Tag Archives: China

Corruption, Constitutionalism & Control: Implications of the 4th Plenum for China and U.S.-China Relations

The Wilson Center organized a panel where two political science professors discussed the Chinese anti corruption campaigns. China attempts to carry around legal reforms, china dream and peace reform. The campaign is a two year old corruption campaign and nothing but pure powerful politics. The campaign began in 2014 when a businessman was killed in hotel room full of enormous amount of money. After that many political leaders and businessmen were under investigations for laundering money. Scandals such as the military scandal and the promotion of jobs shocked the people of china.

In the panel the professors discussed how the US would respond to rapidly change of china. After that they discussed if these scandals are about principle or politics and they stated its both principle and politics. Some of the scandals are scandals of small businessmen who are involved of laundering money. One businessman in particular is an owner of a water company who was found in his house with large amounts of money and gold. The fear and anxiety of the Chinese citizens made the campaign grow in the previous year. Even though the campaign is still on there are positive effects expected in the future.

After discussing the different scandals of laundering money they shifted to the trial of these businessmen and how the justice system in china works. The Chinese court first considers the loyalty party and interest of people then the constitution of law. The decision puts the parry first. The government role in these trials is creating legal protectionism and denying of confession, assume without too many questions. Half of the people investigated and pleaded guilty get punishment.

The protesters in anti corruption campaigns are fighting for justice. Even though some locals are covering up scandals and many investigators disappeared, campaigns of anti corruption are still going on hoping of fighting corruption. Attending this panel made me learn more about the Chinese anti corruption campaigns and how the economy of China dropped. The professors debated on the corruption in china and the legal system after that they allowed the audience to ask questions.


China-India Border Issues and Northeast India: A View from India

Territorial boundaries have been the cause of conflicts and tensions between neighboring countries for thousands of years. On Wednesday, May 8, I decided to go to George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs to listen to Dr. Namrata Goswami’s presentation, entitled “China-India Border Issues and Northeast India: A View from India.” Dr. Goswami is a notable scholar in her field and has done extensive work analyzing the conflict. The event was sponsored by the Rising Powers Initiative and the India Initiative.

A few of the areas contested are Monpa, Tani, Mishmi, Naga, and Mette. It is difficult to categorize all of them in one specific category, as they are diverse and not homogenous. The border issues date back to the 1950s. Dr. Goswami’s presentation touched upon five factors: disputed border and territorial claims, Tibet as the core issue, balance of military forces, military exercises, and the relationship between the U.S. and India.

The McMahon line, located near the Brahmaputra River, is the borderline delineated by the British to separate China and India. Prior to this, another line had been proposed to solve the conflict. While the Indian government favors the former, the Chinese government favors the latter. The Indian government argues that if they abide the previous line, they will be vulnerable to foreign attacks and lose the defense the mountainous region provides.

In 1959, Mao Zedong published an essay in which he proclaimed Jawaharlal Nehru (the prime minister at the time) as an expansionist, with the desire to expand into Tibet. Nehru’s forward policy called for the establishment of various posts near the McMahon line. On October 1962 China attacked – an attack that was completely unforeseen by the Indian government. The Sino-Indian War produced significant losses for the Indian military.

Throughout the speech, the speaker often stated that Tibet was the “core issue” and highlighted the “importance of Tibet.” In 1954, both parties signed a treaty, whereby the Indian government recognized Tibet as a territory of the People’s Republic of China. (The following link will direct you to a copy of the original document: http://www.tpprc.org/documents/agreements/1954.pdf.) As Nehru was facing pressure from the parliament and the media at the time, the government printed out maps that unilaterally defined the border – heightening tensions even more.

Currently, the Tibetan government (the Central Tibetan Administration) is in exile in India. The Dalai Lama is the spearhead of the non-violent movement that seeks to regain Tibetan autonomy. (More information can be found here: http://tibet.net/important-issues/worldwide-tibet-movement/.) The Free Tibet movement, however, is one of the hundreds of Tibet Support Groups (TSGs) that is independent of the CTA.

Today, the area near the McMahon line is highly militarized. There is a great fear on behalf of the Indian government that a second attack will be launched (like in 1962). Dr. Goswami showed us satellite pictures of the missile deployment the Chinese government set up in Tibet. The Government of India plans to invest $100 million dollars in its military, with the hopes of containing China and maintaining its militarized border. Both countries – which are nuclear weapon states – have also revved up military exercises.

In recent years, the Indian government has successfully strengthened its diplomatic relations with the U.S. government. One of the questions Dr. Goswami explored during her presentation was, “Why is India getting so close to the United States?” There are various theories to account for the increased cooperation between these two countries; perhaps the most prevalent is that a bilateral relationship is crucial to deter China’s rise as a global power. On July 18 the country celebrated a great achievement: it was officially recognized as a nuclear weapon state. Consequently, the idea of the state as a great power was conceptually enforced. In 2006, negotiations suffered a setback. Chinese E-passports were circulating that apparently claimed the contested region as Chinese territory. As negotiations were (and are still) ongoing, it escalated anxiety.

India insists on settling the border disputes based on the McMahon line, and China adamantly opposes it. One of Dr. Goswami’s closing remarks was, “Why has China not resolved the border issue with India?” It has successfully resolved border issues with Burma, Nepal and Mongolia, after all. Her answer was that China wants to make India insecure and assert its power. The realist argument, she said, would be that “China has done this deliberately to question India’s resolve.” The recent standoff in Ladakh has stalled negotiations, increased fear, and intensified pressure from the media and local population.

The dispute is clearly a complex issue that will not be easily resolved. Now that I have heard Dr. Goswami’s discourse presenting “A View from India,” it would be interesting to hear a presentation on “A View from China.”

China in Latin America

On Thursday March 27, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars held an event on China in Latin America. Joined by the Institute of the Americas and the Institute of Latin American Studies the event’s goal was to inform about China and its increasing presence in Latin America. The presenter Eric Olson, Associate Director of the Latin American Program introduced the four speakers. The first two, Dinorah Azpuru and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister, who are professors of political science at Wichita University and Vanderbilt respectively, led a team of researchers to gather and analyze data throughout Latin America on how the population feels towards China’s involvement in the region. The project is called Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) and if you go to their webpage http://www.vanderbilt.edu/lapop/ there is tons of information about the research, something they encourage us to do throughout their presentation. The other two panelists were Chinese professor Liu Kang, director of the China Research Center at Duke University and Daniel Erikson, senior adviser for policy in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S Department of State.

Although they presented precious information about countries and their statistics, I personally was expecting more. Prof Azpuru and Zechmeister touched on various points. From China’s involvement in socialist countries like Nicaragua and Venezuela to how hard it is for the Latin American population to distinguish China from Taiwan and even Japan. This last point was very interesting because I come from Peru and usually we don’t normally call Asian people “Chinos” or Chinese without thinking about the big difference it makes. Prof. Zechmeister was able to explain this point and when interviewers asked question about China, they explain first that they were talking about continental China, something which the people can identify more as the People’s Republic of China and not Taiwan for instance. Another important point about their research is that countries leaning to the left tend to see China’s regional participation in a good influential way than the U.S and the contrary happens towards right leaning countries  with China vs. the U.S. Among those countries with high percentage favoring China were those of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) Coalition whose most representative members include Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cuba. On the other hand, countries that score a low percentage were countries with strong ties with the U.S like Mexico and Colombia.

After the data was presented Professor Kang took the stage talking about China and its economic growth. He specifically focused on how China is looking for new markets not only in Latin America but also in Africa. Another important point was that China is seen as a negative influence throughout the East Asia region and even according to polls in China, the majority of the population does not consider China as a role model for economic policy.

Senior adviser Erickson talks about how the US sees Chinese presence in Latin America as good and is willing to work with them. They called it “The New Triangle” meaning China, Latin America and U.S. However, Mr. Erickson gave his insights about the LAPOP project and called for more correlation and to add more focus on those countries in which the Chinese have invested more. I agreed with his point and with other member in the audience how as well asked about countries were China have directed its money. I said at the beginning that I was expecting more because for example in Peru there is this big attention regarding the Chinese investors and the economic policy that the government is following towards China. Actually, in one of the booklets they talk about Peru and the fact that 40% of oil production in Peru is owned by China investors. For that reason, I was expecting them to correlate their information to those countries like Peru and also have some experts talk about the national feeling about it. Overall, I enjoyed going to this event, it was the first time I went to the Wilson Center and I would definitely be back again.

“The Religious Question in Modern China” by David Palmer

“The Religious Question in Modern China”by David Palmer

Nov. 30, 2012 – 12:30 pm, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University – Washington D.C

For my second D.C. event assignment I attended a conference at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. The Religious Question in Modern China it’s a book written by Dr. David Palmer, a professor at the Department of Sociology at Hong Kong University.

During the event, Dr. Palmer discussed the cultural movements and religion in China, and how these things have shaped the current secular state of China. He discussed the different religions in current day China such as Christianity Buddhism, Daoism, Muslim, and some other minor ritualistic religions. He further talked about how Daosim expressed local culture Buddhism expresses civilization and Christianity is the “Seed of Secularization” and how ritual traditions are different due to all the social forces in China. Moreover, Dr. Palmer also talked about his theory of the 3 scenarios:

  1. 1)  The 1st scenario = The Western Model: Which reflects the freedom of religion in
    which governments would allow their citizens more space for expression of religious beliefs. Foe ex. The privatization of Religion – by opening religious businesses in China.
  2. 2)  The 2nd Scenario = The Qing Dynasty Model: Which creates and promotes directly and indirectly Maoism, Buddhism, Daoism and the idea of “reincarnation” – as well as the new era idea of “applying for reincarnation.”
  3. 3)  The 3rd Scenario = Which talks about the Government going back to ritualistic religion and becoming a “Spiritual Utopia,” the resurrection of Maoism, Marcisist & socialist ideology. He explained that this scenario cannot come to a full circle because people don’t want the state to have full control of government.

Furthermore, the author talked about the issue of “western culture” in China and how “westerners” believed China had no religion because of the comparison made with the western experience of Christianity. Additionally, he talked about the “sacred” and the “traditional ritualistic” religions in the Villages of Southern China, as well as the “profane.” Also, the constant battle against the Chinese Government corrupting everything it touches and how is always trying to fall back on the “religion by the emperor” idea, in order to have absolute control of the nation. The closing remarks stated that the “Religious Question” is “Evolution.” Dr. Palmer explained that cultural creativity has been going on for sometime now due to the fact that nothing is cast in stone; therefore, the future of religion in China is wide open.


Politics Of East Asia

This semester I went to two events in Washington, D.C. related to Asian politics, in general, and China, specifically.  The first event was a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing titled “Beijing As An Emerging Power In The South China Sea,” and the second was Wilson International Center For Scholars event with former Secretary Of State Henry Kissinger and former United States Ambassador To China Stapleton Roy.

The House Foreign Affairs hearing focused on China’s policies and influence, but it examined U.S. policy in the region, as well.  The Committee began the hearing by marking up H.R. 6313 about a peaceful and collaborative resolution to maritime territorial disputes, and, while the room was full of interns with copies of the bill, they put them away almost immediately because the hearing continued just as immediately.  The Chairwoman, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), opened with remarks not only about her intolerance of Chinese aggression but also about the terrorist attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, which occured late the previous day.  A dozen or more congressmen and women went around the room making remarks of their own by order of seniority, and they probably pertained to Benghazi as much as they did about China, especially with the Republican congresspeople.  After the remarks, the witnesses were introducted: Toshi Yoshihara, Chair of Asian Pacific Studied at the U.S. Naval War College, Bonnie Glaser, Chair in China Studies at the Center For Strategic And International Studies, Peter Brookes, Senior Fellow of National Security Affairs at the Heritage Institute, and Richard Cronin, Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Stimson Center.  The witnesses gave remarks of their own and took questions from the congresspersons, once again by senority.  As the representatives asked their questions, the room began to empty until the chairwoman herself left, and someone else took her place while the most junior members of the asked their question before the hearing was adjourned.

The Wilson Center event focused on U.S.-China Relations as they related to the Eighteenth National Congress of China.  Former Secretary Henry Kissinger is a very humorous man, and he got a lot of laughs from the panel and the audience alike.  The panel included Melissa Block, the host of NPR’s All Things Considered, Jane Harman, the President and CEO of the Wilson Center, David Lampton from the School Of Advanced Internation Studies’ China Studies Program, Cheng Li, a Senior Fellow and Director of the Brooking Institution’s China Center, and, of course, the former ambassador.  Even as distinguished as everyone was, all seem to be honored to be in the presence of former Secretary Kissinger.  After breif remarks from Secretary Kissinger, the floor was opened for questions.  There was one, in particular, about the disappearance of Xi Jinping and how it may affect Chinese succession in the future.  There was a lot of talk about the new leaders of China and their experience with the U.S., along with a lot of their experience that were uniquely Chinese and how it would affect their policies.  However, the general consensus was that no one really knew or even could know so all they were doing was speculating, especially in regards to Xi, but one thing everyone agreed upon was the China would be changed.  It just depended upon which faction of the Communist party won the internal struggle that was undoubtably going on.  Althought, David Lampton highlighted the fact that he believed no surprises would ever come out of the Party Congress, but he could see the changes on the horizon.  There were remarks to the effect that the U.S. does not affect Chinese policy as much as it once did, as well, and that might be a result of the new leadership within China.  They want to create a legacy for the Party, but change is still possible from the provincial level.   After all, China has reformed from the dictatorial government it once was.

Overall, both events were very informative, and I feel as if I’ve learned a lot from some of the great minds of our generation.

GW- Chinese leadership transition

For my second DC event I went to George Washington for a discussion on China’s leadership transition. The speaker was Christopher Johnson, a chair of China studies at CSIS and a former analyst at the CIA. After a brief introduction he started his discussion. He started off simply discussing the apparent result of the most recent party congress. He addressed some of the more widely discussed topics, especially the influence of Jiang Zemin. He also discussed the lack of reformists on the standing committee. While he acknowledged that this sent discouraging signals he made the counter argument that since the committee does not seem to have any major ideological fault lines it means it has a greater opportunity accomplish its goals.

After discussing the transition itself he moved onto the effects the personnel changes would have on China’s policy. In terms of economic and political reform the latter is less likely to occur. If anything changes it is likely to be in the form of some intraparty democratization or some small tweaks to the system. With economic reforms he argues that as a princeling Xi Jinping may have the credibility to tackle some of the most egregious forms of corruptions such as land grabs by local officials. Later Johnson discussed some of the problems with provincial and local authorities. Afterwards he talked about the changing status of the PLA and the extent of military corruption.

After discussing the military he segued into foreign affairs. Here he discussed the difficulties of Sino-Japanese relations in recent years and the reasons for their decline. Johnson also tried to explain why the Chinese government has been moving to embrace the North Korean government more since 2008. He then finalized his analysis by discussing the future of relations between the US and China. While the Chinese government was slightly relieved with Obama’s reelection there is a degree of uncertainty as many administration officials leave. However, he did not predict any major changes in the near future.

After he was done speaking Johnson opened up a question and answer session. The first questions dealt with perennial issues such as Taiwan and Tibet. On the former he felt not much would change soon since the current KMT government has overseen a relatively stable period of cross straight relations. On Tibet he was surprisingly optimistic since Xi and his father have had a history of being fairly moderate on this issue. The remaining questions mostly regarded specific officials or certain details of the transition such as Xi’s brief disappearance. After these had been addressed the moderator made some closing remarks as the conference wound down.

US-China Economic Relations

I attended the Foreign Policy Classroom at the US Department of State.  The topic was on “US-China Economic Relations.”  The guest speaker was Lawrence Grippo, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs who serves as a trade policy analyst for the Office of Bilateral Trade Affairs.  Mr. Grippo discussed various aspects of US-China economic relations.  He touched basis on how US companies are making profit compared to the labor rates paid to Chinese laborers. He also discussed how the Chinese economy has been successful after the economic reforms after long dependence on the Soviet’s to enhance the Chinese economy.

He also explained the Chinese government’s efforts in helping their economy by providing money to subsidize small businesses, innovations and researches.  China has also had success in clean energy production, pharmaceutical industry, and building aircrafts.  Mr. Grippo went on explaining that China is focused more on investments and not on labor.  There are also some regulations that both US and China have on companies especially when it comes to national security.  This event was very helpful for me to understand some basics about US-China economic relations.

Brookings – US/China Relations

For my DC event I attended a conference at the Brookings Institute regarding the China/US relationship as an issue in the 2012 election. The four panelists were Richard Bush, Kenneth Lieberthal, Joshua Metzer, and Jonathan Pollack. Although they all admitted that this has not been a huge issue in the presidential campaign they argued that this will be one of the most, if not the most important foreign policy areas for the foreseeable future.

All of the panelists mentioned that they thought that the difference between Obama and Romney on this issue is one of packaging rather than substance. While Romney may take a more hawkish tone on the campaign trail he and Obama have similar stances on issues from human rights to intellectual property issues. Lieberthal added that there has been a pattern in presidential elections where the challenger accuses the incumbent of being soft on China. If he is elected he will try to implement some of his promises but eventually reverts to the original policy. An example was Clinton’s promise to use sanctions in response to China’s human rights violations, which he eventually dropped.

Some of the panelists did remark that there is some risk that given China’s sensitive leadership transition some of the more nationalist campaign rhetoric could have a negative effect on mutual relations. If Xi Jinping or other new officials feel that they need to solidify up their base of support they may feel the need to push back more forcefully than expected. However, the general consensus was that the US/China relationship is going to remain relatively stable although there is some work to be done.

China’s New Leadership and US Foreign Policy

This event, held in the Woodrow Wilson Center in D.C., was specially interesting because the former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger joined the meeting as the keynote speaker.

While there were three other scholars that joined the conference, Kissinger’s speech marked out the importance of US-China cooperation in the world. Mentioning that conflicts between the two sides would become a disaster, Dr. Kissinger said that it required from both sides patience and understanding on the mistakes and goals that each country had.

Dr. Kissinger also shared interesting facts about China that I did not know. First of all, he said that trade in China at the time of the “opening” was less than the trade Honduras had even five years after. He mentioned that each generation style of leadership in the Chinese government had become less personal over the years; and that China was a country that is determined to be what it has always been.

David Lampton, director of China Studies who joined the group, on the other hand, made a claim that “Cultural Revolution” had hardened the generation of leaders. He also advised the public that China’s political system was NOT that different from the others. He emphasized that Chinese politicians also had political ambitions and that people should not assume that normal political environment is not present in China because it has an authoritarian government.