xi Jinping’s approach [is] more realistic, more open-minded” than that of his Chinese predecessor Hu Jintao, the Tibetan spiritual leader said in Mumbai.

[...] As Xi and Modi held formal talks on boosting trade and strategic ties, Tibetan students protested against China outside the venue in the capital. [Source]

The Wall Street Journal notes further indication of thawing in the relationship between Beijing and the Dalai Lama:

In December, the government announced plans to introduce a new law that would stress protection of the Tibetan language – a persistent source of concern among Tibetans who worry that Chinese immigration and educational requirements are eroding traditional culture. Scholars have also noted that Beijing has subtly toned down its rhetoric on the Dalai Lama, referring to him more often by his full title instead of the pejorative truncation “the Dalai.”

On Thursday, an anonymous Chinese blog post describing the Dalai Lama’s return as a “win-win” added to the intrigue. Illustrated with a photo of a serene looking Dalai Lama bowing with his hands pressed together, it argued that allowing the spiritual leader to return home would reduce the ability of Western countries to assault China over the Tibet question while winning the confidence of Tibetans in and outside of the country and undermining extremists.

[...] The post, which was taken down on Thursday night, was based on rumors of talks between the Dalai Lama and Beijing that the Dalai Lama’s camp says are untrue. Columbia University Tibet specialist Robert Barnett said he nevertheless saw it as significant, noting that it was left online long enough to rack up more than 50,000 views.

[...] Mr. Barnett said it was difficult to say what the appearance and popularity of the blog post meant. But he also said he thought it was probably only a matter of time before Beijing made “at least surface level” gestures aimed at re-starting talks with the Dalai Lama on a possible return, in part because of a surge in anti-government violence tied to the mostly Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang. [Source]

Read more about Beijing’s troubled relationship with the Dalai Lama, or China’s restive and ethnically-distinct regions of Tibet and Xinjiang.

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Photo: Lanzhou Noodles, by John Pasden

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 15:52

Lanzhou Noodles

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Badiucao (巴丢草): Peace on Trial

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 14:52

As Ilham Tohti awaits a verdict following his trial for separatism this week, Badiucao offers a tribute to the jailed Uyghur scholar in his most recent cartoon contribution to CDT. Ilham Tohti was detained by police from his Beijing home in January, and formally charged with separatism in July. The Uyghur academic had long urged a peaceful inter-ethnic dialogue to mitigate violent conflict in the restive Xinjiang region. In the lead up to the trial, Ilham Tohti had reportedly been shackled, denied food, had photographs and clothing sent by his family withheld, and monitored and verbally abused by Han prisoners.

Peace on Trial, by Badiucao for CDT:

Read more about Ilham Tohti via CDT. Read also a CDT Q&A with Badiucao in which he discusses his artistic and personal influences. All Badiucao cartoons for CDT are available here. See also exclusive CDT t-shirts with a Badiucao design, for sale on our Zazzle store.

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GlaxoSmithKline Fined $487 Million

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 14:36

Following an investigation for corruption, a court in China levied an unprecedented fine of $487 million on British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. Keith Bradsher and Chris Buckley of the New York Times report:

After a one-day trial held in secrecy, the court also sentenced Glaxo’s British former country manager, Mark Reilly, and four other company managers to potential prison terms of up to four years. The sentences were suspended, allowing the defendants to avoid incarceration if they stay out of trouble, according to Xinhua, the official news agency. The verdict indicated that Mr. Reilly could be promptly deported.

The report said they had pleaded guilty and would not appeal. Glaxo said in a statement that it “fully accepts the facts and evidence of the investigation, and the verdict of the Chinese judicial authorities.”

[...] “It’s very hard to do business in the Chinese health care and pharmaceutical sectors without doing payoffs,” said David Zweig, the director of the Center on China’s Transnational Relations at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “Everyone else pays bribes. Glaxo just got caught.”

Beijing officials have gone out of their way in the last two weeks to deny complaints by foreign business groups and governments that China’s continuing legal crackdown represents an effort to discriminate against multinationals and help Chinese companies compete with them, at a time when economic nationalism is rising in China. But the scale of the fine against Glaxo was far greater than fines known to have been leveled against Chinese companies for bribery. [Source]

Sources confirmed to CBC that GSK’s former China manager Mark Reilly would be deported and would avoid prison time in China:

Mark Reilly, the former China head of British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline PLC, will be deported from China for his role in a corruption scandal and will not face jail time in the country, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Sources with knowledge of the matter said that Reilly had received a three-year suspended sentence and was awaiting details of his deportation. Meanwhile, four Chinese nationals also received suspended sentences of varying lengths, the source added. [Source]

The investigation into GSK also ensnared corporate investigators Peter Humphrey and Yu Yingzheng, who were sentenced in July to two and a half and two years in prison, respectively. A number of foreign companies have been subjected to anti-monopoly investigations in recent months.

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Envoy to Iceland Allegedly Arrested for Spying

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 13:08

China’s ambassador to Iceland Ma Jisheng has reportedly been arrested along with his wife on suspicion of leaking state secrets to Japan. Ma had twice previously served at Beijing’s Tokyo embassy. From Quartz:

Chinese ambassador to Iceland Ma Jisheng and his wife, Zhong Yue, have been arrested (link in Chinese) by Beijing on suspicion of leaking national security secrets to Japan, according to a Chinese-language media report.

[...] Ma, who served as secretary in China’s embassy in Japan (link in Chinese) in the mid 1990s and again as commissar in Toyko between 2004 and 2008, has espoused the typical Chinese criticism of Japan. In February, he penned an editorial (link in Chinese and Icelandic) in an Icelandic newspaper criticizing the visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine by Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe.

The Icelandic news site Grapevine reported earlier this month that Ma left the country in January—before the editorial was written—and has not been heard from since. A spokeswoman for the Icelandic government said it had been notified that “Ma would not return to his post for personal reasons,” Reuters reported. [Source]

Many took to Weibo to declare Ma a traitor. Weibo user 复旦大学冯玮 likened Ma to another self-proclaimed patriot whose name was recently soiled [Chinese]:

复旦大学冯玮: First, these idiots have duty and power, and also information they can sell. These are the prerequisites for a traitor; Second, these idiots are the same as Rui Chenggang: they’re patriots on the surface, but traitors in essence. (September 17, 2014)

第一,此货有职有权,有货可卖,这是当卖国贼的条件;第二,此货和芮成钢一样,表面是爱国者,实质是卖国贼 [Source]

Ma Jisheng’s alleged leaking of security information recalls a similar case in 2007, when China’s onetime “go-to diplomat for the tense Korean Peninsula” Li Bin was accused of handing sensitive information to South Korea. Netizen Norman同学 commented on the stain cases like these leave on the country:

Norman同学: Envoys abroad defecting and becoming spies—in modern times we only know of two instances worldwide. The first was Chinese ambassador to Korea Li Bin, and the second is again a Chinese diplomat, this Ma Jisheng. Just a fucking embarrassment. (September 17, 2014)

驻外大使投敌成间谍的事情,在已知的全世界近现代外交史中只发生过两次。第一次是中国驻韩国大使李滨,第二次,还是中国的,就是这位马继生。真他妈有够丢人的。 [Source]

Following foreign news outlets reporting on Ma’s arrest, the Global Times warned their English-language readers to “be wary of [the] espionage trap surrounding us.” With news of Ma’s alleged offense just breaking despite the fact that he appears to have been implicated as early as January, the editorial mentioned: “A number of major cases that startled the Chinese elite were not released to the public through the media. In actuality, reporting such incidents will educate many people by letting them know how close those manipulators of overseas intelligence agencies are to us.”

Also see CDT’s Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon entry on the term 爱国贼 (àiguózéi): patriotraitor.

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China’s Fracking Boom and the Fate of the Planet

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 11:28

Two in-depth reports in U.S. magazines this week look at the environmental consequences of China’s dependence on coal, and the various efforts underway to mitigate environmental degradation. For Rolling Stone, Jeff Goodell travels with Secretary of State John Kerry to Beijing for meetings with Chinese officials on reducing carbon emissions and other environmental issues. His report examines the efforts being taken within China and on the international stage to reverse climate change:

The blunt truth is that what China decides to do in the next decade will likely determine whether or not mankind can halt – or at least ameliorate – global warming. The view among a number of prominent climate scientists is that if China’s emissions peak around 2025, we may – just barely – have a shot at stabilizing the climate before all hell breaks loose. But the Chinese have resisted international pressure to curb their emissions. For years, they have used the argument that they are poor, the West is rich, and that the high levels of carbon in the atmosphere were caused by America’s and Europe’s 200-year-long fossil­fuel binge. Climate change is your problem, they argued – you deal with it. But that logic doesn’t hold anymore. China is set to become the largest economy in the world this year, and in 2006, it passed the U.S. as the planet’s largest carbon polluter. China now dumps 10 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. That number is expected to grow to 15 billion tons by 2030, dwarfing the pollution of the rest of the world. If that happens, then the chances that the world will cut carbon pollution quickly enough to avert dangerous climate change is, according to Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the U.K., “virtually zero.”

John Kerry knows this. He also knows that when the nations of the world gather in Paris next December to try to hammer out a global climate agreement, it may be the last best chance to address this problem before the Years of Living Dangerously begin. Like other climate negotiations held under the banner of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris meeting is likely to be warped by 25-year-old grudges and a profound sense of distrust. “But right now, Paris is the only game we have,” one member of the State Department’s climate team told me. “If it fails, there is no Plan B.”

[...] The problem for China, in a word, is coal: About 70 percent of the country’s electrical power comes from burning dirty rocks. The Chinese consumed nearly 4 billion tons in 2012, almost as much as the rest of the world combined. Like the oil industry in the U.S., the coal industry has enormous sway in China, making it all the more difficult to kick the habit. But as the rising power of the 21st century, China is under enormous political pressure to behave responsibly, lest it be seen as a pariah like Russia. “The choices that Chinese leaders make in the next decade will be absolutely pivotal to solving the climate crisis,” says former Vice President Al Gore. And for China’s economic and social stability, the consequences couldn’t be higher. “Politically, it’s very difficult to be fingered as the one most responsible for a looming catastrophe,” Gore continues. Or, as Harvard’s Stavins says, “If it’s your century, you don’t obstruct – you lead.” [Source]

One of the potential alternatives to coal discussed in Goodell’s article is shale gas, which is extracted through a controversial process called fracking. China has the biggest shale gas reserves in the world, but has not yet developed the technology and expertise to exploit this resource. For Mother Jones and Climate Desk, James West and Jaeah Lee have produced a multimedia report on the development of fracking in China and the environmental risks involved:

China’s push to wean itself from coal has also triggered a rush to develop alternative power sources. The natural gas that lies deep within its shale formations is now a top contender. By current estimates from the US Energy Information Administration, China’s shale gas resources are the largest in the world, 1.7 times those in the United States. So far, fewer than 200 wells have been drilled, but another 800 are expected by next year. By then, China aims to pump 230 billion cubic feet of natural gas annually from underground shale—enough to power every home in Chicago for two years. By 2020, the country expects to produce as much as 4.6 times that amount. It’s moving at “Chinese speed,” as one energy investment adviser put it—the United States took roughly twice as long to reach that volume.

Yet just as fracking technology has crossed over from the fields of Pennsylvania and Texas to the mountains of Sichuan, so have the questions about its risks and consequences. If fracking regulations in the United States are too weak, then in China the rules are practically nonexistent. Tian Qinghua, an environmental researcher at the Sichuan Academy of Environmental Sciences, fears that fracking operations in China will repeat a pattern he’s seen before. “There’s a phenomenon of ‘pollute first, clean up later,’” he says. “History is repeating itself.”

[...] China’s early fracking operations face many risks, but the incentives to keep drilling are too good to pass up. Based on early sampling, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Liebreich estimates that China is currently extracting shale gas at roughly twice the cost of the United States. Analysts expect those costs to fall as China gains experience, but even at current levels, shale gas production has been up to 40 percent cheaper—and geopolitically more desirable—than importing gas. As China’s demand for natural gas continues to grow—between 2012 and 2013 it grew at 15 times the rate of the rest of the world’s—domestic reserves will become increasingly important, says Liebreich: If China can continue to extract shale gas at the current cost, that “would be a game-changer.” The “golden age” of natural gas that took root in North America, the International Energy Agency declared in June, is now spreading to China.

All that growth comes with a steep learning curve. Fracking requires highly trained engineers who use specialized equipment to mix vast quantities of water with chemicals and sand and shoot it into the ground at high pressures, cracking the dense shale bed and releasing a mix of gas, water, and other sediments to the surface. That’s why service companies like Schlumberger and Halliburton have much to gain: China needs technology and know-how—and is willing to pay handsomely. “Selling the picks and shovels for the gold rush would be the analogy,” Liebreich says. [Source]

The Mother Jones report includes a five-part video report:

For more on the topic of climate change and China, read this ChinaFile conversation. Read more about the fracking, coal and climate change in China, via CDT.

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Minitrue: Scrub Story on Shuttered Libraries

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 10:58

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

All websites are to delete the article “22 Village Libraries Built by Peking University Graduate Continue to Be Forced to Stop Operations.” The media absolutely must not report on the closing of China Rural Library libraries. (September 18, 2014)

全网查删《北大毕业生建设22座乡村图书馆陆续被叫停》一文。媒体对于立人图书馆被关闭一事一律不做报道。 [Original Text]

The non-profit China Rural Library (CRL) will suspend operation of its 11 village libraries, located across China to serve children and educators. (The article headline appears to misrepresent the number of schools.) One library in Xiaojia, Chongqing was shut down in May, and another five suspended operation last month. From the South China Morning Post:

CRL’s management did not explain the reasons behind the shutdowns, but in a hint that it was forced said “none of its libraries are voluntarily closed for mismanagement reasons”, according to its Weibo.

CRL’s account on e-commerce site, in which people were able to purchase books and donate to the libraries, were also suspended.

Separately, Tang Shuangfei, manager of the Lu Zuofu centre, said in a lengthy post that the Xiaojia library was accused by local authorities of “circulating religious books” and that among those officials confiscated during an inspection was a book on Christianity written by German political economist Max Weber. [Source]

CRL has issued a statement [Chinese] citing intense pressure since 2011 to shutter libraries in Xi’an, Chongqing, Hubei, and  Shanxi:

Today, September 18, 2014, after deliberation with the board of directors, we have decided that from this day forth, CRL will cease operation.

We know this is a weighty, difficult decision, and for many a painful decision. CRL doesn’t just belong to a few people, but has brought together countless friends, donators, and volunteers, all laboring for years and placing their hopes in this public service.

On this special day, we issue three public statements whereby we hope to explain why we have proactively dismantled CRL, as well as to protest and condemn the authorities responsible for years of harassment and forced closure of libraries, illegal confiscation of books, and threatening and even repatriating staff and volunteers.

First, the immense, sustained pressure exerted on CRL is unjust. The concerned authorities who pressured CRL have violated national law and natural conscience, and have done great harm to the project of transforming society.

[...] Second, under this enormous weight, the social foundation for CRL’s village libraries does not exist, and CRL does not have room to run the organization, educate and explore, or raise funds. It is better to say goodbye than to carry on so pitifully.

[...] Third, helping others is one of the key issues in China’s transformation. After the death of CRL [whose Chinese name is literally "Helping Others Library"], perhaps another group of people will revive it in the future. If the experience CRL has accumulated is of use to society, then after one library dies, hundreds of thousands of libraries will spring up.






[……]第三,“立人”是中国转型的核心命题之一,立人图书馆在今日死去,或将在未来某一个时间,由另一群人将其复活。立人所积累的经验如果对社会重建是有用的,一个立人图书馆死去,千百个立人图书馆将出现。 [Source]

CRL’s statement and the deleted article on the library closures can be read in full at CDT Chinese.

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Ilham Tohti Awaits Verdict as Trial Ends

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 22:03

The trial of Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti on separatism charges has concluded in Urumqi, Xinjiang, though no verdict has yet been announced. Media were not allowed in the court room, but his lawyer, Li Fangping, told reporters that the defendant spoke to the court for 90 minutes and vehemently denied the charges against him. From AFP:

Ilham Tohti, a former University professor and outspoken critic of China’s policies in the vast western region, told the court in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi he had “always opposed separatism and terrorism, and that not a single one of his articles supported separatism,” according to his lawyer Li Fangping.

The United States,the European Union, and several human rights groups have called for the release of Tohti, who stated his opposition to independence for Xinjiang in interviews, and now faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

[...] Tohti, 44, said in a closing statement that “he loved his country…and that his opinion has always been that it is in the best interests of Uighurs to remain in China,” Li said, adding that the scholar had spoken loudly with a hint of anger in his voice.

He also told the court that it was “unjust,” for the trial to take place in Xinjiang, as all the evidence presented by the prosecution related to his work in China’s capital Beijing, where he has worked at a University for over a decade. [Source]

Human rights activists also criticized the decision to hold the trial in Urumqi. From Radio Free Asia:

“Ilham Tohti is a Beijing intellectual whose household registration is here, whose job is here, and whose website, work unit and students are all based here,” [activist] Hu [Jia] said.

“This is the most important political case in China this year, and it shouldn’t be treated as a local affair,” he said.

[...] Sichuan-based rights activist Pu Fei said the authorities were likely seeking to isolate Tohti by holding the trial in Urumqi.

“I think the real reason is that they want to stop people converging [on Beijing] for the Tohti trial,” Pu said.

“[If that happened], the impact of this case would be much greater.” [Source]

Ilham Tohti’s lawyers were not optimistic about the outcome of the trial as they awaited the verdict. From Jonathan Kaiman at The Guardian:

Although the court has not yet announced a verdict, Tohti’s lawyers said he would likely be found guilty and sentenced to 10 years to life in prison.

“I am innocent,” Tohti said, according to a tweet by Liu Xiaoyuan, one of his two defence attorneys. “I have never organised a separatist criminal group, and I have never engaged in criminal activities intended to split the country.” Tohti has claimed that he spent his career attempting to foster an honest dialogue between Han and Uighurs, rather than advocate Uighur independence.

Police, both uniformed and plain-clothed, sealed off the streets around the courthouse, barring journalists and diplomats from attending the trial, according to accounts posted online.

Prosecutors presented more than 100 articles by Tohti, as well as footage of his classroom lectures, to build an argument that he fomented ethnic hatred in an attempt to split the state, his lawyers said. [Source]

Read more by and about Ilham Tohti, via CDT.

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The Economist: Xi Who Must Be Obeyed

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 17:21

Chinese President and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping has made it onto the cover of The Economist yet again, and is this time the subject of two articles in the most recent issue. Since Xi became China’s top leader two years ago, he has successfully gained mass popularity through a series of image-crafting campaigns, while at the same time steadily working to consolidate power within the Party. One of the articles outlines the charismatic leader’s presidential tenure to date, asking how his accumulated clout could best be used for China. The article opens by contrasting Xi’s personal cache of power with the policy of “collective leadership” that had guided the Party since Mao’s death:

THE madness unleashed by the rule of a charismatic despot, Mao Zedong, left China so

traumatised that the late chairman’s successors vowed never to let a single person hold such sway again. Deng Xiaoping, who rose to power in the late 1970s, extolled the notion of “collective leadership”. Responsibilities would be shared out among leaders by the Communist Party’s general secretary; big decisions would be made by consensus. This has sometimes been ignored: Deng himself acted the despot in times of crisis. But the collective approach helped restore stability to China after Mao’s turbulent dictatorship.

Xi Jinping, China’s current leader, is now dismantling it. He has become the most powerful Chinese ruler certainly since Deng, and possibly since Mao. Whether this is good or bad for China depends on how Mr Xi uses his power. Mao pushed China to the brink of social and economic collapse, and Deng steered it on the right economic path but squandered a chance to reform it politically. If Mr Xi used his power to reform the way power works in China, he could do his country great good. So far, the signs are mixed. [...] [Source]

A second article reads as a profile, and includes a survey of the personal risks that come with heavily fortified power:

Mr Xi’s bid for popular acclaim, however, does not involve any attempt to shed the secrecy that surrounds the doings of the party elite. Since becoming leader, Mr Xi has not given any press conference about his domestic policies, nor granted any interviews. He has tightened controls on online social networks and launched a sustained campaign against political dissent, including the rounding up of dozens of activists. Even those calling for officials to be more open about their wealth are being targeted.

Mr Xi may enjoy unusual popularity, but there are many Chinese who want changes that he appears reluctant to make: not least a bigger say in the running of their local governments and the protection of their communities from environmental damage. In the years ahead, as the economy slows, China’s new middle class is likely to get more restless. By painting himself as the main man, Mr Xi will have no one else to blame if things go wrong. [...] [Source]

A third article looks at the powerful princeling‘s father, late revolutionary hero Xi Zhongxun, and the postmortem popularity he’s enjoyed since his son came to power:

ASK a resident of Fuping county in rural Shaanxi province what the Chinese president has done for them, and they point to the smooth asphalt road beneath their feet. Since Xi Jinping came to power, the birthplace and burial site of his father has become a national tourist attraction. Xi Zhongxun was a revolutionary hero in his own right; since his son assumed power, he has been promoted further. [...] [Source]

This is the sixth time that Xi Jinping has appeared on the cover of The Economist (Oct 23, 2010; Oct 27, 2012; May 4, 2013Jun 8, 2013Nov 2, 2013). The May 2013 cover, which showed Xi wearing the Qianlong Emperor’s robe under the headline “Let’s Party Like it’s 1793,” irked censors in Beijing. Earlier this month, political news website The Paper, a newly launched site that is part of Xi’s new-media propaganda strategy, attracted netizen criticism after selectively translating The Economist’s August 23 article “What China Wants.”

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Photo: First Minister visits the Eastern Qing Tombs, by Scottish Government

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 16:17

First Minister visits the Eastern Qing Tombs

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Now Available for iOS: CDT App

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:58

China Digital Times has made our content more readily accessible to iOS users through our new app, now available for free download at the App store. Readers can easily use their smartphones or tablets to scroll through the latest CDT content, search the site, and toggle between our English and Chinese sites.

Download the App here and please contact us if you spot any bugs or have suggestions for improvements on future versions.

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Sensitive Words: Sending Away the Plague God (Updated)

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 11:48

Update: The play on words in the blocked keyword “Liu Yunshan” is now explained.

As of September 18, 2014, the following search terms were blocked on Sina Weibo (not including the “search for user” function).

Sending Away the Plague God

“Send away the plague god” (送瘟神 sòng wēnshén) is a figure of speech usually referring to getting rid of something undesirable. The idiom is blocked not because of its actual meaning, but because netizens use this phrase to refer to Wen Jiabao. The second character, 瘟 wēn, has the same pronunciation as 温 Wēn.

  • 送瘟神: send away the plague god
  • 送温神: send away the god of warmth

Sina blogger 亮剑出山 noticed in 2013 that his/her posts on Sohu Weibo containing “send off the plague god” were being deleted, resulting in a political twist on the Scunthorpe Problem:

Over the past few days, I posted clips from the TV drama Sending Away the Plague God [Chinese] to Sohu Weibo. I posted three weibo, and all three were deleted. Netizens who post Mao Zedong’s poem “Sending Away the Plague God” also have their weibo deleted by Sohu. This baffled me. I racked my brains and finally realized the reason why Sohu deleted all these posts. Among these three characters is one that is homophonous with the name of a certain leader. This truly is a literary inquisition. What’s the Sohu webmaster going to do next, ban the TV drama?



The Prisoners’ Song

Musician Yu Haochen released “The Prisoners’ Song” (囚歌) on September 11. The music video shows photos of rights activists currently imprisoned, such as lawyer Chang Boyong, who was reportedly arrested in May after holding a memorial for reformist leaders Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang earlier in the year.

  • 于浩宸: Yu Haochen

Deng Xiaoping’s Grandson

Deng Zhuodi, a graduate of the Duke University law school, became deputy county chief of Pingguo, Guangxi last year. Searches for his name have been blocked before. See the August 21, 2014 and May 9, 2013 editions of Sensitive Words.

  • 邓孙子: Grandson Deng [Xiaoping]
  • 邓小平之孙: Deng Xiaoping’s grandson


Tricky Daddy Xi Jinping

  • 习派: Xi faction
  • 小习: Little Xi
  • 刁大大: Tricky Daddy–The character for “tricky” (刁 diāo) is similar to “Xi” (习 Xí). State media sometimes call the president Daddy Xi to portray closeness to the people.


Alibaba Connections

  • 刘云删: Liu Yundelete–Coy rendering of the name of Chinese Communist Party propaganda chief Liu Yunshan, where the “mountain” (山 shān) is replaced with “delete” (删 shān). Liu’s son, Liu Lefei, is the vice chair of CITIC Securities, one of the investment firms to which e-commerce giant Alibaba sold shares in 2012. Alibaba is set to IPO tomorrow.


The Army’s Most Beloved

All Chinese-language words are tested using simplified characters. The same terms in traditional characters occasionally return different results.

CDT Chinese runs a project that crowd-sources filtered keywords on Sina Weibo search. CDT independently tests the keywords before posting them, but some searches later become accessible again. We welcome readers to contribute to this project so that we can include the most up-to-date information.

Have a sensitive word tip? Submit it to CDT through this form:

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New Media Watchdog to Catch “Immoral” Journalists

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 22:01

A crackdown on alleged extortion by journalists, in particular the 21st Century Media Company, has led the Beijing government to set up a commission targeting “immoral” practices by the media. From Laura Zhou at South China Morning Post:

The media ethics commission – comprising newspaper executives and reporters, media academics and spokespeople of government departments – was formed to place “more emphasis on ethics in the media industry of the city”, the Beijing Times reported.

The commission, overseen by the municipal propaganda department, will supervise all employees from government-approved media outlets based in the capital.

Any malpractices, including false reporting, paid hack pieces and vulgar advertisements can be reported to the commission, the report said.

”Tightening supervision and self-regulation of the media industry is part of the central government’s efforts [to push forward the] rule of law and fight corruption … and to build a good media image to the public,” Zhai Huisheng, the Communist Party secretary of the China Journalists’ Association was quoted as saying during its first meeting yesterday, the Times reported. [Source]

While the allegations against 21st Century Media Company link journalists to extortion of businesses, Chen Heying of the Global Times reports that a government censor has been sentenced to ten years for accepting bribes:

Li Ning, a censor with the television department at the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, received his sentence on August 11 for taking bribes of 300,000 yuan ($48,859), beginning in 2006 when he took the position, Beijing-based Legal Mirror reported on Wednesday.

“It is common to bribe censors. The watchdog issued so many complicated regulations on TV series that [companies] can’t properly handle all the small details,” Ying Xiaoqiang, a Hangzhou-based media observer, told the Global Times.

Censors at the television department therefore play a very important role in interpreting the regulations to help production companies grasp these subtleties and choose the proper perspective for their shows, Wang Hailin, screenwriter of popular history drama The Bronze Teeth, told the Global Times.

“Some production companies have to consult the censors at the very beginning of story writing, including on outlines and scripts,” Wang said. [Source]

A number of executives and journalists at CCTV are also being investigated for corruption, including celebrity television host Rui Chenggang.

China Media Project has translated an op-ed by Liu Chang in which he describes the practice of extortion by journalists in China and why it is so hard to root out:

In its earliest stage, news extortion involved upfront demands for cash by journalists. But as this conduct came under fire, the practice was developed and refined and payments to journalists and media to make negative reports disappear were “whitewashed” as advertising buys, circulation income, publicity fees and all manner of things. As the practice evolved, cooperation between the people on the business side who handled advertising contracts and the reporters in the field became more and more intimate, until everyone was involved — with the editor-in-chief and president pulling the strings behind the curtain.

From what we can see of the case, it seems to be a perfect illustration of how news extortion in China has become institutionalized and industrialized. The danger in this situation is that some media outfits engage in the practice without compunction, knowing that in most cases enterprises will simply give in just to avoid trouble.

From time to time, the government launches a campaign against news extortion (新闻敲诈) and fake news (虚假新闻), and the problem once again comes to the attention of the public.

Even so, the number of those committing acts of news extortion who eventually face prosecution is still very small. The reason is for this is that the practice is largely concealed with the idea that “flies don’t swarm around eggs without cracks.” In other words, there often are problems at the business and government offices targeted by these acts of news extortion. And the so-called victims generally go into self-preservation mode, not wanting allegations that may have some basis to be aired out publicly. [Source]

Read more about allegations of corruption by the media in China, via CDT.

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In China, Companies Learn Business of Human Rights

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 18:48

Human Rights Watch’s China Director Sophie Richardson writes at The Globe and Mail that with harsh tactics reported in a string of recent antitrust probes, “in effect, the government’s tactics against human rights activists have now migrated to the private sector”:

In recent weeks, the American Chamber of Commerce, the European Chamber of Commerce, and the U.S.-China Business Council have publicly expressed frustrations over the Chinese government’s targeting of particular firms, denying access to legal counsel, a lack of due process and transparency, and the seemingly arbitrary imposition of fines and other punishments. The companies suggest that laws in China are being misused or distorted in ways that burden them more than domestic firms, and that they have been subject to “intimidation tactics” and denied “full hearings.”

[…] It’s hard to deny the common interests of both [the foreign business and domestic activist] communities. An independent, professional legal system in China should be able to both enforce contracts and protect peaceful speech; a truly free press can report accurate, timely information to hold diverse interests accountable. The ability of people to share their ideas freely is essential for a competitive business environment and a less abusive, opaque political system.

As some of the world’s biggest, best-known firms – with far greater leverage against the government than individual activists – begin to voice their concerns, there are opportunities for change. […] [Source]

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Tougher Scrutiny of Foreign Teachers in China

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 18:08

The South China Morning Post reports that recent discoveries of sex offenders working in Chinese foreign language training schools were one issue that prompted the Beijing municipal government to raise hiring standards for foreigners working in the city:

Beijing has issued new guidelines calling for stricter scrutiny of foreigners working in the capital – especially teachers from abroad – after child sex scandals in Beijing and Nanjing last year.

Mainland officials called for closer supervision in April last year after two foreigners – one with a criminal record for child pornography and the other on the run from child-sex charges – were found to have obtained jobs as English teachers.

The new guidelines, expected to come into force on October 31, will require all candidates to face suitability checks.

People will also need to have more than five years of teaching experience before working in the city’s institutions and schools.

Foreign language workers would need to provide teaching qualifications when applying for “teaching related jobs” in all pre-school institutions, primary and middle schools, international schools and education training centres, the government-owned Beijing Daily reports. [...] [Source]

A separate article from the South China Morning Post outlines the findings of an independent investigation conducted by the paper, in which they discovered just how low the bar was for English teachers at many Beijing institutions:

The mainland is a huge market for English language teaching. According to the Ministry of Education, about 360 million students learned English in some capacity last year.

There are some 50,000 schools or institutes, ranging from night schools to private schools teaching the language, and the market is estimated to be worth about 30 billion yuan (HK$38 billion) a year, according to a China News Service report.

The insatiable demand for English language tuition had made finding a job for most native speakers, particularly those with white skin, little more than a formality.

[...] Armed only with a basic résumé, a Post reporter walked in to a language school in a modern, high-rise building in Beijing’s central business district. The reporter was immediately asked to register as a teacher at the school without an interview or further questioning.

Classes comprised either young children aged three to five, or young adults, the head of the school said. Asked whether a work visa or background checks were required, the school said they were not necessary. [...] [Source]

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Xi Jinping Starts First Presidential Tour of India

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 15:33

If I have to describe potential of India-China ties I will say- INCH (India & China) towards MILES (Millennium of Exceptional Synergy)!

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 16, 2014

Xi Jinping arrived today in India on his first presidential trip to the country, where he was personally received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Xi’s trip to India marks the first by a Chinese president in eight years, and the third in the modern history of the two nations. A report from the New York Times looks at what’s on the table as Xi arrives in India:

China has the ability to channel billions of dollars into Indian infrastructure and manufacturing projects, allowing Mr. Modi to pursue the job-creation agenda that was at the heart of his campaign. China, meanwhile, needs calm on its southwestern border to offset tense relationships with Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and the United States. State-run Chinese newspapers have lavished praise on Mr. Modi, intimating that he has the potential to set India on a Chinese-style economic growth trajectory.

But those interests are balanced by deep historical mistrust on security matters.

Indeed, even as India prepared an opulent riverfront dinner for Mr. Xi in Gujarat this week, troops and slogan-chanting civilians were facing off along the disputed border between China and India, where the two countries fought a brief war in 1962. India has discussed beefing up maritime cooperation with the navies of Australia and Japan and proposed tighter defense and energy ties with Vietnam — all moves that could be seen as a challenge to China. Meanwhile, China is building ports and other facilities throughout South Asia, a so-called string of pearls strategy that India views warily. [...] [Source]

Prior to his election as Indian Prime Minister in May, Modi had serve as Chief Minister of Gujarat, where he began forming a relationship with Beijing. From the South China Morning Post:

Long before Modi fashioned himself as a national leader, Beijing’s talent scouts zeroed in on him when he began to reach out to China for investment in the western Indian state of Gujarat, of which Modi was chief minister.

The initial attraction was his pro-business approach and a no-nonsense administrative style that makes the state a rare investor-friendly island in a sea of bureaucratic sloth. But Beijing was also acutely aware that, as a rising star in India’s then main opposition party, Modi brought more to the table than an investor’s paradise, and began to cultivate him.

Modi has visited China four times. In 2011, he made a particularly high-profile five-day trip in which he was accorded a welcome generally reserved for heads of state. For his part, Modi carried red visiting cards printed in Chinese. [...] [Source]

Modi meets with Xi shortly after an amiable encounter with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe prompted speculation that the Indian leader could be on board to help counter China, a view that others rejected. For his part, Xi stressed Sino-Indian friendship ahead of the trip, and postponed a stopover to longtime ally Pakistan. Modi’s reception of Xi also showed affinity; Xi was met by the Indian leader personally—a rarity for Indian heads of state—on his 64th birthday and in his home state of Gujarat. As Xi and his wife enjoyed an honorific welcome, news of a skirmish on the Sino-Indian border had just broken, putting the countries’ long running territorial dispute on display. From The Guardian:

More than 200 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army entered what India considers its territory last week and used cranes and bulldozers to build a 1.2-mile road, the Hindustan Times reported.

Indian soldiers challenged the Chinese troops and asked them to withdraw, before demolishing a temporary track they had built, said the report, which has not been denied by Indian authorities.

[...] Though similar incidents occur regularly along the 2,200-mile border, this new faceoff underlines the persistent tensions between the two emerging powers – even if both currently appear eager to improve a patchy relationship. [Source]

Another source of geopolitical tension was also highly visible as Xi arrived. The Wall Street Journal reports that Tibetans in the capital have staged a protest against the visit, and that security is tight in the city:

On Wednesday morning, Indian television network NDTV showed footage of what it described as a group of protesters near the Chinese embassy in New Delhi being escorted away by police while shouting anti-China slogans. At New Delhi’s main Tibetan neighborhood, Majnu Ka Tilla, activist groups reported increased police presence.

A spokesman for the Delhi police, Rajan Bhagat, said that, “Based on our past experience and inputs, we have tightened security in the capital to ensure the Chinese premier’s visit goes on smoothly.” As of shortly after noon on Wednesday, no arrests had been made, he said, adding that security had been tightened “all across the city.”

The Tibetan Youth Congress, an organization calling for Tibetan independence, last week dispatched a letter to India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to raise the Tibet issue with Mr. Xi. “We believe that a lasting peace and security for India along her Himalayan borders lies only in a free Tibet,” the letter said in part. [Source]

The Indian government reportedly asked the Dalai Lama to reschedule a planned gathering in Delhi that would overlap with Xi’s visit.

Areas of geopolitical contention will likely take the back seat to matters of trade and development in discussions between the leaders. The South China Morning Post reports on why Modi sees economic opportunity in his relationship with China:

Central to the so-called Modinomics is attracting foreign investment and creating manufacturing jobs for millions of young Indians. Between 2004 and 2011, China generated 16 million manufacturing jobs on top of an existing 112 million, says Free University of Brussels professor and author of China and India: Prospects for Peace, Jonathan Holslag. India, in contrast, only created 3 million jobs on an initial total of 11 million. This unemployment problem will only worsen over the years as 6.5 million Indians are expected to join the labour force every year until 2030.

India’s creaking infrastructure and notorious bureaucratic sloth aren’t helping either, forcing even Indian industrialists to look elsewhere. Chinese investment in India amounted to US$657 million in 2012 compared to US$723 million of Indian investment in China. It’s not for nothing that Modi has been asking the world to come and manufacture in India, promising them “red carpet, not red tape”.

China forms an integral component in this jobs focus. As chief minister of Gujarat, Modi successfully drew Chinese capital to his state. Now that he is expected to replicate his so-called Gujarat model of development across the country, he has moved rapidly to remove regulatory hurdles to facilitate Chinese investment on a wider scale. In a country where suspicion of China runs deep, that would require all of Modi’s famed administrative prowess but he has already made substantial progress. [Source]

Xi Jinping too sees economic opportunity in the bilateral relationship. The Hindu published an op-ed written by Xi himself today, entitled “Towards an Asian Century of Prosperity:”

As emerging markets, each with its own strengths, we need to become closer development partners who draw upon each other’s strengths and work together for common development. With rich experience in infrastructure building and manufacturing, China is ready to contribute to India’s development in these areas. India is advanced in IT and pharmaceutical industries, and Indian companies are welcome to seek business opportunities in the Chinese market. The combination of the “world’s factory” and the “world’s back office” will produce the most competitive production base and the most attractive consumer market.

As the two engines of the Asian economy, we need to become cooperation partners spearheading growth. I believe that the combination of China’s energy plus India’s wisdom will release massive potential. We need to jointly develop the BCIM Economic Corridor, discuss the initiatives of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and lead the sustainable growth of the Asian economy.

As two important forces in a world that moves towards multipolarity, we need to become global partners having strategic coordination. According to Prime Minister Modi, China and India are “two bodies, one spirit.” I appreciate this comment. Despite their distinctive features, the “Chinese Dragon” and the “Indian Elephant” both cherish peace, equity and justice. [...] [Source]

For more background on the state of Sino-Indian relations and on Xi’s India trip, see:

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Photo: Skyline of Urumqi, by SiZhe Hu

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 13:20

Skyline of Urumqi

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Uyghur Scholar’s Separatism Trial Begins

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 13:16

The separatism trial of Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti began in Urumqi on Wednesday. AFP’s Tom Hancock reports that the prominent critic of Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang refuses to accept the charges against him.

Prosecutors will argue that Tohti’s writings on his website Uighur Online, and his lectures at the Minzu University in Beijing, show that he was a leading member of a “separatist criminal organisation”, according to his attorney Li Fangping.

[…] Separatism charges can carry the death penalty in China, but the wording of the indictment means life imprisonment is the heaviest sentence Tohti can face, said his lawyers – adding he has been denied food and kept in shackles during his detention.

“Ilham will not accept the charge,” said Liu Xiaoyuan, his second defence lawyer. “Looking at his articles and statements we haven’t seen anything which would constitute separatism.”

“A scholar expressing opinions on current events is not the same as separatism,” he added. [Source]

Hancock and AP’s Hélène Franchineau tweeted from near the courthouse as the trial got underway amid a heavy security presence.

At Urumqi's courthouse where Ilham Tohti's trial is held. Security tight, no one allowed near. 8 panels blocking view

— Hélène Franchineau (@Helene_FR) September 17, 2014

To block view to court where Ilham Tohti is on trial today, officials hastily erected Xinjiang promotional panels

— Tom Hancock (@hancocktom) September 17, 2014

Slogans on panels blocking view to Urumqi's courthouse with Tohti's trial: "make the world understand Xinjiang", for China-Eurasia expo

— Hélène Franchineau (@Helene_FR) September 17, 2014

Beside being shackled and denied food, Tohti has reportedly not received photographs or warm clothes sent by his family, while specially relocated Han prisoners have been monitoring him on behalf of the authorities, verbally abusing him and in one case starting a fight.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on Tohti’s trial on Monday, providing more information on the charges against him and arguing that his prosecution would only make tensions in Xinjiang worse. The group also posted a detailed timeline of the case.

“Tohti has consistently, courageously, and unambiguously advocated peacefully for greater understanding and dialogue between various communities, and with the state,” said Sophie Richardson, China director. “If this is Beijing’s definition of ‘separatist’ activities, it’s hard to see tensions in Xinjiang and between the communities decreasing.”

[…] “The long-term solution to Xinjiang’s unrest is not further repression, but greater understanding of Uighurs’ grievances and perspectives,” Richardson said. “If Tohti – a peaceful, articulate critic – is given a harsh sentence, what confidence can any Uighurs have that their very real grievances will ever get a hearing with Chinese authorities?” [Source]

Ilham Tohti’s views on Uyghur-Han relations are expressed in a 2011 essay, ‘My Ideals and the Career Path I Have Chosen,’ which was translated and posted at China Change in April. In it, he explicitly disavowed separatism and extremism, writing that “national pride runs deep within my veins” and that “I strongly believe that my efforts and inquiries will become part of China’s progress.”

[… H]aving witnessed a great number of cases of ethnic conflict and killing, political unrest, and failed social transformation during my extensive travels throughout Central Asia, Russia, and South Asia, my desire grew stronger and stronger to completely devote my energies to researching Xinjiang and Central Asian issues, so that tragedies  abroad won’t take place in China.

[…] I love my mother deeply, who suffered great hardships in raising me. I love my still impoverished and long suffering ethnic group. I love this land which has nurtured me. I earnestly hope my homeland can become as prosperous and developed as the interior of China. I worry about my homeland and my country falling into turmoil and division. I hope that China, having endured many misfortunes, will become a great nation of harmonious interethnic coexistence and develop a splendid civilization. I will devote myself to Xinjiang’s social, economic and cultural development, to the interethnic understanding, and to finding the way to  achieve harmonious ethnic coexistence amidst the social transformation today. These are my ideals and personal objectives, and the choices I have made have their roots in my family’s history; my upbringing; my mother’s teachings; and my education as well as personal experiences.

[…] As Xinjiang faces the danger of escalating ethnic conflicts, and discussions of ethnic problems tend to be radical, I believe that one of our most important tasks and missions is for us to use rational and constructive voices to compete against more extreme ones in the market place of ideas, moving social sentiments toward a more positive direction. [Source]

Ilham Tohti’s U.S.-based daughter Jewher Ilham, who has campaigned for her father’s release, discussed the charges against him with The Washington Post’s Simon Denyer:

In April, Jewher testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China about the constant harassment her father and their family have faced over many years. She told of how she came home one day to an empty house, to find that her father, stepmother and two young brothers had been sent away by the authorities to the island of Hainan: how one of her young brothers was prevented from registering at school and denied a passport in 2012, and how security personnel rammed her father’s car in 2013 and threatened to kill the entire family. Her stepmother has been put under constant surveillance at home, while Tohti’s eldest son, now 8, has become withdrawn and introverted, she testified. “Having witnessed our father being taken away, he now has nightmares.”

In a telephone interview from Indiana on Tuesday, Jewher called the charges against her father “ridiculous,” and completely out of character. While many parents in China hit their children to educate them, Jewher said he father had never hit her and didn’t believe violence could solve problems. “How could he advocate violence? He was very moderate, he would try to help people – he didn’t want people to fight.”

[…] If he truly wanted to advocate ethnic hatred, she argued, “why would he let me stay in a Chinese school [in Beijing], where all of my classmates, all of my friends were Han Chinese? He would have sent me back to Xinjiang.” [Source]


— Jewher.Ilham (@JewherIlham) September 17, 2014


— Jewher.Ilham (@JewherIlham) September 17, 2014

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