Author Topic: The China Thread  (Read 151393 times)

Jacob

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The China Thread
« on: September 24, 2012, 05:27:47 pm »
I'm starting a thread to post assorted China bits in for those who may be interested.

The current topic is obviously the Diaoyu - Senkaku conflict.

Some observers suggest that the nationalist demonstrations are deliberately over-reported:

Quote
It is significant that the numbers of protesters, by Chinese standards, are small. Crowds are in the hundreds, rarely over a thousand. By contrast the crowd at the pro-democracy demonstrations at Tiananmen in 1989 reached a million at its peak. There is no doubt which cause had the deeper appeal. Today, too, measured in numbers, the complaints of Chinese protesters are overwhelmingly not about uninhabited islands but about things closer to home—corruption, pollution, land annexation, special privilege, and abuse of power—and the usual adversaries today are not Japan but Chinese officials and the wealthy people associated with them. The Chinese police handle, on average, two hundred or more “mass incidents”—meaning demonstrations, riots, road-blockages, and the like—every day. This kind of protest is perennial but not well reported. The anti-Japan protests are highly unusual but assiduously reported.

More here:

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/sep/20/beijings-dangerous-game/
http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2012/09/the-dangerous-game-of-protesting-in-china/
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 05:30:04 pm by Jacob »

Jacob

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2012, 05:29:42 pm »
Meanwhile, a current rumour is that the Maoist tenor of some of the nationalist demonstrations is an attempt by pro-Bo Xilai left-wingers to apply pressure to save or reinstate him.



Source (in Chinese): http://space.wenxuecity.com/_gallery/201209/news/d4bed9d5b8df11c34e951e.jpg

mongers

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2012, 05:32:08 pm »
Yes and it's telling that a serious dispute at the Foxconn factory, reported only as a brawl, actually involved several thousand workers, protesting at the company's security guards beating fellow workers. 

Labour disputes, working conditions, rights to worker association, seem far more important and on the minds of many Chinese rather than these nationalistic driven tensions.
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Jacob

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2012, 05:35:11 pm »
Labour disputes, working conditions, rights to worker association, seem far more important and on the minds of many Chinese rather than these nationalistic driven tensions.

Yes.

There are demonstrations and disturbances larger than these nationalist ones pretty much every day that are not reported.

mongers

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2012, 05:43:41 pm »
Labour disputes, working conditions, rights to worker association, seem far more important and on the minds of many Chinese rather than these nationalistic driven tensions.

Yes.

There are demonstrations and disturbances larger than these nationalist ones pretty much every day that are not reported.

Indeed, I wish I understood more about China, as in some ways it's the biggest story going on in the world, whether it be urbanization, construction, the rise of new mega-corporations.
My old history teacher as something of a sinologist, he wrote a school textbook on the subject, I imagine he'd be fascinated by it all.
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Jacob

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2012, 05:46:46 pm »
What Chinese People Own - a photo project: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19648095

The Minsky Moment

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2012, 05:56:26 pm »
Adopting a traditional Marxist analysis and looking at the material underpinnings:

It's no secret that China's GDP growth has slowed significantly, and there are serious questions about the ability of the government to push growth back up using traditional measures - i.e. increasing investment rates by having local and provincial governments and their parastatal arms dump money on infrastructure and development projects.  China is also well underway with a demographic transition and that is already manifesting itself in significant labor cost increases.  One keeps seeing reports about pessism among business insiders and objectively that is borne out by the continuing poor performance of the Shanghai exchange which is still way off its 2008 peaks and in fact continues to drift downwards.

The Party's legitimacy is almost entirely based at this point on its ability to deliver material prosperity and thus doubts about the sustainability of economic growth are a direct threat to its power.  It's only other claim to legitimacy is its historical role in unifying the country and its current role as a defender of national interest.  Hypothetically, a Left "opposition" faction thus would logically seek to exploit a tempest in a teapot like Diayou to mobilize support and push the Party into a more hardline position, and that indeed seems to happening.  But I use the scare quotes and the hypothetical formulation because Maoist iconography notwithstanding, its not clear that the factions within the Party have any clear programmatic agenda other than promoting their own careers and the interests of their proteges and clients.  Looks to me like there is a thin but powerful elite contending among each other for the spoils of power and that contest has spilled over into the public arena, with consequences that may be entirely unpredictable to the participants.
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The Minsky Moment

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2012, 06:00:55 pm »
Labour disputes, working conditions, rights to worker association, seem far more important and on the minds of many Chinese rather than these nationalistic driven tensions.

Yes.

There are demonstrations and disturbances larger than these nationalist ones pretty much every day that are not reported.

Indeed, I wish I understood more about China, as in some ways it's the biggest story going on in the world, whether it be urbanization, construction, the rise of new mega-corporations.
My old history teacher as something of a sinologist, he wrote a school textbook on the subject, I imagine he'd be fascinated by it all.

Caixin - China Economics & Finance publishes every month in English.  Costs $1.25 per month to receive via Kindle; there are print options as well (but more expensive).  Recommended.

See website here to get an idea: http://english.caixin.com/
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jimmy olsen

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2012, 06:03:42 pm »

The Party's legitimacy is almost entirely based at this point on its ability to deliver material prosperity and thus doubts about the sustainability of economic growth are a direct threat to its power.  It's only other claim to legitimacy is its historical role in unifying the country and its current role as a defender of national interest.  Hypothetically, a Left "opposition" faction thus would logically seek to exploit a tempest in a teapot like Diayou to mobilize support and push the Party into a more hardline position, and that indeed seems to happening. 
I may be misunderstanding your terminology, but manipulating nationalist claims in order to gain influence seems a historically right wing phenomena. Wouldn't a left opposition faction tap into the labor discontent?
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Jacob

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2012, 06:24:22 pm »
I may be misunderstanding your terminology, but manipulating nationalist claims in order to gain influence seems a historically right wing phenomena. Wouldn't a left opposition faction tap into the labor discontent?

Hard left in this context means Maoist and old-school Communist, if not in actual policies then at least in aesthetics and populist language.

mongers

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2012, 06:56:31 pm »
Labour disputes, working conditions, rights to worker association, seem far more important and on the minds of many Chinese rather than these nationalistic driven tensions.

Yes.

There are demonstrations and disturbances larger than these nationalist ones pretty much every day that are not reported.

Indeed, I wish I understood more about China, as in some ways it's the biggest story going on in the world, whether it be urbanization, construction, the rise of new mega-corporations.
My old history teacher as something of a sinologist, he wrote a school textbook on the subject, I imagine he'd be fascinated by it all.

Caixin - China Economics & Finance publishes every month in English.  Costs $1.25 per month to receive via Kindle; there are print options as well (but more expensive).  Recommended.

See website here to get an idea: http://english.caixin.com/

:cheers:

Thanks for the link.
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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2012, 06:58:33 pm »
In addition to Jacob's point, there's a huge history of often populist, posing left-wing nationalism. Subjects like labour disputes are more troublesome because they operate out of authorised and controlled channels. Labour disputes and the like have a history of leading to independent demands and organisations which are a challenge to an elite struggling for power in a corporatist state.

As Jacob said such politics is as often aesthetic as anything else.
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Camerus

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2012, 06:07:31 am »
If I were one of the laobaixing, I would be deeply dissatisfied with the status quo.  China's property depends on no small measure on a massive quasi-slave underclass, working at wages barely above subsistence level, whilst signs of prosperity and even opulence abound everywhere...but the creature comforts of even a moderately comfortable life are utterly out of reach.

Unfortunately, there are few healthy mechanisms to channel those grievances into moderate, gradual reforms.

Tyr

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2012, 06:30:49 am »
I don't know. I hear there's an increasingly large amount of power going to the commoners. These days they can pick and choose which job to take and factories have to be really competitive on offering ever better wages to try and attract workers.
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Martim Silva

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2012, 10:34:49 am »
In the meanwhile, Taiwan has decided to jump into the fray:

http://news.yahoo.com/japan-trades-words-china-water-taiwan-133522693--finance.html;_ylt=A2KLOzErzWFQtCAAZaDQtDMD

Japanese and Taiwanese ships shot water cannon at each other Tuesday in the latest confrontation over tiny islands in the East China Sea, as Japan met with another rival, China, in an effort to tamp down tensions.

About 40 Taiwanese fishing boats and 12 patrol boats entered waters near the islands on Tuesday morning, briefly triggering an exchange of water cannon fire with Japanese coast guard ships. Coast guard officials said the Taiwanese vessels had ignored warnings to get out of their territory, and the Taiwanese ships pulled back after being fired upon. (...)