Today’s China Readings August 20, 2012

Today is verdict day for Gu Kailai. We may also learn her sentence. There is not much suspense around the verdict, but many are speculating on the likely punishment. The consensus seems to be death with reprieve for her and a a lesser sentence for her accomplice Zhang Xiaojun. Usually a convicted murder is executed in China but people seem to believe Gu will not get the death penalty because of her family background, her status as the wife of a Politburo member and the fact that online Chinese opinion has in the past opposed the execution of women.

I would not completely dismiss the possibility of a death sentence. Claims that people at her level have avoided execution since the Cultural Revolution ignore some history. In 1983 Zhu De’s grandson was executed for rape (朱德孙子在1983年严打被判死刑) and in 1995 Yan Jianhong, the wife of Guizhou Party Secretary Liu Zhengwei, was put to death for corruption (权力背后的罪恶—阎健宏重大经济犯罪案剖析与思考). According to Hong Kong media Liu was close to Hu Jintao but Jiang Zemin personally intervened to ensure his wife was made an example of (明鏡新聞網: 胡錦濤青睞的劉正威,妻子被江澤民下令處决). Liu Zhengwei’s career never recovered and he just died last month (贵州省委原书记、省人大常委会主任刘正威去世).

In Gu Kailai verdict set for Monday the Financial Times gives hope to the conspiracy theorists by writing that:

“Two security experts familiar with facial recognition software said the person shown in state television footage of the courtroom was not Ms Gu.”

The FT does not give any detail on the identity of these “experts” and it seems strange that such an explosive assertion is buried in the story.

We will likely not know about the resolution to Bo Xilai’s case until the 7th Plenum of the 17th Party Congress, on the eve of the 18th Party Congress. The opening date of the 18th is still undisclosed, though there are signs it will be fairly soon, including last week’s official announcement that the Beijing Public Security Bureau has set up a security command center for the 18th Party Congress–北京公安局启动十八大安保监督保障指挥部. The expectation is that the Congress will open in October, but there are whispers that it may be held in late September. As with so much of Chinese politics, we will know when we know, and even then we may not really know.

The New York Times has a profile of Wang Lijun, the former Chongqing police chief whose trial should happen soon. In China Ex-Police Chief May Face Trial we learn about some of Wang’s penchant for drama:

Mr. Wang enjoyed the grand gesture. In December 2009, when the police detained a lawyer, Li Zhuang, on suspicion of suborning perjury in a Chongqing legal case and flew him from Beijing back to Chongqing, Mr. Wang was on hand when he stepped off the airplane.

Mr. Wang had arranged for the plane to be surrounded by police vehicles with flashing lights, officers with helmets and submachine guns and television news crews, Mr. Li recalled in an interview with The New York Times months after his release from prison. Mr. Wang stood with his hands in the pockets of a dark yellow overcoat. “Li Zhuang, we meet again,” Mr. Wang said.

Last week Caixin’s Hu Shuli wrote a very pointed editorial about the Bo-Gu-Wang cases:

All this happened in Chongqing, where a campaign against the local mafia was touted as a major achievement in governance. It also happened in China, a country in which the constitution upholds the rule of law. What Bogu and her associates have proved is that they were the strongest criminal gang.

Anyone still think the Obama administration should have given Wang Lijun asylum?

Sunday saw many Anti-Japan Protests about the Diaoyu Islands, as the New York Times reports:

In one photo said to be from the southwestern city of Chengdu, deep in China’s interior, the number of protesters appeared to be in the tens of thousands.

“Defend the Diaoyu Islands to the death,” one banner said. Another said, “Even if China is covered with graves, we must kill all Japanese.”

Another photograph showed a handwritten sign taped to the entrance of Suning, a popular electronics store, telling customers it was no longer selling Japanese products.

Some protests appear to have turned violent. According to several postings, demonstrators on Sunday attacked sushi restaurants or other businesses perceived to have a Japanese connection. Several photographs said to be from Shenzhen, across the border from Hong Kong, showed what appeared to be damaged or overturned cars — most of them Japanese models — as well as several police vehicles.

The vocal and hawkish General Luo Yuan suggested China name its first aircraft carrier “Diaoyu Islands 钓鱼岛号” and per the New York Times also “called on China to send 100 boats to defend the islands. “If necessary, we could make the Diaoyu Islands a target range for China’s Air Force and plant mines around them.”

At least some protesters in Shenzhen had a sense of humor, as seen in their sign “The Diaoyu Islands belong to China, Sola Aoi [a Japanese porn star beloved in China] belongs to the world.”

Today’s China Youth Daily (呵护爱国热情 严惩打砸暴行) has a good page one editorial embracing patriotism but exhorting the anti-Japan protesters to avoid violence and calling for punishment of those who engage in violence. So far no there are no reports of any arrests resulting from Sunday’s protests.

Real estate prices in many cities rose in July and signs of new real estate controls may be appearing in the official media. Last week there several reports about the feasibility and benefits of a property tax and today’s People’s Daily blames China’s low rate of consumption on slow growth in white collar wages, problems with income distribution and high real estate prices, among other things–谁拖了消费的后腿?(热点聚焦·拉动消费新观察④). There is also a new report out saying officials who do not strictly implement the controls will be held accountable.

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Today’s links:

  • Dependence on confessions persists despite legal reforms – Globaltimes.cn
    by wu danhong aka wu fatian//
    The dependence on confessions must be broken if forced confession is to be stopped effectively.
    Allowing suspects to lie, giving them the right to speak freely, and even allowing them to keep silent will all help protect suspects from being forced to testify against themselves, and should be considered in measures against forced confession. If our police officers can become less dependent on confessions, forced confessions will eventually die out.
  • 中国证券报·楼市调控政策执行不力地区要问责
    这次对部分省(市)贯彻落实国务院有关房地产市场调控政策措施情况的督促检查,进一步表明了中央坚持房地产市场调控的决心。各地要继续严格执行住房限购、差别化住房信贷等各项调控政策措施,坚决抑制投机投资性需求。对执行调控政策不力、放松调控政策的地区,要实行问责。国务院各有关部门将在此次督查的基础上,深入研究并完善房地产市场调控政策,切实巩固房地产市场调控成果。
  • 呵护爱国热情 严惩打砸暴行-中国青年报
      严惩打砸,“爱国”不是流氓的庇护所——这样的态度,会让爱国更有力量。理性表达抗议,抵制日货,首先要抵制这种“让亲者痛仇者快”的愚蠢行为。
  • 谁拖了消费的后腿?(热点聚焦·拉动消费新观察④)–社会–人民网
    people’s daily on why consumption not growing fast enough
  • Collective talks give pay increase to Carrefour workers |Companies |chinadaily.com.cn
    Workers at Carrefour’s Shanghai company will see their total wages increase by 7.5 percent as a result of collective bargaining that was conducted in March between the company and its employees.
  • Unions target Fortune 500 firms over wage talks |Economy |chinadaily.com.cn
    Approximately 80 percent of the 4,100 enterprises set up by Fortune 500 companies in China had introduced collective bargaining by the end of 2011, Zhang Jianguo, director of the collective contract department at the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, told China Daily.
    Zhang said the target that the federation set in 2011— 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies to have trade unions to carry out collective wage talks by the end of 2013 — could be reached.
  • China strongly opposes Japanese rightists in Diaoyu Islands – Xinhua | English.news.cn
    China strongly opposes Japanese rightists landing on the Diaoyu Islands on Sunday.
    Japan is urged to put an end to its actions that seek to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty.
    The illegal actions of the Japanese rightists have violated China’s territorial sovereignty
  • China’s steel output slows, prices drop – Xinhua | English.news.cn
    Crude steel production gained 4.2 percent year on year in July, but the rate was 11.3 percentage points lower than the growth recorded during the same period last year, the NDRC said in an online report.
  • 罗援少将:中国首艘航母可命名为“钓鱼岛”号|中国航母|钓鱼岛号|瓦良格航母_新浪新闻
  • 打造具有中国特色、中国风格、中国气派的理论学术话语体系_传媒要文_求是理论网
  • CHINASCOPE – China Intends to Increase Soft Power by Establishing Its Own Academic Language System
    Editor’s note: In recent years, as China has been more actively engaged with the world, it has been paying greater attention to developing its “soft power.” Since the way the Communist Party uses language has been powerful and effective within China, the Party wants to create a language system that has the same effect around the world, thereby improving China’s soft power…The initiative started eight years ago and has gradually become more prominent in Party thinking. Qiushi Journal, a publication of the CCP Central Committee, whose mission is to spread CCP theories and policies, published an article calling for the establishment of an academic language system with Chinese characteristics and Chinese style, which would contribute to the development of this initiative. Below is an excerpt from the article
  • 房产税开征技术日渐成熟-中国金融新闻网
    page 1 story in financial news about the technical “infrastructure” now in place to collect property taxes
  • In L.A., slow and steady is the pace for Flying Pigeon bicycle – latimes.com
    The clunky two-wheeler, a cultural icon in China, was virtually unknown in the U.S. until a pair of Cypress Park brothers imported two containers of them and opened their bike shop.
  • ‘Internal Spies Spy on other Internal Spies’ : Ken Gause on Totalitarian Control in the DPRK « SINO-NK
    The ubiquitousness of the security state in North Korea is, in other words, everywhere: it is embedded in the family history of the Kims as well as on the bureaucratic DNA of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Channeling Ken Gause, SinoNK analyst Nick Miller arrives to explain further the intertwined security politics and structure of North Korea.
  • Should the Chinese Government “Fight Back” Against Rumors on Social Media? | Tea Leaf Nation
    We wonder if there is any truth in the piece below that appeared on August 17 in Beijing Daily, a Party-controlled paper known to take a hard-line stance on issues such as freedom of speech. Tea Leaf Nation has translated the editorial in full, along with some comments by netizens and a brief analysis. Within the article, links and emphasis are the translator’s own.
  • Taiwanese rich man drug-rapes 60 female stars, makes sex videos | ChinaHush
    hear he has run to cambodia//
    The case of Li Zongrui, the son of a rich Taiwanese, was suspected of drug-raping models and stars, attracted continuous public attention. Previously, it was disclosed that Li Zongrui was suspected of drug-raping up to 60 actresses and famous models, and shooting sex videos secretly. After the exposure of the case, Li Zongrui had absconded for over half a month, and he was wanted by Taiwan police.
  • Call to limit China’s UK nuclear stake – FT.com
    Chinese companies competing for one of the UK’s biggest nuclear projects are unlikely to end up with a majority stake in any winning consortium in an attempt to allay concerns about Beijing gaining control of the Horizon reactor programme.
  • A Firing-Squad Verdict in Chinese Murder Case? – NYTimes.com
  • Thousands pour onto streets in Shenzhen, Guangzhou to protest the Japanese | Nanfang Insider
    Thousands of people marched through the streets of Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and other cities in China today to protest the Japanese claims to the Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkaku in Japanese.
  • Chinese delegation currently in Iran to copy the U.S. stealthy RQ-170 drone captured in 2011. | The Aviationist
  • China counts costs of mega dam | Video | Reuters.com
    Aug. 19 – Residents struggle with the impact of China’s mega dam, 18 years on. Masako Iijima reports
  • Japan, China islands disputes deepen with landings, protests | Reuters
    (Reuters) – Several Japanese nationalists landed on Sunday on a rocky island in the East China Sea at the heart of a territorial row with Beijing, sparking protests in several Chinese cities and a diplomatic rebuke from Beijing.
  • Chinese politician’s wife due to hear verdict – Yahoo! News
    not totally accurate//
    Francois Godement, a China politics expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said other factors in Gu’s favor are that state media say she confessed and a claim that she acted to defend her son after threats by Heywood.
    Godement noted that senior leaders and their immediate relatives have been spared the death penalty since the end of the Cultural Revolution, the chaotic 1966-76 period that saw many party elders persecuted by ultraradical Red Guards.
  • Banyan: China, Olympic victim? | The Economist
    Some Chinese commentary on the games did aspire to more lofty Confucian detachment. Peevish nationalism was only one strain in discourse that included pride in China’s best performance at an Olympics overseas, criticism of the obsession with winning, and the view that to be a great power is not just to win medals, but not to care about what other countries say. Beijing News urged readers to “forsake the victim complex”, and adopt a mentality more suited to a world power. Similarly, China Youth News said it was “very tiring” to watch the games with a victim’s mentality. How true. They are, after all, only games.
  • 国新办原副主任王仲伟出任文化部副部长(图)_新闻台_中国网络电视台
  • Building an Enemy | Paradigm Cure
    The United States is going to need a much more clever way to manage this unfolding relationship than a promise of mutual economic self-destruction and increasingly infeasible force projection…
    China looks set to become more politically riven, more nationalist, more economically and environmentally challenged—in other words, more of a handful than it has been.  It owns a proud, assertive and at times belligerent military.  Despite all that, there remains a very substantial chance for the United States, the region and the world (critically, working together, for China, too, unlike the USSR, has no empire and no ring of allies or satellites to boost its own power base) to develop meaningful, if tough and fractious, cooperative ties to a rising China.  For U.S. and regional interests, this is the vastly preferable course.
  • The Coming Realist-Neocon War | Paradigm Cure
    From among the list of advisors announced by the campaign, the hard-liners who’ll sign memos to that effect likely include such stalwarts as Bob Joseph, Kim Holmes, Bob Kagan, and Dan Senor.  (And don’t forget John Bolton, a Romney advisor who appears to have some influence and might end up in a White House job of some sort.)  And they’ll be opposed by the likes of Zoellick and perhaps some others announced as Romney advisors who might serve in a new administration and who are not thoroughgoing hawks:  Eliot Cohen, hawkish and tough but more than capable of nuance; Aaron Friedberg and Evan Feigenbaum, tough and realistic about China but hardly alarmist, serious thinkers who’ll insist on balance.
    So you’ll get these warring camps sending conflicting advice to a president who in the campaign has tilted generally toward a hard-line approach—though whether for political reasons or out of conviction it cannot be known—and the debate, and bureaucratic warfare, will be on…
    the price we will pay, in power, interests, and security, will continue to grow as U.S. primacy fades and we have to join the rest of the known world in getting what we want with clever, thoughtful strategy. What remains to be seen is whether our next president appreciates the need.
  • China Ex-Police Chief May Face Trial – NYTimes.com
    CHONGQING, China — Wang Lijun reveled in his image as the consummate crime fighter. An ethnic Mongolian policeman with a fondness for expensive overcoats, he directed crackdowns on organized crime, performed autopsies, patented designs for police uniforms and was even named an honorary professor at the institute of a famous American forensic scientist. His earlier exploits inspired a television series. All that was missing was a mask and cape.
  • 地产融资回暖-财经网
    caijing on capital access getting easier for real estate developers, say the most painful period for them may be over //虽然房地产融资的调控主基调未变,但诸多迹象显示,部分房地产企业的资金面得到缓解,最困难时期正在过去
  • 启东启示-新闻频道-和讯网
    good story on qidong from latest caijing magazine. caijing may no longer have hu shuli but it is still one of the best publications in china, and in fact may be better than caixin for understanding policy direction//
  • 海外并购需警惕六风险-中国金融新闻网
  • 财政收入突破十万亿 更多百姓享受实惠-中国金融新闻网
  • China Law Blog–To The China Expats Leaving: Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

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