May 6, 2015 |
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21st Century China Opinion
China's Ideological Pluralism  
From the source

"The popular Western view of China as a self-confidently rising power is dangerously superficial. The country is certainly wealthier than it was four decades ago, and its military, diplomatic stature, and international economic presence are all much stronger. Living standards have improved, and hundreds of millions of Chinese have moved out of poverty through their own hard work. Beneath the surface, however, insecurity is widespread among everyone from rural farmers to members of the privileged urban class. People fear tainted food, water, and air, and rampant corruption and chicanery sour the public mood and erode trust. The spread of the Internet and the readiness of ordinary people to assert their rights have made it far harder for the government to keep society in line today than during Mao's regime two generations back


Our take

It is a curious fact about contemporary China that it has both one of the world's most restrictive media environments and one of its liveliest political environments. The first contention is undeniable: the 2015 World Press Freedom Index puts China near the bottom of its rankings -- 176 out of 180 countries, an astoundingly bad record for a country that has made so many strides on so many other fronts. 

But one of the liveliest political environments? That, admittedly, is more a matter of subjective observation than hard empirics, but if one follows the contours of political discourse -- from the neo-Maoist left to journals such as "Yanhuang Chunqiu" on the right -- one finds a much wider range of discussion than in the U.S. Here, it is taken as axiomatic that a free price system embedded in a market economy should be the primary means of allocating resources. Opposition on the American left is primarily over how much regulatory authority the government should have over the market economy, not the legitimacy of the market economy itself. 

In China, however, there is a vocal opposition to this basic consensus. This was reinforced by a new working paper by Harvard's Jennifer Pan and MIT's Xu Yiqing entitled "China's Ideological Spectrum." Making use of 171,830 individuals who participated in an online political survey at the Chinese Political Compass website, the paper helps us to better understand both the range and content of political beliefs in China. While they are hesitant to draw any conclusions about the strength of certain political beliefs owing to limitations in the data, their preliminary findings indicate that opposition to a liberal policy agenda is very real and is inversely correlated with income and education. Given that per capita GDP in China is still stands below $7,000 (compared with more than $50,000 in the U.S.), we should not expect this opposition to dissipate any time soon. 

Field Notes from China:
Selections from
Chinese-language Media

Don't Worry, America: China's "One Belt, One Road" will skip the Middle East 
"一带一路" 建设中的对接与连通


Now that the controversy over the AIIB has faded from the media limelight (for now), attention is shifting to China's western expansion under its "One Belt, One Road" campaign. There is little China can do that isn't analyzed under the "China rise" paradigm, and so it is with "One Belt, One Road." Is it subterfuge designed to compete with the U.S. in the regions west of Beijing? No, says one Chinese analyst in a piece appearing in a weekly news magazine. Or at least it's not aiming to compete with the U.S. in the Middle East owing to the region's instability and complexity.   


Excerpt from the story: "As 'One Belt, One Road' has been labeled as our first 'global' strategy, it is often thought of as a concerted effort by China to challenge the global leadership position of the U.S. By deliberately by passing the Middle East, a region of major strategic importance for the U.S., China is attempting to minimize its direct competition with its main strategic rival. Although the growth of the American shale oil and gas industry has diminished the importance of the Middle East to America's energy policy, there is no indication that the U.S. will scale back its political and economic presence and influence in the region. To extend its own economic power in the Middle East, China would be seen to be directly challenging Washington's status in a key strategic region, possibly jeopardizing the 'One Belt, One Road' strategy in the process. As the Middle East will continue to be an important region in terms of meeting China's energy needs, it is in Beijing's interest to promote stability in the region. For this reason, China has supported the ongoing negotiations between Iran and the U.S. over the former's nuclear program. Moreover, with no experience dealing with the complex political and religious landscape of the Middle East, China is simply not ready to attempt to broaden its political influence among Arab States."


Source: 中国新闻周刊

How can the U.S. discuss human rights after events in Baltimore?


SummaryIt is a constant refrain from the state media in China: how is it that we are constantly being castigated by the West for human rights abuses when they themselves have so many problems? During the Mao era, propaganda posters would highlight America's shameful civil rights record, and today, with the situation in Baltimore still unfolding, the Global Times has published an editorial attacking the U.S. for this double standard.


Excerpt from the story: "Human rights in the U.S. must have weaknesses and defects, shown by constant riots like the Baltimore one and the mass shooting incidents that consume countless lives every year. When many countries promote their human rights records, the U.S. government achieves nothing. The U.S. elite are trying to divert attention from U.S. human rights issues by denouncing other countries. The Baltimore riot deals a heavy blow to the U.S., which claims to be the guardian of the world's human rights issue. If such a riot takes place in China or Russia, Western opinion is expected to make a fuss of it. But, the Baltimore riot shows that the U.S. is probably the one that uses force the most frequently toward protesters. The U.S. has no license to blame other countries. The cause and the process of the Baltimore riot are complicated and it is hard to define Baltimore police actions to control the situation. But, the U.S. should acknowledge its own limitations and stop making indiscreet remarks against others."


Source: 环球网

China Talk: Interviews, Lectures and Events
China's Economic Strategy in the Midst of the
'New Normal'
How will the Chinese economy fare in the coming years? Economist Zhang Xiaojing of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences visited IR/PS last week to discuss how the Chinese leadership is preparing to deal with lower economic growth rates in what they term the "new normal." Click on the image to launch the audio.