Desperately Seeking Xi Jinping

Xi JinpingWhen a noted American columnist wrote recently he expected Xi Jinping to spur a real reform because the reform is “in his genes,” I realized just how desperate we had become. In fact, sound of speculation around Xi has become deafening. Even though he will not formally assume presidency of China until March, Xi’s every utterance is now being fed into an evolving Xi Jinping narrative. Reality, however, is that we know very little of Xi’s actual policy proclivities save his desire for more informal and direct style of governance and Communist Party that is corruption-free. A review of what Xi has said, not done, because unsurprisingly actually hasn’t accomplished much of anything since he was named Communist Party General Secretary and president-elect just two months ago, suggests that trying to divine Xi’s inner-most desires is a relatively fruitless exercise. Like all Chinese leaders before him, he is capable of using symbols and slogans to hold out the promise of change, voicing seemingly contradictory views on single issue, advancing and then modifying policy initiative leaving behind substantial confusion in the process. Symbols and Slogans: Through symbols and slogans, Xi has raised expectations of reform to come and bolstered his reform credentials. When Xi traveled to Guangdong and Shenzhen in mid-December, observers were quick to herald the trip as a sign Xi was going to advance breakthrough economic reform, akin to that pushed by Deng Xiaoping two decades earlier during his trip south. Xi did announce that there would be “no stop in reform and no stop in opening up,” but understanding what Xi really wants to do, what he can do on the economic reform front must wait for another day. Xi’s call to implement the constitution has given rise to some hope among Chinese reformers. However, without actual implementing guidelines, it is difficult to know whether Xi’s call to “persevere in upholding the constitution and the law” and his statement that “the greatness of the constitution lies in the true faith people have in it,” will bring the type of basic rights protection that reformers are hoping for. Only time will tell. The Absoluteness of Contradiction: On the foreign policy front, Xi has called for a win-win relationship with China’s neighbors and articulated a desire for China to be engine of economic growth for the region. At the same time, he has called for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and declared Beijing is “firm in safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity,” while demonstrating no inclination to negotiate with his neighbors over thorny territorial disputes. Xi’s leadership of the Party’s South China Sea small group since 2011 has been marked not by a “rising tide lifts all boats” but by limiting the navigational freedom of others’ boats. Is change yet to come? (…..)

Link: http://blogs.cfr.org/asia/2013/01/09/desperately-seeking-xi-jinping/

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21 Responses to Desperately Seeking Xi Jinping

  1. With Beijing’s air pollution soaring to seemingly new, awful records this weekend, the classic parenting dilemma of “What shall we do with the kids?” had a grimly obvious answer: Slap on the antipollution face masks and go shopping for another air purifier. That’s what we did on Saturday, as the Air Quality Index run by the United States Embassy in Beijing, which uses standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, hit a “jaw-dropping” 755 at 8 p.m., as my colleague Edward Wong wrote. “All of Beijing looked like an airport smokers’ lounge,” Ed wrote. According to the index, anything above 300 is “Hazardous” and above 500 is “Beyond Index.” This weekend, the readings were Beyond Index for 16 straight hours. Even the Chinese government’s monitors, which recently have grown more accurate but still tend to measure the pollution as lower than the embassy’s, were recording scary levels of around 500. Furious, Chinese netizens wrote on their microblog accounts that the pollution had “exploded the index,” or “baobiao.” They reached for strong adjectives:
    “postapocalyptic,” “terrifying” and “beyond belief,” Ed wrote. So it was ironic that on Sunday there was a sense of relief as the index dropped to 319 (still “Hazardous”) then down to 286: a measly “Very Unhealthy.” By Sunday afternoon, it was “Hazardous” again though, at 373. Ordinary Chinese are appalled. And increasingly, they can say so in public, as the state appears to be relaxing its censorship of reporting on the pollution that everyone can see and smell. Xinhua, the state-run news agency, reported on Jan. 1 that the environmental authorities were now releasing real-time air quality data from 74 cities in China, at http://www.cnemc.cn. (…..)

    http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/breathing-in-beijing-coping-with-chinas-smog/

  2. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Environmental protection –like clean air — is a public good that a developing country such as China cannot afford. Even the highly indebted G-7 countries are having second thoughts about environmental protection in times of recession and unemployment. The inhabitants of Beijing and other large cities will have to live with dirty air for years to come, particularly during the winter when pollution is not dispersed in the upper atmosphere. Until coal is replaced in electricity generation and new clean fuels for transportation come on stream, Chinese citizens will live with higher levels of pollution and illness derived from it. The situation in Beijing reminds me of Tokyo. During a trip to Tokyo in the 90s, I decided to take a walk around the Emperor’s Palace, located in the center of the city. Fifteen minutes walking I had difficulty in breathing. When I cleaned the sweat off my face, the white napkin came out with black spots of dirty. A highly polluted island was the price paid for Japan to become the third highly industrialized economy in the world. I suppose the bad air situation remains the same today. Now is turn of China to pay the price for high levels of industrialization and millions of vehicles circulating in the streets of their major cities.

    http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/breathing-in-beijing-coping-with-chinas-smog/


  3. (…..) China is making a $250 billion-a-year investment in what economists call human capital. Just as the United States helped build a white-collar middle class in the late 1940s and early 1950s by using the G.I. Bill to help educate millions of World War II veterans, the Chinese government is using large subsidies to educate tens of millions of young people as they move from farms to cities. The aim is to change the current system, in which a tiny, highly educated elite oversees vast armies of semi-trained factory workers and rural laborers. China wants to move up the development curve by fostering a much more broadly educated public, one that more closely resembles the multifaceted labor forces of the United States and Europe.

    It is too early to know how well the effort will pay off. While potentially enhancing China’s future as a global industrial power, an increasingly educated population poses daunting challenges for its leaders. With the Chinese economy downshifting in the past year to a slower growth rate, the country faces a glut of college graduates with high expectations and limited opportunities. Much depends on whether China’s authoritarian political system can create an educational system that encourages the world-class creativity and innovation that modern economies require, and that can help generate enough quality jobs. China also faces formidable difficulties in dealing with widespread corruption, a sclerotic political system, severe environmental damage, inefficient state-owned monopolies and other problems. But if these issues can be surmounted, a better educated labor force could help China become an ever more formidable rival to the West. “It will move China forward in its economy, in scientific innovation and politically, but the new rising middle class will also put a lot of pressure on the government to change,” said Wang Huiyao, the director general of the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based research group.


    To the extent that China succeeds, its educational leap forward could have profound implications in a globalized economy in which a growing share of goods and services is traded across international borders. Increasingly, college graduates all over the world compete for similar work, and the boom in higher education in China is starting to put pressure on employment opportunities for college graduates elsewhere — including in the United States.

    China’s current five-year plan, through 2015, focuses on seven national development priorities, many of them new industries that are in fashion among young college graduates in the West. They are alternative energy, energy efficiency, environmental protection, biotechnology, advanced information technologies, high-end equipment manufacturing and so-called new energy vehicles, like hybrid and all-electric cars. China’s goal is to invest up to 10 trillion renminbi, or $1.6 trillion, to expand those industries to represent 8 percent of economic output by 2015, up from 3 percent in 2010. At the same time, many big universities are focusing on existing technologies in industries where China poses a growing challenge to the West (…..)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/17/business/chinas-ambitious-goal-for-boom-in-college-graduates.html

  4. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: High education brings opportunities and political risks for China. In the up side, a highly trained professional cadre is fundamental to sustain a post industrial economy. In the down side, a large educated population demands political rights a.i., free expression and access to information. This could present a challenge to one party system existent in China. China’s university system is preparing millions of new graduates in engineering and sciences. In addition, thousands students –that could become millions — are being sent to attend western universities, particularly in the US. China is rapidly becoming another Japan as far as human resources training are concerned. Nonetheless, a large number of recently graduated are having problems in finding jobs compatible with their training and wage aspirations. Unemployment among university graduates is not negligible, particularly in areas of liberal arts. Millions of educated professionals are becoming a fixture in the large urban centers such as Beijing and Shanghai. Increasingly, frustration with their lives and career is being channeled to the political system, in form of criticism of public corruption and tight media control by the Communist Party.


    China in the 21st century is far from being Iran of the 70s. However, the revolution of 1979 that deposed the regime of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was orchestrated among thousands of politically motivated Iranian students sent to the US-GB for university training.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/17/business/chinas-ambitious-goal-for-boom-in-college-graduates.html

  5. As recently as 2006, when I first visited India and China, the economic race was on, with heavy bets being placed on which one would win the developing world sweepstakes. Many Westerners fervently hoped that a democratic country would triumph economically over an autocratic regime. Now the contest is emphatically over. China has lunged into the 21st century, while India is still lurching toward it. That’s evident not just in columns of dry statistics but in the rhythm and sensibility of each country. While China often seems to eradicate its past as it single-mindedly constructs its future, India nibbles more judiciously at its complex history. Visits to crowded Indian urban centers unleash sensory assaults: colorful dress and lilting chatter provide a backdrop to every manner of commerce, from small shops to peddlers to beggars. That makes for engaging tourism, but not the fastest economic development. In contrast to China’s full-throated, monochromatic embrace of large-scale manufacturing, India more closely resembles a nation of shopkeepers. To be sure, India has achieved enviable success in business services, like the glistening call centers in Bangalore and elsewhere. But in the global jousting for manufacturing jobs, India does not get its share. Now, after years of rocketing growth, China’s gross domestic product per capita of $9,146 is more than twice India’s. And its economy grew by 7.7 percent in 2012, while India expanded at a (hardly shabby) 5.3 percent rate. China’s investment rate of 48 percent of G.D.P. — a key metric for development — also exceeded India’s. At 36 percent, India’s number is robust, particularly in comparison with Western countries. But the impact of that spending can be hard to discern; on a recent 12-day visit to India, not many rupees appeared to have been lavished on Mumbai’s glorious Victoria Terminus, also known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, since it was constructed in the 1880s. Parts of Mumbai’s recently built financial district — Bandra Kurla Complex — already look aged, perhaps because of cheap construction or poor maintenance or both. It’s hardly a serious competitor to Shanghai’s shiny Pudong. China has 16 subway systems to India’s 5. As China builds a superhighway to Tibet, Indian drivers battle potholed roads that they share with every manner of vehicle and live animal. India’s electrical grid is still largely government controlled, which helped contribute to a disastrous blackout last summer that affected more than 600 million people. Yet Morgan Stanley stands resolutely behind its 2010 prediction that India will be growing faster than China by the middle of this decade. It isn’t going to happen, India’s better demographics notwithstanding (…..)

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/19/india-is-losing-the-race/

  6. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Steven Rattner’ s comparative economic analysis of China-India is the best piece I’ve read in a long time. His precise economic reasoning reaches a surprising political conclusion when the income disparity existent in India comes into focus


    “Don’t get me wrong — I am hardly advocating totalitarian government. But we need to recognize that success for developing countries is about more than free elections”.

    India multi-party system is unable to eliminate poverty among the largest number of destitute people in the world. At the same time, the Communist Party is about to eliminate poverty in China while creating the largest number of millionaires in the world. By a large margin, China’s one party system is proving vastly superior to India’s multi-party system as far as bringing prosperity to all citizens. India’s British-era colonial past explains how modern politics is played in the Subcontinent. India’s political system keeps privilege intact and create economic opportunities only for a small political-business elite excluding millions of poor and miserable citizens. India resembles a huge Latin America without the hygiene but with atomic weapons. Meanwhile, China’s one party system is highly successful in creating and distributing wealth. In a few decades, China will be a superpower with a huge urban middle class, many millionaires and a prosperous rural population.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/19/india-is-losing-the-race/

  7. CITING an escalating dispute over islands in the East China Sea, The Economist warned last week that “China and Japan are sliding toward war.” That assessment may be too alarmist, but the tensions have bolstered the efforts of some American analysts who have urged a policy to “contain” China.


    During a recent visit to China, I was struck by how many Chinese officials believe such a policy is already in place and is the central purpose of President Obama’s “pivot” toward Asia. “The pivot is a very stupid choice,” Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations, declared publicly. “The United States has achieved nothing and only annoyed China. China can’t be contained,” he added (…..)

    Asia is not a monolith, and its internal balance of power should be the key to our strategy. Japan, India, Vietnam and other countries do not want to be dominated by China, and thus welcome an American presence in the region. Unless China is able to attract allies by successfully developing its “soft power,” the rise in its “hard” military and economic power is likely to frighten its neighbors, who will coalesce to balance its power. A significant American military and economic presence helps to maintain the Asian balance of power and shape an environment that provides incentives for China to cooperate. After the 2008-9 financial crisis, some Chinese mistakenly believed that America was in permanent decline and that this presented new opportunities. A result was that China worsened its relations with Japan, India, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines — a misstep that confirmed that “only China can contain China.” But America’s rebalancing toward Asia should not be aggressive. We should heed Mr. Kennan’s warning against overmilitarization and ensure that China doesn’t feel encircled or endangered. The world’s two largest economies have much to gain from cooperation on fighting climate change, pandemics, cyberterrorism and nuclear proliferation. With China becoming more dependent on Middle Eastern energy, we should discuss maritime regulations to ensure free passage of ships and include China in Pacific naval exercises. We should help China develop domestic energy resources like shale gas and encourage China and Japan to revive their 2008 plan for joint undersea gas exploitation. And we should make clear that if China meets certain standards, it can join the negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed free-trade agreement around the Pacific Rim.


    Containment is simply not a relevant policy tool for dealing with a rising China. Power is the ability to obtain the outcomes one wants, and sometimes America’s power is greater when we act with others rather than merely over others.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/opinion/work-with-china-dont-contain-it.html

  8. China is going to overtake America as the world’s largest economy within a few years and is already a superpower, right? It’s an assertion many western political and business leaders feel the need to regularly drop into speeches and statements. The belief has also trickled down into public opinion. In a Pew Global Attitudes Survey, conducted in June, 42 percent said China was already the world’s leading economic power, against 36 percent for the US. The only problem is this is not true, at least not yet. In case there’s any doubt, despite China’s phenomenal economic growth in the past two decades, US GDP is still double that of China. Washington’s military budget is more than four times Beijing’s. Part of the reason it’s commonly believed that China is becoming dominant is a series of publications that have followed Martin Jacques’ much referenced 2009 book When China Rules the World. Based on current trajectories, such works argue, or simply assume, Asia will inevitably supersede the West on the global stage. But this new conventional wisdom is not going unchallenged, usually on the basis that China faces huge economic, social and environmental challenges. Renowned American strategist Edward Luttwak has added a new approach to the China skeptics’ armory. In a thought-provoking book, The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy, Luttwak analyzes the rise of China through a geostrategic lens, viewing the lessons of history and concluding that China cannot achieve both economic and military supremacy and become a true superpower. He bluntly concludes, the nation can be an economic behemoth, but not a military one as well. China has land borders with 14 countries, including India and Russia, and overlapping maritime claims with several others, including Japan. According to Luttwak, history shows that a country the size of China, bordered by so many countries, small and large, will inevitably invoke concern about its intentions as its economy grows. If that economic heft is then used to build a powerful military, as Beijing has started, its neighbours will, just as inevitably, seek alliances with one another and the US to deter and contain China, therefore preventing Beijing achieving superpower status. For good measure, he also argues China is peculiarly susceptible to this iron law of history (…..)


    If the “logic of strategy” means China can never be both economic and military superpower, then why is the United States exempt from this historical determinism? Luttwak, seemingly aware of this weakness in his argument, briefly states the US neighborhood is benign, with two neighbors, Canada and Mexico, neither hostile or powerful enough to contain the US. This strikes me as little more than a variation on American Exceptionalism. China has a long way to go to match the US, but if the Chinese economy continues its rapid development and the leadership plays its cards right with smart use of soft power, why couldn’t China also buck Luttwak’s iron law of history? And who is to say its neighbors, like Mexico and Canada with the US, won’t have little choice but to accommodate Beijing.

    http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/rise-china-vs-logic-strategy

  9. For the last four months, Chinese hackers have persistently attacked The New York Times, infiltrating its computer systems and getting passwords for its reporters and other employees. After surreptitiously tracking the intruders to study their movements and help erect better defenses to block them, The Times and computer security experts have expelled the attackers and kept them from breaking back in. The timing of the attacks coincided with the reporting for a Times investigation, published online on Oct. 25, that found that the relatives of Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, had accumulated a fortune worth several billion dollars through business dealings. Security experts hired by The Times to detect and block the computer attacks gathered digital evidence that Chinese hackers, using methods that some consultants have associated with the Chinese military in the past, breached The Times’s network. They broke into the e-mail accounts of its Shanghai bureau chief, David Barboza, who wrote the reports on Mr. Wen’s relatives, and Jim Yardley, The Times’s South Asia bureau chief in India, who previously worked as bureau chief in Beijing. “Computer security experts found no evidence that sensitive e-mails or files from the reporting of our articles about the Wen family were accessed, downloaded or copied,” said Jill Abramson, executive editor of The Times. The hackers tried to cloak the source of the attacks on The Times by first penetrating computers at United States universities and routing the attacks through them, said computer security experts at Mandiant, the company hired by The Times. This matches the subterfuge used in many other attacks that Mandiant has tracked to China (…..)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/technology/chinese-hackers-infiltrate-new-york-times-computers.html

  10. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: The alleged cyber attacks from China are just the beginning of a new era of electronic journalism in the world. The question is: Will the NYT be so publicly vocal if a cyber attack comes from the US or Israel’s government?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/technology/chinese-hackers-infiltrate-new-york-times-computers.html

  11. tiresiasva: Apparently you did not notice that it was the New York Times that broke the story of Stuxnet in 2011, and publicly attributed it to the US and Israel.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/technology/chinese-hackers-infiltrate-new-york-times-computers.html

  12. Hewlett-Packard, one of the world’s largest makers of computers and other electronics, is imposing new limits on the employment of students and temporary agency workers at factories across China. The move, following recent efforts by Apple to increase scrutiny of student workers, reflects a significant shift in how electronics companies view problematic labor practices in China. Many factories in China have long relied on high school students, vocational school students and temporary workers to cope with periodic surges in orders as factory labor becomes increasingly scarce. Students complain of being ordered by school administrators to put in very long hours on short notice at jobs with no relevance to their studies; local governments sometimes order schools to provide labor, and the factories pay school administrators a bonus. For much of the last decade, many of the world’s big electronics companies have largely neglected the problem, beyond in some cases tracking reports of the abuses. Apple made the unusual move last year of joining the Fair Labor Association, one of the largest workplace monitoring groups, which inspects factories in China that make computers, iPhones and other devices under contract from Apple. And last month, Apple said it would begin requiring suppliers to provide information about their student workers “so we can monitor this issue more carefully.” Now H.P. is pushing even harder. Its rules, given to suppliers in China on Friday morning, say that all work must be voluntary, and that students and temporary workers must be free “to leave work at any time upon reasonable notice without negative repercussions, and they must have access to reliable and reprisal-free grievance mechanisms,” according to the company. The rules also require that student work “must complement the primary area of study” — a restriction that could rule out huge numbers of students whose studies have nothing to do with electronics or manufacturing (…..)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/08/business/global/hewlett-packard-joins-push-to-limit-use-of-student-labor-in-china.html

  13. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Transnational enterprises (TEs) bottom line is to make money and be profitable. High tech TEs operating in China — grouped in the Fair Labor Association — are ahead of the curve and thinking about their future. Soon, China will be the MAIN consumer market for high tech products and services. Income, wages and labor conditions have to improved substantially in order to consolidate this immense market. In other words, improving wage and labor conditions for young, educated Chinese means investing in potential consumers for H&P, Foxconn and Apple products in the future. Apple is a good example. The ideal market profit maximization condition for the giant high tech TE is to pay average wages of $ 6,000/yr for young Chinese workers and $ 18,000/ yr for young American workers selling i phones in the US. Of course, the bulk of manufacturing jobs will created in China, including R&D that eventually will move to China.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/08/business/global/hewlett-packard-joins-push-to-limit-use-of-student-labor-in-china.html

  14. (…..) Corporate announcements that they are going to give workers more rights are not likely to be sufficient on their own to eliminate labor abuses in China. A far bigger force re-shaping industrial relations in the country is the shrinking supply of young workers willing to toil in factories for low wages and in poor working conditions. As the number of willing workers declines, factories have no choice but to offer them a better deal. China’s government has itself taken steps in recent years to improve the lot of workers. Earlier in the week, China’s State Council announced several policies designed to reduce income inequality in the country. Some of the changes could have a big impact on the economic well being of workers if they are carried out fully and quickly. Among those changes are commitments to raise minimum wages; raise bank interest rates that are currently kept at artificially low levels; make it easier for rural residents to obtain permits to move to cities; and increase spending on social programs by 2 percentage points of total government spending by 2015. What would really help workers in China is the presence of real labor unions with collective bargaining rights. The government, however, is unlikely to grant unions that kind of power because such groups could one day pose a threat to the Party. Still, workers at some factories have informally and illegally organized themselves and won concessions from factories by protesting. Last year, 150 Foxconn workers threatened to commit suicide by jumping from the roof of their factory if the company did not negotiate with them on a change in their production duties. The protest ended when the company and local party officials agreed to negotiations. Such protests and policy changes by companies like H.P. suggest that while labor conditions are far from ideal, workers are starting to gain ground and win some battles.

    http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/08/chinese-workers-rights/

  15. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: China’s communist party faced a conundrum when the capitalist export led model came into existence in the 1980s. The Mao Zedong party supposedly represent the working class, the rural peasants. However, in order to create a vibrant capitalist economy, labor regulations, rights and fair pay had to be abandoned or ignored by authorities. China in the first three decades of double digit growth became England of the 18th century. Today, China’s economy has reached an advanced stage of development in which labor rights and better wages are no longer a concession to foreign investors.


    It is a fundamental requirement to turn the export led economic model into a consuming model in the near future. China today reminds me of my good friend and colleague Prof Jose Pastore that used to say: Let’s create the Western first. We’ll bring the Sheriff later. China’s political leadership is doing exactly that in dealing with the labor market question.

    http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/08/chinese-workers-rights/

  16. (…..) As impatient as China might be with North Korea, there is little chance that the new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, will move quickly to change the nation’s long-held policy of propping up the walled-off government that has long served as a buffer against closer intrusion by the United States on the Korean Peninsula. The Chinese military, and to a lesser extent the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party, assert strong influence on China’s Korea policy, and both powerful entities prefer to keep North Korea close at hand, Chinese and American analysts say. While the People’s Liberation Army is not even able to conduct military exercises with the North Koreans — the government in the North forbids such contact with outsiders — Chinese military strategists adhere to the doctrine that they cannot afford to abandon their ally, no matter how bad its behavior, analysts here say. At the same time, the Chinese Communist Party looks upon the North Korean Communist Party — led by Kim Jong-un, the grandson of the nation’s founder — as a fraternal brotherhood. Indeed, relations between the two countries are conducted largely between the two parties rather than between the two foreign ministries, the more normal diplomatic channel. In an early sign that Mr. Xi is unlikely to veer from past policy, the state-run news agency, Xinhua, criticized the United States and its allies for essentially forcing the North’s aggression by causing the country to feel insecure. But within this basic contour there could be some adjustments by Mr. Xi, according to Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Peking University, an advocate of a tougher policy by China against North Korea. “One nuclear test will not make China’s new administration decide to ‘abandon North Korea,’ but it will definitely worsen China-North Korea relations,” Professor Zhu wrote in a recent article in The Straits Times of Singapore. “North Korea’s nuclear test will make the new Xi Jinping administration angry, and give China a headache.” Mr. Xi, who became head of the Communist Party and military council in November, will ascend to the presidency of the country next month. To improve China’s strained relationship with the United States, Mr. Xi — who has shown himself to be more nationalistic than his predecessor — could start with getting tougher on North Korea, including at the Security Council. The Obama administration excoriated Mr. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, after North Korea’s second nuclear test in 2009, accusing him of “willful blindness” to that country’s actions. “With Hu out of the picture, the administration is intent on determining whether Xi Jinping will prove more attentive to U.S. security concerns,” said Jonathan D. Pollack, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution. “How Xi chooses to respond will be an important early signal of his foreign policy priorities and whether he is ready to cooperate much more openly and fully with Washington and Seoul than his predecessor,” he said, referring to South Korea. China’s calculations will be crucial to what happens at the Security Council, where the policy has always been to pursue unanimity over toughness; it is considered far better to get all members on board to send a message to North Korea rather than have China abstain or worse, veto. In the absence of any real leverage, Washington and its allies are left warning Beijing that if it does not keep North Korea out of the nuclear club, it risks an arms race in its own neighborhood (…..)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-test.html

  17. Marykate401: North Korea must realise at from all practical standpoints their efforts at intimidating the United States will most likely blow up in their face. China should retract more of their aid. Also, as some previous commenters have mentioned, bombing launch pads would definitely be in order- I believe that I’m correct in saying the majority of the world has no strategic interest in North Korea having nuclear capability, especially with South Korea manufacturing and financial market.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-test.html

  18. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: I think the opposite is true. NK is not trying to intimidate the US. NK feels threatened by nuclear armed US forces positioned in SK. Nuclear weapons work as deterrence against intimidation such as sending armed drones into other peoples’s airspace.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-test.html

  19. nemecl: The only people NK intimidates may be South Koreans. Not with its formidable army but with missiles (even artillery shells) with minute nuclear heads. It is mainly South Korean business what to do about it – for instance start to feed their brothers in North with good food. They can actually afford to do it easily. This is NOT a military issue. Koreans have always been bit ‘different’, we know them here in Southern California quite well. Hard working but bit odd.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-test.html

  20. When China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, visited the country’s south to promote himself before the public as an audacious reformer following in the footsteps of Deng Xiaoping, he had another message to deliver to Communist Party officials behind closed doors. Despite decades of heady economic growth, Mr. Xi told party insiders during a visit to Guangdong Province in December, China must still heed the “deeply profound” lessons of the former Soviet Union, where political rot, ideological heresy and military disloyalty brought down the governing party. In a province famed for its frenetic capitalism, he demanded a return to traditional Leninist discipline. “Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? An important reason was that their ideals and convictions wavered,” Mr. Xi said, according to a summary of his comments that has circulated among officials but has not been published by the state-run news media. “Finally, all it took was one quiet word from Gorbachev to declare the dissolution of the Soviet Communist Party, and a great party was gone,” the summary quoted Mr. Xi as saying. “In the end nobody was a real man, nobody came out to resist.” In Mr. Xi’s first three months as China’s top leader, he has gyrated between defending the party’s absolute hold on power and vowing a fundamental assault on entrenched interests of the party elite that fuel corruption. How to balance those goals presents a quandary to Mr. Xi, whose agenda could easily be undermined by rival leaders determined to protect their own bailiwicks and on guard against anything that weakens the party’s authority, insiders and analysts say. “Everyone is talking about reform, but in fact everyone has a fear of reform,” said Ma Yong, a historian at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. For party leaders, he added: “The question is: Can society be kept under control while you go forward? That’s the test.” Gao Yu, a former journalist and independent commentator, was the first to reveal Mr. Xi’s comments, doing so on a blog. Three insiders, who were shown copies by officials or editors at state newspapers, confirmed their authenticity, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the risk of punishment for discussing party affairs. The tension between embracing change and defending top-down party power has been an abiding theme in China since Deng set the country on its economic transformation in the late 1970s. But Mr. Xi has come to power at a time when such strains are especially acute, and the pressure of public expectations for greater official accountability is growing, amplified by millions of participants in online forums. Mr. Xi has promised determined efforts to deal with China’s persistent problems, including official corruption and the chasm between rich and poor. He has also sought a sunnier image, doing away with some of the intimidating security that swaddled his predecessor, Hu Jintao, and demanding that official banquets be replaced by plainer fare called “four dishes and a soup” (…..)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/15/world/asia/vowing-reform-chinas-leader-xi-jinping-airs-other-message-in-private.html

  21. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: China’s CP faces the same challenge Russia’s CP confronted in the former USSR a.i., one party system and the economy. China’s CP faces challenges posed by economic success while the Russian CP, confronted economic failure and disappeared. China’s CP led a backward, agrarian third world economy into an economic superpower in the 21st century. For the first time ever, the majority of the Chinese people are getting tangible benefits from a capitalist system that delivers robust economic growth. The economic success, however, brings a set of difficult political challenges for the CP. As the Chinese society becomes urban, richer and more educated, the new generation demands more than economic well being and money. They demand good governance, public corruption under control, freer expression and less State control of information. The question is: how can this be accomplished in a political system dominated by a single party? To put it bluntly: Can China’s CP eliminate the danger presented by systemic corruption among its rank and file? after all, public corruption is widespread in the so called Western democracies, except that voters have a saying whether to keep or not corrupt politicians in power. Take the case of my country Brazil. Paulo Salim Maluf — the most corrupted Brazilian politician ever — still holds public office. He became an important ally of former Pres Lula’s Working Party in the last Paulista election. Voters like Maluf in public office.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/15/world/asia/vowing-reform-chinas-leader-xi-jinping-airs-other-message-in-private.html

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