SOEs no longer above investigation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-17 18:54:53

 

SOEs no longer

above investigation 

 

 

By Li Huizi

 

 

The fall of an automaker supremo and an oil giant’s chief proves that China is taking its fight against corruption to the C-suite and deepening reform of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Graft investigations into Xu Jianyi (徐建一), chairman of FAW Group, and Liao Yongyuan (廖永远), general manager of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), were announced shortly after the country’s annual parliamentary session closed with lawmakers applauding the anti-corruption campaign initiated when Xi Jinping took office as Party chief in late 2012.

SOEs play a leading role in the Chinese economy. However, corruption has become a major enemy to their development. To revitalize these enterprises, it is essential to oppose their executives’ pursuit of personal gains as it hinders healthy operation of the market economy.

Both FAW and CNPC hold a monopoly in their respective sectors, a status full of graft risks including embezzlement of public assets, as it lacks external scrutiny.

The Communist Party of China’s top anti-corruption agency has inspected 26 SOEs so far in 2015. Two weeks after inspectors marched into CNPC headquarters on March 1, Liao was publicly placed under investigation.

He has been an oil mogul for three decades. Xu, the son of a FAW mid-level executive, has similar experience. Their fall came hot on the heels of that of Song Lin, former chairman of China Resources. The three built their kingdoms via monopolies and corruption.

Even more shocking are the signs of how systemic the corruption has been in these SOEs. More than 40 CNPC executives have been dragged under the graft microscope since March 2013. Counting Liao, five of the nine members of the executive board have been subject to investigation. Jiang Jiemin, former head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, has also been investigated for graft found during his tenure as CNPC chairman. And before Xu’s fall, there were many scandals involving FAW executives’ conduct.

A clique culture has become deep-rooted in some SOEs, creating the soil for collective corruption, especially in monopolized sectors such as oil.

With the crackdown reaching deeper into SOEs, more than 70 executives were investigated last year. Chinese anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan has vowed that all SOEs will be inspected in 2015,

If executives continue exercising power capriciously, they will surely pay a heavy price.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |   2015-03-14 15:46:45

 

AIIB, a case for cooperation

 

By Wang Zichen

 

 

The UK’s decision of becoming a founding member of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a good sign to further consolidate the international cooperation in infrastructure investment.

George Osborne, chancellor of the Exchequer of Britain, said that the AIIB fills an important gap in providing finance for infrastructure in Asia, and joining the AIIB at the founding stage will create an unrivalled opportunity for the UK and Asia to invest and grow together.

The remarks reflected a tendency for a more constructive attitude towards China’s effort in playing a bigger role in the world’s economic restructuring.

China has confirmed Britain’s decision and is seeking the opinions of other founding countries, the country’s Finance Ministry said.

Despite a multinational presence within the AIIB, the United States somehow believes its efforts in pooling capital — in other words, contribution to job creation and economic growth — are worrying.

Viewing the initiative from its own perspective, Washington once again puts its own concern beyond the interests of others, including some of its allies.

In response to U.S. concern that the new institution should incorporate the high standards of the World Bank, expressed after Britain’s announcement to join the AIIB, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the bank will strive to meet international criteria.

“The AIIB will complement existing multilateral development banks and support the infrastructure and economic development in Asia. Britain’s move will further promote the common development of Asian countries, ” Hong said at a daily news briefing on Friday.

He said AIIB’s operation and governance will be open, transparent, inclusive and responsible.

The World Bank also welcomes Britain’s application to be a founding member of the China-proposed AIIB and it has prepared to help such multilateral development banks.

“Simply for the need for more infrastructure spending, there is no doubt that we welcome the entry of the AIIB,” said the World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim in Tokyo on Friday.

As a major infrastructure equipment exporter, China has been pooling effort to provide badly-needed funds to infrastructure construction, a hindrance to many countries’ development. BRICS countries alone have about 1 trillion U.S. dollars each year in infrastructure needs, according to World Bank’s statistics. Such funding gaps also exist elsewhere.

Britain should be in at the start of the new bank, ensuring that it operates in a transparent way, Osborne said.

This kind of engagement with China, hopefully, will become more prevalent in the years to come, as the country is eyeing on more international cooperations including the AIIB and the Silk Road Economic Belt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-13 18:55:10

 

Self-reproach

is the right attitude to advance

judicial reform

 

By Wu Chen

 

 

Admitting mistakes is much better than hiding your head in the sand when it comes to reform and development.

Thus, when a top judge and top prosecutor voiced remorse for judiciary oversight, they were lauded for displaying the attitude necessary to truly reform the judiciary.

In his report made to the ongoing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Thursday of March 12, Chief Justice Zhou Qiang expressed self-reproach for wrongful convictions during his tenure.

Procurator-General Cao Jianming also called for self-reflection on wrongful convictions in his report.

Mistakes made by the judiciary have serious implications. For those involved, it costs them their reputation, freedom and even life, while it causes society to question the judicial system and the rule of law.

The comprehensive implementation of rule of law is impossible without a credible judicial system and strict discipline.

Following the correction of wrongful convictions, more effort should be made to avoid history repeating itself.

Questions must be answered: Why have judicial organs failed to ensure justice? Was it because of intervention or incompetence?

Back in October 2014, following the release of a blueprint for rule of law set by the fourth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, President Xi Jinping warned of serious systematic problems in the judiciary and pledged to remove injustice.

Problems identified included the manipulation of cases in exchange for personal gain and intervention by outside parties.

The system can only be fixed by tracing the problems back to their roots. Therefore, a well-designed system is needed to ensure the authority of law and independence.

Judicial transparency is one solution. In addition to official supervision, the judicial system must be open to public scrutiny.

Both of the work reports of the SPC and SPP designated nearly half of their length to the explanation of legal terms and the profiling of important cases to ensure lawmakers had a better understanding of the content of the reports.

Judicial reform is an ongoing process, that will take time, however, the remorse shown by the top judge and prosecutor is a significant step in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-12 15:56:01

 

Embrace the fight

against corruption

 

By Yao Yuan

 

 

When Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged a life-or-death fight against corruption in 2012, many Western observers and corrupt Chinese officials expected nothing more than a strong yet short-lived whirlwind.

Their reasoning: corruption was so deeply woven into China’s political, economic and social fabric, that attempts to challenge this “status quo” would fall flat or worse, hurt the economy, disrupt social order and jeopardize the party’s rule.

Two years later, the whirlwind has grown into a windstorm targeting both high-ranking “tigers” and low-level “flies”.

China’s top prosecutor Cao Jianming said on Thursday of March 12 that 28 officials at the provincial or ministerial level or higher were probed for corruption last year, including Zhou Yongkang and Xu Caihou.

And instead of derailing China’s economic and political train, the storm is revitalizing a country long plagued by corruption.

In the economic circle, the anti-graft campaign is cutting back the fiddling and fraudulent hands of corrupt officials. As China tackles economic slowdown, such efforts will help lessen burden for companies and create a cleaner investment environment.

The repercussion can also be felt in social spheres, with the gift-giving culture ebbing away, official extravaganzas shunned and “artworks” by officials attracting fewer fawning buyers. The country’s social ethos have turned against corrupt activities.

But as the anti-corruption war enters its third year, questions are being raised over the future of the campaign.

On March 2, Lyu Xinhua, spokesman for China’s political advisory body, which is convening its annual session, promised “no limit or ceiling” for China’s anti-corruption effort. On the same day, China’s military authority released a list of 14 generals convicted of graft or placed under investigation.

But the ambition of the CPC goes beyond purging corrupt officials. On Sunday, top legislator Zhang Dejiang said China plans to develop national legislation to fight corruption.

The legislation is widely expected to set clear codes of conduct for Chinese officials to prevent them from being corrupt. If passed, it will mark a major step in institutionalizing the anti-graft drive.

More importantly, it shows China’s anti-corruption drive is not meant to be a temporary political movement, but that the CPC is willing to take up a life-long battle and subject it to the rule of law.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-11 14:00:38

 

Japanese media

should value truth

in war history reports

 

By Wu Chen

 

 

Truthfulness and objectivity are basic journalistic ethics that we suppose Japanese editors and journalists are familiar with. However, these codes have been ignored in Japanese reports on the history of the Second World War.

Japan’s role as invader during the war is evident, as is the fact that Japanese forces brutally massacred over 300,000 civilians and unarmed soldiers after capturing China’s then-capital of Nanjing on December 13, 1937.

Media reports have a much bigger influence on public opinion than individual views expressed at home. Therefore, the media should try their best to avoid biased stories and carry editorials based on accurate details in order not to mislead the public.

Unfortunately, certain Japanese publications have failed to do both.

On February 23, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on the international community to take history as a mirror and draw lessons to chart the course of the future while presiding over an open debate at the United Nations Security Council.

The debate bore the theme “Maintaining International Peace and Security: Reaffirm the Strong Commitment to the Purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.”

It was reasonable to remind the audience not to forget history during the debate since the international community’s victory over fascism is directly related to the founding of the UN.

However, in an editorial on February 25 titled “China’s anti-Japan propaganda distorts postwar history ahead of anniversary,” the Yomiuri Shimbun said China intended to demean Japan and accused China of causing regional instability.

Wang’s speech was misinterpreted by other Japanese media as well.

No one but the Japanese press has been distorting postwar history, and it has particularly focused on denying the Nanjing Massacre.

The Sankei Shimbun, a rightist Japanese daily, recently released a four-day series of articles denying that the horrendous Nanjing Massacre happened.

According to the headline, Nanjing was “(a)n empty city with no army or residents,” and a heading proclaimed, “No people, no massacre.” The paper even said the captured city was “so peaceful,” quoting Japanese veterans who claimed to be in the Chinese capital after its fall in 1937.

The newspaper also smeared a national memorial service website for the massacre victims launched by the Chinese government and history books for “brainwashing the youth.”

Even if lies and deceit are tolerable to certain Japanese politicians, they must be absolutely unacceptable for the media, which should value truth as much as life.

Obviously, certain Japanese media, such as the Sankei Shimbun and the Yomiuri Shimbun, don’t care much about the truth. They ignored different voices both within and outside Japan, forgot to double-check the facts and did nothing to avoid a biased report.

The influence of right-wing politicians and activists has spread through the media, amplifying their voices like a loudspeaker.

The subversion of indisputable historical facts has stripped the dignity of the victims massacred in Nanjing and deeply hurt the survivors.

It has also destroyed the reputation of the newspapers, though they may not value it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NANJING  |  2015-03-10 20:58:47

 

Why Nanjing Massacre

at the core of Japanese rightists’

war crime whitewashing?

 

By Fang Ning and Jiang Fang

 

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s remark on persuading the Japanese government to face its wartime crimes during her visit to Japan on Monday sent a good warning to the Japanese public that they are influenced by political bias.

Merkel said on Monday of March 9 that her country was lucky to be reintroduced and accepted by the international community after the horrible days during the Nazi rule and the Holocaust. “I think it was possible first because Germany did face its past squarely.”

Unlike German, Japan has never fully admitted its aggression history.

The Sankei Shimbun, a Japanese nationwide daily, has run a series of reports since February on whitewashing the Nanjing Massacre quoting several war veterans who allegedly “recalled” that the city of Nanjing was an “empty city” when Japanese troops entered it in 1939, and it was “so peaceful” that no bloodshed ever happened.

The reports run by the newspaper with nationwide influence are meant to raise doubts about one of the three world-recognized massacres that happened during World War II.

The newspaper’s provocation has carried on the Japanese rightists’ denial of wartime atrocities following their efforts to remove all descriptions of the crimes from textbooks and classrooms.

Why the holocaust acknowledged as a historical fact by the international community has been at the core of Japanese rightists’ whitewashing the country’s wartime crimes?

During the six weeks after Japanese aggressors first occupied Nanjing on Dec. 13, 1937, 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers were slaughtered, together with countless cases of rape, looting and arson, and one third of the city was burned to the ground. The incidents were judged to be war crimes by the post-war International Military Tribunal for the Far East held in Tokyo.

The occupation of Nanjing and the ensuing massacre was the most-discussed war atrocity at the Tokyo Tribunal where Japanese war criminals were convicted. The tragedy took up two chapters in the 1,218-page written judgement of the trial after evidence and testimony were presented in court giving irrefutable proof that the massacre happened.

However, the trial did not thoroughly expose Japanese militants’ overall crimes and the nature of their invasion of China.

The inadequate adjudgement of the trial has left “loopholes” taken as leeway by Japanese right-wing politicians in denying crimes such as the Nanjing Massacre, said Zhu Chengshan, curator of the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders in Nanjing City, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province.

By denying the most prominent crime that happened during the war, the right-leaning Japanese government has tried to play down the tyrannical image as the war crimes, particularly the massacre, have pinned Japan on the position of “invader,” “defeated country” and “peace breaker” during WWII.

However, Merkel has given Japan a good advice. The only way of winning international respects is being honest to its past wrongs. This year coincides with the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. The world hopes Japan would learn from the lessons of its war crimes so the country will never wage war again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-10 19:57:41

 

What if China

had taken a different path?

 

By Gui Tao

 

 

A discussion on how historical events may have developed differently will not rewrite history. It does, however, offer an opportunity to consider — and better understand — the present, and how to forge a better future.

The ongoing annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) provides a suitable backdrop to reflect upon the country’s 61-year-old fundamental political system, and to examine how this unique model of governance has transformed the ancient middle kingdom into the world’s second largest economy.

Had the world’s most populous nation been governed by a bipartisan system, what would have happened?

Hindsight shows us that the Western political system, which is not inherently problematic and was designed to encourage “freedom”, would have been incompatible to a country where efficiency has driven remarkable economic growth and social development.

Seemingly endless political bickering, inherent in the Western model, would have led to political dysfunction, which in turn would have brought catastrophic repercussions on a nation four times as big as the United States.

Political lobbying would dilute the unique strength and success of socialist China’s “concentrating resources to do big things”.

Should China have adopted a system that facilitated lobbying among interest groups, policies on domestic infrastructure to bills that had worldwide implication would be caught in a self perpetuating cycle of limitless debates.

China is the world’s leading emitter of C02, however, had financial oligarchies been allowed to run the nation like a profit-seeking conglomerate, a carbon emission deal — such as the climate accord reached between Beijing and Washington during the 2014 APEC meeting — would have been out of the question.

Even in comparison with the Republicans in the United States, filibusters in Chinese Congress would have made any health care or poverty reduction bill extremely difficult to pass.

Further, China’s feat of becoming the first developing country to halve its population living in poverty would have never been accomplished.

Half of the 1.3-billion population may have been recipients of foreign aid, making it a huge burden on the world.

At best, China would have been another India, the world’s biggest democracy by Western standards, where around 20 percent of the world’s poorest live and whose democracy focuses on how power is divided.

In 2014, India registered a per capital gross domestic product (GDP) equal to a mere quarter of China’s GDP.

Or, China could have become certain African democratic country that has struggled with civil wars, military junta, coup d’etats and the “curse of resources” for decades following the end of Western colonial rule in the 1960s.

Should China’s mainstream political parties have been fiscally irresponsible and pursued interventionist policies globally, like in the United States, the People’s Liberation Army would have received an inflated military budget — at the expense of development projects.

This situation would have fed nationalist sentiment, and wars would be imminent. This would have only been good news for opportunists and arms dealers, who would have rushed to cash in on the unrest.

A system that allows plurality is fertile ground for election rigging, vote buying and the silencing of minorities. In a country as ethnically and geographically diverse as China, the fires of opposition would have been stoked and the nation divided

That is why in his article “Why Socialism?”, Albert Einstein said that in a capitalist society: “Legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists. So the representatives of the people do not [...] protect the interests of the underprivileged.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-10 19:56:55

 

Achievements made

in building transparent judicial system

 

By Wu Chen

 

 

A white paper released on Tuesday of March 10 detailed how Chinese courts’ have been bettering judicial transparency since late 2013. A big step forward has been made in building a transparent judicial system.

The fourth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee set a new blueprint for the rule of law in the country, leading to increased efforts to open judicial transparency.

More than 6 million judgements, verdicts and reconciliation statements have been put online since Jan. 1, 2014, He Xiaorong, office director of the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) judicial reform leadership group told a press conference on the white paper.

He said a website with such a large quantity of published judgements is worldwide rarity.

Litigant demands, collected evidence and how judges arrived at their conclusions are now available for public scrutiny. The judges will be more cautious when exercising discretion and less space will be left for interventions.

Along with the disclosure of results, the judicial process itself is now more open to the public.

Live updates on social media by Jinan Intermediate People’s Court during the trial of Bo Xilai, former secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee and a former member of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau in August 2013, were hailed by experts and the public as a substantial move to enhance judicial transparency.

The official website for Chinese courts started live broadcasting court trials in December 2013. By the end of 2014, 519 court trials had been live broadcast with another 80,000 trials broadcast live by people’s courts at various levels.

Not only are the legal rights of people involved in lawsuits better protected with supervision from society, but it also increases the credibility of the judicial system.

Meanwhile, by directly following court trials, the public has gained faith in the judicial system, understood it better and will be more likely to use it to solve problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-10 18:10:23

 

Economic growth slowdown

“nothing to be afraid of”

 

By Wang Hongjiang

 

 

China has reason to remain optimistic as experts said its lower growth target was “nothing to be afraid of”.

“The growth rate slowdown cannot hide the fact that gross domestic product [GDP] has expanded.” Tan Yaling, president of the China Forex Investment Research Institute, told Xinhua on Monday of March 9.

The central government has lowered this year’s growth target to approximately 7 percent, prompting concerns of an economic retreat.

The move came after China said its GDP was 63.65 trillion yuan (10.37 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2014, up 7.4 percent year on year, the weakest annual expansion in 24 years.

“The growth rate is not the only parameter used to judge the economy,” said Tan, adding that economic expansion and GDP per capita must also be considered.

China’s GDP per capita has continued to grow, hitting 7,485 dollars in 2014, 1,385 dollars more than in 2012.

“Disparities of growth rates between China and the rest of the world could mean risks,” said Tan.

According to World Bank estimations, the global economy expanded by 3 percent in 2015, slightly higher than in 2014.

As the world’s second biggest economy has entered a “new normal” phase of slower growth, Tan said, the real challenge was how to shift China’s growth from quant-type to a quality-type, technology-based one.

“We should mitigate the growth rate to focus on restructuring.” She said.

Tan further noted that great growth potential could be sparked by transforming China from a “manufacturing power” into a “manufacturing brand”.

Although China is a manufacturing industry leader, it lacks branded products, she added.

Justin Yifu Lin, former chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank, also highlighted China’s “growth potential” in a seminar held Friday at Beijing University.

Lin said: “China has an annual growth potential of 8 percent for 20 years starting from 2008.”

Lin’s remarks were based on his own comparative research into the economies of China, Japan, Singapore, Republic of Korea and China’s Taiwan region.

His optimism has been fueled by the performance of sectors like equipment manufacturing, e-commerce, Internet finance, new energy and environmental protection, which he said had growth potential.

China’s rich investment resources, including large foreign currency reserves and high private savings, would also help in turning “growth potential” into down-to-earth “growth”, according to Lin.

But Lin warned that both weak international demand and domestic challenges like corruption, pollution, income and urban-rural gaps could threaten growth.

Overall, Lin believes that China could meet this year’s growth target, adding that he was optimistic about the future of the economy as Chinese people have enough talent to overcome difficulties and tackle challenges.

China’s 2015 target growth rate “takes into consideration what is needed and what is possible. This target is both aligned with our goal of finishing building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and is appropriate in terms of the need to grow and upgrade our economy,” according to a government work report delivered by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the parliament’s annual session this year.

“If China’s economy can grow at this rate for a relatively long time, we will secure a more solid material foundation for modernization,” Li added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-10 13:04:41

 

Japan stands at crossroads

 

By Wang Xiaopeng

 

 

As the world prepares to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Japan finds itself at a crossroads: maintain a pacifist stance or revive militarism?

Concerns over Japan’s intentions have sprung up like mushrooms all across East and Southeast Asia, as the Japanese government appears ready to challenge the international order established after the war.

Since 2012, it has been one act of provocation after another. Japanese prime minister’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, a spiritual symbol of Japan’s aggression which honors war criminals, sent shivers across the region.

In July, his administration endorsed a fundamental reinterpretation of the pacifist Constitution, proposing a right to collective self-defense, ambiguously rebranded as “proactive pacifism”.

If the Diet, Japan’s parliament, approves the revision, the country’s Self-Defense Forces will be allowed to send soldiers into battle on foreign soil, striking fear into the hearts of those with direct experience of Japan’s previous overseas military escapades.

Similarly alarming is Japan’s rising military expenditure. The cabinet has this year approved a record annual defense budget of just under 5 trillion yen (over 40 billion U.S. dollars).

Not content to merely boost military spending, the government and right-wing press have intensified their propaganda campaign to redact the history of the war. The Japanese government still refuses to admit the nature, let alone the scale, of its crimes during WWII.

One of Japan’s five national newspapers, the Sankei Shimbun, has even carried so-called testimonies of veterans denying their heinous atrocities, with one headline reading that Nanjing in December 1937 was an “empty city with no army or residents”. In fact Nanjing was a city where more than 300,000 people were murdered by the invaders.

In the decades following WWII, Japan earned the respect of the world as a peace-loving nation, and its tremendous economic contribution to the United Nations is globally recognized. If the current government continues to stack up threats to regional security, this international goodwill, accumulated by generations of Japanese leaders, will be dust in the wind.

The Japanese government should be reasonable regarding security policy. Let us not forget that the war Japan launched and lost was also disastrous for its own citizens, millions of whom were killed.

Adopting a responsible attitude to history would help the Japanese government weigh its current policy and its future, in the perspective of the whole of Asia.

Earlier this month, President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea urged Japan to be courageous and sincere in its treatment of history. The 50 years that have passed since Seoul and Tokyo forged diplomatic ties should have made Japan a more mature partner, she said. There should be no discrepancies in a shared history.

As the Chinese economy heads toward a service orientated economy, more focused on high-end manufacturing, many trading partners stand to benefit, not least Japan.

More importantly, friendly exchanges between China and Japan are the mainstay of relations which span more than 2,000 years. Last year, more than 2.4 million Chinese tourists visited Japan, a very substantial increase from previous years. In November, the two agreed to resume political, diplomatic and security dialogues.

Now is the perfect time for Japan to improve relations with China, but this can only take place in ambience without fear, on a road of peaceful development.

The choice is down to Japan: Will the nation opt, as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi put it on Sunday, to honestly bear “the burden of history”, or will the denial continue?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-09 22:16:24

 

Good law indispensable to

“Four Comprehensives”

 

By Fu Shuangqi

 

 

The Legislation Law, as about 3,000 national legislators are mulling its revision, is not only for the legislature’s concern.

Good legislation is a pillar for good governance in any country. For today’s China, it is particularly pivotal.

Whether the country is able to make good laws and make sure their implementation will greatly affect the drive to realize the strategic layout of “Four Comprehensives” put forward by the country’s central leadership.

Listed as one of the four priorities, the drive to advance the rule of law has accelerated since the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee adopted a comprehensive legal reform plan last October.

Only if the country has a properly designed legislative process that incorporate interests of all citizens and minimize influence from vested interest, can it make a solid step towards the rule of law.

Also, without the legislature effectively checking on legitimacy of government regulations and policies, which is a key content in the Legislation Law, the country will miss an effective tool to keep the administrative power in line with the law.

But the significance of the bill goes beyond the legal system.

The role that legislation plays in the country’s political life has notably changed. Decades ago, a reform would start without the law’s endorsement since the country’s legal system was hardly in place. A new law would be drafted or an existing one be revised based on successful results of government policies.

Now, as the country has more than 240 laws, about 700 government regulations and around 8,600 local laws, any administrative action needs to be endorsed by the law, even the latest and most urgent reform policies, as the overall reform blueprint adopted in November 2013 stressed.

Legislators are under a new pressure that their work should be a step ahead, showing the direction and guiding the practice. Such a change requires them to streamline the legislative process and the bill fully embodied the intent.

Most of reform areas now are about taking down old barriers, breaking up vested interests and rearranging stakes. Sometimes, a policy is not powerful enough and legislation is needed.

In fact the lawmaking process is a natural and more efficient platform for different interest groups to be negotiated and consensus to be built. Many believe this round of reform will not achieve essential progress if it steers clear of legislation.

Good legislation is also a strong support to the strict discipline of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), another priority in the “Four Comprehensives” strategy.

The CPC is seeking to “lock up the power in the cage of system”, which includes the legal system. Systematic political design to deter corruption will be incomplete and weak without legislation.

The attention the bill drew from the top leadership is a clear indication. In February, before it was tabled for the national legislative session, the seven-member Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of CPC Central Committee heard a brief about it and gave instructions.

As the CPC decided in its legal reform plan that it should govern the country in line with the law, naturally its key strategy will need the endorse and support of the law to be fully and effectively implemented. The revision to the Legislation Law is an important piece of the grand plan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |   2015-03-09 21:24:22

 

How about embracing

a prospering China?

 

By Jiang Xufeng

 

 

China’s top diplomat Wang Yi answered a long list of tough questions ranging from China-U.S. relations to China-Japan relations on Sunday of March 8. The questions themselves are a testimony to worries about China’s growing clout and possible confrontation with key global players.

China is on its journey to steady economic growth and a moderately prosperous society. Some observers demonize its phenomenal success. Should they consider changing their mind, they may have a change of heart and observe China’s development from a different perspective.

The world is in need of market demand to sustain job creation, a common concern for all countries. With an expanding middle class, the slowing but open Chinese economy provides growth momentum to foreign companies. More than 70 percent of U.S. organizations operating in China identified themselves as “profitable” or “very profitable” last year, according to a survey from the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) China.

As the world’s second largest economy, the leading recipient of foreign direct investment and the biggest trade partner for more than 120 countries and regions, China has clearly emerged as a stabilizing force in the global economy, accounting for more than a third of total global economic growth over the past five years.

China has growing pains such as smog, water pollution and overcapacity in some sectors. While the country is learning to tackle them through trial and error, one can’t expect them to go away overnight.

As a major infrastructure equipment exporter, China also pools effort to provide badly-needed funds to infrastructure construction, a hindrance to many countries’ development. BRICS countries alone have about 1 trillion U.S. dollars each year in infrastructure needs, according to World Bank’s calculations. Such funding gaps also exist elsewhere. Foreign assistance is a tiny piece of it and they have to rely on their own resources.

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road proposed by China in 2013 for collaboration between countries in Asia, Europe and Africa are a testament to their joint efforts of overcoming funding shortages and improving infrastructure connectivity.

The “Belt and Road” initiatives are referred to as another Marshall Plan by some, but they should not be viewed in the outdated Cold War mentality. It is not China’s “solo,” but a “symphony” performed by all relevant countries, borrowing a metaphor used by Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

China is a constructive force in building international order. Without a doubt, the current international order needs to be updated. But it is not about overturning it or starting all over again. The China-proposed Silk Road Fund, together with BRICS Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, can play a complementary, not contradictory, role to existing global financial institutions.

China, the United States and other major economies can and should deepen strategic trust. They should not magnify differences through a microscope but instead use a telescope to look ahead to the future, as the future of the world will be shaped by how they engage with each other and build a relationship centering on shared interests.

Key global players need China’s full participation in coping with thorny challenges like terrorism, climate change, cyber security, among others.

The vast Pacific Ocean has ample space for China, the United States and other economies. China aims to expand interests with partners in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, not seek world hegemony. As many China observers would be quick to embrace a panda, they may also try embracing the country’s peaceful development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-09 20:20:36

 

China fights corruption

with no pause

 

By Wang Di

 

 

China’s commitment to purging corruption did not cease when the country’s political high season began this month.

The annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the top legislature, and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory body, kicked off last week to discuss ambitious plans for the new year.

However, it was widely believed by political observers in China that news about corrupt officials was unlikely to be published during such major meetings as the “two sessions” or the Communist Party of China (CPC)’s national congress.

Evidence of such occurrences may be found in the past, but is no longer the case since the current leadership took office in 2012 and declared a high-profile anti-graft crackdown that has ensnared top generals and party officials.

Much to the public’s surprise, military authorities released a list of 14 generals convicted of graft or placed under investigation on March 2, one day before the opening of the CPPCC session.

Those under investigation include Guo Zhenggang, deputy political commissar of the Zhejiang provincial military area command, the son of Guo Boxiong, the retired former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.

The exposure of military corruption did not come alone. China’s top anti-graft body announced that Jing Chunhua, a senior official in Hebei Province, has been put under investigation for “suspected serious discipline and law violations” on March 3, the first day of the CPPCC annual session.

Meanwhile, local anti-graft bodies continue to name corrupt officials as the political sessions continues.

Whether it is during the major fourth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee held last October or the ongoing “two sessions,” China’s anti-graft drive has maintained momentum, investigating and punishing corrupt officials as usual.

The authority’s fight against high-ranking “tigers” as well as lowly “flies” has showed the drive is not merely a sweeping campaign. Instead, the leadership is pushing a permanent mechanism to limit power and curb corruption.

China plans to develop national legislation to fight corruption, according to a report delivered by top legislator Zhang Dejiang on Sunday.

The country will work out revisions to the Law on Administrative Supervision, said Zhang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, while delivering a work report at the annual session of the top legislature.

The anti-graft legislation should be introduced as quickly as possible and the system of sanctions and prevention improved with a goal of being a mechanism that means “officials dare not, cannot and do not want to be corrupt,” according to the decision.

Furthermore, the top legislature is mulling harsher punishments for those committing crimes of embezzlement and bribery. Heavier penalties will be imposed on those offering bribes, according to a draft amendment to the Criminal Law submitted to the NPC Standing Committee for a first reading in October last year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-09 16:28:17

 

No prejudice

in anti-terrorism cooperation

 

By Ren Ke, Liu Fei and Xu Yang

 

 

As terrorist attacks are proliferating around the world, all countries need to cooperate, rather than show prejudice, in a bid to squeeze the breeding ground for terrorism.

At a press conference on Sunday of March 8, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said China has always been an active participant in international cooperation against terrorism.

In a globalized situation, weapons, funds and terrorist ideologies are spreading across borders and continents, so that no country can enjoy immunity from terrorist attacks. As the threat increases, there is a pressing need for international cooperation.

China is playing an important role in the anti-terrorism drive. It is a key signatory of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) Convention against Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism.

The country is also a victim of terrorism. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement is a clear and present threat to China’s security. China and SCO countries have held joint military drills to seek countermeasures against the group.

However, due to the prejudice originating from different ideologies and political systems, China’s efforts have sometimes been misinterpreted.

In March last year, terrorists attacked a railway station in the capital of South China’s Yunnan Province, killing 29 and injuring 141. But some foreign countries were reluctant to define the incident as a terrorist one. Instead, they characterized it as a symptom of “ethnic conflict”.

It was the same story after a series of terrorist attacks in Kashgar of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. China’s joint military drills have also sometimes been interpreted as saber-rattling to warn off neighbors.

Those countries use double standards on terrorism, linking the campaign against terrorism in China to ethnic issues, or interfering with other countries’ domestic issues on the pretext of anti-terrorism. These attitudes run counter to the need for a united global front against terrorism.

China has said on several occasions that it is willing to cooperate with other countries against terrorism under the principle of mutual respect and equal cooperation. However, no cooperation can be achieved if countries forcibly promote their political values in the anti-terrorism war.

Only with sincerity in cooperation can the international community come together to prevent terrorism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-09 09:22:51

 

For political slogans,

drill, baby, drill

 

By Wang Zichen

 

 

For most Chinese media outlets, what “Change We Can Believe In” or “Yes We Can” entails is already a myth, much less its association with Barack Obama, or the Democratic vision for the United States.

So when The Economist truly believes the “Four Comprehensives”, the Chinese strategic layout put forward by President Xi Jinping, “may have staying power” and “is actually recognizable as the platform Mr. Xi has tried to implement”, we ought to applaud it for paying attention.

But a few words are still in order, as it appears the newspaper, and some of its Western peers, have rather an issue with how China crafts its own political slogans.

“Chinese Communist slogans do not count if you cannot count by them”, lamented The Economist, as if that was something wrong. In that case, what about “American campaign slogans do not stick if you can’t stick them on car bumpers”?

The point we are making is that political ideas, and more notably the expression and mass communication of them, are bound by the unique tradition and culture of each distinct political system.

It is unreasonable and unrealistic to expect one sovereignty’s political slogans to fall in line with another’s, as all politics is domestic.

There is no universal standard for promoting political concepts, as long as the promotion proves effective at the receiving end.

The Four Comprehensives — which refers to “comprehensively” building a moderately prosperous society, deepening reform, advancing the rule of law, and strictly governing the Communist Party of China — has been echoed across the Party, government and military echelons.

Calling it a victory may be premature, as Xi has incorporated rich content into the Four Comprehensives and there is still much to learn. But an inability or lack of appetite to digest the concept, as some Western reports have shown by treating them as cliche, may cause them to disconnect from the theme of Chinese politics.

The Economist queried “when the party is going to stop trying to reduce complex issues and policy debates to slogans you can count on the fingers of both hands”. On that, we have no definite answer. However, if such complex issues can be summarized with a few fingers, helping people better understand them, what’s the problem?

By the way, we would also like to note the increasing soft touches in recent Chinese political communications. For the leadership, from their appearing in cartoons, to their uttering of Internet buzzwords – the word of the current legislative session is Renxing – that are hugely folk-popular, their choice of words would be everything but, well, Renxing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-09 01:45:02

 

Intransigence on history,

poison for future

 

By Ren Ke and Xu Yang

 

 

Intransigence on history costs the future of not only Japan, but also the region and even the world.

A nation does not deeply reflect on its past, particularly for periods stained with atrocities and blood, would hardly win respect from others.

A nation’s image should be built on not only its self perception, but also the judgement made by others. Why have so many countries blamed Japan for its reflection on the history in World War II? Why are some economies even willing to sacrifice business opportunities before getting a sincere apology from Japan?

Repetitious visits of senior Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals among others, constantly soured relations between Japan and its Asian neighbors, including China.

Attempts of extremist political forces in Japan to revise its pacifist constitution further alerted neighboring countries, especially those being invaded by Japan in the world war which ended 70 years ago.

China plans to commemorate in September its victory in the Chinese people’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, one vital part of the world’s anti-Fascist war.

While using such commemorations for remembering 35 million Chinese people who were killed or wounded by Japanese invaders, the Chinese sympathize with Japanese people who also suffered greatly from militaristic expansion and its grave consequences.

Huge casualties and economic loss usually make people more cherish peace.

The more the perpetrator is conscious of his or her guilt, the more relieved the victim can feel about the suffering.

Defusing antagonistic sentiment from inside would be much more effective than just sending peacekeepers to the rest of the world.

China has no intention of toppling the existing international order, which has been established since the end of WWII, or creating a brand new one.

China, however, advocates to update the current order. The world has no longer been monopolized or manipulated by one or two superpowers. Greater space of existence and development requires respect from each other and sincerity in maintaining peace.

In creating a community of common destiny, China builds on closer ties with the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, many of which were also invaded by Japan in WWII.

As China and the ROK completed their free trade agreement talks as well as China and the ASEAN agreed to upgrade their free trade agreement, Japan, a major world economy, lags behind in free trade arrangements in East Asia.

Intransigence might make Japan lose more chance 70 years after it lost the war.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his government would invite leaders from all relevant countries and international organizations to China for the September commemorations.

With the door always open, China welcomes the participation of “anyone who is sincere about coming.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-03-07 10:03:16

 

7 pct growth

as a responsible global player

 

By Wang Zichen and Liu Jinhui

 

 

Much ink has been spilled over China’s expected growth rate for 2015. At 7 percent, it is not only aligned with China’s own goal, but also responsible for the globe.

The target was a historic low after the economy registered 7.4-percent growth last year, a 24-year low.

In the words of the government work report, the growth rate around 7 percent is being referred to as a medium-high level of growth, one major trait of the economic new normal that has been much talked about within China.

Such a growth rate will ensure ample employment, a key to maintain stability of the country, as China’s service sector becomes larger, the number of small and micro businesses grows, and the economy increases in size.

It’s also been recognized that a medium-high level of growth would be enough to accomplish the country’s goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020.

Chinese leadership is well prepared — signaling they are not uncomfortable with the new normal. Rather, they see it as an opportunity to usher the country’s development into a new stage.

Globally, China’s numbers are considerably brighter than other major economies, such as the 2.4-percent growth in the United States, 0.9 percent for the euro zone and 0.04 percent for Japan.

By continuing a medium-high growth streak, China is shouldering its responsibility to the world economy, where many entities now depend on Chinese manufacturers who buy raw materials. With more jobs and better income, Chinese consumers will not stop shopping around the world.

It is also paramount, however, for other economies to recognize the new normal and adapt to the changes. For example, China will be more selective of foreign investments that bring in more value-added productions, instead of factories that rely on exhausting resources, labor and the environment.

The rest of the world may see more investments from China, already a net capital exporter, which will contribute jobs and taxes to other economies.

In an increasingly globalized economy, China’s partners should also be prepared to accept that what goes on in the second-largest economy and the biggest goods trader in the world will definitely have an impact on others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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