Vol. II Issue. 32
Rising People's Power?
06 August 2012
Due to rising protests, the Chinese government cancelled the construction of a planned pipeline for a Japanese paper factory, Oji, in the eastern region on July 28. This is the second project that was cancelled in the month of July after large number of people came out on the streets to protest against these projects. The main concern among the protestors was the environmental damage that these projects would have caused.
The most recent protests, at Qidong in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, took place in order to stop construction of a pipeline intended to dump wastewater from the paper mill into the sea. The protests were successful in reaching their goal and a message was sent from Ding Dawei, Secretary of the Communist Party of China's (CPC) Nantong Municipal Committee, asking people to disperse as the Nantong government had decided to "permanently stop" the drainage pipeline project. The Oji paper project in Jiangsu is said to be one of the largest investments ever made by Japan in China, with a total value of over $1.9 billion. The plant in Nantong was put into production in 2011.
Protests against projects that will be damaging to the environment have been on the rise in the recent times. On July 03, the municipal government of Shifang, in Sichuan Province, south-western China, put a halt on the construction of a metals factory after street protests turned bloody.
These protests are characteristically unique as they are organized quickly with larger number of people coming together. Even though strict measures are imposed to maintain censorship, internet has become a major source for spreading information and making these demonstrations possible. Mention must be made of the protests that took place in the Wukan village in south-eastern China in December 2011. The reasons behind the protests were not unique. Local officials had made land sales without properly compensating the villagers. What was unique, however, was that the protestors won real concessions from the government when the provincial officials in the Guandong Province dismissed all the Communist Party officials of the village.
Another thing that caught the attention during the protests and has become characteristic of the recent protests has been the emphasis made by the protestors that the protests are not against the Chinese Communist Party. It has been made clear time and again, that the protests do not question the Communist Party's rule. In fact, they look towards the centre to seek remedies for their problems and deal with corrupt local officials. The social and political tensions have been surfacing more frequently as the country comes closer to the leadership transition in a few months. Thus, unlike the anti-government protests in the past, which were suppressed (sometimes forcibly), these protests, which have an economic or environmental in nature, have resulted in the government striking a deal or coming to a compromise with the people.
As the transition period comes closer, the need to build a positive public opinion has become stronger for the CPC. State-run media has especially become more proactive in building a positive image and preventing any negative or anti-government material from being published. It is alleged that the state-run newspapers managed to downplay the damage caused by floods in the northern regions in the month of July. The media continued to publish and broadcast positive news about the relief effort while censors deleted negative postings online. The numerous protests in China that take place every week have not yet turned anti-government. One of the reasons behind that has been the continued economic growth along with employment opportunities over the years. However, as the Chinese economy starts to slow down, it may reflect on the people's attitudes towards the Chinese Communist Party. The new leadership will have to come prepared to deal with these shifting attitudes and the rising people's power.
(Priyanka Mehrotra is a Research Assistant at ORF, New Delhi)
POLITICS AND SOCIETY
Outside intervention not welcome: spokesman
A military spokesman on Tuesday warned foreign countries to avoid interfering with territorial disputes between China and its neighbours regarding the South China Sea.
Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said, "Any intervention by countries outside the region will complicate the problem and even deteriorate the situation". He added that China will continue to seek appropriate solutions through bilateral negotiations and consultations with parties directly involved in the disputes.
"The Chinese navy is justified in protecting the country's interests, and it is groundless to equate such a justified action with tough foreign policy," he said, denying that China is shifting to a more assertive diplomatic approach. Geng also said the recent establishment of the Sansha garrison in the South China Sea was in line with the country's regulations for local administration and structure of its armed forces.
Source (s):- Xinhua, August 1, 2012
China stresses Party's leadership over army
A Chinese military officer said Tuesday that the country will resolutely oppose any erroneous ideas about the de-politicization of the country's army, adding that those ideas have "ulterior motives."
Wang Yongsheng from the General Political Department of the People's Liberation Army made the remarks at a press conference on the eve of the 85th anniversary of the founding of the PLA.
"The PLA was founded by, and is under the leadership of, the Communist Party of China, and the CPC's absolute leadership over the army is the army's fundamental system and principle," said Wang. He added that the CPC's leadership over the state and the army remains well established. It has also been written into the Constitution.
Wang said a few people in other countries criticize China's military system. That criticism spreads some erroneous ideas, including ideas that the army should be depoliticized and have no party affiliations, or that the army should be nationalized. Some even suggest the Party should end its leadership of the army. He dismissed these statements as being non-reliable.
Source (s):- Xinhua, July 31, 2012
Fishing ban lifted over South China Sea
Fishermen in Hainan and Guangdong provinces have resumed operation after the annual fishing ban in the northern part of the South China Sea was lifted on Wednesday, said local fishery authorities. The fishing ban in the South China Sea, which has been in place since 1999, has been imposed for two and a half months since 2009, and covers areas north of the 12th parallel north, including Huangyan Island but excluding most of the Nansha Islands.
The fishing ban started on May 16 and ended at midday on Wednesday. The ban is part of the ongoing efforts to protect marine resources and promote environmental awareness among fishermen, Huang Zuoping, an official from the South China Sea fishery bureau under the Ministry of Agriculture, told China Daily.
Fishermen who ignored the ban would face punishments such as fines, license revocations, confiscations and possible criminal charges, according to a statement issued by the fishery bureau under the Ministry of Agriculture. Notably, the ban was also applicable to foreign ships.
There are hopes that with the establishment of Sansha city this July, many more processing factories will be established, which could save fishermen time and money.
Source (s):- China Daily, August 2, 2012
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
China and UK establish new research centre
The Shenzhen-based Beijing Genomics Institute and the University of Birmingham (UOB) have announced a joint project to set up a research and training centre in the UK. The centre will focus on environmental change and human health using latest advances in the field of biotechnology such as DNA sequencing, metabolomics and bioinformatics. According to the agreement, UOB will invest 2 million pounds ($ 3.1 million) in the centre and both sides will contribute scientific equipment and research personnel in the centre for a series of start-up environmental and health projects.
Source (s):- China Daily, August 01, 2012.
China is set to launch its 3rd lunar probe, the Chang'e-3 in the second half of 2013. This announcement was made State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence. China launched the Chang'e-1 in 2007 and the Chang'e-2 in 2010. The first probe retrieved a great deal of scientific data and a complete map of the moon while the second one created a full higher-resolution map of the moon and a high-definition image of Sinus Iridium.
Source (s):- China Daily, July 31, 2012.
Promoting maritime connectivity with ASEAN
China's Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying has announced that China is ready to promote maritime connectivity with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Ms. Fu said that China will make full use of the 3 billion Yuan (473 million U.S. dollars) China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund and enhance port and maritime transport cooperation with ASEAN. "To that end, China will host a seminar on China-ASEAN maritime connectivity strategy in the second half of this year," she noted.
Ms. Fu said China is actively preparing for the establishment of a China-ASEAN Committee on Connectivity Cooperation. China, she added, has made much effort for the construction of the Kunming-Bangkok Highway, which links China's south-western Yunnan province to Thailand.
Source (s):- Xinhua News Agency, August 05, 2012
Kim Jong-un meets senior Chinese official
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with Wang Jiarui, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and discussed ways to strengthen the bilateral relations. "We are ready to work jointly with the DPRK side to maintain high-level contacts, strengthen party-to-party exchanges, and boost practical cooperation," Wang said. Addressing domestic issues, Kim said that DPRK will continue to make efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the Korean peninsula.
Source (s):- China Daily, August 03, 2012.
Strengthening monetary policy fine-tuning
China's central bank has announced that it will strengthen the fine-tuning of its monetary policy in the second half of this year. The People's Bank of China (PBOC) reiterated the significance of making the monetary policy more forward-looking, targeted and effective to support steady and relatively fast economic growth.
To cope with the faster-than-expected slowdown, the PBOC has cut its lending and deposit rates twice this year and lowered the amount of funds that banks must keep in reserve for three times since December last year. The PBOC also called for carrying forward with financial reforms while urging more efforts to maintain financial stability.
Source (s):- Xinhua News Agency, August 05, 2012.
US sanctions hurt China
Washington's sanctions on the Chinese Bank of Kunlun due its connections with Iran were a deliberate attempt to put pressure on China, said China. According to the US, the Bank of Kunlun has provided significant financial services to more than six Iranian banks that were designated by the US in connection with nuclear weapons programme or support for international terrorism. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded the US lift sanctions on the Bank of Kunlun to prevent any damage to the bilateral relations.
Source (s):-The Economic Times, August 02 and US Department of Treasury, July 31, 2012.
• Rahul Prakash
• Sadhavi Chauhan
• Priyanka Mehrotra