Today’s China Readings May 5, 2012

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The US and China appear to have found a resolution to the Chen Guangcheng case that will see him leave China with his wife and two children–Activist Chen Invited to NYU in Sign Standoff Is Ending – Bloomberg. This outcome appears to be the best one possible under the current circumstances, and probably the preferred (or orchestrated?) one for the Chinese government, as nothing seems to hasten a Chinese dissident’s descent into irrelevancy faster than exile abroad.

Thursday and Friday the turmoil around the original deal for Chen created a public relations mess for the Obama Administration. In Chen Guangcheng’s Plea for Protection Deepens a Crisis – NYTimes.com “senior American officials privately acknowledged missteps in the handling of the case”, in what looks to have been an attempt at personal damage control and blame shifting as some of the players were worried about the political fallout and reputational harm. Today things look much better for the Obama Administration and the participants, so maybe we will see a shift in the news sources from blame-spreading to credit-grabbing, assuming that the Obama administration has snatched a moral and political victory from the jaws of defeat? And will there be longer-term damage to US-China relations, or is this just business as usual?

Some have criticized Twitter for its role in spreading chaos and hysteria during Chen’s first day outside the US embassy, arguing that if everyone just calmed down and let the professionals do their jobs quietly there would be a happy resolution. Emily Parker, a former member of Secretary Clinton’s Policy Planning staff at the State Department, has written an excellent essay about the role of Twitter in the Chen case–How The Obama Administration’s Narrative About Chen Guangcheng Unraveled, One Tweet At A Time | The New Republic. She concludes, accurately, that “Twitter’s role in the Chen debacle was not unequivocally positive, of course. Social media can facilitate misinformation, knee-jerk political responses, and general confusion. But as we saw over the last few days, Twitter also allows ordinary citizens to shape the interactions between the United States and China. In the twenty-first century, diplomacy is no longer a strictly governmental affair.”

Her conclusion is crucial. Jeffrey Bader, recently retired senior director of East Asian Affairs on the Obama administration’s National Security Council, complains repeatedly in his new book Obama and China’s Rise: An Insider’s Account of America’s Asia Strategy about the chaos of the blogosphere and the inaccuracies of its coverage of Obama’s approach to China in the early part of his administration. While Bader criticizes the New York Times for its coverage, he is clear that the era of message control through a handful of friendly mass media outlets is much preferred to today’s information free-for all. Unfortunately for Bader and US diplomats, those days of relatively effective, narrowly distributed message control are gone for good.

On the night of Chen’s exit from the embassy to the hospital, when things started to unravel, the US embassy twitterers were sending out pictures of a happy Chen with happy US officials, and then went silent. The State Department has to dramatically improve its 21st century communications efforts.

  • Hu praises Communist Youth League’s role in Chinese history – Xinhua | English.news.cn
    President Hu Jintao Friday spoke highly of the role the Communist Youth League of China (CYLC) has played in the country over the past 90 years.
    Speaking at a ceremony marking the 90th anniversary of the CYLC’s founding, Hu said the country’s young people have made great achievements over the course of three major periods, including China’s revolutionary years, period of socialist construction period and era of opening-up and reform.
  • 我国二级以上医院设警务室 重点科室24小时监控_新闻_腾讯网
    Level 2 and above Chinese hospitals to have police offices, 24/7 surveillance in key areas to combat rising violence against medical workers
  • Economist Mao Yushi on why the Chinese government is not evil | FP Passport
    On China’s progress: America thinks the Chinese government oppresses human rights. Yes China has its problems, but in the past thirty years human rights in China has seen a big improvement. The American people and the American government think that Chinese government is evil, but that’s wrong: It’s not like in Mao Zedong’s time, when they killed millions of people for political reasons. In the past thirty years, China has never executed someone for political reasons.
  • Studying the South China Sea: The Chinese Perspective | Center for a New American Security
    This essay discusses three key features of the current research by the Chinese policy community on the South China Sea, highlights the work of four leading research institutions and studies on the issue, and presents online resources from China.
  • Carnegie Speech Software Better – Business Insider
    Scientists at Carnegie Mellon have invented software that promises a significant improvement in English-speaking ability in just 10 hours.
    The software, Carnegie Speech, is already widely available. Their CEO, Paul Musselman, told us their technology is superior to other programs because it can actually identify speech problems and tailor the program to the customer.
  • FORMER GOLDMAN MOSCOW BOSS: The Bo Xilai Scandal Shows Exactly What People Are Getting Wrong About China And Russia – Business Insider
    there’s been this love affair that the West has had with China that’s grown steadily over the last decade,” Barter says. “And so I think it’s probably fair to say that whilst people are excessively negative on Russia and the reality is much better than what the perceptions would lead you to believe, I’d say the opposite is true for China, where it’s actually the positive perceptions that are not really reality, and it’s much harder to do business in China than what people perceive, and its a much tougher place to operate in than people imagine.”
    In China, Barter says, he was made to feel like a “visitor”, while in Russia they were made to feel a “permanent member of the financial community.” Barter says that he had numerous examples of “financial contracts and derivatives and different types of liabilities with state-owned entities that just weren’t honored, and the government entities simply walked away”. The same wasn’t true of Russia.
  • Chatham House: US Election Note: China Policy after 2012 – Council on Foreign Relations
    This Chatham House paper lays out the likely China policy of either a second-term Barack Obama administration or an incoming Mitt Romney administration, and the international implications of these two alternatives.
  • Credit Cooperative Insiders Play Name Con Game – Caixin Online
    Personal identity theft and loose internal controls have contributed to a wave of loan fraud at rural credit cooperatives
  • May 3, 2012 -The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Take on Chen Guangcheng
    3:25 to 8:5. “Chensanity”, w appearance by Beijing Bureau Chief John Oliver
  • Gretchen Reynolds on ‘The First 20 Minutes’ – NYTimes.com I got rid of my desk chair four days ago, feel a lot better
    And you told me that you also stand more?
    A.I really do stand up at least every 20 minutes now, because I was spending five or six hours unmoving in my chair. The science is really clear that that is very unhealthy, and that it promotes all sorts of disease. All you have to do to ameliorate that is to stand up. You don’t even have to move. I’m standing up right now as I talk on the phone. I stand during most of my interviews now.
    Q.I’m finding this very inspirational. What is your advice for people reading this — what should they go do today?
    A.If people want to be healthier and prolong their life span, all they really need to do is go for a walk. It’s the single easiest thing anyone can do. There are some people who honestly can’t walk, so I would say to those people to try to go to the local Y.M.C.A. and swim.
  • Activist Chen Invited to NYU in Sign Standoff Is Ending – Bloomberg
    The U.S. and China forged a new solution to the dilemma surrounding Chen Guangcheng after their original deal fell apart, opening a path for the legal activist to study at New York University.
    New York University invited Chen to be a visiting scholar “either in New York or at one of our other global sites,” university spokesman John Beckman said today in an e-mailed statement. NYU School of Law professor Jerome Cohen, co-director of the school’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute, is a friend and adviser to Chen.
  • China Market-Opening Pledge Yields JPMorgan Opportunity – Bloomberg
    China raised the ceiling on foreign banks’ investments in securities ventures for the first time in more than a decade after two days of talks with the U.S. overshadowed by wrangling over activist Chen Guangcheng.
    China agreed to let foreign companies raise their stakes in joint ventures with domestic securities firms to as much as 49 percent, according to a joint statement released after annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue talks in Beijing yesterday. The current maximum is 33 percent. It will allow similar stakes in futures brokers…
    “On the surface, this is very good news,” said Stephen Roach, a professor at Yale University and former non-executive chairman for Morgan Stanley (MS) in Asia. “However, by stopping short of 50 percent, China is reluctant to go the full distance in allowing foreign control of a free and open financial services sector.”..
    “Obviously going from 33 to 49, you can argue, is better, but you still don’t have control,” said Fraser Howie, a Singapore-based managing director of CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets who co-authored the book “Red Capitalism” on China’s financial system. “Let’s keep things in perspective.”
  • Joint U.S.-China Economic Track Fact Sheet- Fourth Meeting of the U.S. China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED)
    Joint U.S.-China Economic Track Fact Sheet- Fourth Meeting of the U.S. China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED)
  • US should return stolen land to Indian tribes, says United Nations | World news | guardian.co.uk
    Wonder what China will make of this//
    A United Nations investigator probing discrimination against Native Americans has called on the US government to return some of the land stolen from Indian tribes as a step toward combatting continuing and systemic racial discrimination.
    James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said no member of the US Congress would meet him as he investigated the part played by the government in the considerable difficulties faced by Indian tribes.
  • Beastie Boys’ MCA Adam Yauch Dead at 47
    Adam Yauch, also known as MCA, was diagnosed with cancer in 2009.
  • Abby Huntsman: Romney’s Chen Guangcheng Criticism Was ‘Very Foolish’ – ABC News
    Abby Huntsman Livingston, daughter of the former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, waded into the controversy surrounding the Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng today, lambasting both President Obama and Mitt Romney for how they have handled the sensitive diplomatic issue.
    Drawing from her experiences living at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, where Huntsman served as the ambassador to China for a year, Livingston said it was “inconceivable” that the United States would allow Chen to leave the embassy, where he sought refuge after escaping from house arrest.
    “I spent a year living there and I can tell you from my experience there is no way Mr. Chen or his family would be safe,” Livingston, who is currently serving as a spokesperson for her father, told MSNBC’s Martin Bashir on Friday, adding that the United States should have taken measures to ensure the safety of both Chen and his family.
  • The Beijing News: a clown with a conscience – China Media Project
    One of the most surprising and powerful pronunciations on “Editorial-gate” came at exactly 00:00 today, May 5, 2012, as one of the papers involved, The Beijing News — a paper with a proud though brief tradition of professional journalism — posted a touching plea for forgiveness on its Sina Weibo account, which has more than 1.38 million followers.The post was accompanied by a black-and-white photo of a circus clown taking a sad and solitary drag on a cigarette, and read:In the still of the deep night, removing that mask of insincerity, we say to our true selves, “I am sorry.” Goodnight.
  • Has It Gotten Tougher for the U.S. to Meet With Chinese Dissidents? – Alex Ortolani – International – The Atlantic
    Q&A w Amb Winston Lord//
    What effect, if any, do you think this incident will have on U.S.-China relations?
    The only honest answer is it’s too early to tell. If it goes badly it could have a major impact in a negative way. Even then I would point out that we’ve had the Taiwan missile crisis, airplane collisions, and a bombing of a Chinese embassy, and the two sides always get back on track.
  • State Department: New deal reached on blind Chinese activist | FP Passport
    STATEMENT BY VICTORIA NULAND, SPOKESPRSON-Chen GuangchengThe Chinese Government stated today that Mr. Chen Guangcheng has the same right to travel abroad as any other citizen of China. Mr. Chen has been offered a fellowship from an American university, where he can be accompanied by his wife and two children.The Chinese Government has indicated that it will accept Mr. Chen’s applications for appropriate travel documents.  The United States government expects that the Chinese government will expeditiously process his applications for these documents, and make accommodations for his current medical condition.  The United States government would then give visa requests for him and his immediate family priority attention. This matter has been handled in the spirit of a cooperative U.S.-China partnership.
  • China’s activist network – FT.com
    The case of Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese legal activist who took refuge in the US embassy after a daring escape from house arrest, has shone a light on the network of dissidents that exists both inside China and in exile.
    Here, we profile 11 activists, six of whom are in Mr Chen’s inner circle, five of whom have left the country.
  • » Mitt Romney References Chen Guangcheng, Begins To Sound A Lot Like Chinese Foreign Ministry Beijing Cream
  • Alibaba Says Some Taobao Staff Arrested, Online Stores Shut – Bloomberg
    Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China’s biggest e-commerce company, said police arrested some workers at its Taobao Internet shopping site after a “small” number were accused of accepting improper benefits from vendors.
    Taobao has shut down nine online stores of the vendors involved, Alibaba Group said in a statement on Taobao’s website today. Police also made arrests at external Taobao vendors, according to the statement.
  • Behind the Beijing editorial onslaught – China Media Project
    News readers in China today woke to a cannonade of coordinated editorial attacks on American “scheming” over the case of blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng, much of it directed at U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke. The editorials, which were all published in top newspapers under the control of Beijing’s city leadership, should be understood, in our view, as China’s attempt to send a strong message on the Chen Guangcheng case while dissociating this criticism from the Chinese state per se in the midst of bilateral meetings.Essentially, China wants to make a fuss, but prefers what you might call a “medium fuss” to a full-blown fuss through central Party organs like the People’s Daily or through the official Xinhua News Agency.
  • Activist Affair Damps Hope Of Shift in China Atmosphere – WSJ.com
    The notion that the U.S. would be able to impose conditions on Mr. Chen’s release in China was always optimistic, given the Communist Party’s long history of seeking to destroy its political opponents rather than engage them. Now that the issue has exploded into the public realm, analysts say that the hands of Chinese leaders are further tied: They cannot be seen to back down on an issue of sovereignty.The harsh tone of the Chinese statement demanding an apology from Washington after Mr. Chen walked out of the embassy points to the pressures on the Chinese leadership to be seen as standing up to the U.S. superpower.Analysts say that Chinese hard-liners often think in terms of conspiracy theories, and are likely to contend that Washington engineered the whole Chen episode to embarrass China and create domestic instability. Further demands in the wake of Mr. Chen’s change of mind regarding his decision to stay in China will be seen as adding insult to injury…The Chinese government’s handling of the case is also likely to damp any expectations that the downfall of Bo Xilai will change the political atmosphere by emboldening reformists in the Communist Party.
  • Carson C. Block: China’s Auditing Train Wreck – WSJ.com
    We hope the U.S. and Chinese governments can find common ground on these issues, but Beijing must be willing to acknowledge a serious lack of oversight with its companies. If Deloitte’s refusal to comply with the subpoena stands, the PCAOB should deregister China-domiciled auditing firms. If that happens, either Chinese companies will have to switch auditors or be forced to delist. Neither outcome is good for China or its companies.Mr. Block is director of research at Muddy Waters LLC, a firm that engages in short selling.
  • Chen Guangcheng: Chen, China and America | The Economist
    With luck the dispute will calm down. Perhaps Mr Chen will be spirited away to America, or find a way to live normally in China. But the incident raises three questions. Most immediately, did America’s best diplomats let a brave man down? With Mr Chen out of their care, they now have little bargaining power. If they were duped by their Chinese counterparts, or too ready to accept their assurances, they will be taken as fools. If they struck a deal in haste, calculating that currencies and tariffs should eclipse the rights of an inconvenient blind man, they will be taken as knaves. Mrs Clinton boasted that Mr Chen left the embassy “in a way that reflected his choices and our values”. Her words will undoubtedly be scrutinised in this year’s election.Yet the plight of Mr Chen raises two deeper questions about his own country. The first is whether China still feels it must put its relations with America before anything else. In past disputes, notably the aerial collision of a Chinese fighter and an American spyplane in 2001, China has tended eventually to put America first—as the source of trade and wealth and the policeman for the global commons. But China is stronger now, its economy is bigger, it can defend its own shores and it expects to carry weight in the world—especially as, in the view of some triumphalists in Beijing, America has been dragged down by the financial crash and its vicious partisan politics.
  • Emily Parker: How The Obama Administration’s Narrative About Chen Guangcheng Unraveled, One Tweet At A Time | The New Republic
    Twitter’s role in the Chen debacle was not unequivocally positive, of course. Social media can facilitate misinformation, knee-jerk political responses, and general confusion. But as we saw over the last few days, Twitter also allows ordinary citizens to shape the interactions between the United States and China. In the twenty-first century, diplomacy is no longer a strictly governmental affair.Emily Parker is senior fellow and digital diplomacy advisor at the New America Foundation, where she is writing a book about the Internet and democracy. She is a former member of Secretary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State.
  • 外交部:陈光诚可通过正常途径出国留学_新闻_腾讯网
    有记者问:据报道,陈光诚目前希望出国留学。请问中方对此有何评论?
    刘为民说,陈光诚目前正在医院接受治疗。他如果想出国留学,作为一个中国公民,可以像其他中国公民一样,依法通过正常途径到有关部门办理有关手续
  • No One Wants a Cold War Between the U.S. and China – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com
    Do recent human rights cases and the standoff in the South China Sea point to a larger conflict on the horizon?
  • Forbes Midas List – Ruby Lu #76
    Beijing-based partner of DCM, one of top VCs in China
  • 全球五大最有权势女性创投人:卢蓉李宏玮上榜 – 投资资讯 ·ChinaVenture投资中国网
  • The Hindu : Opinion / Op-Ed : Behind self-immolations, a mosaic of despair
    China suspects a political plot, overseas Tibetan groups see in them growing support for independence.
  • GOP pounds Obama on Chen case – Edward-Isaac Dovere and Jennifer Epstein – POLITICO.com
    The blind dissident is a pretty clear symbol of what the U.S. would like to be seen as protecting and of what most Americans think is wrong with the authoritarian Chinese government: imprisoning and torturing family members of people who protest human-rights abuses. In his sunglasses and wheelchair at a Chinese hospital, combined with his near-constant availability for interviews, Chen’s plight has all the makings of a story that could seize public attention.
  • 广东省委宣传部副部长转任南方报业党委书记-搜狐新闻
  • Change at top media group raises concern – China Media Project
    A leadership change announced today at the top of one of China’s most important media groups, the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily Media Group, could herald new troubles ahead for its longstanding culture of relative editorial independence.According to a news report from Caixin Media today — which happens to be World Press Freedom Day — the position of party secretary at the Nanfang Daily Media Group will now be held by Yang Jian (杨健), who served most recently as deputy minister of Guangdong’s provincial propaganda department.This is the first time a top position at the group will be held by an “outsider,” sources say, and the first time the top positions — party secretary (党委书记) and director (社长) — will be held separately.“There were several attempts in the past to install Party officials at the top level of the Nanfang Daily Group, but these attempts were always successfully opposed by the group,” one former top editor told CMP.
  • In Talks, U.S. Highlights Economic Concessions By Chinese – NYTimes.com
    American officials said early Friday that their annual summit meeting on strategic and economic issues with China had resulted in tangible economic concessions, despite the unprecedented diplomatic furor over a Chinese human-rights advocate seeking aid from American officials.
  • In Talks, U.S. Highlights Economic Concessions By Chinese – NYTimes.com
    For the first time, according to senior American officials, Chinese policy makers said they would commit to removing advantageous financing and regulatory conditions to state-owned enterprises, a significant step forward in the eyes of the Obama administration, the official said, even though such changes might take years to implement.
  • The Other Facebook Founder – WSJ.com
    Atop $2 Billion Fortune, Eduardo Saverin Gave Up Silicon Valley for Singapore’s Tech, Society Scene..
    Mr. Saverin is regularly spotted lounging with models and wealthy friends at local nightclubs, racking up tens of thousands of dollars in bar tabs by ordering bottles of Cristal Champagne and Belvedere vodka, according to people present on these occasions. He drives a Bentley, his friends say, wears expensive jackets and lives in one of Singapore’s priciest penthouse apartments.
  • Chinese Activist Makes Plea to U.S. Congress – WSJ.com
    Mr. Chen’s surprise call seemed to settle any lingering doubts about his current wishes and sharply illustrated how rapidly the case was morphing into a dire political challenge for President Barack Obama and the White House. Republicans, including presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, demanded the White House take steps to ensure the safety of Mr. Chen and his family. Critics questioned whether the Obama administration hurried the deal surrounding the dissident’s fate to solidify its standing with Beijing ahead of the high-level U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue meetings Thursday and Friday…Mr. Wolf said he would introduce a bill seeking access to all State Department and White House communications related to Mr. Chen’s case. “The Obama administration has a high moral obligation to protect Chen and his family,” Rep. Wolf said.
  • China Renaissance Hires Cowen Banker Au for H.K. Unit – Bloomberg
    China Renaissance Partners, a Beijing- based financial firm, hired the two most senior executives from U.S. investment bank Cowen Group Inc. (COWN)’s Asia division to run its unit in Hong Kong, stepping up efforts to expand outside its home market.
  • Chen Guangcheng’s Plea for Protection Deepens a Crisis – NYTimes.com
    As the State Department tried frantically to reassess the options for Mr. Chen, who is now at a hospital in Beijing being treated for an injured foot, senior American officials privately acknowledged missteps in the handling of the case. The United States failed to guarantee access to Mr. Chen at the hospital, they said, leaving him isolated and fearful that China would renege on its pledge not to harass him and to allow him to resume his legal studies.The diplomats also rushed their negotiations with the Chinese government to try to resolve the situation before the start of two days of talks with China on economic and security issues, led by Mrs. Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, these officials said. That left no time to obtain firm, detailed assurances from Chinese officials on how they would treat Mr. Chen, a blind lawyer and activist who had been exposed to years of house arrest and beatings in his home village in western China and last month escaped to the United States Embassy in Beijing.
  • Media Conference Call: Tensions in the U.S.-China Relationship – Council on Foreign Relations
    Speaker: Jerome A. Cohen, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia Studies for Asia Studies, Co-director of New York University School of Law’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute
    Presider: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor
  • The Bo scandal: how we got that story : CJR
    In two weeks of intense reporting in February, the feisty, Hong Kong-based, Chinese-language Next Magazine uncovered previously unknown business dealings by Bo, his wife, and their other family members.In subsequent weeks, reporters at The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Bloomberg would be on that trail, too, trolling databases around the world to piece together information about the couple, information that in the pre-digital days would have been difficult to find.The trail was obscured by the fact that the Bo family members used multiple names and aliases. But like many members of the Communist Party elite, they did business in Hong Kong and the West, making it easier for journalists to trace their wealth.

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