Search this Topic:
Jun 17 11 8:49 PM
JUNE 14, 2011
Residents look on Monday as riot police patrol the southern Chinese city of Zengcheng, where violent protests had erupted over the rough treatment of a migrant street vendor.
BEIJING—A wave of violent unrest in urban areas of China over the past three weeks is testing the Communist Party's efforts to maintain control over an increasingly complex and fractious society, forcing it to repeatedly deploy its massive security forces to contain public anger over economic and political grievances.
The simultaneous challenge to social order in several cities from the industrial north to the export-oriented south represents a new threat for China's leaders in the politically sensitive run-up to a once-a-decade leadership change next year, even though for now the violence doesn't appear to be coordinated.
In the latest disturbance, armed police were struggling to restore order in a manufacturing town in southern China Monday after deploying tear gas and armored vehicles against hundreds of migrant workers who overturned police cars, smashed windows and torched government buildings there the night before.
A video image shows people running during clashes between riot police and rioting Sichuan migrant workers in Zengcheng Sunday.
The latest unrest, by contrast, involves violent protests from individuals and large crowds in China's cities, where public anger is growing over issues including corruption and police abuses.
There is no evidence to suggest the recent violence is part of a coordinated movement—the party's greatest fear—nor do the events threaten its grip on power given the strength of China's security apparatus, and its booming economy, analysts say. They are nonetheless troubling for China's government which, unnerved by unrest in the Arab world, has detained dozens of dissidents since appeals for a "Jasmine Revolution" in China began circulating online in February. The Mideast uprisings so far haven't inspired similar mass protests in China.
The recent violence, however, has exposed the limits of the government's ability to control the urban population using a sophisticated array of tools from Internet censorship to surveillance—part of what party leaders refer to as "social management."
Authorities have turned to displays of raw power, deploying paramilitary police and armored vehicles in at least three cities in as many weeks, to prevent the violence from spiraling further as protesters have repeatedly directed their anger at government buildings, often ostentatious symbols of power.
What connects the violence is the way that a flashpoint—in the case of Inner Mongolia, the death of a Mongol at the hands of a Han Chinese truck driver, and in southern China, the assault by security personnel on a pregnant migrant worker—sets off much wider conflagrations.
The disturbances could reflect badly on President Hu Jintao, who has tried to promote the concept of a "harmonious society" and who is due to retire as party chief next year.
"There's an increasing sense of frustration that [leaders] are unable to put out a consistent, unifying message, even within the Party," said Kerry Brown, head of the Asia program at Chatham House, who met senior party officials last week. "Local officials are overreacting partly because of a lack of clear leadership at the top."
But the unrest is likely to strengthen the clout of Zhou Yongkang, who technically ranks ninth of nine on the Politburo Standing Committee but wields huge power as he oversees the police, intelligence agencies, prosecutors and courts.
Social unrest has been rising steadily in recent years: In 2007, China had more than 80,000 "mass incidents," up from above 60,000 in 2006, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, although many involved no more than a few dozen people protesting against local officials. No authoritative estimates have been released since then, though analysts citing leaked official figures put such incidents at 127,000 in 2008.
Since February, Messrs. Hu and Zhou have called for tighter restrictions on the Internet, which provides a conduit for people to share anger at government policies and malfeasance and learn about unrest.
Authorities have been careful to balance their use of force with conciliatory gestures, including the removal of some local officials. State media have also been reporting the unrest relatively quickly and openly, compared with previous years, in what some analysts see as an attempt by the government to take control of the narrative ahead of bloggers and other unofficial media.
A Monday editorial in the Global Times, a tabloid linked to the Communist Party, warned against trying to connect the recent incidents of unrest and draw conclusions about China's social stability. "China is not a nation where public anger collectively seeks to topple the existing order. It is time to debunk this ludicrous lie," it said.
The violence in Zengcheng, a town of about 800,000 near Guangzhou, began Friday night when security personnel pushed to the ground Wang Lianmei, a 20-year-old pregnant street vendor from the western province of Sichuan, as they tried to clear her stall from the road, according to state media. A crowd of migrant workers began attacking security guards and police with stones and bricks, as rumors spread that Ms. Wang had been injured and her husband, 28-year-old Tang Xuecai, killed, the state media reports said.
Local authorities tried to quell the unrest over the weekend by setting up a special task force to investigate the case, arresting 25 people and organizing a news conference at which Mr. Tang said that both his wife and their unborn child were unhurt, the reports said.
Xu Zhibiao, Zengcheng's Party chief, went to visit Ms. Wang in the hospital and took her a basket of fruit, the China Daily said.
But the violence flared again on Sunday night, witnesses said.
"We were all told not to go out on the street," said Dong Xingguo, a migrant from Sichuan who is working as an IT engineer in Zengcheng.
A Zengcheng government spokesman said: "Currently the situation in Zengcheng is stable. No death toll." He confirmed that there were still riot police on the streets to keep the peace.http://online.wsj.com/art...4576383142907232726.html
Jul 9 11 5:38 AM
Performers in Shanghai hold flags of the Chinese Communist Party during an event celebrating the 90th anniversary of the party's founding.
July 1, 2011Reporting from Beijing—
Jul 16 11 7:22 AM
BEIJING (AP) — China called on the U.S. to withdraw an invitation for the Dalai Lama to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House, saying Saturday that it could hurt relations between the two countries.
China denounced the meeting and called on the U.S. to withdraw its invitation to avoid interfering in China's internal affairs, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.
"We firmly oppose any foreign official to meet with the Dalai Lama in any form," Hong said.
China's warning comes after months of warming ties between the world's No. 1 economy and dominant military power and the rising Asian giant, buoyed by President Hu Jintao's successful visit to Washington in January.
Obama's planned meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader on Saturday could sour relations between the two sides ahead of expected visits over the coming months.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to visit the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on July 25. Vice President Joseph Biden is also scheduled to visit China this summer, followed by a trip to Washington by his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
Experts say a meeting between Obama and the Dalai Lama, paired with the recent intervention by the U.S. in Vietnam's ongoing dispute with China in the South China Sea, could cool improving ties.
"The Dalai Lama and Tibet have long been issues that have caused tension between China and the U.S., and this meeting will without a doubt negatively impact bilateral relations," said Niu Jun, a professor of international relations at Peking University.
"U.S. presidents have met with the Dalai Lama in the past, but this has always been unacceptable for China. The two sides will have to communicate and struggle to work through it," he said.
Obama last met with the Dalai Lama in February 2010, infuriating Beijing, which views the Nobel Peace Prize laureate as a separatist intent on ending Chinese rule over the Himalayan region.
The Dalai Lama has repeatedly denied the accusations and says he seeks only a high level of autonomy for Tibet.
"We request the U.S. side to honor its serious commitment that recognizes Tibet as part of China and opposes Tibet independence," Hong said in the statement.
Tibet has been a source of controversy for decades, since Beijing sent troops to occupy the country following the 1949 Communist revolution. It insists the region has been part of Chinese territory for centuries, a claim disputed by many Tibetans.
A failed uprising in 1959 led the Dalai Lama to flee into exile in India.
Aug 4 11 4:28 AM
The extent of cyberhacking uncovered dwarfs the phone hacking scandal currently embroiling Rupert Murdoch’s shuttered News of the World paper.
Dmitri Alperovitch, McAfee’s vice president of threat research and lead author of the report, writes that:
…every company in every conceivable industry with significant size and valuable intellectual property and trade secrets has been compromised (or will be shortly), with the great majority of the victims rarely discovering the intrusion or its impact.
What we have witnessed over the past five to six years has been nothing short of a historically unprecedented transfer of wealth—closely guarded national secrets (including from classified government networks), source code, bug databases, email archives, negotiation plans and exploration details for new oil and gas field auctions, document stores, legal contracts, SCADA configurations, design schematics and much more has “fallen off the truck” of numerous, mostly Western companies and disappeared in the ever-growing electronic archives of dogged adversaries.
What’s more, Alperovitch notes that most victims of “intrusion activity” refuse to come forward and publicly state that their computing systems have been breached. The McAfee report aims to spread public awareness about what is clearly an ongoing security threat not only to the US and US-based companies, but to governments and corporations around the world who are all in danger of losing trade secrets and other valuable data, with economic and other losses.
In Vanity Fair, Michael Joseph Gross describes how McAfee discovered the massive cyberhacking:
Alperovitch first picked up the trail of Shady rat in early 2009, when a McAfee client, a U.S. defense contractor, identified suspicious programs running on its network. Forensic investigation revealed that the defense contractor had been hit by a species of malware that had never been seen before: a spear-phishing e-mail containing a link to a Web page that, when clicked, automatically loaded a malicious program — a remote-access tool, or rat — onto the victim’s computer. The rat opened the door for a live intruder to get on the network, escalate user privileges, and begin exfiltrating data. After identifying the command-and-control server, located in a Western country, that operated this piece of malware, McAfee blocked its own clients from connecting to that server. Only this March, however, did Alperovitch finally discover the logs stored on the attackers’ servers. This allowed McAfee to identify the victims by name (using their Internet Protocol [I.P.] addresses) and to track the pattern of infections in detail.
The evolution of Shady rat’s activity provides more circumstantial evidence of Chinese involvement in the hacks. The operation targeted a broad range of public- and private-sector organizations in almost every country in Southeast Asia — but none in China. And most of Shady rat’s targets are known to be of interest to the People’s Republic. In 2006, or perhaps earlier, the intrusions began by targeting eight organizations, including South Korean steel and construction companies, a South Korean government agency, a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory, a U.S. real-estate company, international-trade organizations of Western and Asian nations, and the ASEAN Secretariat.
ASEAN is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations; its members are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Burma [Myanmar], Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam). Vanity Fair notes that, “strikingly,” Olympics organizations were targeted in the months leading up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
The United Nations was infiltrated in 2008 and, the next year, the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA). One Asian country’s Olympics committee was compromised on and off for 28 months, one South Korean government agency for 27 months and one US state government agency for 25 months. The specific countries and agencies are not noted for security purposes.
A total of 49 US entities were compromised: six in the federal government, eight at other levels of government and the United Nations and two news media outlets. The Hong Kong and New York offices of the Associated Press were among the targets, as well as a Taiwanese electronics company, a Vietnamese technology computer, the government of a county in Nevada, a US insurance company, a Canadian IT company and a German accounting firm.
The Washington Post gives a sense of the economic losses of cyberhacking in reporting that EMC Corp. recently took a $66 million charge to cover remediation costs connected to a March intrusion of its RSA division:
That intrusion, which industry experts say appeared to have originated in China, resulted in the compromise of RSA’s SecurID computer tokens that companies and governments worldwide use to log on remotely to workplace systems.
As a result of the compromise, at least a dozen major financial institutions are switching to other vendors, said Gary McGraw, chief technology officer at Cigital, a security firm that works with banks. Stina Ehrensvard, chief executive of YubiKey in Palo Alto, Calif., said at least 25 firms have switched to YubiKey or are testing its token as a result of the RSA breach.
The New York Times quotes Hong Lei, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry at a regularly scheduled news conference last month:
“The Chinese government opposes hacking in all its manifestations.”
“Hacking is an international issue, with which China also falls victim. China is willing to conduct international cooperation in this regard. We are dissatisfied with some people’s irresponsible remarks that link hacker attacks with the Chinese government.”
You can read the 14-page report online. Page 4 has a breakdown of the 72 compromised parties and page 7 shows a list of precisely who was attacked, when and the duration of the intrusion.
Recently, we’ve heard many reports about Sony, Fox, the British National Health Service and the websites of PBS, the U.S. Senate, and the C.I.A. being hacked into. These attacks have mostly involved the defacing of websites and “denial-of-service” attacks — all of which, McAfee’s Alperovitch points out, are really just a “nuisance” as compared to the epic scale of the cyberhacking that’s been going on from that one country in Asia.
Aug 16 11 5:07 AM
Sep 3 11 8:54 AM
Obsessed with keeping social order, China is now pushing to revise its laws in ways that will broaden police powers.
The National People's Congress last week released a proposed revision of the Criminal Procedure Law that would allow the police to detain suspects for up to six months, at a location determined by the police, in cases that involve state security, terrorism or serious cases of corruption.
The existing law requires the police to notify families of detainees within 24 hours. If revised, the law will allow police to secretly detain suspects, if they believed notifying relatives or a lawyer "may hinder the investigation."
Critics say the proposed legislation could legitimize and potentially increase the number of secret detentions.
"(It) would give the security apparatus free rein to carry out 'disappearances' lawfully," said Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch. "Legalizing secret detention puts detainees at even greater risk of torture and mistreatment."
Nothing better illustrates such concerns than the case of Ai Weiwei, the high-profile artist who was detained by Chinese authorities in April as he was about to board a flight for Hong Kong. He was released in June -- after 81 days in police custody.
He was later accused, but not formally charged, of tax fraud. His family denies the allegation and believes he was targeted due to his social and political activism
In a commentary published last week, Ai complained that "the worst thing about Beijing is that you can never trust the judicial system."
Pu Zhiqiang, Ai's lawyer, says the proposed revision has grim implications. "Ai Weiwei and I have been through secret detentions," Pu tells CNN. "The police said they could do so because we're endangering national security. They've always resorted to such measures, but the revision will legalize them, which is horrifying."
"While being held in an unspecified location, the detainee will be subject to mistreatment that might not be possible if he or she were in a proper detention center," says human rights researcher Joshua Rosenzweig.
In recent days, China's mainstream media have run stories saying that the revisions were meant to improve protection of individual rights, and that police powers to carry out secret detention would be limited to exceptional cases. Xinhuanet.com, citing an article published by Huaxi City Paper, says the concerns and criticisms are "due to misreading of the revision."
China's legislature has enjoined the public to comment on the proposed revisions until the end of September, before lawmakers formally take them up.
On Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, many netizens are already giving the proposed revisions a thumbs-down.
One "laohu lushi" writes: "If you follow the logic of the new amendments, it would be secret detention, secret arrest, secret imprisonment followed by secret trial and eventually secret execution."
Yaozhuaide Fenghua asks, "Who has the right to interpret 'suspected of crimes against national security and terrorism?' The officials. How much longer than 24 hours can secret detention exceed? The police decide too. They can extend your detention at their will a month, 10 years -- without telling your family!"
In fact, several revisions to the Criminal Law have been recently enacted, including a reduction in the number of non-violent economic crime punishable by death and the addition of some new criminal offenses, including drunk driving and endangering food safety and damaging the environment.
"It's fair to say that there are welcome changes," says Joshua Rosenzweig, citing examples such as excluding confessions or testimony obtained through torture. "But the effectiveness of those changes will depend on how uniformly the provisions are enforced."
The past 25 years China has come a long way in improving the country's legal system and replacing "renzhi" (rule of men) with "fazhi" (rule of law).
China has issued a plethora of laws and statutes covering everything from crimes to intellectual property infringement. The legal profession has regained its status.
Chinese leaders see the need for such a legal system to manage China's intractable problems -- including endemic corruption, social injustice, wealth inequality and environmental degradation.
Last March Premier Wen Jiabao warned that the party needed to tackle "excessive concentration of power and lack of check on power," if China were to have a socially stable society.
Yet, despite guarantees in the country's 1982 constitution that "no organization of individual may enjoy the privilege of being above the law," critics complain that due process is still applied capriciously.
In recent months, China's rulers have increasingly relied on criminal and administrative punishment to suppress growing demands for social justice, honest government and political freedom.
Jittery over rising social unrest, they have taken tough measures to avert any kind of Middle East-style "Jasmine Revolution," detaining dissidents, harassing their lawyers and supporters and tightening political control.
Giving the police more power, critics say, is one such measure.
Can the revisions be blocked? "We will voice our opinions, but we are not optimistic it will make an impact," said Pu, Ai's lawyer. "We'll try our best."
In China the end can always justify the means. Nowadays, the end is social and political control.
Sep 6 11 3:04 PM
Despite its well publicised investment in green technology, China today has an unenviable list of ecological problems; its reliance on coal has left it with 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world; the north of the country is prone to frequent water shortages which have created hundreds of thousands of ‘environmental refugees’; and the dumping of chemicals into the Yangtze and other rivers means half the Chinese population drink water contaminated with human and animal excrement. In a new book, ‘As China Goes, So Goes the World', Oxford professor Karl Gerth, claims that many of these problems have been directly caused by China’s move towards a more consumerist society. In just twenty years, writes Gerth, China has gone from being almost exclusively an exporter of consumer goods, to being ‘the world’s largest consumers of everything from mobile phones to beer.’ The decision to stimulate consumer demand in China was a conscious one taken by the country’s government. With a growing saturation of its products in Western markets, Chinese industry needed new consumers to ensure continued economic growth, and the only obvious place to turn was their own population. In the light of the worldwide financial crisis, however, it is not just the Chinese Government which is relying on its population to help spend their way out of a recession, but the entire Western World. ‘In the West, we’re looking to a very poor country to save us twice’, says Gerth, referring to the economic dependence on China, and also the Western expectation that the Chinese will develop the green technology to combat rising emission levels.Explosion in car ownershipThe link between China’s consumption patterns and its ecological problems are clear. In 1993, there were only 37,000 private cars on the road, with the vast majority of the population using bicycles for transport. Today there are more than 35 million cars, a figure that is expected to grow to 150 million within the next ten years. All these cars have contributed to the severe air pollution and smog that blights many of China’s cities. In dietary choices too, the Chinese have begun to move towards a more carbon-intensive Western lifestyle with meat and dairy products increasingly replacing the traditional protein source of beans. In the mid-1990s daily milk consumption was less than 5kg per person, today it is 11kg, whilst city dwellers eat twice as much meat as they did in the 1980s. This move has been facilitated by the rapid emergence of fast food restaurants such as MacDonalds. The resultant increase in cattle-rearing has lead to the erosion of top-soil, desertification and has helped to cause China’s water shortages. The ruling Communist Party’s response to its environmental problems has often been to engage in dramatic large-scale building projects or alter consumer patterns with strict market control. For example, in order to combat water shortages in the North, the South North Water Diversion Project is being constructed to divert 44.8 billion cubic meters of water from Yangtze River to the Yellow River and Hai River. To drive down car emissions, various measures at both a state and municipal level have been introduced to encourage the use of electric vehicles, including the introduction last week of a congestion charge in Beijing.China's state-led solutionsThese dramatic policies have lead some commentators to conclude that China’s authoritarian system is better suited to tackling climate change and dealing with its own ecological problems than Western democracies. ‘This New Confuscianism is misguided’, says Sam Geall, deputy editor of online environmental publication China Dialogue, ‘although it seems sensible philosophically, one only needs to look empirically at the record of the implementation of environmental law and regulation in China to see that it’s incorrect.’
Oct 26 11 3:12 PM
September 27 2011
BEIJING — Gary Locke has been praised for his down-to-earth manner since becoming the first Chinese-American ambassador to Beijing. He's also been denounced as a showboater, a neocolonialist tool and a traitor to the Chinese race.
China's bipolar reactions to Locke since his appointment last month are partly due to an unease among Chinese authorities — accustomed to lavish official trappings and distance from ordinary folk — toward a man who gets his own coffee and carries his own luggage. They also display often contradictory sentiments about race, nationalism, and what it means to be a person of Chinese ancestry.
With its huge population and ancient culture, China has sent millions of migrants to other parts of Asia and the world. They are referred to as "overseas Chinese" despite adopting other nationalities and are still considered by most mainlanders to be part of the larger Chinese nation.
China's rulers have exploited such ties and sought to equate Chinese identity with loyalty to the Communist Party, aided by the country's rapid growth over three decades of economic reform.
The American ambassador, who has not shied away from criticizing China's policies, is challenging the notion of an innate loyalty among ethnic Chinese, said Xiong Zhiyong, a U.S. relations expert at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing.
"Chinese people used to think that people that have ancestral roots in China would behave in a way that would always please China," Xiong said.
Locke also is challenging China's notions of how a high-ranking official is supposed to act, particularly poignant at a time of rising social tensions tied to soaring prices for food and housing and growing resentment of corrupt officials and the idle rich.
Locke, a former commerce secretary and governor of Washington state, made a splash even before arriving when a fellow traveler and blogger posted a picture of him, wearing a schoolboy backpack, using a coupon to buy a cup of Starbucks coffee at Seattle airport before flying economy class to Beijing.
Internet commentators in China remarked at how much this contrasted with the behavior of even minor Chinese officials who have attendants handle any mundane matters.
His everyman image was further burnished when he was photographed arriving at Beijing airport without a retinue or formal welcome ceremony, pushing his own luggage cart and riding in a van with his family rather than in the official ambassador's limousine.
"Backpack makes a good impression," ran a commentary in the official English-language China Daily newspaper, adding: "Perhaps it is time for Chinese dignitaries to follow the example of humble Locke," the paper said.
For his first public address, he passed over prestigious Peking and Tsinghua universities in favor of the relatively humble Beijing Foreign Studies University. There he appeared to win over students and faculty with a recounting of how his family had gone from an immigrant community to the governor's mansion in three generations and made a strong case for American openness and inclusiveness.
"It's a great honor for our school. He is very friendly and I think his story is very inspiring," European language student Annie Liu said.
Locke was not available for comment, but in earlier remarks has said he was "personally flabbergasted" by all the attention and that he hoped it would help convey America's stress on diversity and openness.
It didn't take long before Chinese official commentators took issue with the buzz around Locke.
As early as mid-August the Communist Party's official Guangming Daily newspaper issued a broadside telling readers to "be alert to the American neo-imperialism being brought by Luo Jiahui." It referred to Locke by the Mandarin version of his family's original Chinese surname, Luo.
"His overseas Chinese identity ... wins him affection among ordinary folks in China, but as everyone knows, this only reveals America's despicable desire to use Chinese against Chinese and provoke political chaos in China," the newspaper said.
It called his humble style a politically calculated affectation and urged Chinese officials to counter it by adopting more humble stances.
Another party paper, the Global Times, faulted Chinese media for overhyping Locke's humility and creating a "Luo Jiahui fever" while accusing him of "far surpassing the popular opinion role that an ambassador should properly play."
The newspaper commentary was mild compared to the rage stirred by a speech Locke delivered Sept. 19 to the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing in which he criticized China's restrictions on market access to foreign investors.
"Luo Jiahui, you have forgotten your origins and disgraced your ancestors! Heaven will have its revenge!" read one posting on the message boards of the popular sina.com website. "Luo Jiahhui is nothing but an anti-China element with a Chinese face," read another.
Such sentiments represent a form of prejudice in which Chinese expect more from people of their own ethnicity, with Locke being singled out for extra criticism because of his heritage, said Frank Dikotter, author of The Discourse of Race in Modern China.
But they also reflect the effects of 62 years of communist rule, with its rigid intolerance of opposing views, Dikotter said.
"This is a county where invective still rules. In the absence of a civil society, there still is a strong tradition of not so much attacking the logical flaws of your opponent but attacking his personality or his very person," he said. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/9867030
Nov 16 11 5:11 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
China immediately questioned the U.S. move and said it deserved further scrutiny.
While relatively small, the expanded American military footprint would be a visible response to a growing China, whose relationship with the United States is at once cooperative and marked by tensions over currency, human rights and military might. Virtually everything Obama is doing on his nine-day trip across the Asia-Pacific region has a Chinese subtext.
China's military spending has increased threefold since the 1990s to about $160 billion last year, and its military recently tested a new stealth jet fighter and launched its first aircraft carrier. A congressional advisory panel on Wednesday said China's buildup is focused on dealing with America's own defenses and exploiting possible weaknesses.
The panel, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, urged the White House and Congress to look more closely at China's military expansion and pressed for a tougher stance against what it called anticompetitive Chinese trade policies.
Obama announced the new security plans in a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. On Thursday, addressing the Australian Parliament, he was emphasizing his intention to stay invested across Asia and Australia despite budget cuts back home.
The U.S. and smaller Asian nations have grown increasingly concerned about China's claims of dominion over Pacific waters and the revival of old territorial disputes, including confrontations over the South China Sea. China says it has sovereignty over the vast sea.
Responding to questions at the news conference Obama said, "The notion that we fear China is mistaken."
China was immediately leery of the prospect of an expanded U.S. military presence in Australia. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said there should be discussion as to whether the plan was in line with the common interests of the international community.
Obama said that the United States has an interest in supporting a peaceful and rising China but that the Asian power must play by world rules. When it does not, Obama said, "we will send a clear message to them that we think that they need to be on track."
With military bases and tens of thousands of troops in Japan and South Korea, the United States has maintained a significant military presence in Asia for decades. Australia lies about 5,500 miles south of China, and its northern shores would give the U.S. easier access to the South China Sea, a vital commercial route.
The plan outlined by Obama will allow the United States to keep a sustained force on Australian bases and position equipment and supplies there, giving the U.S. ability to train with allies in the region and respond more quickly to humanitarian or other crises.
About 250 U.S. Marines will begin a rotation in northern Australia starting next year, with a full force of 2,500 military personnel staffing up over the next several years. The United States will bear the cost of the deployment and the troops will be shifted from other deployments around the world. Having ruled out military reductions in Asia and the Pacific, the Obama administration has three main areas where it could cut troop strength: Europe, the Middle East and the U.S.
U.S. officials said the pact was not an attempt to create a permanent American military presence in Australia.
Australia's Gillard said, "We are a region that is growing economically. But stability is important for economic growth, too." She said that "our alliance has been a bedrock of stability in our region."
Obama's visit is intended to show the tightness of that relationship with an ally that has fought alongside the United States in most every conflict since World War I.
Appearing a bit jag-lagged after a 10-hour flight from Hawaii, Obama had a packed day-and-a-half in Australia, his first trip here as president after canceling two previous tries. After addressing Parliament, Obama was flying to the northern city of Darwin, where some of the Marines deploying to Australia next year will be based.
In addition to the expanded Marine presence, more U.S. aircraft will rotate through Australia as part of an agreement between the nations' air forces.
The only American base currently in the country is the joint Australia-U.S. intelligence and communications complex at Pine Gap in central Australia. But there are hundreds of U.S. service personnel in the country on exchange.
Air combat units also use the expansive live bombing ranges in Australia's sparsely populated north in training rotations of a few months, and occasionally naval units train off the coast. But training exercises involving ground forces are unusual.http://news.yahoo.com/cou...australia-214936089.html
Mar 26 12 7:23 PM
China's Premier Wen Jiabao
BEIJING - China could face a threat to its power structure unless it stamps out rampant corruption among officials, Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted as saying on Monday.
The latest statement from Wen, who has long pushed to eradicate corruption, underscores broader worry that, left unchecked, the problem could hurt the legitimacy of one-party rule.
"Wen Jiabao stressed that the greatest danger facing the ruling party is corruption," Wen was quoted as telling the State Council, or cabinet, in comments reported on the government website.
"If this issue is not resolved, the nature of political power could change."
Anger over corruption has prompted a raft of "mass incidents," an official euphemism for protests, worrying officials defending one-party rule and overseeing a smooth transition of power to a younger generation of leaders.
Wen called on senior officials to disclose their personal details, including information on spouses and children.
He said "the use of public funds to buy cigarettes, fine wines and gifts" should be prohibited and pledged to "strictly control the number of celebrations, seminars and forums".
Wen has stood out among China's leaders as the most vocal advocate of measured relaxation under party control. As he prepares to leave power, he has called more forcefully - though vaguely - for political reform.
He retires next year, along with President Hu Jintao, after a decade in power. During that time, China has grown to become the world's second-biggest economy, but one plagued by corruption and a growing income gap.
Critics say Hu and Wen have failed to pursue reform vigorously enough to underpin long-term growth and wealth creation.
Addressing reporters at this month's annual meeting of parliament, the National People's Congress, Wen warned that failure to act against graft and income disparity could rekindle the chaos of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution.http://news.yahoo.com/chi...structure-132348419.html
Nov 19 12 4:49 AM
China's new leadership team revealed
By Charles Riley
China's ruling Communist Party named seven men to its powerful Politburo Standing Committee Thursday in a highly orchestrated ceremony that emphasized party unity and held out little immediate prospect of bolder economic reforms.
The ritual, which took place in Beijing amid heavy security, caps the 18th Communist Party National Congress. The selection of the seven, who can serve for a decade, provides a glimpse into the thinking of party officials and contains hints about government priorities as well as the political machinations behind the choice of China's next generation of leaders.
Xi Jinping, a chemical engineer with a prestigious pedigree, was named as the next party boss and tapped to be China's next president. He will also assume control of the military.
As expected, 57-year-old Li Keqiang was named Xi's top deputy, and will likely replace Premier Wen Jiabao in March 2013.
Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli fill out the group, which wields tremendous influence over policy.
Wang, described by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as "decisive and inquisitive," will leave his economics-oriented post and move instead to head China's anti-corruption efforts.
Several other dark horse candidates, some of whom were thought to favor more rapid economic reforms, were left off the committee. Allies of outgoing President Hu Jintao also appeared to lose out -- with other political factions picking up spots in the group of seven.
Mark Williams of Capital Economics said the new team's makeup suggests sweeping economic policy reforms will not be forthcoming.
"This is not the standing committee that reformers might have hoped for but neither should it be a cause for despair," Williams said in a note.
Wang's move could mean much of the economic portfolio will fall to Premier-designate Keqiang, who is expected "to put greater emphasis on promoting social welfare rather than economic liberalization," he added.
In a speech delivered before members of the press, Xi said the standing committee would work to improve the lives of average citizens.
But the new leadership inherits a country facing challenges over the environment, the rule of law and economic inequities. In the most recent quarter, China's government reported that economic growth slowed to 7.4%, well short of the breakneck pace enjoyed by the world's second largest economy in recent years.
At the heart of these concerns is a set of structural economic problems, which require reforms that the previous leadership -- divided over policy -- was unable to complete.
China's economy is too reliant on investment, a trend that has distorted the country's housing market and placed great emphasis on exports. State-owned enterprises, which dominate entire sectors of China's economy, are often the recipients of favorable loans and treatment from the government.
Related: U.S. companies betting big in China
While regulators have pursued some changes, the rules governing the country's equity markets make raising capital difficult for some businesses.
"Unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development remains a big problem," Hu said last week. "The tasks of deepening reform and opening up and changing the growth model remain arduous."
The path forward, most analysts agree, requires China to move toward an economy in which consumption drives growth -- no easy task. Local party officials have long depended on investment spending to maintain clout -- a pattern that reform would undercut. The shift could also undermine the breakneck pace of economic expansion to which China has grown accustomed, at least in the short term.
Ratings agency Standard & Poor's said it did not expect the new leaders to make any major changes in policy direction but rather continue with existing reforms aimed at sustaining annual growth above 7%.
"We believe the central government will try to move to a fiscal model that will allow a more transparent and sustainable financing of local government investment projects," it said. "We also expect the increased attention to narrow income disparity and rebalance the economic growth structure to continue."
Debate: Is China a friend or foe?
Chinese officials and regulators often use the word "reform" to describe their plans, but the term is deployed broadly, and top party leaders insist any reform will have to follow a Chinese path.
Last week, Hu set forward twin economic goals. The first was a doubling of the country's 2010 GDP by the end of the decade -- a figure roughly in line with previous projections. The second goal -- a doubling of per capita income over the same period -- is more notable. State news agencies said it was the first time China's government had issued a goal for individual income.
Nov 23 12 5:16 AM
Up to 80% of the world's toys are made in China - often by children. But there are beautiful and affordable alternatives.Take Hasbro. Its Transformer toys are made with PVC, a plastic that has come under fire from campaigners for its alleged carcinogenic properties and the dangerous byproducts, such as mercury, produced during its manufacture.
The campaigning organisation Centre for Health Environment and Justice says of PVC: "It is useless without the addition of a plethora of toxic additives including phthalates. These chemicals can evaporate or leach out of PVC, posing risks to children."
Hasbro defends the use of PVC, saying it has "carefully considered the science and believe that toys made from PVC and softened with phthalates pose no risk to children".
The EU attempted to remedy the situation in 2005 when it banned certain additives, but many still remain. In contrast to Hasbro, Lego – also on its Christmas list – banned the use of PVC in its products in 2003.
Hasbro has also been challenged over human rights abuses in its Chinese supplier factories. Up to 80% of the world's toys are made in China, where human rights are often overlooked. The report "Nightmare on Sesame Street" by the US-based National Labour Committee last year highlighted many of these problems.
It found that in the Kai Da factory in Shenzhen city, which supplies Hasbro, a hundred 16-year-old high-school children and several younger children were working. Conditions in the factory were said to be dangerous, with potentially toxic solvents and paints routinely handled by workers with only rudimentary protective gear. Shifts were allegedly routinely over 12 hours long, seven days a week, with no days off for many months, plus mandatory 19- and 23-hour shifts at busy times such as the pre-Christmas rush. Workers were also reported to be docked wages for room and board, leaving them receiving only 28 cents an hour. Little wonder, then, that Hasbro toys won't break the bank.
There are ethical alternatives. German manufacturer Holz Toys only uses European factories where labour rights are guaranteed while all its wooden products come from FSC-certified and sustainable forests. Maya Organic, which also produces wooden toys, is an umbrella organisation providing training, marketing and other support to a range of small worker-owned cooperatives in Karnataka, India and was established with the aim of alleviating poverty and empowering workers. Its toys are made from local wood, which is harvested by cutting branches rather than felling whole trees. Distributors include Greenshop.co.uk andLittlegreenagels.com.
Not all ethical toys are made of wood. The market has recently grown and a much wider range is now available – everything from recycled board games to science kits with an environmental theme can be found online.
The price of the toys produced by Holz, Maya Organic and other ethically-minded companies better reflects the true environmental and social costs of production. A quick glance at their websites reveals that their toys won't break the bank either.
• Tim Hunt is a researcher and writer at Ethical Consumer magazine
However, according to research recently carried out by Ethical Consumer magazine where I work, the price of many of these toys fail to reflect the hidden environmental and social costs of their production.
Feb 4 13 7:05 PM
President Reagan used to note that a fish rots from the head downward. When a country’s top leadership is selected in secret and not elected by the public, it has no legitimacy. Its illegitimacy spreads downward to the point where a corrupt local government official can commit a heinous act and the people have no recourse but armed rebellion. No one knows this more than the Chinese Communist Party rulers. It is no accident that virtually every one of the Red Revolutionary families has sent its next generation (and the family money) to safe havens in the West. Since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, Chinese officials have committed one atrocity after another on their own people. Many are hidden, but some have received international attention. For instance, on Sept. 25, a British newspaper published graphic pictures of a Chinese villager crushed to death beneath the rollers of a giant road-grading machine. The villager had opposed the efforts of a corrupt Chinese government official to steal village land for commercial purposes, and he was silenced — permanently. The man’s remains were “splattered under the rollers of the giant machine,” the Daily Mail reported. This method of execution may have been more imaginative than most, but the fact of corrupt Chinese Communist officials abusing or even killing honest opponents remains far too common. On another occasion, it was revealed that the Chinese government was trying to block a United Nations report from being released showing secret ties among China, Iran and North Korea for the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction. U.N. officials, to their credit, leaked their report to the wires. If we only look at Communist Party activities over the past 12 months, we would have to include the following: Only one Chinese has ever won the Nobel Peace Prize, and he’s still rotting in a communist jail. There is increasing suppression of Chinese who merely wish to practice their religion in peace and in private. Environmental crimes by Chinese-government-owned firms threaten the health and safety of hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens and increasingly affect those downwind and downriver. Execution of prisoners for their valuable body parts continues. Increasing party efforts to eradicate Tibetan culture and religious life lead to self-immolations by Tibetan young people out of despair. Cyberwarfare is being directed at Japan because of a territorial dispute. Bullying and war threats are aimed at China’s neighbors in the South China Sea. Diplomatic protection of the Iranian regime continues as well as increased purchases of Iranian oil and increased investments in the Iranian petroleum sector. Likewise, diplomatic protection of the Syrian regime continues with no end in sight. Rampant espionage directed against the U.S. government and American private firms has reached historic levels. We are beginning to understand the extent of Chinese government firms’ pillaging of the resources of African countries, in league with their dictators. The People’s Liberation Army conducted a summer of missile demonstrations meant to intimidate China’s neighbors on all sides. This is not a rain of dead cats — it is just the Chinese Communist Party’s current activities. If we were to go back beyond 12 months, the data would become unmanageable and the body count in at least the tens of millions. A modest estimation is a horrendous 65 million murders in Communist China not counting the untold millions of unborn humans murdered under China's mandatory "One Child" policy of forced abortions. BOYCOTT CHINA! SUPPORT THE CHINESE PEOPLE'S INTERNAL REVOLUTION FOR FREEDOM! Defeating the largest Cult helps defeat all other Cults.
© 2013 Yuku. All rights reserved.