Whither Xi? Whither CCP? Whither China?

There are many questions about the direction in which Xi Jinping is taking China and CCP. A question left over from the World War II days is when will China democratize?  Even today, that remains a pertinent question for some observers, including CCP theoreticians.  Another – will CCP collapse?  Internal political weaknesses apparent from the Bo Xilai fiasco are now obvious to the world.  A third – is Xi Jinping a reformer (of sorts) with a master plan to restore China and purify CCP to ensure its dominance?  Will he have to destroy CCP in order to save it?

This is first of a series of posts perusing these questions.  Each post can stand alone.  This first post is just background reading – a set of references.  I briefly review work from well-known China hands, including Minxin Pei, David Shambaugh, Cheng Li, Willy Lam, Andrew Nathan, and Carl Minzner.  This is a long post, mostly for the reader who wants to read the original articles. Subsequent posts attempt to answer whither Xi, whither CCP, and whither China.

The list of posts is below. 

Crash-out.  Or D-Day - Disaster Day - minus 7

The original D-Day was salvation for Britain and Europe - even, in its way, for Germany.  This one seems less promising.

Not much to say anymore.   Cue the violins and watch the China moves.

Update at April 28 - Aside from the current delay in the crash-out - From Brexit to Belt and Road by Keith Johnson in FP - Britain's turn to China for salvation

Huawei - Taking a Fall, Hoping for a Call

 

Pardon the soccer reference.  But to my mind, that is the Huawei move.  But Huawei has the support of the fans, at least in China, and they are vocal.

Don Clarke, professor of law at George Washington University, has penned this response to the declaration of the Zhong Lun law firm in Beijing, in support of Huawei as an innocent private company caught in a nasty trade spat.  According to the declaration, no company in China is ever required to comply with demands from the central government to install spyware or backdoors in any communication equipment.   Clarke points out that this is misleading and inaccurate.  Chinese law says nothing about what provincial and local governments might demand from a company, and in any case, law is not a constraint. 

“There’s a whole variety of pressures that the government can bring to bear on a company or individual, and they are not at all limited to criminal prosecution Clarke says.  “China is a Leninist state that does not recognize any limits to government power.”

This paper was published in the Journal of the Zhejiang Province School of Administration (otherwise known as Party School) in 2015.

So far as I know, it is the only original contribution by a foreign author to this Journal.  Since the Journal is from CCP in Zhejiang, one of the wealthiest and most sophisticated provinces in China, it is as well respected as a CCP journal can be.

The paper is way too long for a blog read.  I outline a way for CCP to provide meaningful voice to populations angry over land thefts, pollution problems, and corruption.  Among other suggestions, a ready-in-waiting conflict resolution organization, structured at the provincial level, could be brought to bear on incidents of mass protest.  A stand-still agreement is necessary to force parties to negotiate.  This is one way to provide voice to Chinese people in the absence of democracy. 

This is a theoretical paper, although no one in China would describe it that way.  A bit too clear and direct.  The paper was presented at a conference at Zhejiang Business and Financial University in 2015, although my presentation was kept apart from those of other presenters.  I gave a more or less private briefing to about 30 faculty and students - either to inoculate others from dangerous ideas or provide me with a rapt audience.  Probably both are true.  The presentation was in the school's Party conference room.  

 
What Chinese are talking about ... real fake news

You know that China is increasing pressure on every state it can bully.  The bullying is easiest when the victim state has a substantial share of its GDP connected to China, whether as exports or as Chinese FDI coming in.  Now come fake news stories published in China, quoting New Zealand politicians approving of Chinese policies on the Belt and Road initiative.  New Zealand is in a tough spot. 

A Note on the Middle Income Trap

In the last couple of years, a number of China political observers have commented on the dangers to China of the middle income trap.  The fear is that the Chinese economy will fall into the trap. Since economic growth is the remaining claim to legitimacy for CCP, a substantial slowdown from real growth rates of 6 to 15 per cent per year, which obtained in the last forty years, will be disturbing to the harmony that keeps CCP in power. 

In what follows I am not making direct claims for or against the middle income trap in China, only describing the concept. 

Recent

  • News: IP theft - no more worries

    News: IP theft - no more worries

     

    Just a brief note -  the FBI has more than 1,100 China IP theft  cases pending against Chinese entities or individuals.  Not a typo - 1,100.

     For American companies not doing business in China - we should not say, no exposure to China - the FBI investigations may still be something of a bulwark against theft.  Although, one notes, most of the investigations and arrests are in arrears of the crime.

    And back nearly a year ago, Mr. Xi promulgated a new IP theft policy which threatened Chinese businesses that steal.  The policy was announced within hours of a Xi-Trump meeting last December, and comprised a coordinated efforts across 38 Chinese government agencies with 38 different punishments.  The insincerity of this announcement, coming immediately upon the leaders' meeting, was palpable.  If you want to believe, you may.  I wrote about this at the time in Everything new is old again

    But with a new Chinese government policy, IP theft in China is no more.

    Now comes the latest entry in China's bid to become the first panopticon state - the cybersecurity law that permits government access to all information, IP or otherwise, stored on any server available to any foreign business operating in China.  China Law Blog has details - China's New Cybersecurity System - There is NO Place to Hide.  From the blog post -

    This result then leads to the key issue. Confidential information housed on any server located in China is subject to being viewed and copied by China’s Ministry of Public Security and that information then becomes open to access by the entire PRC government system. But the PRC government is the shareholder of the State Owned Entities (SOEs) which are the key industries in China. The PRC government also essentially controls the key private companies in China such as Huawei and ZTE and more recently Alibaba and Tencent and many others. See China is sending government officials into companies like Alibaba and Geely and China to place government officials inside 100 private companies, including Alibaba. The PRC government also either owns or controls China’s entire arms industry.

    Simply put, the data the Ministry of Public Security obtains from foreign companies will be available to the key competitors of foreign businesses, to the Chinese government controlled and private R&D system, and to the Chinese arms industry and military.

    The takeaway on this is that the fear of IP theft in China is no more.  What used to be considered theft, done by stealth, is now a legal process.  As Steve Dickinson from China Law Blog says, welcome to the new normal.   And anyway, remember - information wants to be free.

     

     

     
  • Deer in the headlights

    Deer in the headlights

     

    Aggressive moves by the Xi Jinping government have sensitized the world to skullduggery, lying, theft, and threats to foreigners in their own country by Chinese organizations in business and government. Infiltration of politics and government in Australia and New Zealand has become a recurring story. 

    Unfortunately, such actions can bias some people against Chinese everywhere.  So - what to make of Gladys Liu?

    Read more ...  
  • China censorship by extortion in London

    Update at October 7, 2019 - The NBA self-censors for China

    The NBA is a business - we know that.  But the NBA has been the professional league in which players and coaches have had the most freedom to speak their minds about issues of rights and morality.  Now, apparently, that freedom of speech stops at the Chinese border.  The New York Times has the story - NBA executive's Hong Kong tweet starts firestorm in China.

    Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted an expression of support for protesters in Hong Kong.  This upset the Chinese Basketball Association, and some Chinese fans, who see Hong Kongers as only hooligans and destroyers of Chinese harmony.  Morey's tweet suggested that he "stands with Hong Kong."  He has now apologized to the NBA's largest international market.  The NBA has disavowed his comment, although it did suggest weakly that he had a right to say what he said.  Of course, the Chinese league commented with the old trope, that Morey had hurt the feelings of all Chinese people (who are basketball fans). 

    Read more ...  

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