Xi’s governance of China book a hot seller


 

After its debut in Thailand, Cambodia and Pakistan, Xi Jinping: The Governance of China has become a top seller and been well-received among local officials and scholars, with many hailing the value of the book for both its language and its outreach.

The book, which outlines the political ideas of the top leadership in China, has been released in Thai, Khmer and Urdu versions in the respective capitals of the three countries in the past two weeks.

A Thai publisher sold more than 2,000 copies of the book in a single day after its launch in Bangkok on April 7, with many readers inquiring on social media about ways to purchase the book, reported Xinhua news agency.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who had read the book, said it was written in beautiful language, even though it was not in the form of a novel or essays.

“I believe that to be a great leader, one has to be a good reader, good thinker, good speaker, good writer and good doer, and I found President Xi has achieved all of them after I finished reading this book,” he said.

In Phnom Penh, more than 700 officials, scholars and entrepreneurs, including Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and five deputy prime ministers, attended the launching ceremony for the book on April 11.

Chea Munyrith, director of the Confucius Institute of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said publishing a Khmer version will enable the Cambodian people to better learn about China and Xi himself.

Chea, who assisted in the translation of the book into Khmer, said it offers insights for government officials and scholars on how to properly manage a country.

“That is why it is important for the officials, students and scholars in Cambodia to read through the book,” he said.

At the launching ceremony of the Urdu edition of the book in Islamabad on Friday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the book is as much about the contemporary world as it is about China.

“What has touched me most is that this book is not just about high-level politics, but also about moving stories of common people, their lives and inspirations about hard work and family values,” he said.

“This book is as much about the “Chinese Dream” as it is about the global dream to have a peaceful, harmonious and connected world,” he added.

Building a community of shared destiny is an important concept embodied in Xi’s thoughts on governance of the nation, said Jiang Jianguo, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and minister of the State Council Information Office.

“And this concept has been included in the resolutions passed by United Nations organisations,” Jiang said in Islamabad.

Source: China Daily/Asia News Network

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China-Britain bilateral relations in Golden Era


Putting economics first

Despite Britain’s role as the closest US ally, its leaders have surprised the world by surging forward in relations with a rising China.

FOR centuries, relations between Britain and China have been undulating, rising rather more than declining.

In that time, Britain has been more ­anxious to penetrate Chinese markets and forage for what China has to offer than the other way round.

The Queen and Chinese president Xi Jinping are driven by carriage along The Mall to Buckingham Palace Photograph: POOL/Reuters

The super-gala treatment that President Xi Jinping and Mrs Xi received in London ­during the week was not necessary to prove the point, but it helps. There was Xi, royally seated next to the Queen, in the gold-trimmed horse-drawn royal carriage parading through London and shown on television screens around the world.

The visiting presidential couple also lodged at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official residence, during their trip. Clearly, this was no ordinary state visit.

The Queen called the visit “a defining moment”, Prime Minister David Cameron called it “a golden era”, and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne called it “a golden decade” for their bilateral relations.

An array of gilded items were spread among the vast gilt-edged dining chairs for Xi and his host, the Lord Mayor of London, at the second banquet after the Queen’s.

Gold, the auspicious colour in Chinese culture, went well with the red of the carpet and the Chinese flag.

And Britain was only too happy to oblige.

This was Xi’s first state visit, coming a full decade after his predecessor’s, Hu Jintao’s. But British leaders had been somewhat more proactive.

Only a few years ago, hiccups in relations occurred after British officials stumbled over such sensitive issues for China as the Dalai Lama. After the ruffles were smoothed over came the slew of mega business deals.

Britain wanted to ensure those deals were on and Xi’s state visit would seal them, so Osborne was dispatched to Beijing last month. To make doubly sure he made a side trip to Xinjiang, the alleged epicentre of China’s human rights violations, to talk trade rather than human rights.

China critics condemned that move. But it paid off for Britain in Xi’s high-powered four-day visit and all that it represented and contained.

On Tuesday, China’s Central Bank issued its first offshore renminbi bond in London. On the same day, Cameron appointed Chinese tycoon Jack Ma to his business advisory group. The next day, deals were signed amounting to £40bil (RM260bil), generating nearly 4,000 jobs in Britain. And this was only the beginning.

Critics tend to underrate the importance of business success for both Britain and China. They are perhaps the most enduring of the world’s major trading nations, Britain historically and China in the past and the future.

Even before becoming “the workshop of the world”, Britain had embarked on a glo­bal empire that would span centuries. It lost its sparkle after the Second World War and decolonisation.

British interest in East Asia had centred on China, particularly trade with China. Even its presence in Borneo – Brunei, Sabah (British North Borneo) and Sarawak – were only as a staging post for trade with China on sailing ships and steamships.

The British phrase “not even for all the tea in China” is a measure of one’s resistance to temptation. And tea was only one of many traded items from China.

With the colonial period, parts of China were tugged and torn by European, Russian, US and Japanese imperial powers. China fought and lost two “opium wars” and suffered unequal relations with Britain.

Then they agreed on the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997. But even decades before that date, the buzz in Britain was what would happen to Hong Kong after the “handover”.

Hong Kong had long been known as the world’s classic capitalist enclave, while in the 1990s the West still regarded China as a communist state.

Hong Kong was in quiet panic, as celebrities and stars worried what would happen to them and their work under communist rule.

Many contemplating migration purchased homes abroad from Vancouver to Kuala Lumpur. Jackie Chan bought a luxury condominium in Damansara Heights.

At the time, an Englishman from off the streets in central England put that crucial question to me: What would happen after China “takes over” Hong Kong? I replied that Hong Kong would instead take over China in many ways that mattered. Soon after 1997, Deng Xiaoping’s credo of “it’s glorious to be rich” was abundantly clear throughout the land, often excessively so.

In time, anxieties over the handover were soothed, and it ceased to be an international issue. After moving to the United States and working in Hollywood, Chan returned to Hong Kong and even began work in China itself. His trajectory has been instructive and symbolic. So his presence as an invited guest at a reception for Xi in London’s Lancaster House on Wednesday evening said it all.

While London and Beijing are only too happy to see their relations on the upswing again, their critics have been at work. They have called Britain’s grand welcome for Xi fawning and embarrassingly servile.

Western criticism comes from two broad angles: the US and Europe. Both are not without their own self-interests.

In the European Union, Germany has been an early and the most extensive investor in China. Then earlier this year, Britain stole a march on all other Western countries by signing up as an early co-founding member of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). After that, other US allies joined in: several EU countries including Germany, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. The US, which tried hard to stop the trend, had only Japan and Canada as recalcitrant holdouts for company.

Many Western and pro-Western countries are happy enough to do business with China in the lead, in the process helping China grow. This is despite strategic thinkers knowing that the AIIB is also a means for extending China’s reach through Central Asia and Russia to the West.

This takes the form of the infrastructure-­heavy Maritime Silk Road and the One Belt, One Road projects offering connectivity between East Asia and Europe. They possess both economic and strategic advantages.

US critics of Britain’s close partnership with China have something of an identity crisis. They have a long list of complaints against Beijing, yet they cannot stop their own corporations doing increasing business with China.

Worse still, the glittering welcome accorded to President and Mrs Xi in London compares too favourably with the one in Washington just weeks before.

Beyond some formal diplomatic niceties, President Obama reportedly threatened to impose sanctions on China. He also remains committed to the largely military “rebalancing” in China’s backyard, while keeping China at bay with the Trans-Pacific Partnership proposal dividing East Asia.

Whether the British or US approach to working with China is better, and for whom, also depends much on which is more enduring. Britain had presided over a global empire for centuries. China, a global superpower before, has millennia of experience to draw on.

Both countries share the approach of making trade their primary purpose, with any political or military posture being secondary to protect those economic interests.

The US in contrast opts for a forward military posture abroad, with any economic interest secondary by comparison. And despite Pax Americana being only 70 years old, it is already showing signs of wear.

By Bunn Nagara, who is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia – The Star

Open, inclusive partnership exemplary for development

China’s President Xi Jinping and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron attend a joint press conference in 10 Downing Street, in central London, Britain, Oct 21, 2015.[Photo/Agencies]

President Xi Jinping’s pledge that China and the United Kingdom will build a “global comprehensive strategic partnership” in the 21st century will bring China-UK relations to a new level and endow their ties with a significance that goes beyond the bilateral scope.

In his talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday, Xi described the upgraded China-UK partnership as opening up a golden era for an enduring, inclusive and win-win relationship that will enable the two sides to jointly create an even brighter future for their relationship.

The noticeable improvement in China-UK ties has been the result of the strong political will from both sides to transcend their differences and shore up mutual respect, reciprocal cooperation and mutual learning.

During Xi’s ongoing visit to the UK, the two sides have signed a number of intergovernmental and business deals worth about 40 billion pounds ($62 billion), including an eye-catching agreement that means China will partly finance a UK nuclear plant.

This nuclear project will be China’s first in the West, and according to Cameron, it will create thousands of jobs in the UK and provide reliable, affordable energy to nearly 6 million homes when operational.

Such fruitful results show China and the UK are substantiating their cooperation with concrete deals. And as Cameron has said, a strong economic relationship can withstand frank disagreements on some other issues.

With the UK pledging to be China’s best partner in the West and China looking to build a golden decade with the UK, the two sides have set a good example in developing ties between a major developing country and a major Western power.

Xi has stressed the open and inclusive nature of the China-UK comprehensive strategic partnership, which means the stronger bond between Beijing and London does not target any existing alliance or partnership the two have forged with other countries.

Under the principle of voluntarism, the partnership can be expanded to include other partners so as to bring benefits to more countries.

The quick reconciliation and warming of bilateral ties would not have been possible if the two sides had not deepened their mutual understanding, built mutual trust and committed to reciprocal and meaningful interaction.

We have every reason to believe China and the UK will continue to build on the current good momentum in their relations, which will not only cater to their interests but also contribute to the common prosperity of the entire world. – China Daily

Xi trip success narrows divide with West
Video:

In the 1950s, China’s stated aim was to surpass the industrial achievements of the UK, which however failed. Decades later, the UK welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping with pomp and pageantry and announced the two countries were entering a “golden age.” China has roughly overtaken the UK in gross GDP, although the living standards of the Chinese still lag far behind the British.

During Xi’s stay, China and Britain signed contracts worth 40 billion pounds ($61.62 billion). London will become the top offshore yuan center apart from Hong Kong. The UK also adopted measures to relax visa rules for Chinese tourists. These combined give people more faith in the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the UK.

http://player.cntv.cn/standard/cntvOutSidePlayer.swf

The embrace of China and the UK with open arms primarily proves that the West’s economic alliance designed to counter China does not exist or has been overthrown. Economically, the West has more noncompliance than consent across the board to challenge China. Militarily, the West has NATO at the core, but inside it is still not united enough to pressure China. China’s military pressure mainly comes from the US-Japan alliance, which is trying to involve smaller countries around China to enhance the deterrence. As China’s economic development has bolstered its military might, it has increasing confidence in safeguarding the country’s security.

The UK seems to have distanced itself from the Western group that may threaten China and explicitly wants to befriend us. As an important member of the Western world, the UK’s decision to usher its ties with China into a “golden age” has symbolic significance.

But when it comes to ideology, the old divide comes up again between China and the West. Over political and values conflicts, countries like the UK, Germany and France, which endeavor to advance their bonds with China, return to the Western formation.

The external ideological pressure is one of the thorniest issues for China currently, and has huge influence on China’s domestic values debate.

Common values have been the prominent bond in the West after WWII, but it is definitely not omnipotent. The divergence on values is the biggest difference between China and the West, which requires mutual respect and will to accept. We often feel the West is arrogant and aggressive in terms of ideology, which may partly come from a sense of insecurity due to internal divergences.

The UK mirrors our own changes and informs us that the times when the outside world united to counter China have ended or never existed. But there is still a long road before disputes on ideological issues between China and the West can be solved. Yet we have more achievements and hopes in this regard than difficulties and uncertainties. Compared with the huge pressure from the West in the past, we have gone so far and clearly know our future path. – Global Times

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China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan leading by example


China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan made a fashion statement during a recent visit to Russia and Africa. 

China's First Lady_Peng Liyuan

AS Xi Jinping continues his first official visit to African countries as the Chinese President, his wife Peng Liyuan is as much of a star attraction back in China.

The close attention on Peng is not so much due to her new role as China’s First Lady but rather the fashion statement she made during the trip.

Peng arrived in Moscow, Russia, on March 22 with her husband in a double-sided buttoned navy blue coat with a black handbag.

Her clothes matched perfectly with that of her husband’s.

She wore a jacket decorated with motifs of blue flowers and birds over a black dress and carried a black purse when attending an event at the MGIMO University in the Russian capital.

In Tanzania on Monday, she appeared in an all-white jacket and skirt.

The navy blue coat and black handbag she wore and carried in Russia started the “Liyuan-Style” mania.

Soon, word spread on the Internet that the coat and handbag were not from luxurious foreign brands but were made by Exception de Mixmind, a Chinese brand established in Guangzhou in 1996.

After confirmation of this by the Guangzhou City Administration of Quality and Technology Supervision on its microblog, many Chinese praised Peng for supporting local brands and for carrying the pride of China during her visit.

Some Netizens said Peng looked “elegant” and “nicely-matched” with her clothes, while many others started creating forum threads on what clothes the First Lady would wear next.

Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology art and design department head Xie Ping was quoted by Beijing News as saying that the coat was designed based on a classical Western army uniform.

Qingdao Municipal Textile and Fashion Association secretary-general Zheng Mingmei said that the coat and handbag that Peng used in Russia fitted her personality and character well.

“What the First Lady did by wearing a local brand has no doubt increased the reputation of China-made brands internationally and boosted the confidence of our fashion brands in Qingdao,” she told Qingdao Morning News.

According to reports in China, major search engines and online shopping websites have seen a significant increase in the number of search words such as “Liwai (Exception in Mandarin)” and “Wuyong (Useless which is the sister brand of Exception)”.

The Exception de Mixmind outlets in Chengdu and Qingdao have received more customers than before, with many asking about the navy blue coat and black handbag worn by the First Lady.

The staff at the outlets told customers that they did not sell models of the coat and handbag.

Despite that, many customers still walked away with handbags resembling that of Peng’s.

Prices of its spring collection cardigans and long cotton shirts ranged between 1,000 yuan and 2,000 yuan (RM490 and RM980) while new handbags were priced between 2,000 yuan (RM980) and 3,000 yuan (RM1,470).

Qingdao Morning News reported that Peng’s coat should belong to last year’s winter collection series and cost around a few thousand yuan while the handbag similar to that of Peng’s was estimated to have cost 5,000 yuan (RM2,450).

“Compared with other coats and handbags around the same range, design and craftsmanship, the coat and handbag used by her were not too pricey,” said a staff.

Even before the First Lady fashion mania, Exception de Mixmind had already been quite an established brand.

Chinese tennis star Li Na wore a stand-up collar white shirt with black motifs during her photo call after her triumph in the French Open in 2011, and that shirt was from Exception’s 2007 “Tea Energy” series.

At that time, Exception founder and chairman Mao Jihong quashed rumours that the company sponsored Li Na’s fashion wear, saying that she was never their brand ambassador but they were delighted to see her wearing their label.

Of course, this time, it’s a bit different.

With Peng’s stature as the First Lady and a celebrity (Peng is one of China’s top female sopranos who sings a repertoire of ethnic and patriotic songs), this gives the brand more recognition.

In its editorial, Beijing Morning Post said there were three reasons why Peng received so much attention from the people and media.

One was that she was using made-in-China goods, second the clothes and handbags were not from luxury brands and third being her poise in leading by example.

“Nowadays, luxury consumption has be­c­ome a trend to show off one’s wealth.

Peng’s handbag is in a way a wake-up call for many Chinese who pursue luxury goods.

“After the Chinese Communist Party’s national congress (last November), the government outlined eight guidelines on improving its working style.

“Peng showed an important detail which was advocating austerity and a frugal lifestyle,” it said.

MADE IN CHINA BY CHOW HOW BAN
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No easy path to ‘Chinese dream’


Chinese-dream-symbolChina’s new President last week reaffirmed his aim to achieve the ‘Chinese dream’, but the country faces many challenges on the road to fulfilling this dream.

LAST week saw the completion of China’s leadership transition, with Xi Jinping as the new president and Li Keqiang the new premier.

President Xi set the world speculating when he spoke of “striving to achieve the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

One Western newspaper commented it was a collective national dream, contrasting it, unfavourably, to the “American dream” of giving individuals equal opportunities.

But to the Chinese, the promised renaissance of the nation is a reminder of the collective humiliation during the colonial era and the “dream” to win back its previous place as a world leader in science, technology, economy and culture.

High growth in recent decades has boosted China’s economy and confidence. Nevertheless, China’s new leaders face many serious challenges ahead which need to be tackled if the “Chinese dream” is to be realised.

First is the need to fight widespread corruption. Making this his main priority, Xi warned that corruption could lead to “the collapse of the Party and the downfall of the state.”

New leaders usually vow to get rid of corruption, but few have succeeded. If Xi wins this battle, it would be a great achievement.

Second are administrative procedures and abuse of official power that cause inefficiency and injustices right down to the local level.

At his first press conference, premier Li promised to shake up the system, acknowledging the difficulties of “stirring vested interests.” He promised that a third of 1,700 items that require the approval of government departments would be cut.

Frugality is to be the new hallmark. Spending will be reduced in government offices, buildings, travel and hospitality and the savings will be redirected to social development.

Third are the complexities of running China’s large and complicated economy. China aims to grow continuously by 7-8% a year. The rest of the global economy is, however, in a bad shape.

The country has thus to shift from export-led to domestic-demand led growth, and from investment-led to consumption-led domestic growth. Implementation of this new growth strategy, which the government has accepted, is not easy.

There are also the challenges of managing the currency, the huge foreign reserves and the regulation of capital flows, with the aim of having finance serve the real economy while not becoming a source of new instability.

In foreign trade, China has been very successful in building up a powerful export machine. But growth of exports to the West is slowing due to the near-recession, and new forms of protection (such as tariff hikes using anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures) are increasingly used on Chinese imports.

At the same time, other developing countries are becoming wary of their increasing imports of cheap Chinese goods. How can China be sensitive to their concerns and strive for more balance and mutuality of benefits?

Fourth are China’s social problems. Poverty is still significant in many areas. Social disparities have worsened, with wide gaps in rich-poor and urban-rural incomes that are politically destabilising.

Redistributing income towards the lower income groups can meet two goals: reducing social inequalities and providing the demand base for consumption-led growth. The policies can include wage increases, provision of social services and income transfers to the poor.

Fifth is the need to tackle China’s environmental crises, which include emerging water scarcity, increased flooding, climate change and urban air pollution. Recent studies show the health dangers of the worsening air pollution, including links to the 2.6 million who die from cancers annually.

Many of the protests in China in recent years have been over environmental problems, including polluting industries located near communities. How can China integrate ecological concerns into its development strategy?

Sixth is China’s foreign relations. Xi last week reaffirmed China’s principle of “peaceful development” and that the country would never seek hegemony.

There is need to settle the different claims by China and other East Asian countries on the South China Sea in a proper and peaceful way and build confidence of its neighbours on this principle.

China, which is still very much a developing country in terms of per capita income and other characteristics, also need to stand with the rest of the developing world in international negotiations and relations.

At the same time, it is expected to provide preferences and special assistance to poorer countries and its investors abroad are expected to be socially and environmentally responsible.

Most difficult for China is the ability to manage foreign relations with developed countries, especially the United States. China is a rising or risen power, and viewed with some envy as a rival by those who fear losing their previous dominance.

Maintaining political stability with these powers is important; but of course this does not depend on China alone.

The above are only some of the hurdles facing China on its road to realise its dream of rejuvenation. As with any dream, it is not impossible to achieve but the road is long and difficult.

 GLOBAL TRENDS By MARTIN KHOR
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President Xi: Russia ties ensure peace; foreign debut illuminates China’s ‘world dream’


Xi-Jinping-wife1

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan arrive in Moscow Photo: AP

Freshly elected President Xi Jinping chose the Russian capital as the first foreign city he will visit as China’s head of state, as Moscow and Beijing move toward a full-fledged partnership for the next decade.

On the global arena, both Russia and China have a similar approach, and Jinping’s visit has been interpreted as a sign that the new Chinese administration is keen to re-inforce ties with Russia.

In the past, the two countries had a difficult and politically ambiguous relationship and were once Cold War rivals but their international interests are becoming more aligned.

The two countries have often jointly used their veto powers at the United Nationa Security Council, most recently with issues related to the Middle East, where they have blocked Western-backed measures regarding the Syrian conflict.

China and Russia also share a sizeable border and have tried to bolster their regional clout as a counterweight to a United States that is ‘pivoting’ towards Asia.

And as well as being permanent members of the Security Council, the two countries have worked shoulder-to-shoulder on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the so-called G20.

President Xi Jinping will also be talking trade on his visit in Moscow. The two countries have burgeoning business interests.

Bilateral trade has more than doubled in the last five years and reached $83bn in 2012 but the volume of trade is still low compared to their other trade partners. It is five times smaller than Russia’s trade with the European Union, and also far smaller than China’s trade with the United States; but the trade in energy is seen as a growth market for the two countries.

Russia is of course the world’s largest energy producer and China the biggest consumer. The two countries are in discussion about a gas pipeline that could eventually deliver 38bn cubic metres of Russian gas a year to China

So, how significant is this visit? Will it shape a new relationship between Moscow and Beijing?

To discuss this Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, is joined by guests: Victor Gao, the director of China National Association of International Studies, who was also a former China policy advisor; Dimitry Babich, a political analyst at Russia Profile magazine; and Roderic Wye, a China analyst at Chatham House and senior fellow with the China Policy Institute at Nottingham University.

“Obviously there is a lot of substance [in the meeting] about the energy relationship, there are big issues to talk about on the international stage – not least, North Korea and the problems there – but also it is an important symbol to show for both Russia and China that they have independent foreign policies … and that they are not beholden to the United States in any particular way.”

Source:Al Jazeera – Roderic Wye, China analyst at Chatham House

Xi’s foreign debut illuminates China’s “world dream”

On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping embarked on his first overseas trip since taking office last week, and experts here believe the trip will clarify Xi’s recent references to China’s “world dream.”

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China, said, “The trip will reveal some important features of Xi’s concept of world order.”

“From the destinations of Xi’s first foreign trip, we can tell that China is committed to promoting democratization in international relations as well as a more just and reasonable international order and system,” he said.

In a joint interview on Tuesday with reporters from BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Xi said China hopes that countries and cultures around the world will carry out exchanges on equal footing, learn from each other and achieve common progress.

He also voiced his hope that all countries will make joint efforts to build a harmonious world featuring enduring peace and common prosperity.

“This is Xi’s version of China’s ‘world dream,'” Shi said.

“It is in line with the common aspirations of people from different countries and closely related to the ‘Chinese dream’ put forward by Xi,” he said.

Pursuing the “Chinese dream” of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is conducive to realizing the “world dream,” and if the “world dream” comes true, it could offer a sound external environment for the country to achieve the “Chinese dream,” Shi said.

NEW TYPE OF INTER-POWER TIES

Based on Xi’s first foreign trip and his interactions with other foreign leaders in the past week, analysts believe China is committed to developing a new type of “inter-power relations” in an all-around and open way, with hopes of breaking the zero-sum theory by promoting win-win cooperation.

Unlike past inter-power ties that have mainly targeted certain world powers, China now advocates a new type of cooperative relationship among all major powers, including leading powers among developing countries, said Ruan Zongze, deputy head of the China Institute of International Studies.

“We should adopt a new and open attitude toward all powers,” he said, adding that the word “new” here means regarding the development and growth of other countries as an opportunity for one’s own country.
“Only by doing this can state-to-state relations develop in a sound and sustainable way,” he said.

In the joint interview Tuesday, Xi said his visit to Russia shows the “high level and special nature” of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries.

Ruan said China’s relations with Russia, the first leg of Xi’s trip, have already reached a stage featuring a “high level of mutual trust,” with both countries seeing each other’s development as an opportunity.

“The zero-sum mentality, namely believing one party’s success means the other’s failure, has been one of the major factors hampering mutual trust and creating conflicts between major powers,” he said.

Ruan pointed out that although Sino-Russian relations have seen marked progress in the past decade, this does not mean there are no problems in the bilateral relations.

“Both sides, however, agree not to let these differences restrain the development of bilateral relations,” Ruan said.

MAIDEN TRIP NOT TARGETING A THIRD PARTY

Analysts here also point out that Xi’s maiden overseas voyage as China’s head of state is not of an exclusive nature and does not target a third party.

Zhang Yuanyuan, former Chinese ambassador to Belgium, said China’s foreign policy is inclusive.

During his nine-day tour, Xi is scheduled to pay state visits to Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo. He is also expected to attend the fifth leaders’ summit of BRICS countries in Durban, South Africa.

Zhang said the visits involve multiple factors, including a world power and a neighboring country, developing countries and multilateral cooperation, all of which have been among China’s foreign policy priorities.

During the week since Xi was elected president, other Chinese leaders have received important guests and maintained contact with leaders from other countries.

In a phone conversation on March 14, Xi and U.S. President Barack Obama both promised to make efforts to achieve the goal of building a new type of inter-power relationship.

While meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew here on March 19, Xi urged the two nations to objectively view each other’s development stages, respect each other’s interests for further development and regard the other party’s opportunities and challenges as its own.

Zhang pointed out that building a new type of inter-power relationship and exploring ways for the two major powers to get along with each other could straighten out Sino-U.S. relations and break the historical curse in which “conflicts between major powers are inevitable.”

Meanwhile, Ruan Zongze dismissed concerns about Xi’s itinerary, saying such concerns are “totally unnecessary.”

“The reason for China to pursue the building of a new type of inter-power relationship is that it will not embark on the path of alliance,” he said.

“The age of old-school alliances or jointly targeting a third party has long passed,” Ruan said.- Xinhua

 

Would the 3 Japanese wise men invited by China help ties with Japan?


China_Japan TiesSINCE last month, tensions over the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as Diaoyu to China and Senkaku to Japan, have noticeably declined, largely as a result of conciliatory words and actions by Japanese political figures visiting China.

The first was by Yukio Hatoyama of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, who was prime minister in 2009-2010 and who had advocated closer ties with China while in office. Hatoyama took issue with Japan’s position of denying that there was a territorial dispute, saying “if you look at history, there is a dispute”.

The former leader also visited a memorial in Nanjing honouring those who were killed in 1937 and apologised for “the crimes that Japanese soldiers committed during wartime”.

Hatoyama’s visit was widely publicised in the Chinese media, which published pictures of him and his wife at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial bowing in silent tribute to the dead.

The normally nationalistic Chinese newspaper Global Times declared editorially: “Hatoyama’s words and deeds these days show that in spite of the tough environment, forces which are friendly to China have not disappeared.”

Shortly after Hatoyama’s departure from China, Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the New Komeito Party — a coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party — arrived in China, carrying with him a letter from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for Xi Jinping, the new leader of the Communist Party of China.

Yamaguchi was received by Xi on Jan 25, and, aside from passing over the letter from the prime minister, he also suggested that the territorial dispute be shelved for now and to let future generations deal with the issue.

Xi no doubt knew that the Japanese politician was paraphrasing the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping who, while visiting Tokyo in 1978, famously said, “Our generation is not wise enough to find common language on this question. Our next generation will certainly be wiser. They will certainly find a solution acceptable to all.”

Alas, no solution is yet in sight and the best policy is to put the dispute back on the shelf.

Yamaguchi also suggested a summit meeting between Abe and Xi, and the Chinese leader responded that he would consider it seriously if there was a “proper environment”.

Xi also said that China wanted to promote a “strategic relationship of mutual benefit” with Japan.

Soon, a third influential Japanese political figure arrived, another former prime minister, Tomiichi Murayama, whose visit, like the other two, contributed to the establishment of an improved environment.

It was Murayama who, while in power, issued an apology on historical issues that was widely hailed in Asia.

The visits by these three Japanese figures have contributed to a lowering of tensions, making it possible to envisage a thaw in China-Japan relations.

What is significant is that these three men were all invited by Beijing, which of course had a good idea of what they were likely to say and do. That is to say, without denigrating their contributions to the lessening of the impasse, the improved atmosphere of the last few weeks was largely the result of initiatives taken by China.

Japan, too, clearly wants to keep tensions low. Abe has now made it clear that he endorses the Murayama’s statement, although there is still some talk of making a new statement “suitable to the 21st century”. But there is unlikely to be any backtracking.

It is imperative at this stage that both Japan and China recognise the delicate political environment in the other’s country. Each should rein in its own aggressive nationalistic forces.

It is also necessary for each side not to say or do anything that may be humiliating or embarrassing to the other side. Threatening to fire “warning shots”, for example, is not helpful.

A lot of damage has been done to China-Japan relations. It will take time for the relationship to heal.

When Abe became prime minister for the first time in 2006, he went to China on his first overseas visit to mend relations damaged during the premiership of Junichiro Koizumi, who insisted on visiting the Yasukuni Shrine each year.

This led to a dramatic improvement in relations, with Premier Wen Jiabao making an “ice-melting” visit to Japan in 2007, followed by a presidential visit by Hu Jintao the following year.

Another China-Japan summit will be indispensable if ties are to be rebuilt.

This, however, cannot take place until the necessary groundwork has been laid. Both sides will have to work hard at this. And flexibility should be the watchword.

Diaoyu Islands_China1

The row over the disputed islets, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, are seen in this file handout photograph taken on a marine surveillance plane B-3837 on December 13, 2012, and provided by the State Oceanic Administration of People’s Republic of China. A long-simmering row over the East China Sea islands, has noticeably declined, largely as a result of conciliatory words and actions by Japanese political figures visiting China. Reuters pic 

By Frank Ching New Straits Times

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Wife of China next president, Xi Jinping


China’s Singing Future First Lady

BEIJING, (AFP) – For the first time since Mao, China’s next leader will have a wife who is famous in her own right: Xi Jinping will ascend to power with hugely popular singer Peng Liyuan at his side.

The soprano, who holds the rank of general in the army, is renowned from Shanghai to Urumqi and starred for 25 years in CCTV state television’s Lunar New Year gala, a broadcast watched by hundreds of millions of viewers.

Her husband is widely expected to become China’s president next year and will be under the spotlight at the annual set-piece session of the country’s parliament, which opened Monday.

Since the fall of Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong’s last wife and the widely-loathed leading member of the Gang of Four blamed for the worst excesses of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese leaders’ spouses have been expected to stay in the shadows.

”After the Mao era, the wives of senior Chinese leaders stopped appearing in public,” said Zhang Yaojie, a researcher at the National Academy of Arts.

But Peng will be a deeply atypical first lady. In videos seen on the Internet, the 49-year-old seizes the limelight with her high cheekbones, thick jet-black hair, and radiant smile.

Her costumes range from military uniform to richly embroidered ethnic dress, and her repertoire includes syrupy melodies and folk songs whose lyrics have been altered to glorify the Communist Party.

Apparently in perfect harmony with her husband, a Party ”princeling” with strong military links, her ver-sion of one traditional Tibetan tune describes the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as ”the saving star of the Communist Party”.

Peng, who comes from an area in the eastern province of Shandong known for its peonies and was nicknamed the ”Peony Fairy” by her admirers, joined the army at the age of 18.

A semi-official biography posted on Chinese web portals tells how she began as an ordinary soldier, but began performing at PLA shows to boost troop morale.

In the 1980s she was one of the first people to take a master of arts in folk music in China. Her professor has spoken of her dedication to her studies.

Peng has performed in 50 countries and won many awards, but it was the Lunar New Year gala that propelled her to stardom.

When she finally retired from the television show in 2008, some speculated that it was to avoid overshadow-ing her husband, who was then far less well-known than her but had just joined the Politburo Standing Committee, the party’s highest-ranking body.

”As an artist, she may suffer, in the way that Carla Bruni has a bit,” said Michel Bonnin, director of the Franco-Chinese Centre at Tsinghua University, referring to the former model and singer who married French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

But Peng can help Xi ”to have a less dull image than Chinese politicians usually do,” Bonnin added.

In interviews with Chinese media, Peng heaps praise on the ”ideal husband” she married 25 years ago, and with whom she has a daughter, now a student at Harvard.

”He is simple and honest, but very thoughtful,” Peng told the China News Weekly, adding that he has told her: ”In less than 40 minutes after I met you, I knew you would be my wife.”

But Peng’s parents were not keen to see their daughter marry such a senior figure, fearing she would not be treated well because of her humble origins.

”He treats me like a little sister. Jinping is always busy. He is concerned about thousands of households, without thinking of himself,” she said on the government site China.org.cn.

”When he is at home, I cook the dishes he likes to help him relax.”

Peng has been keen to convey a homespun image, telling the People’s Daily’s Huanqiu Renwu magazine she has simple tastes, enjoying ”going to the market by bicycle and bargaining with vendors”.

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