January 3, 2013

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 Changes and Challenges for China in 2013 (December 26, 2012, Council on Foreign Relations)

This October, China's Eighteenth National Congress ushered in a new generation of leaders that will set the agenda for the second-largest economy in the world, provoking myriad questions about what we'll see out of the country in the coming year. CFR's Adam Segal predicts continued international concern for China's cyber policy, while CFR's Elizabeth C. Economy weighs its challenges of keeping "foreign policy front and center" against a heavy list of domestic concerns. Claremont McKenna's Minxin Pei adds that China will be forced to respond to calls for greater political openness, facing a delicate balancing act. CFR's Yanzhong Huang points out that despite China's highly publicized health-care achievements, reform hasn't fundamentally solved the problem of access and affordability.


Reform Push Could Engender Party Conflict (December 28, 2012, China Real Time)

As the old year winds down, is China seeing signs of a new political struggle start up? While much of the past year here was marked by high political drama and the successful smackdown of a rival looking to change the system, the closing weeks are taking on a different shape: namely, growing signs of a mounting conflict between new leaders who are clearly looking to push politics in China forward, and a recently departed group trying to hold that sort of reform back.

Family of Chinese Regulator Profits in Insurance Firms Rise (December 30, 2012, The New York Times)

Relatives of a top Chinese regulator profited enormously from the purchase of shares in a once-struggling insurance company that is now one of Chinas biggest financial powerhouses, according to interviews and a review of regulatory filings.

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo's wife receives visit by activists (December 31, 2012, The Guardian)

Five Chinese activists defied security guards and made a brief visit to dissident Liu Xiaobo's wife, Liu Xia, who has been held under house arrest since her husband was awarded the Nobel peace prize two years ago. The rare visit on Friday was captured on video by Beijing activist Hu Jia, who posted it on YouTube on Monday. Hu said the activists wanted to see Liu Xia on that day to mark her husband's birthday.

Visa Issue in China Forces Out Times Reporter (December 31, 2012, The New York Times)

A correspondent for The New York Times was forced to leave mainland China on Monday after the authorities declined to issue him a visa for 2013 by years end. Chris Buckley, a 45-year-old Australian who has worked as a correspondent in China since 2000, rejoined The Times in September after working for Reuters. The Times applied for Mr. Buckley to be accredited to replace a correspondent who was reassigned, but the authorities did not act before Dec. 31, despite numerous requests. That forced Mr. Buckley, his partner and their daughter to fly to Hong Kong on Monday.

Xi Jinping calls for more wisdom, courage to deepen reform (January 1, 2013, Xinhua)

The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has called for more political courage and wisdom to deepen the country's reform. Xi Jinping made the comments when presiding over a group study held by the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau on Monday, when bureau members were given a lecture on promoting China's reform. Xi stressed that the country will stick to its economic reform to build up a socialist market economy and adhere to the China's basic state policy of opening up.

A Chinese Dissident Makes Demands of Xi Jinping (January 1, 2013, Seeing Red in China)

Li Huaping (), also known online as Norwegian Wood (), is a dissident and activist based in Shanghai. Churchill and Yaxue translate.

A consensus for political reform (January 2, 2013, China Media Project)

Yanhuang Chunqiu, a political journal associated with more liberal, pro-reform elements within the Chinese Communist Party, has published a bold and important New Year Greeting in its latest edition. The article, called The Constitution is a Consensus for Political Reform, argues that Chinas Constitution already lays out the priorities to be addressed in carrying out meaningful political reform.

The Emperors, No Clothes: a Party fable? (January 2, 2013, China Media Project)

In China, Andersens story (long familiar to Chinese) is now being re-enacted inside out. The emperors, the top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, are party to the swindle. And the audacious act of deception is to convince the townsfolk that despite all outward appearances, Party leaders are not mantled with wealth and privilege they are, in fact, naked.

A New Years greeting gets the axe in China (January 3, 2013, China Media Project)

The big breaking media story in China today concerns the New Years Greeting () at Guangdongs Southern Weekly, a newspaper with a longstanding reputation for harder-hitting journalism. According to accounts on Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo, Southern Weeklys greeting, an annual tradition with notable precedents (including Chang Pings 1999 letter, which is being actively shared today), was censored directly by propaganda officials without the knowledge or consent of editors. We have not yet independently confirmed how the changes to the New Years Greeting as Southern Weekly occurred. But if the internal chatter among Chinese journalists is accurate, this direct interference by propaganda leaders is indeed unprecedented.

Chinas Maritime Surveillance Fleet Adds Muscle (January 3, 2013, Foreign Policy)

As China continues to harden its stance on territorial disputes, a recent report notes that the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has transferred 11 decommissioned warships, including two destroyers, to the countrys maritime surveillance agency.

Hong Kong sees protests both for and against leader Leung Chun-Ying (January 3, 2013, The Guardian)

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to Hong Kong's densely-packed streets this week in demonstrations both for and against Leung, laying bare widespread distrust of the recently-elected leader and deep-rooted divisions among the region's 7 million people. While anti-Leung demonstration organisers said 130,000 people attended the protests, police put the number at 27,000. Protesters filled public parks and blocked major intersections. Some clashed with police, leading to six arrests.


Training and Discipleship Methods in Chinese Churches (December 28, 2012, Chinese Church Voices)

A pioneering pastor in Beijing talks to a reporter from the Christian Times about the importance of church membership as a means of ensuring that believers receive proper spiritual nurture. The goal of church growth is not simply more people attending the church, but more disciples. He also addresses the phenomenon of lateral movement, or believers moving from one church to another, often due to dissatisfaction with their former church. His own approach of letting go and encouraging one of his congregations to become independent may seem surprising, particularly to those who believe a pastor should keep a tight reign on his flock.


Get your kicks on Route G6 (December 22, 2012, The Economist)

China is building a motorway across the Tibetan plateau. For some, reaching Lhasa by road is the ultimate dream

Video: A game-changer (December 26, 2012, The Economist)

Our China editor charts the astonishing rise and influence of the micro-blog Sina Weibo

China approves tighter rules on internet access (December 28, 2012, BBC)

China has tightened its rules on internet usage to enforce a previous requirement that users fully identify themselves to service providers. The move is part of a package of measures which state-run Xinhua news agency said would protect personal information. But critics believe the government is trying to limit freedom of speech. The announcement will be seen as evidence China's new leadership views the internet as a threat.

China law says family should visit elderly relatives (December 29, 2012, AFP)

China has passed a new law stipulating that family members should pay regular visits to their elderly relatives, according to the government's official website. The ruling, approved by China's National People's Congress on Friday, is part of a package of amendments to the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly legislation and will come into force on July 1, 2013. "Family members who live separately from the elderly should visit them often," the law says, adding that "employers should guarantee the right to home leave in accordance with relevant regulations". The law mentions no specific penalties for those who fail to visit frequently, nor elaborates on what "often" means.

What is fuelling child abduction in China? (December 27, 2012, Al Jazeera)

Chinese authorities have rescued 89 children in a nationwide crackdown on trafficking gangs. Child trafficking is widespread in China, many say, because of the country's one-child policy and the demand it creates for sons. Rights groups say authorities have failed to stamp out the practice because local officials and police officers are often complicit in the trade. So what is fuelling the trade in trafficked children in China?

Chinas Great Dream (December 30, 2012, Newsweek)

Beijings new communist party boss, Xi Jinping is inspiring his countrymen with talk of a Chinese renaissance.

Beijing Opens Four New Subway Lines to Ease Congestion (December 30, 2012, Bloomberg)

Beijing put four subway lines and extensions into operation yesterday as part of the Chinese capitals efforts to expand its public urban transport network and ease traffic congestion. The openings bring the number of lines in the Chinese capital to 16 with a total length of 442 kilometers (275 miles), according to a statement on the website of government-owned Beijing Subway Operation Co. which runs the system.

Woman Objects to Dirty Migrant Worker On Bus, City Now Built on Rock and Revolt (December 31, 2012, Sinopathic)

Al the same, this is still Not News: an inconsequential news story whose main body does not expand nor illuminate past its attention-grabbing headline. However, as Western readers we should pay attention to the care put into this story and realize that it has been given serious attention for the importance of the themes it brings up: urban vs rural, rich vs poor, old traditions vs new thinking. This story asks the quintessential Chinese question of our age: who are we?

Chinese Web Users Voice Skepticism at New Information Protection Law (December 31, 2012, Tea Leaf Nation)

This new regulation has touched a sensitive nerve among Chinese Web users. Given that Weibo has been used as a grassroots platform for exposing corrupt officials, users have raised concerns that this new law could hamper the exposure of corruption cases online, mute public criticism, and threaten the supervisory role of the Internet.

On our neighbourhood Anti-Evil Cult Warning & Education Propaganda Board (January 2, 2013, China Hope Live)

This public service announcement in which a woman is sentenced to re-education through labour for propagating her beliefs on public transit is brought to you by the Qingdao Anti-Evil Cult Association and the Qingdao Office of Guarding Against and Dealing With the Evil Cult Problem. Its not about Eastern Lightning (), the cult that recently made news, but rather the #1 evil cult in China.

Yellow is the new red on China's roads (January 2, 2013, AP)

Drivers in China are seeing red over a new crackdown on running through intersections when the lights are yellow. While announcing new rules that double the penalty for traffic light violations, officials also have stressed that running a yellow light will now be considered equivalent to running a red one. Drivers accustomed to considering the yellow light a warning and the red light an imperative have been left confused, wondering how they can stop suddenly for a yellow light. Even the official Xinhua News Agency has joined the criticism.

How Many Tweets Did Chinas Twitter Generate in the First One Minute of 2013? (January 3, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)

Happy new yearor as they say in China, xinnian kuaile. According to Sina Weibo, Chinas pre-eminent micro-blogging platform, users generated a total of 729,571 posts in the very first minute of 2013.

China railway firm in fatal 'tunnel blast cover up' (January 3, 2013, BBC)

A railway company in northern China has been accused of covering up an explosion in a tunnel last month which left eight dead, state media report. A subsidiary of the state-owned China Railway Tunnel Group "purposely concealed" the explosion in northern Shanxi province, Xinhua says. The case was brought to light by internet users, but officials have denied rumours that as many as 60 died. It was initially thought to have been caused by illegal blasting at the site. Xinhua said that the construction project's manager concealed the accident, which took place on 25 December in Linfen.


Which Lifestyle Choice in China Will Kill You First? (January 3, 2013, My Health Beijing)

If the tooth fairy gave you 10,000 RMB every year in China that you could only spend on your health, what would you buy? Would you get an air purifier? How about a gym membership; an organic delivery service; a daily massage what would you choose? Perhaps its best to rephrase the question, what gives my health the most bang for the buck? In order to answer that, one needs to know which lifestyle choices are harmless fun and which are unhealthy.

In China, Grass-Roots Groups Take On H.I.V./AIDS Outreach Work (January 3, 2013, The New York Times)

Encouraged by the new slate of leaders who came to power in November, civil society activists hope the model taking shape here in the prosperous southern province of Guangdong, which has long served as a petri dish for economic reform, will be replicated nationally, not just in the fight against disease but also on issues like poverty, mental health and the environment.


Video: Meet the Grandfather of Chinese Rock (YouTube)

The eight classes of Chinese tea and the ten most famous brands (December 17, 2012, Sapore di Cina)

I decided to limit this first article to two topics that I found interesting: the different classes of Chinese tea and the most famous tea brands of China (for each class of tea there are many different brands, for instance you have the Long Jing green tea from Hangzhou, the Bi Luo Chun green tea from Tai Hu and so on).

Why China learns its lessons off by heart (January 2, 2013, The Guardian)

It's 7.30am and the walk to class takes me past scores of Chinese students reciting English in preparation for a constant stream of tests and exams. I only recently arrived to study in China, but it doesn't take long to observe that here memorisation is paramount. Remembering rather than understanding appears to be the principal goal of the education system and that seems archaic to the Western eye. However, the Chinese believe memorising provides a route to understanding.


Chinese tea farmers are switching to coffee (December 29, 2012, The Los Angeles Times)

This remote southwestern city near the borders of Laos and Myanmar is named after one of China's most famous teas, grown on mountain terraces painstakingly carved out of the region's rich red soil. But in recent years, pu'er tea has surrendered prime real estate for a more lucrative brew: coffee. Chinese farmers have taken to the new crop, which thrives in high-altitude areas of Yunnan province and commands up to three times as much money as tea.

China manufacturing activity sees steady growth (January 1, 2013, BBC)

Manufacturing activity in China has expanded for the third month in a row, adding to hopes of a rebound in the world's second-largest economy. China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) stood at 50.6 in December. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. The data follows HSBC's release of its PMI earlier in the week, which hit a 19-month high of 51.5 in December.

Business in China: My Painkillers Aren't Working Anymore (January 2, 2013, Forbes)

This just in a Happy New Year note from a friend Ill call Hank, who has lived and worked in Beijing, on and off, since 1983. It said, Things are hard. The Chinese are (expletive deleted) with American companies here in ways beyond anything I have ever seen.

China Approves Plan for Creation of the Central Plains Economic Zone (January 3, 2013, China Briefing)

To support the balanced development of different regions within the country, Chinas State Council officially approved the Planning for a Central Plains Economic Zone (2012-2020) (guohan [2012] No.194, hereinafter referred to as the Planning) on November 17, 2012. The proposed economic zone would cover the entirety of Henan Province, as well as twelve municipalities and two counties in the adjoining provinces of Shandong, Anhui, Hebei, and Shanxi.


China's new high-speed trains run at 186 mph (December 31, 2013, AP, via San Francisco Chronicle)

That's how fast China's newest high-speed railroad will run initially. The trains began service last week, traveling the 1,428 miles from Beijing to Guangzhou in about eight hours, down from the previous 21 hours. The new line, which eventually will be extended 75 miles to connect to Hong Kong, is part of China's plan to build a 10,000-mile high-speed rail network by 2015, undeterred by a deadly bullet-train accident last year.

74 Chinese cities release real-time PM2.5 data (January 1, 2013, Xinhua)

Starting Tuesday, real-time air quality monitoring data on PM2.5 intensity in China's 74 major cities is available at the website of www.cnemc.cn. The move is considered a big improvement in air quality monitoring, made at the strong request of the public. Information on particulate matter in China used to be limited to PM10, or particulate matter 10 microns or less in diameter.


Sichuans Tibetan Corner, Outside of Time (December 28, 2012, The New York Times)

Tagong, whose altitude of about 12,000 feet makes it one of the highest towns in the world, offers an unfettered window onto the Tibetan people and culture. The region was part of Tibet until 1955, and its remoteness to get there, you must take a single winding road several hours from the bustling provincial capital, Chengdu has insulated it against significant change. The place has a closed-off feel, with a slow-placed existence that revolves around the major Tibetan monastery and its 60 or so resident monks. And it was easier than traveling to the Tibet Autonomous Region, which in addition to the visa and passport required to visit China, also requires a special entry permit that doesnt promise unrestricted travel.

Watch: Shanghai's spectacular New Year's 4D light show on the Bund (January 1, 2013, Shanghaiist)


当代中国的信仰结构 (Pacific Institute for Social Sciences)


Chinas young conformist (January 2, 2012, Prospect Blog)

Writer and race car driver Han Han has always known when to be direct, when to take a roundabout route to his point, and when to avoid it altogether. His blog, Chinas most popular, with some half a billion visitshas, over the last five years, tackled Chinas social ills and political shortcomings without colliding into the most sensitive topics. To preserve his huge domestic readership, not to mention his skin, he goes full throttle without veering off road. This Generation, a selection of his blog posts which are best classified as political satire, takes us from before the 2008 Olympics to the end of 2011. Books of blogs (or blooksno, really) are always enjoyable in their immediacy, and this one is funny and insightful.

Image credit: Guangzhou night, by Wallace Lan, via Flickr