Archive for the ‘Hu Jintao’ Category

Chinese leader offers cautious optimism

January 28, 2009

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao brought cautious optimism to business and government leaders pondering the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression as the World Economic Forum opened Wednesday.

Wen said China, a key market for companies in developed countries, believed it would be able to meet its target of 8 percent economic growth for 2009.

But, he conceded, it is “a tall order.”

“China remains on the track of steady and fast development,” he said but added that in the fourth quarter, growth slowed to 6.8 percent.

Eight percent would be phenomenal in many countries, but would still represent retrenchment for China, where growth in 2008 hit a seven-year low of 9 percent. That broke a five-year streak of double-digit expansion.

Wen spoke to the gathering of 2,500 political, business and other leaders in the Swiss Alps after an opening day of debate over state-led bailouts and worries that efforts to counter climate change would fall by the wayside.

The annual meeting of politicians, well-heeled business leaders and well-meaning activists and celebrities gathered under a pall of gloom that has seen personal fortunes trimmed, companies shuttered and hundreds of thousands jobs lost.

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A Chinese customer shows off a handfull of hundred-yuan notes ...

In The White House, Protocol Not Just For Computers

January 25, 2009

When Vice President-elect Joe Biden returned from a trip to Pakistan and other points just before the inauguration, a press conference was hurridly planned to allow the President-elect to thank his number two before the media and America.  After Barack Obama’s gushing praise, the number two closed the event with words of his own.  He got the last word.

When President Obama asked Vice President Joe Biden to administer the oath of office to  members of the White House staff, the VEEP said, “Am I doing this again? Oh! For the senior staff. My memory’s not as good as Justice Roberts’ … Chief Justice Roberts.”

It was a joke or a senior moment or the combination of the two.

But the president was not amused.

Protocol and dacorum are the opposite of awkward and foolish rolled into disrespectful and inappropriate.

US Vice President Joe Biden gestures while US President Barack ... 
US Vice President Joe Biden gestures while US President Barack Obama signs an Executive Order in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building January 21 in Washington, DC.(AFP/Getty Images/Brendan Smialowski)

There have been awkward moments before at the White House and in presidential administrations and sometimes they cause pain and embarrassment to visiting dignitaries.  Sometimes they detract from years of great diplomacy.

Just ask Hu Jintao, President of China, after he was introduced at the White House during a Bush hosted ceremony as the President of the “Republic of China,” which most of us know as Taiwan.  President Bush added to the lack of protocol and decorum that day by manhandling President Hu toward the exit to the stage, a “touching” just not allowed  — except maybe for children.

So there are a lot of opportunities for success when one stands in the ever present spotlight.  And there are plenty of opportunities for embarrassment….

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior ... 
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior to the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washington, January 20, 2009.(Jim Young – UNITED STATES/Reuters)
From The New York Times

By Mark Leibovich

Early this month, Barack Obama was meeting with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and other lawmakers when Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff, began nervously cracking a knuckle.

At which point, Mr. Emanuel held the offending knuckle up to Mr. Obama’s left ear and, like an annoying little brother, snapped off a few special cracks.

The episode, confirmed by Mr. Emanuel’s office, underscores some essential truths about Mr. Emanuel: He is brash, has a deep comfort level with his new boss, and has been ever-present at Mr. Obama’s side of late, in meetings, on podiums and in photographs.

There he was, standing at President Obama’s desk in one of the first Oval Office pictures; and again, playfully thumbing his nose at his former House colleagues during the inauguration; there he was, accompanying the president to a meeting with Congressional leaders on Friday.

Mr. Emanuel is arguably the second most powerful man in the country and….

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Shortage of trains strains China’s holiday rush, simmering unrest problem

January 21, 2009

Every year at this time, China’s rail system groans under a huge surge of holiday traffic. Travelers endure waits of hours — even days — in the winter chill to buy tickets. Once aboard trains, they overcrowd seats. Some sit in aisles. Others are forced to stand for trips of a day or longer.

Veteran travelers such as Wang Ping plan ahead for the arduous trips, knowing that the trains are so crowded that even getting to the bathroom can be a heroic feat.

“You eat very little. You drink very little,” she said. “There are too many people sitting in the aisle, so it’s very difficult to go to the toilet.”

The travails of travel around the week-long Lunar New Year festival, China‘s most important annual holiday, are more than a passing irritant to the 188 million Chinese who’ll board trains during the 40-day peak period. They’re also of concern to China’s leaders, who worry that holiday emotions could turn ugly and trigger social unrest at railway stations.

Severe snowstorms a year ago stranded tens of millions of passengers.

So it was little surprise that even President Hu Jintao weighed in with some sharp words for railway authorities before the holiday, which is also known as the Spring Festival.

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers

” The Ministry of Railways must use its brains to work out many measures to help the people,” Hu said on Jan. 15 . “They should make these measures known to the public in order to lessen social tension and ensure the Spring Festival mission is completed in a smooth manner.”

As in past years during the holiday, complaints have mounted this year of under-the-table sales by rail employees to scalpers. One angry traveler took a video on his cell phone of a railway employee refusing to sell him a ticket. The video clip, which spread rapidly around Chinese Web sites, shows the stone-faced railway employee ignoring angry travelers outside the window as he prints out tickets. Postings with the video accused the employee of intending to sell tickets on the black market.

Sensitivities are so high that the Railway Ministry called a news conference and apologized for “hurting the feelings” of passengers. It vowed to probe illegal ticket sales.

Deputy Railways Minister Wang Zhiguo said 30,000 police officers were keeping order at railway stations, and that they had detained 2,390 scalpers and confiscated 78,200 tickets.

Wang said ticket vendors are barred from carrying mobile phones to their windows to prevent them from colluding with scalpers.

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“Erroneous” Western democracy not for China

January 18, 2009

China must build defenses against “erroneous” ideas involving Western-style democracy, a top government official said in comments published on Sunday, shooting down recent calls by dissidents for political reform.

China’s ruling Communist Party has stepped up efforts to stifle dissent and protest ahead of politically sensitive anniversaries this year, and amid concerns that rising unemployment in a slowing economy could fuel broad social unrest.

Jia Qinglin, China’s fourth-most senior official, demanded officials throw their weight behind the one-party state in an essay in the Party’s main ideological journal “Seeking Truth” (Qiushi), which was reproduced on major web portals on Sunday.

A Chinese soldier looks into the camera at the India-China trade ... 
A Chinese soldier looks into the camera at the India-China trade route at Nathu-La, 55 km (34 miles) north of Gangtok, capital of India’s northeastern state of Sikkim, January 17, 2009.(Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)

“Build a line of defense to resist Western two-party and multi-party systems, bicameral legislature, the separation of powers and other kinds of erroneous ideological interferences,” said Jia, who is also head of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a largely toothless parliamentary advisory body.

“Consciously abide by the Party’s political discipline and resolutely safeguard the Party’s centralized unity,” Jia said, calling on CPPCC members to strengthen “ideological unity.”

The essay comes weeks after hundreds of scholars, dissidents and former Party officials signed “Charter 08,” a petition campaign calling for open democratic elections and an independent judiciary.

Authorities have since detained prominent Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and other rights activists over the manifesto, and earlier this month launched a crackdown on Internet pornography and other “vulgar” online content.

China’s Communist Party leadership faces a number of politically sensitive anniversaries this year, including the 20th anniversary of the brutal crushing of student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Tiananmen Square in June, 1989.


(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Valerie Lee at Reuters)

Petition Urges China to Free Dissident

December 23, 2008

More than 160 prominent writers, scholars and human rights advocates outside mainland China have signed an open letter to President Hu Jintao asking him to release a well-known intellectual and dissident who was detained earlier this month. The letter was posted on the Internet on Tuesday.

The letter to Mr. Hu indicates that the case of the intellectual, Liu Xiaobo, is quickly turning into the latest human rights cause célèbre in China and could further embarrass the Communist Party at a time when Chinese leaders are celebrating the 30th anniversary of its policy of “reform and opening up.”

By Edward Wong
The New York times

Among the writers signing the letter are three Nobel laureates in literature — the South African novelist Nadine Gordimer, the Irish poet Seamus Heaney and Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian novelist — as well as other writers who regularly champion freedom of expression, including the Italian novelist Umberto Eco and Salman Rushdie.

Just as notable is the fact that an array of foreign China scholars also signed the petition, possibly risking their access to the country. Academics specializing in Chinese studies are often cautious about taking stands on political issues deemed sensitive by the Communist Party because the Chinese government has a track record of denying visas to people who publicly oppose the party’s views. Some of the scholars who signed the petition are already on the Chinese government’s blacklist, while others still have regular access to the country.

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China’s Migrant Unemployment Sparks New Effort

December 21, 2008

China will step up efforts to boost employment for migrant workers as an economic slowdown forces companies to slash jobs, adding to risks of social unrest.

The government will “actively support” smaller companies and those in labor-intensive or service industries, creating more openings for farmers seeking jobs in cities, China’s State Council, or cabinet, said yesterday on its Web site.

Police stand guard, top,  as workers gather at the gate of Jianrong ... 
Police stand guard, top, as workers gather at the gate of Jianrong Suitcase Factory in Dongguan, Southern city in China, Friday, Dec.19, 2008. Workers at a suitcase factory in southern China are in a standoff with police over a wage dispute, one of a series of protests in southern China, where thousands of companies have gone bust this year. More than 30 police, some with riot helmets and shields, are guarding the front of the factory Friday in the southern city of Dongguan.(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)


The council urged companies to refrain from cutting jobs as the global recession curbs demand for Chinese products, prompting overseas sales to contract for the first time in seven years, according to the statement.

Major projects in agriculture, transportation, energy and post-earthquake reconstruction should recruit more migrant workers who lost jobs, the council said. The government will also ensure that workers’ salaries are paid in full and on time.

More than 10 million migrant workers are estimated to have lost their jobs as of the end of November,  Caijing Magazine reported on its Web site on Dec. 17, citing a Labor Ministry official it didn’t identify.

China Faces Social Unrest As Up To 150 Million Migrants Go Home Without Work

With Strikes, China’s New Middle Class Vents Anger

December 18, 2008

When 9,000 of Shin Guoqing’s fellow taxi drivers went on strike early last month, he felt he had to join them.

Soaring inflation had undermined what his $300-a-month income could buy for his family, and Shin said he was frustrated that the government had done nothing to help. “After running around the whole day, you have only a few renminbi for it,” he said, referring to China’s currency. “You don’t feel good about your life.”

By Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, December 17, 2008; Page A01

China's former president Jiang Zemin (R) gestures to president ... 
China’s former president Jiang Zemin (R) gestures to president Hu Jintao after a celebration to mark the 30th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 18, 2008.  China is using the celebration, in part, to mask deep social issues and protests.(Jason Lee/Reuters)

For two days, the drivers held this Sichuan province metropolis of 31 million people under siege, blocking roads and smashing cars. The Communist Party quickly stopped the violence by promising to address the drivers’ demands for easier access to fuel and better working conditions.

From the far western industrial county of Yongdeng to the southern resort city of Sanya and the commercial center of Guangzhou, members of China’s upwardly mobile working class — taxi drivers, teachers, factory workers and even auxiliary police officers — have mounted protests since the Chongqing strike, refusing to work until their demands were met.

Local taxi drivers scuffle with police during a protest in Guangzhou, ... 
Local taxi drivers scuffle with police during a protest in Guangzhou, Guangdong province November 24, 2008.
Photo: Reuters, China

China’s government has long feared the rise of labor movements, banning unauthorized unions and arresting those who speak out for workers’ rights. The strikes, driven in part by China’s economic downturn, have caught officials off guard.

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Russia, India, China cooperate on new aircraft carriers

December 17, 2008

Russia today still has a large number of nuclear-powered submarines armed with cruise missiles and nuclear attack submarines in service. For instance, there are five Project P671 SSNs in service in the navy alone, eight Project 949B SSGNs and more than 10 Project 970 serial SSNs.

Moreover, the first of the latest-generation P885 SSNs already has been launched. The Russian navy has enough warships and large-tonnage nuclear submarines to form three aircraft carrier fleets immediately. This is in sharp contrast to China’s People’s Liberation Army navy’s rather obsolete capabilities.

Principe-de-Asturias Wasp Forrestal Invincible 1991 DN-ST-92-01129s.jpg
Aircraft carriers from a few years ago:  From bottom to top: Principe de Asturias, amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, USS Forrestal and light V/STOL carrier HMS Invincible, showing size differences of late 20th century carriers

By Andrei Chang

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who is in charge of Russia’s defense industry, said recently that an investment of close to $180 billion would be required to build three aircraft carriers. His remark could be inaccurate — the actual cost should be closer to $20.8 billion.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov addresses participants ... 
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov.REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin (RUSSIA)

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently gave the go-ahead to build the new aircraft carriers, in any case. Putin said last February that building the carriers would boost the Russian economy and improve the social well-being of the country before 2020.

Still, this is a huge budget, especially under current global financial pressures. Russia had hoped to cooperate with foreign countries in one way or another to lower the total cost. This is one reason Russia has been closely watching both China’s and India’s aircraft carrier construction programs.

Get the Feeling Russia and China Are Slicing Up The World and the U.S. Will Be Left Out?

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Obama, U.S. Need Not Kowtow To China

December 17, 2008

In 1792 and again in 1816, King George III of Britain sent ambassadors George Macartney and then William Pitt Amherst to China to negotiate the opening of trade between the leading nation of the West and the leading nation of the East.

In both cases, the British envoys were sent packing after refusing to kowtow as they approached China’s “celestial emperor” because they found it humiliating. The kowtow usually required the person approaching the throne to kneel three times and touch his forehead to the floor three times each to acknowledge the superiority of the Middle Kingdom.

By Richard Halloran
The Washington Times

Today, among the thousands of recommendations being thrust upon President-elect Barack Obama  comes one urging him to perform a virtual kowtow to the leaders of China by going to Beijing shortly after his inauguration.

The proposal is most ill-advised and shows little understanding of China, past or present. Rather, the new president should invite the Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, to Washington with full honors at an appropriate time.

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese ... 
China’s Hu Jintao.(AP Photo/Xinhua, Ma Zhancheng)

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Bush Excluded by Latin Summit as China, Russia Loom

December 15, 2008

Latin American and Caribbean leaders gathering in Brazil tomorrow will mark a historic occasion: a region-wide summit that excludes the United States.

Almost two centuries after President James Monroe declared Latin America a U.S. sphere of influence, the region is breaking away. From socialist-leaning Venezuela to market-friendly Brazil, governments are expanding military, economic and diplomatic ties with potential U.S. adversaries such as China, Russia and Iran.

By Joshua Goodman

James Monroe
Above: James Monroe

“Monroe certainly would be rolling over in his grave,” says Julia Sweig, director of the Latin America program at the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington and author of the 2006 book “Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century.”

The U.S., she says, “is no longer the exclusive go-to power in the region, especially in South America, where U.S. economic ties are much less important.”

Since November, Russian warships have engaged in joint naval exercises with Venezuela, the first in the Caribbean since the Cold War; Chinese President Hu Jintao signed a free-trade agreement with Peru; and Brazil invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a state visit.

“While the U.S. remains aloof from a region it no longer sees as relevant to its strategic interests, other countries are making unprecedented….

Get the Feeling Russia and China Are Slicing Up The World and the U.S. Will Be Left Out?

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