Catching Up

Coming back from vacation, I’ll add to the swarm of interconnectedness on the web by posting links that give a smattering of recent China news and some ways to look at it:

  • National People’s Congress (NPC) – The annual meeting of the official state body that puts official approval on Party directed plans started on Saturday. This year is especially important because it marks the beginning of a new 5-year plan, the 12th 5-year plan.
  • One decently prominent Chinese writer marked the occasion of the NPC meeting on his blog by poking fun at the shaky foundation of the token “democratic” selection process that goes into choosing deputies to the congress. He says that he doesn’t have a voter’s card (which citizens over 18 can get) and, looking to China’s election law for why, concludes that it must be because he is “psychologically unstable”
  • One of the many subtexts to China’s reduction in GDP growth targets, down to 7% per year, and much trumpeted focus on environmental targets in the just announced 5-year plan might be an interest in “energy independence”. As noted on the New York Times’ Dot Earth Blog, China imports huge amounts of foreign oil, coal, and natural gas. Calls for “energy independence” in America usually rest on economic fears, becoming “energy security” when it comes to justifying foreign wars. In the Chinese context, where the government is said to fiercely uphold economic targets in part because continued prosperity helps maintain government legitimacy, “energy security” is a more domestic concern. The statistic: “while the U.S. spends 3% of GDP on imported commodities, China spends 8%.”
  • On another security front, China has mobilized an unprecedented military support operation to evacuate it’s 32,000 citizens from Libya. That’s a lot of people. The effort is a big moment in the use of big military machines in a far away places for China. China is also going against their usual behavior in the UN, where they’ve supported a UN resolution putting restrictions on Libya. They agreed, begrudgingly, to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council.
  • A neat Middle-East-protest-includes-China moment was caught by Evan Osnos on his New Yorker blog. Some protesters in Egypt wrote signs in Chinese characters calling for the resignation of Mubarak.
  • Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the revolution that wasn’t. Some Chinese language off-shore tweets during January advocated commemorating/imitating the Mid-East protests in China by asking supporters to “stroll” every Sunday at 2pm in several appointed places around China. The result was a massive security presence, practically no noticeable protesters, and confrontations between foreign journalists and police. Perhaps most interestingly, the planned epicenter of this protest movement was intended to be a McDonald’s in Beijing.
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