Power Struggle, The Excuse to Oppose Xi’s Anti-corruption Campaign


Wang Qishan, China’s chief corruption buster who has the largest number of strong enemies in the world. Photo: Reuters

Elimination of widespread rampant corruption needs an exceptionally wise, brave and powerful leader. The leader shall be very clearly aware of the great danger in the job. Officials exploit their power to commit corruption so that the greater the power, the more serious the corruption. Therefore, the “tigers” Xi has to catch in his fight against corruption are real tigers with sharp teeth. They are able to assassinate high officials in charge of the fight or even the leader. They may even launch a coup d’état.

However, they know the risk of the assassination and coup especially when the leader controls China’s secret police; therefore, the best way for them is to spread the rumor that the real purpose of the fight against corruption is to remove or weaken the factions not controlled by the leader so as to establish the leader’s absolute power.

It is common that there are various factions in a communist party, but especially in Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after Mao’s Cultural Revolution because those who were in a faction with substantial strength suffered less persecution and regained their positions sooner during and after the Cultural Revolution.

Usually, a high-ranking official appoints and promotes quite some officials. Those officials together with the officials they appointed and promoted form a faction due to comradeship, friendship and common interests and aspiration. When the high-ranking official has retired, he still controls the faction formed due to his influence and will interfere for the interests of his faction whenever possible if necessary.

When it comes to the decisions at a Party Congress on candidates for members of Central Committee, Politburo and its Standing Committee, Central Military Commissions and Party Secretariat and other senior posts, all the retired elders who have been dormant, will come out to take part in the bargaining behind the scene because it affects the balance of strength among various factions and concerns the interest of not only themselves but also the large number of their faction members.

The removal of a high official in a faction due to corruption may greatly weaken the faction; therefore, it will certainly vigorously resist and demand a lenient punishment or even immunity. Other factions will mostly side with the guilty official’s faction for fear that it was the leader or the anti-corruption official’s power struggle trick to weaken the factions they do not control one by one. The resistance of the alliance of those factions may become quite strong especially when it is joined by the quite strong conservative faction built up by Bo Xilai through his anti-organized crime and sing-red campaigns. That was also the cause for the difficulties in making the decision to punish Bo Xilai harshly. The decision had not been made until Jiang Zemin came to Beijing to preside over an expanded Politburo meeting on September 27, 2012.

Power struggle is corrupt officials’ best excuse in opposing Xi’s fight against corruption!

In order to succeed in his fight against corruption and for further reform, Xi visited all the powerful elders who were heads of various factions and convinced them that what he did was to save CCP instead of enabling his own faction to have dominant power over all other factions. He even showed them that he had no faction of his own and told them he would have an official with little factional background to be in charge of the fight against corruption.

His choice of Wang Qishan convinced them. Wang’s father-in-law Yao Yilin was for a time a Politburo Standing Committee member, but Yao was in charge of economy. Wang himself, though promoted by Zhu Rongji of Jiang Zemin’s Shanghai faction, was employed as high economic officials. Economic officials usually have little political power in CCP.

Wang seems powerful in having investigated and punished powerful officials including a retired Politburo Standing Committee member and two retired top generals, but his power comes from Xi Jinping and CCP organization. He has no troops or police under his personal control to achieve his personal goal.

Some people may wonder: How can a leader rule a party full of factions without forming his own powerful faction?

In Chinese history, forming his own faction and making it the only powerful faction was a common trap for a sovereign. It may easily cause the sovereign to be surrounded by a faction of treacherous fawning protégés who, like Heshen, corrupted Emperor Qianlong’s entire official system and blocked the channels for informers to expose their evils.

A wise sovereign shall have charisma to attract all talents around him no matter what factions they belong to. He is even able to win over talents from his enemy and make them his faithful followers. A great leader’s greatness lies first of all in his ability to discover and properly employ and delegate power to talented followers. Xi has proved his wisdom in dealing with domestic and external issues, but we still have to wait and see whether he is able to fill his Politburo Standing Committee with talents and find a competent successor.

Whether with the excuse of opposing power struggle or not, the large number of corrupt official may refuse to function like the officials did under Emperor Jiaqing’s reign or even begin national protests like Hong Kong police did against Governor MacLehose’ anti-corruption campaign.

What shall Xi Jinping do?

He gave people a huge surprise, which is a long story to be elaborated in my next article.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


ASEAN statement to go easy on Beijing over South China Sea dispute


Chinese structures are pictured at the disputed Spratlys in South China Sea April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

By Manuel Mogato | MANILA Wed Apr 26, 2017 | 12:54am EDT

Southeast Asian nations would adopt a softer than usual tone about South China Sea disputes at a leaders’ summit on Saturday in Manila, and exclude references to militarization or island-building, according to a draft of the chairman’s statement.

Although some Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders will express “serious concern” over the “escalation of activities” in the disputed sea, ASEAN will drop references, or even allusions, to China’s construction of artificial islands and the military hardware it has placed on them, according excerpts of the draft seen by Reuters.

The statement would be a watered-down version of that issued last year and comes amid a charm offensive by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who takes the rotating ASEAN chair this year, to court China for its business and avoid rows over sovereignty in the South China Sea.

However, a diplomat from the ASEAN secretariat told Reuters, that officials were still working on the draft of the statement and “it may still change” before it is issued at the end of the summit on Saturday.

China claims almost entire South China Sea where about $5 trillion worth of sea-borne goods pass every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims on the strategic waterway.

ASEAN references to the South China Sea issue typically do not name China, which has been expanding its seven manmade islands in the Spratlys, including with hangers, runways, radars and surface-to-air missiles.

Last year’s ASEAN statement in Laos emphasized the importance of “non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities, including land reclamation”.

According to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, China will soon be capable of deploying fighter jets on three of its reefs. China insists its activities are for defense purposes and are taking place in what it considers its sovereign waters.

The Philippines irked China two months ago when its then foreign minister, Perfecto Yasay, said he and ASEAN counterparts had noticed “very unsettlingly” that weapons systems had been installed, and considered that “a militarization of the region”.

The foreign minister of the former administration, Alberto del Rosario, on Tuesday said the Philippines’ hosting of ASEAN summit was an opportunity for Duterte to raise China’s militarization.

Also In South China Sea
China launches first home-built aircraft carrier amid South China Sea tension
In shadow of China’s reef city, Philippines seeks upgrade for its island patriots

“We should utilize our leadership to be able to uphold the rule of law,” he said. “The leadership of the Philippines will lose a lot of influence if we pass up that opportunity.”

A former government official involved in foreign policy likened the Philippines to Cambodia, which has been accused of taking China’s side and serving as a de facto veto against consensus ASEAN decisions that would otherwise be unfavorable to Beijing.

“Everyone is now watching the Philippines, we expect China to send its message to Southeast Asian countries through Duterte,” the official said, requesting anonymity.

“We are now acting like China’s lackey.”

(Editing by Martin Petty and Michael Perry)

Source: Reuters “ASEAN statement to go easy on Beijing over South China Sea dispute”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China launches first home-built aircraft carrier amid South China Sea tension


China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier is seen during its launching ceremony in Dalian, Liaoning province, China, April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

By Michael Martina | BEIJING Wed Apr 26, 2017 | 7:30am EDT

China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier on Wednesday amid rising tension over North Korea and worries about Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.

State media has quoted military experts as saying the carrier, China’s second and built in the northeastern port of Dalian, is not expected to enter service until 2020, once it has been kitted out and armed.

Foreign military analysts and Chinese media have for months published satellite images, photographs and news stories about the second carrier’s development. China confirmed its existence in late 2015.

The launch “shows our country’s indigenous aircraft carrier design and construction has achieved major step-by-step results”, Xinhua news agency said.

State television showed the carrier, its deck lined in red flags, being pushed by tug boats into its berth.

Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission, presided over the ceremony, Xinhua said, during which a bottle of champagne was broken on the bow.

The launch follows China’s celebration on Sunday of the 68th birthday of the founding of the Chinese navy, and comes amid renewed tensions between North Korea and the United States over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

Little is known about China’s aircraft carrier program, which is a state secret.

But the government has said the new carrier’s design draws on experiences from the country’s first carrier, the Liaoning, bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China.

The new conventionally powered carrier will be able to operate China’s Shenyang J-15 fighter jets.

Unlike the U.S. navy’s longer-range nuclear carriers, both of China’s feature Soviet-design ski-jump bows, intended to give fighter jets enough lift to take off from their shorter decks. But they lack the powerful catapult technology for launching aircraft of their U.S. counterparts.

“NO NEED” TO MATCH THE UNITED STATES

China’s navy has been taking an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and new Chinese warships popping up in far-flung places.

The Liaoning has taken part in military exercises, including in the South China Sea, but is expected to serve more as a training vessel. State media has said the new carrier will be more dedicated to military and humanitarian operations.

China claims almost all the South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and has been building up military facilities like runways on the islands it controls.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as its own, has said China is actually building two new aircraft carriers, but China has not officially confirmed the existence of another carrier.

Chinese state media has quoted experts as saying that the country needs at least six carriers. The United States operates 10 and plans to build two more.

Major General Chen Zhou, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science, told reporters in March that China would not exceed the United States in carrier groups. “China has no need for this,” he said.

Sam Roggeveen, a senior fellow at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute, said that by the time China had half that number, it could go toe-to-toe with the U.S. navy in the Asia-Pacific.

“Given that the Americans have global obligations and responsibilities but China doesn’t, then effectively by that point they would be evenly matched,” Roggeveen said.

Most experts agree that developing such a force will be a decades-long endeavor but the launch of the second carrier holds a certain prestige value for Beijing, seen by many analysts as keen to eventually erode U.S. military prominence in the region.

“With two aircraft carriers you could say without much fear of contradiction that China, other than the United States, is the most powerful maritime force in the Asia-Pacific,” Roggeveen said.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry and Nick Macfie)

Source: Reuters “China launches first home-built aircraft carrier amid South China Sea tension”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China’s Long History of Rampant Corruption


Xi regards fighting corruption as his priority in his first speech after being elected general secretary

In his first speech after being elected general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Xi Jinping mentioned four tricky issues he had to deal with: corruption, being divorced from the mass of people, formalism and bureaucratism. At that time, corruption is so rampant that it seemed impossible to overcome.

In fact, corruption was an inveterate serious problem always difficult to overcome in Chinese history. As far back as in Song Dynasty (960-1279), Emperor Huizong (1082-1135) encouraged people to study hard to become rich through an official career with a poem containing the sentence “There is gold house in books.” For an official, the shortcut to get a gold house is corruption. No wonder, corruption was rampant during Huizong’s reign.

Like European colonists who conquered other nations to rob them of wealth, Mongolians conquered China’s Song Dynasty to fleece Chinese people. They employed Chinese scholars as their officials and demanded bribes from them. Mongolians’ Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) became the most corrupt dynasty in Chinese history.

Zhu Yuanzhang, who drove away the Mongolians and found the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), hated corruption bitterly due to his poor peasant origin. He killed lots of corrupt officials including his loyal followers who had helped him establish his dynasty but was frustrated that he was unable to eliminate corruption in spite of the killing.

Ming official Hai Rui (1514-1587) earned a reputation for his honesty and fight against corruption. When he was a high local official, he did force Xu Jie, the emperor’s chief adviser (equivalent to prime minister), to return half of the 240,000 mu (one mu is about 666 square meters) of land Xu’s family had grabbed from common people and punished Xu’s sons and brother for that, but he was at that time but a province-level official, unable to deal with the problem of corruption in the entire nation. However, Xu’s family’s grabbing of so much land with its official power, proved how serious corruption was at that time. But according to Chinese historians Xu was not a bad official in the history of Ming Dynasty. Certainly there were lots of officials much worse than Xu.

The rampant corruption in Ming and Ching Dynasties caused Hai Rui to be famous in Chinese history.

Corruption in the initial period of Ching Dynasty (1636-1912) was not serious as Qing rulers were an alien race other than Han, the major race in China. Han officials did not dare to be corrupt under the cruel rule of an alien race. However, when Emperor Qianlong (1735-1796) put his corrupt close friend Heshen (1750-1799) in charge of China’s administration, Heshen accumulated 900 million catties of silver through corruption. At that time, due to backward technology, silver is a rare precious metal used as currency in China. There was but 20 million catties of silver in treasury.

Heshen’s huge wealth was mostly bribes from other officials, who certainly had to get more illegal income than the bribes they gave Heshen. The entire official system had thus been corrupted by Heshen. Chinese people lived in misery due to the corruption.

Qianlong’s successor Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820) put Heshen to death and confiscated all his property for corruption but failed to overcome rampant corruption in his official system as he was unable to overcome their strong resistance. So were his son and grandson Emperors Daoguang (1820-1850) and Xianfeng (1850-1861).

The corruption plus foreign aggression gave rise to the nationwide rebellion of Taiping Heavenly Kingdom from 1851 to 1864.

However, official corruption remained rampant afterwards even in the Republic of China (1912-1949) on Chinese mainland after the Qing Dynasty.

According to the above history, it seems that once corruption has become rampant, elimination of corruption is simply impossible.

To some extent, Mao’s Three-anti and Five-anti Campaigns and Four Cleanups Movement indeed eliminated corruption left by KMT in China but due to officials’ excessive power since the Cultural Revolution, a new form of corruption, the malpractice of abusing power for personal gains, has emerged and soon become rampant.

In the era of reform and opening up, the malpractice has developed into collusion between officials and businessmen.

When Xi declared his first priority was to deal with the tricky issue of rampant corruption, no corrupt officials were afraid. Xi had just taken office without powerbase.

Later, Xi indeed punished powerful retired high officials and generals for corruption, but what he did was regarded as power struggle by some analysts.

What has Xi achieved in fighting corruption? Can power struggle overcome rampant corruption?

Detailed description of the fight and power struggle will be given in my next few posts.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


Japanese Abe’s Wisdom to Overcome His Anti-China Syndrome


Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with the chairman of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party’s General Council Toshihiro Nikai during the China-Japan friendship exchange meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 23, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Usually in a traditional strict Asian family, a son is not close to his father but very close to his grandfather. Japanese Prime Minister loves dearly his grandfather who China regards as a war criminal that has played a major role in invading China.

American presidential election loser Hillary Clinton was stupid in giving US ex-president Obama the advice to contain China with TPP that hurts the US while hurting China and US pivot to China that proves US inability to attack China when China responded with its determination to fight a war to the threat of two US aircraft carrier battle groups that the US sent to China’s vicinity to force China to accept the Hague arbitration award that entirely denies China’s historical rights and interests to the South China Sea.

Abe, however, is wise instead of stupid in vigorously supporting TPP and pivot to Asia as he knows well a rising China has the potential to retaliate Japan’s war crimes in invading China in the 1930s and 1940s. Without US help, Japan is simply no match to a rising China. When China retaliates, Abe’s beloved grandfather’s reputation will suffer. No wonder Abe has anti-China syndrome.

Abe visited the US as soon as US President Trump was inaugurated in an attempt to persuade trump to continue Hillary’s policies to contain China. Trump told Abe he had satisfactory telephone talks with Chinese President Xi, hinting that he wants to improve ties with China instead of containing China.

In vain Abe has played his shrewd trick of using the US to contain China while making efforts to improve ties with China himself. He knows very well that like the US, Japan has lots of business interests in China and relies greatly on Chinese market for economic recovery. That is why Abe has tried his best to find opportunities to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping personally for improvement of relations with China.

From the above perspective, we know the essential needs for Japan to send high officials to attend China’s mid May One Belt One Road summit.

Reuters fails to see or perhaps simply ignores the facts of Abe’s efforts to improve ties with China. In its report “Japan’s ruling party heavyweight to attend China’s New Silk Road summit” yesterday, it ascribes Japan’s move to the tension caused by North Korea. The tension has always been there. It has nothing to do with Japan’s change of attitude towards One Belt One Road. Trump’s change in US attitude towards China has forced Abe to regard improvement of relations with China as priority. After all, Japan does not want the US to have better competitive edge than Japan in Chinese market.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-summit-japan-idUSKBN17R0KH


China probe uncovers environment breaches at two-thirds of firms – ministry


By Sue-Lin Wong | BEIJING Thu Apr 20, 2017 | 11:31pm EDT

More than two thirds of the companies investigated by China in its latest campaign against pollution have violated environmental rules, a environment ministry official told a briefing on Friday.

China launched a campaign earlier this month aimed at “normalising compliance” in 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, a major pollution hotspot.

Tian Weiyong, head of the monitoring department at the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), said 4,077 firms had already been investigated as part of the campaign, and 2,808 firms were found to have violated environmental rules, 69 percent of the total.

China is in the fourth year of its “war on pollution”, but the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) has traditionally struggled to impose its will on powerful industrial enterprises and growth-obsessed local governments.

It has drawn up new laws and standards, increased the range of punishments and boosted its monitoring and enforcement capabilities in order to tackle non-compliance.

China imposed total fines of 6.63 billion yuan ($963.30 million)for environmental violations in 2016, up 56 percent compared to the previous year, the environment ministry said in a statement ahead of the Friday briefing.

It said it punished a total of 137,800 environmental violations in 2016, up 34 percent from 2015, in its efforts to boost environmental law enforcement and compliance.

The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is under pressure to cut 2012 levels of breathable particulate matter known as PM2.5 by a quarter by the end of this year.

While the region has made progress over the past five years, average PM2.5 concentrations in the region rose 48 percent year-on-year in the first two months of 2017.

Friday’s statement said China now had a workforce of more than 70,000 responsible for enforcing environmental laws and regulations, and noted the MEP was also encouraging ordinary citizens to report pollution.

Also In Environment

Chile rocked by 6.9-magnitude quake; no major damage reported

Arctic thaw quickening threatens trillion-dollar costs – report

In a separate statement on Friday, the Beijing environmental protection bureau issued new guidelines, saying it would pay rewards up to 50,000 yuan to residents who reported serious environmental violations, including the dumping of hazardous waste or radioactive materials.

Individuals who report firms for improperly using or tampering with environmental monitoring equipment could get a 3,000 yuan reward, the environmental protection bureau said.

($1 = 6.8826 yuan)

(Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong; Writing by David Stanway; Editing by Eric Meijer)

Source: Reuters “China probe uncovers environment breaches at two-thirds of firms – ministry”

 

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

By Sue-Lin Wong | BEIJING Thu Apr 20, 2017 | 11:31pm EDT

More than two thirds of the companies investigated by China in its latest campaign against pollution have violated environmental rules, a environment ministry official told a briefing on Friday.

China launched a campaign earlier this month aimed at “normalising compliance” in 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, a major pollution hotspot.

Tian Weiyong, head of the monitoring department at the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), said 4,077 firms had already been investigated as part of the campaign, and 2,808 firms were found to have violated environmental rules, 69 percent of the total.

China is in the fourth year of its “war on pollution”, but the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) has traditionally struggled to impose its will on powerful industrial enterprises and growth-obsessed local governments.

It has drawn up new laws and standards, increased the range of punishments and boosted its monitoring and enforcement capabilities in order to tackle non-compliance.

China imposed total fines of 6.63 billion yuan ($963.30 million)for environmental violations in 2016, up 56 percent compared to the previous year, the environment ministry said in a statement ahead of the Friday briefing.

It said it punished a total of 137,800 environmental violations in 2016, up 34 percent from 2015, in its efforts to boost environmental law enforcement and compliance.

The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is under pressure to cut 2012 levels of breathable particulate matter known as PM2.5 by a quarter by the end of this year.

While the region has made progress over the past five years, average PM2.5 concentrations in the region rose 48 percent year-on-year in the first two months of 2017.

Friday’s statement said China now had a workforce of more than 70,000 responsible for enforcing environmental laws and regulations, and noted the MEP was also encouraging ordinary citizens to report pollution.

Also In Environment

Chile rocked by 6.9-magnitude quake; no major damage reported

Arctic thaw quickening threatens trillion-dollar costs – report

In a separate statement on Friday, the Beijing environmental protection bureau issued new guidelines, saying it would pay rewards up to 50,000 yuan to residents who reported serious environmental violations, including the dumping of hazardous waste or radioactive materials.

Individuals who report firms for improperly using or tampering with environmental monitoring equipment could get a 3,000 yuan reward, the environmental protection bureau said.

($1 = 6.8826 yuan)

(Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong; Writing by David Stanway; Editing by Eric Meijer)

Source: Reuters “China probe uncovers environment breaches at two-thirds of firms – ministry”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


No Attack Weapons in China-Russia-Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan Borders


China’s border patrol at very cold Chinese-Russian border. Credit: PLA Daily reporter

April 24 was the 20th anniversary of the joint signing of the agreement on reducing border troops between China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. There are now no deployments of attack weapons within 100 km of the borders between those countries and the number of border troops does not exceed 130,400.

It proves that the five countries, especially the two military powers China and Russia are peace-loving.

Source: Global Times “There have been no attack weapons on China-Russia-Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan borders: Military deterrence has disappeared” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)