Huge turnover for military elite at the 19th Party Congress?


Close observer of Chinese elite politics and Brookings Institute senior fellow Cheng Li 李成 has published a piece on China-U.S. Focus that says many analysts of Chinese elite politics were “astonished by the recently released list of military delegates to the 19th Party Congress.”
•Cheng says that most significantly, “it appears that only 17 percent (seven out of 41) of military leaders with full membership on the 18th Central Committee will retain their seats. In other words, about 83 percent of the military representatives who are full members of the 19th Central Committee will be new.”
•This would “constitute the largest-ever turnover of military elite in the history of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).”

What does this mean? To summarize Cheng’s analysis:
•President Xi Jinping is able to make sweeping changes because he has successfully reasserted “civilian command over the military.”
•The likely new leaders of the Chinese military represent “significant strides” in Xi’s campaign to professionalize the military, and to transform China’s defense organizations “from a Soviet-style, army-centric system toward what analysts call a ‘Western-style joint command.’”

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

Source: SupChina “Huge turnover for military elite at the 19th Party Congress?”

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

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China moves to strengthen ties with Singapore


“Will do our best to bring Asean and China closer together,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong 李显龙 wrote in a Facebook post following a meeting with China’s premier, Li Keqiang 李克强, on September 19. The sentiment to increase cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — which Singapore will rotate in to lead next year — and China likely delighted Beijing, which has long viewed the city-state as an important but troublesome partner. Singapore, being three-quarters ethnically Chinese, is important to China as a gateway to Southeast Asia, but distrusted by Communist Party hardliners for its closeness to Taiwan and the United States — see here for a chart explaining the variety of Chinese views on Singapore.

On September 20, the top headlines on central state media outlets Xinhua (in Chinese, in English) and People’s Daily (in Chinese, in English) were about Lee’s meeting with a visibly buoyant President Xi Jinping. But as Bloomberg reports, it wasn’t just the president and his premier, it was all his men, too: Lee met with two more of the seven most powerful men in China, national legislature chief Zhang Dejiang 张德江 and anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan 王岐山 — a meeting that came as a “surprise to many China watchers and apparently even to Wang himself,” the South China Morning Post reports.

What are Singapore and China doing together, other than exchanging friendly bromides? SCMP has the relevant roundup:
•China is trying to get Singapore to have a Chinese company build the planned $14 billion, 350-kilometer (217-mile) high-speed rail line from Singapore to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, expected to be completed in 2026.
•Both countries are implementing the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, a package of financial services, transportation, logistics, and communications services that aims to improve connectivity between Chongqing and Southeast Asia.
•Chinese property developers have flocked to Singapore, as the city-state accounts for more than 15 percent of their outbound investment.
•Trade has flourished, growing 60 percent since 2009 to $85 billion last year, and the countries are currently negotiating an update to their bilateral free trade agreement. China has been Singapore’s top trading partner since 2013.

Source: SupChina “China moves to strengthen ties with Singapore”

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


China to amend party constitution at October congress


A man rides an electric scooter past a poster, promoting the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in Shanghai, China September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s ruling Communist Party is expected to amend its constitution at a key party congress next month, state media said on Monday, in a sign that President Xi Jinping aims to enshrine his guiding ideological doctrine in the charter.
Since assuming office almost five years ago, Xi has rapidly consolidated power, with moves such as heading a group leading economic reform and appointing himself military commander-in-chief, although as head of the Central Military Commission he already controls the armed forces.

The Politburo, one of the party’s elite ruling bodies, deliberated a draft amendment to the constitution to be discussed at the congress that would include “major theoretical viewpoints and major strategic thought”, the official Xinhua news agency said.

While the Xinhua report did not elaborate, a key measure of Xi’s power will be whether he manages to have his name “crowned” in the constitution, elevating him to the level of previous leaders exemplified by Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory.

Xi’s more recent predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, both had the party constitution amended to include their guiding thoughts, but without their names directly attached.

Jiang has his “Three Represents,” which embraced private entrepreneurs, written in, while Hu, Xi’s immediate predecessor, had his economic doctrine of “scientific development” included.

The party has been pushing Xi’s “Four Comprehensives,” which refer to China working “comprehensively” to build a moderately prosperous society and strengthen reforms, rule of law and party discipline, but it is not clear yet what wording could be put into the constitution to reflect Xi’s thought.

“Amending the constitution at the 19th CPC National Congress on the basis of the new situation and tasks would promote the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics and Party building,” Xinhua said.

“The amendments should include the key theories and strategic thoughts presented by a work report” at the start of the congress, which opens on Oct. 18, it added.

The amended constitution should fully represent the latest “sinicisation” of Marxism, new governance concepts and “the fresh experiences in adhering to, and strengthening, Party leadership, and in strict Party governance”, Xinhua said.

“The amendment should make the Communist Party more vigorous, stronger and enable it to keep a close connection with the people.”

The draft amendment will be submitted on Oct. 11 to a party plenary meeting, it added, a smaller scale gathering of about 200 of the most senior leaders to finalize the agenda for the congress.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Philip Wen; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Source: Reuters “China to amend party constitution at October congress”

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


The Conundrum of China’s Failure in North Korea


As far back as in January 2012, China gave me the impression that it tried to build a pan-Asia community, which I called “China’s Greater Asia Co-prosperity Sphere in my post “CHINA’S GREATER ASIA CO-PROSPERITY SPHERE” on January 29, 2012. I used the term similar to Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere to make it easy to understand but failed to make clear distinction of China’s from Japan’s.

Japan’s was a term to beautify its aggression that had brought no co-prosperity but misery in the so called co-prosperity sphere but China’s is a true co-prosperity sphere that will enable China and the countries within the sphere to prosper through win-win cooperation. Anyway, to avoid confusion, I had better not use such a term; therefore, I no longer use the term later.

China was at a turning point by that time. For further economic growth to realize its dream to become too strong to be bullied by other countries, it needed a huge market, lots of natural resources and cheep labor. In order to greatly expand its domestic market, it has just established nationwide life and medical insurance safety nets and was building millions of subsidized housing in order to make its people save less and spend more. In addition, it plans to speed up urbanization and substantially increase workers’ income.

However, when labor became expensive, lots of China’s labor-intensive factories would be in trouble. They had to move to poor countries where there was a shortage of investment and lots of cheap labor. North Korea was precisely one of such countries.

China has been trying to export its Chinese model to North Korea for quite a long time. During his visit of North Korea in 2005, Chinese leader Hu Jintao spoke about the problems China had at a banquet Kim Jong-il gave in his honor. That was a clear sign that China was unwilling to give substantial aids free of charge. Obviously, Chinese aids have to be mutually beneficial. By reducing Chinese aids, Hu tried to make North Korea follow Chinese model to make North Korea prosperous.

If North Korea follows China’s example, it would establish Sino-North Korean joint ventures for China to utilize the natural resources and cheap labor there. There were prospects that North Korea would export lots of goods to China. That would make North Korea rich and greatly improve its people’s living standards. North Korea would in turn become a growing market for Chinese exports. North Korea’s Kim Dynasty, if followed the Chinese model, would become popular. That seemed the only way out for Kim Jong-un to maintain the survival of his dynasty.

The transformation of North Korea from poverty to prosperity would set a North Korean model that would be eagerly followed by China’s other neighbors. Then the vast and populous Asia will become sources of natural resources and cheap labor for China and a growing market for China while China will offer its huge market for those neighboring countries.

When I wrote the post in 2012, Kim Jong-il, the second generation monarch of North Korea’s Kim Dynasty, had visited China and decided to follow the Chinese model, but he soon died so that he had not really started the reform and opening up similar to China’s.

When his successor Kim Jong-un had just taken over, there was North Korean official news agency’s report that urges party organizations to prove their loyalty to Kim Jong-un by resolving the “burning” food problem. In addition, knowing well Kim Dynasty’s predicament, the regime’s three official newspapers’ joint New Year editorial even urges “the whole party, the entire army and all the people” to “become human bulwarks and human shields in defending Kim Jong-un.” Obviously, the Kim regime knew well that it would collapse if it failed to put an end to the famine and improve people’s livelihood.

Not long after Kim Jong-un took over, his brother Kim Jong-nam, the prince who has failed to succeed to the throne, predicted his brother Kim Jong-un’s failure to maintain Kim Dynasty’s survival. Knowing well the dire situation in North Korea, Kim Jong-nam believed that King Jong-un lacked the experience to fulfill the Herculean task of resolving the food problem and improving people’s living standards.

China’s experience, however, proves that it is very easy to resolve the food problem. Put an end to collective farming and divide farmland to farmers, there will soon be lots of food and other agricultural products to satisfy people’s needs.

However, it is very difficult for a communist country to switch to the capitalist road. In spite of Deng Xiaoping’s dominant power as China’s paramount leader, his reform and opening up, capitalist in nature, encountered serious resistance from communist conservatives. There were fierce debates between conservatives and reformists about the nature of the reform and opening up. i.e. whether the reform and opening up are socialist or capitalist in nature.

Deng certainly knew that his reform and opening up was capitalist in nature so that it was impossible for the reformists to convince the conservatives that they were socialist in nature; therefore, Deng resorted to the trick of delay. He told conservatives to wait for the results of his reform and opening up and believed that the satisfactory results would convince the conservatives.

However, the conservatives would not wait. They continued to attack the reform and succeeded in bringing down Hu Yaobang, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in charge of the reform at that time.

Hu’s successor Zhao Ziyang upset the conservatives by closing conservatives’ mouthpieces such as the prestigious Hongqi magazine in order to silence their attack against the reform and opening up. Powerful conservative elders were very much upset and tried hard to force Deng to remove Zhao as CCP General Secretary. As a result, Deng even wanted to make Zhao replace him as Chairman of the Central Military Commission to enable Zhao to have the supreme power to deal with the conservatives.

However, Zhao, as an experienced communist official, knew well in an oriental communist autocracy like China, the power did not lie in an official’s title. As CCP top official the general secretary, Zhao had no power while major CCP elders, though retired, remained very powerful. Soon the Tiananmen Incident provided the conservatives with the opportunity to remove Zhao and almost stopped the reform and opening up.

It was not until three years after the Incident that Deng used his dominant power as the paramount leader to restore the reform by his well-known Southern Tour. Later, Deng’s successors Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji convinced the conservatives with their achievements of Deng’s reform and developed the Three Represents to justify the pursuit of capitalism with Marxist theory. They have thus put an end to the debates but conservatism remains quite popular as proved by Bo Xilai’s Sing Red Campaign.

Kim Jong-un promised to enable his people to have enough food when he took over. As mentioned above, he was certainly able to achieve that if like China he put an end to his country’s collective farming and divided farmland to farmers. However, he could not carry through the reform due to conservatives’ serious resistance. Collective farming is regarded as a major factor of socialism while individual farming is regarded as capitalism. Kim as the leader of a socialist country should not pursue capitalism, conservatives argued.

In the industrial sector, China has set up quite a few joint ventures with North Korea, but Chinese joint venture partners were unable to manage their joint ventures the Chinese way due to the obstacles set by conservative North Korean officials.

If Kim Jong-un’s father Kim Jong-il had been alive, he would perhaps have been able to make North Korea follow Chinese model of reform and opening up as he had established sound powerbase to enable him to do so. Kim Jong-un, however, did not have enough time to establish a powerbase strong enough to overcome conservatives’ resistance.

Seeing that conservatives are much stronger than reformists in North Korea, Kim Jong-un switched to conservatives’ side to have their support for his Kim Dynasty. He killed and removed quite a few high-ranking pro-Beijing officials to please the conservatives but has thus upset China.

Kim was very clear that without reform he could not feed Korean people in order to win popular support for his Kim Dynasty. He was shrewd to focus on development of nuclear weapons and ICBMs to upset the US and make the US impose stringent sanctions on North Korea so that he could put the blame of food shortage, etc. on US sanctions.

He further upset China in doing so as China wants good relations with the US (I will explain the reasons in my later posts). China has reduced its aids to Kim to the minimum, but it had to provide North Korea with food and other necessities so that North Koreans would not flee into China in large number for their survival.

China has a long border with North Korea difficult to guard in winter when border rivers are frozen.

In fact, North Korea’s nuclear weapons are also a threat to China; therefore, Kim is now doing what China opposes.

Having entirely lost hope in North Korea, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched his Silk Road economic belt and 21st century maritime Silk Road (Belt and Road) initiative for the establishment of a pan-Asian community without North Korea.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


Chinese Air Force Stresses Long-Range Capabilities


Lieutenant General Ding Laihang says China’s air force must boost its capacity for long-range missions. Photo: Handout

In its report “China’s new air force chief lays out long-range mission” today, Reuters says, “Speaking publicly for the first time since taking over as chief of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, Lieutenant General Ding Laihang said the military wing had to be strong in attack and defence both in the air and in space, moving on from its previous focus on homeland defence, China National Radio reported.”

on April 14, 2014. In my book “Space Era Strategy: The Way China Beats The U.S.”, I point out that what Chinese air force will develop to obtain the integrated space and air capabilities for both attack and defense Chinese President Xi Jinping told it to obtain on April 14, 2014 when Xi visited the force’s headquarters.

I have some posts on China’s efforts in doing what I speculated especially in “China Making Smooth Progress in Developing Aerospace Bomber” on June 29, 2016, “Great Progress in China’s Development of Aerospace Bomber” on June 7, 2017 and “China Surpasses US in Development of Aerospace Aircraft” on June 10, 2017.

What then is China’s name in obtaining such capabilities, Reuters quotes Gen. Ding as saying, “The PLA must provide full, all-out and absolute protection to wherever our national interests extend,”

Now, Xi’s Silk Road economic belt and 21st century maritime Silk Road initiatives are indeed extend China’s national interests far and wide, China needs aerospace bombers that according to the description in my book can destroy an entire aircraft carrier battle group in minutes. Such bombers will be able provide the protection that the PLA must provide according to Gen. Ding.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2109566/chinas-new-air-force-chief-lays-out-long-range-mission.


Ahead of Indian leader’s visit, China sees huge potential for cooperation


Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi holds a news briefing ahead of the 9th BRICS Summit, in Beijing, China August 30, 2017. China Daily via REUTERS

Michael Martina and Sanjeev Miglani August 30, 2017 / 2:06 PM

BEIJING/NEW DELHI (Reuters) – China on Wednesday sought to cast its strained ties with India in a positive light ahead of a likely meeting next week between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi following their most serious military confrontation in decades.

The countries agreed this week to end a more than two-month-old stand-off on their disputed Himalayan border, just in time for the start on Sunday of a summit of the BRICS grouping of nations, which also includes Brazil, Russia and South Africa.

It was normal for the two neighbors to have differences, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a news briefing.

“What’s important is that we put these problems in the appropriate place, and appropriately handle and control them in the spirit of mutual respect and based on the consensus of both countries’ leaders,” he said.

“There is huge potential for cooperation between China and India,” Wang added, without giving details.

Xi and Modi are expected to hold talks on the summit sidelines in the southeastern city of Xiamen, officials in New Delhi said.

That has raised hopes they will try and repair a relationship that has deteriorated as the two countries find their interests diverge – and often clash – while competing for influence across Asia.

Neither country should claim victory after the stand-off, said former Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, an expert on relations with China.

“The forthcoming summit can provide an opportunity to begin that restoration process when the leaders of the two countries meet,” Rao said. “Diplomatic and not military manoeuvres must be the name of the game in this relationship.”

Hundreds of troops were deployed on the Doklam plateau, near the borders of India, its ally Bhutan, and China after New Delhi objected to China building a road through the mountainous area.

The quiet diplomacy that ultimately ended in de-escalation was based on a principle of stopping “differences becoming disputes” that Modi and Xi had agreed in Astana in June, an Indian official with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

ROAD BUILDING

Still, ties remain strained over the disputed frontier and India is deeply suspicious of China’s growing military activities in and around the Indian Ocean.

For its part, Modi’s government has upset China with its public embrace of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, whom the Chinese regard as a dangerous separatist, and growing military ties with the United States and Japan.

China has said its forces will continue to patrol in Doklam, which is claimed by Bhutan. Wang said he hoped India had learned a lesson from the incident.

Chinese road construction had stopped and equipment removed, said a second government official in New Delhi aware of the situation.

But it was not clear whether China had given an assurance not to resume construction in a territory New Delhi says is too close for comfort for the security of its northeast.

India and China have deep historical and cultural links, but relations have seesawed since India lost a brief border war in 1962.

Chinese troops have made about 300 transgressions this year into territory claimed by India, the second official in New Delhi said, up from about 225 last year.

Media on both sides kept up a nationalistic drumbeat during the recent crisis.

Ties between the two appeared to be heading to a “breaking point”, with neither backing down from its own nationalist agenda, said one Beijing-based Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“From where India sits, it looks like China is trying to encircle them,” the diplomat added.

Still, the peaceful end to the Doklam stand-off was a positive sign, Mao Siwei, China’s former consul general in India’s eastern city of Kolkata, told Reuters.

“This is top leaders from both countries withstanding extreme domestic nationalist sentiment to come to a sensible decision,” said Mao, who is now retired.

Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard and Christian Shepherd; Writing by Tommy Wilkes and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez.

Source: Reuters “Ahead of Indian leader’s visit, China sees huge potential for cooperation”

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 Xi pledges to address differences with South Korea: Xinhua


BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s President Xi Jinping pledged to make concerted efforts with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in to address differences between the two countries properly, the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.

Xi made the remarks in a congratulatory message sent to Moon on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of China-South Korea diplomatic relations, Xinhua said.

Development of China-South Korea relations made a positive contribution to regional peace and development, Xinhua cited Xi as saying. The news agency did not provide further details.

South Korea and the United States agreed to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in response to the growing missile threat from North Korea.

However, the installation of the missile system has angered China, which says its powerful radar will be able to look deep into its territory and undermine regional security.

China has pressed South Korean businesses through boycotts and bans, such as ending Chinese group tours to South Korea and closing most of South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group’s Lotte Mart retail stores in China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the exchange congratulatory messages was consistent with usual practice.

Many tangible and mutual benefits had been delivered to people of both countries since the establishment of diplomatic ties, she told a daily news briefing.

“We hope the South Korean side can summarize and look back on the experiences and lessons from the 25 years of diplomatic relations and take constructive actions to appropriately address relevant sensitive issues and differences to improve relations between China and South Korea,” Hua said.

“On the issue of THAAD, China’s position is very clear, resolute and there is no change.”

Moon has also pushed China, North Korea’s most important ally and trading partner, to do more to rein in Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons programs.

North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and dozens of missile tests since the beginning of last year, significantly raising tension on the heavily militarized Korean peninsula and in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July resulted in a new round of tougher global sanctions.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Additional reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Michael Perry and Paul Tait

Source: Reuters “China’s Xi pledges to address differences with South Korea: Xinhua”

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