China trilateral talks

 

South Korea, Japan and China relations

Chinese media had been cautiously optimistic about China-Japan ties after the two nations decided to engage into a first high-level security talks in four years. The meeting in Tokyo comes after recent tensions over territorial and historical issues. They are also about to conduct trilateral talks together with South Korea. The last round of Beijing-Tokyo talks was in 2011, before ties worsened over a row over islands in the East China Sea. Several media outlets have described Thursday’s meeting as “amicable”. Experts interviewed by the newspapers say that the talks show both countries’ “willingness” to improve ties.

 

South Korea and Japan had a bad relation

Yang Bojiang, the deputy director of Japanese studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, tells the Global Times that a “mechanism [for regular talks] was unlikely to be established immediately”.”But the success of such a mechanism will depends on Japan’s stance on wartime history,” says the pundit, explaining that China will wait for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two. Echoing that sentiment, Zhang Tuosheng, the director of research at the China Foundation for International Strategic Studies, tells the China Daily that the dialogue shows that both are “pressing ahead with capacity building for crisis management in real and concrete terms”. The daily, however, notes that Chinese officials and experts are worried over Tokyo’s plan to change legislative limits on Japan’s Self-Defence Forces and Japan’s arms exports. Meanwhile, a commentary in the Beijing News hopes that the upcoming talks between foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea will pave the way for a top leaders’ meeting in the future.”The foreign ministers meeting is a breakthrough and an attempt to push ahead for regional integration. The talks will provide the opportunity to smooth things out, which will influence trilateral relations and the construction of a better regional order,” it says. An article in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, which has been carried by various media outlets, observes that the three countries have adopted a “softer approach” to benefit economic co-operation in the region.

Images by DW and Al Jazeera

China bans Under the Dome

Smog has been regular in some cities in China

Chinese government has blocked the release of an investigative documentary on China’s infamous smog. It has been able to garner attraction in the internet with an overwhelming 175 million online viewers. The 103 minute documentary Under the Dome employs simple words to deliver a strong message to call out Chinese people who are consciously or unconsciously immersed in the gains of their economic success. This would likely initiate a new wave of public debate on air pollution once again. The world knows the problem China faces when it comes to air pollution. The city has been experiencing degradation in their air quality since the early 2000s. The public has already been familiar with the technical word PM 2.5 since 2011 when another debate on the toxic air initiated by public figures on Chinese social media Weibo. In the past four years, thousands of news articles on air pollution were published and various NGO campaigns highlighted the effects of pollution after which the government finally announced its war on polluted air in 2014.

Chai Jing was a former reporter who created Under the Dome

Despite the awareness of the Chinese people on the problem of air quality, they still lack in trying to come up with tangible solutions. The sight of people wearing masks outside in Beijing has been a regular thing for the past few years. The documentary has been able to sparked a wide range of public discussion from environmental protection to energy reform, then to science communication even towards humanity. In fact, the Chinese environment minister Chen Jining praised the documentary and said that it reflects the growing public concern over environmental protection and threats to human health. Unfortunately the documentary has been ignored by lawmakers at the annual National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The Chinese government focuses on other issues. Most importantly they focus on their relations with South Korea who also faces scrutiny over the lack of priority over the Korea comfort women issue.

Images by Mashable and chinatopix

One child policy

Relax implementation of one child policy

It might seem impossible that 13 million children could escape the notice of the central Chinese government, but this is exactly what was revealed in the 2010 census. A population the size of a small country has been denied birth registration and the corresponding proof of identity known as the hukou (household registration) by local Chinese governments. This document is usually necessary for children to access education.Most of these children were born to parents that had broken the “one-child policy,” a policy enforcing birthing restriction for all Chinese citizens.

Hidden Children

Defiance of the policy, in itself, will not necessary lead to a child being undocumented. Usually, children denied birth registrations are those whose parents have yet pay a “social compensation fee” – a fine for having their child without permission. Although this is an illegal action by local police bureaus, not only is denial of birth registration prevalent, many state officials see it as a key component of enforcing restrictions on reproduction. The fines parents receive depend on the disposition of their local officers and the parent’s income. Localities show considerable variations in how its calculate fines. Some charge fines parents are unable to afford. Parents unable to pay their fines may face the risk of repeated short-term detention, while others are taken to court or have their assets seized. Parents report daily harassment by local thugs or local government officials. In other locations, parents might receive sympathy from their local cadre, or pull in favors to reduce their fines. Luck, connections and money effectively play a part in determining when a child can become recognized.Only when the 2010 census was conducted did the scale of the problem emerge. The central Chinese government makes it a priority to collect accurate demographic data, so around the time of the census parents are encouraged to admit if their children were undocumented. Parents were promised that the information would not be shared with the local police bureau or the population and family planning department. Consequently, it was revealed that 13 million children were undocumented.

Ageing Population Problem

One child policy has caused so many abortions

The one child policy has been implemented by China in order to resolve their overpopulation problem. Now China faces a different problem which is an aging population problem. This prompted for some newspapers round on a proposal that couples should have no fewer than two children to deal with China’s aging population problem.China relaxed its longstanding one-child policy in 2013 in response to lower population growth, allowing couples to have two children if either parent is an only child. This further increased the abortion of babies in China in order for couples to get away from the pending punishment given out by the government. It has also caused an imbalance on the gender of the country. It increased the population of men showing the high dis-proportionality against women. But the change has attracted fewer applications than expected, and the birth rate has remained stagnant.In response, a senior family planning official in northern Shanxi province believes the one-child policy should be fully relaxed, with all married couples being strongly encouraged have two children.

 

China is suffering an ageing population

The comments by Mei Zhiqiang, deputy head of the province’s family planning commission, sparked a heated debate in the papers and social media.While acknowledging the problem raised by Mr Mei, the Global Times strongly rejects his suggestion, arguing that the authorities need to learn the lessons of the past and use less coercive family planning measures.”It would be better to use encouragement and incentives that will be more easily accepted by the people” to promote the new aim of boosting the birth rate, a commentary in the paper argues.The Beijing News agrees, saying Mr Mei’s proposal is “a swing to another extreme” of birth control, insisting that the government has “no right to force the people to give birth”. For the Dahe Daily, the answer lies in easing the financial burden on married couples in order to encourage them to have a second child.

Images by Alamy and EPA

China’s economic slump

China has been experiencing a slow growth for their economy

China has been suffering from a slump on their economy. They are trying to recover from the sudden decline of their trade. There have been some newspapers that focus on prospects for Chinese growth after figures that showed a 10.8% decline in total trade volume from a year earlier.According to the data released on Sunday, exports fell 3.2%, while imports slumped 19.7%, far worse than analysts’ expectations, reports say. Chinese newspapers are confident on China bouncing back from this decline and believe that it will be able to grow its economy again. The state news agency Xinhua highlights that the January data is a “routine decline” ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, which falls on 19 February this year.”The trade data always turns out discouraging at every year’s beginning because of the Lunar New Year,” Liu Xuezhi, a financial researcher with the Bank of Communications, tells the news agency.The pundit adds that “the data thereafter can reflect the real situation of China’s foreign trade”.

 

China needs to bounce back from the 10% decrease

Experts interviewed by the Global Times also blame the fall in exports on “seasonal distortions”.But the People’s Daily is concerned about the sharp decline in imports, saying this reflects weak domestic demand, and cautions that the outlook for global trade is “not too optimistic”. The fall could be due to the strong calling for for independence for Hong Kong, and urge the territory’s authorities not to tolerate such views. Protests have already been affecting the businesses in the area. According to the Global Times, some protesters waved the British colonial-era Hong Kong flag during a recent rally, hoping to “detach Hong Kong from China”. Condemning the “absurd rabble-rousing” of the “separatists”, the editorial says such an idea “stems from hostility against China and communism”.”They seemingly long to return to the colonial era,” the paper adds, urging the governments in Beijing and Hong Kong, as well as Hong Kong society, to “safeguard national security and not to tolerate such views”.

Images by Getty and Bloomberg

China’s take on Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo

In the midst of debating over freedom of speech is important, Chinese media took advantage of the Charlie Hebdo situation and promote its own belief. Everyone was shocked with the shootings at Charlie Hebdo, Montrouge and the kosher market in Porte de Vincennes. It has been the bloodiest terrorist attack in France since the 1961 Vitry-Le-Francois train bombing. There were about 20 people dead from the recent shootings that occurred in France. Despite the public support towards the creator of what was deemed to be an offensive cartoon, Chinese media thinks that the cartoonists should be blamed. The Chinese even suggest for a restriction of freedom of speech in order to better protect the citizens. The government-run Xinhua News commented how Charlie Hebdo has been too persistent in mocking the Muslim extremists.

Increasing pluralism means the need to be careful over the things published

Increasing pluralism means the need to be careful over the things published

In the article released by the news agency, they say that due to the increasing pluralism in our community “freedom of press should be limited” and “for the sake of peaceful coexistence, there must be mutual respect”. They say how Charlie Hebdo is “unbridled, unprincipled, satire” and even argues that while “cartoons bring about laughter in people, firstly they should not hurt others”. The views of the Chinese media with regards to Charlie Hebdo are valid on some points. However it undermines the ability of satire to expose immorality in order to make people move and do something about the situation. The news agency misses the point of satire. Satire should be able to cut across people and in fact hurt people’s sensibilities in order to send its message. Although it is still contestable on whether or not Charlie Hebdo did the right thing. It is true that they have somehow go out of line towards the Muslim and in fact somehow bullied Muslim people. However this should not justify the attacks of the Muslim extremists towards them.

Images by Michel Euler and Conquer China

Participating in Environmental Issues

Chinese should get involved more in environmental issues

Chinese should get involved more in environmental issues

Activists in China has been longing for participation over the decision making in various political agenda in the state. They long to contribute into trying to resolve the common social problems being experienced by different Chinese citizens. Such idea has been prominent in western countries, wherein the media serves as an avenue for people to construct their oppositional argument against the government projects. However such setup has been incompatible in the state action of China. This inhibits public input into state actions. This enabled activists within China to resort into engaging in insurgent discourses. Such action does not ensure people from getting to know your cause. It is sometimes seen as an assumption thus being easily disregarded by the public officials. China needs to have an acceptable mechanism for participation of activists in order for them to have a better grounding. However it is questionable whether or not the Chinese government would be willing into accepting such mechanism. There is a need for a balancing act of Chinese officials on giving free will but at the same time still having the control over the discourse.

Media could facilitate a better way of protesting for environmentalists

Media could facilitate a better way of protesting for environmentalists

One potential reason of China allowing political activists to have an avenue to express their dissent is the protection of the public. In the past few years, China has suffered from dangerous environmental damage due to the inability of the government to listen to various environmentalists. It caused a continuous problem over the environmental situation of China. Before, China is the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases and contains 20 of the 30 most air-polluted cities in the world due to the reliance on coal and worse delayed environmental protection. Another reason that could be the possibility of changing the way media cover environmental issues. It is necessary for media to give importance in such issue in order to make the public involve over the resolution of such problems.

Images by The Guardian and BBC

Role of Citizens

Political activist rallying against the government

Political activist rallying against the government

The role of political activists in trying to get the discussion on political issues is an important element for any political communication. The audience allows us to know how the discussion will evolve into a better form of discourse. It is important that the media gets to explore various point of view due to the inability of one side to encompass all the possible grievances in the field. The audience adds a personal touch in terms of how other people would get to connect with their story. Such personal connection creates a more emphatic kind of audience wherein there’s a need for the government officials to see how its constituents are suffering. The lack of interaction of the government officials to people who has problems that are needed to be addressed to fails the way they resolve the issue. Interaction allows for a more personalized resolution of the problem. At the very least, the solution would be more fitting and no more problems could arise from such situation.

Chinese officials

Chinese officials

Majority of the time people are still unsatisfied with the way the government responded to their issues. The government’s control over the media could be forego in order for an easier way of finding out what are exactly the problems of the citizens. They would no longer need to blindly release laws that try to resolve the issue. They could easily access the opinions of the public through the media and allow this institutions to assist them in trying to get solutions. Such setup could help the government in saving money but also have an image wherein they listen to the people. This way they could increase their rating and even allow the people to trust them more. Allowing the media to facilitate the discussion could further increase political participation. The public could be involved in coming up new laws.

Images by Anthony Kwan and

State Journalist got censored

Hong Kong protest have gained critics from the  mainland

Hong Kong protesters have gained critics from the mainland

The on going protest happening in Hong Kong made a sharp-tongued columnist rant about the oppressive Chinese government. The columnist is known to be writing for a small Communist Party newspaper in Central China. He posted his opinion in the Twitter clone social media platform, Weibo last November 15. The posting made Chinese netizens to react swiftly towards such rant posted by the writer. It escalated into an online spat between Weibo users and in fact portrayed the growing nationalist voices in the Chinese Internet sphere.

Some Chinese journalist support the cause of Hong Kong protesters

Some Chinese journalist support the cause of Hong Kong protesters

Chinese online content police immediately erased  the posting and even the columnist himself retracted his archive of Weibo posts. He has been known to be constantly criticizing the Communist Party. Majority of the posts that he has erased were about the inability of the government to improve its relations with the Hong Kong protesters. He has also been posting his unsatisfaction with the Communist Party particularly its Chairman, Mao Zedong and even the state media of course except his own employer. Despite the fact that he has deleted his multiple controversial opinions, it can still be seen in various websites in the Internet such as FreeWeibo.com and bulletin boards. Users of the mentioned sites have been reconstructing the various opinions made by the journalist. It all started when Ning Fanggang, a doctor in the burn unit of a Beijing hospital made a post about the inability of people in Hong Kong to gain rights because they are under the rule of the central Chinese government. Such opinion is not new to the issue of Hong Kong wanting democracy. In fact most people from the mainland have been angry over the actions of the Hong Kong protesters. This made Wang Yaofeng reply with “Your mother’s dog farts — this is what’s called regional autonomy. Do you get it or not? A student of medicine with no common knowledge of political science should fart less.”

Images by Paula Bronstein and CNN

Forums for Political Debate

Chinese users  have a hard time looking for a site to share their political views

Chinese users have a hard time looking for a site to share their political views

People outside China usually has a misconception towards the inability of the Internet sites in China to provide a platform wherein people could engage in a debate. The creation of Internet forum Qiangguo luntan during 1999 was the symbolic start of a new digital era. The famous Internet forum was regulated by the state owned People’s Daily. The popularity of Internet forum became the grounds for some anonymous users to post their arguments on a particular political debate. Users now have an alternative on obtaining their information or arguments besides the official news agencies. Although the credibility of the site is sometimes questionable, users prefer such platform in engaging political discussion.

Riots in Xinjiang made the government decide to remove Fanfou

Riots in Xinjiang made the government decide to remove Fanfou

In August 2009, a “miniblog” with the same resemblance to Twitter was created. The site, sina.com.cn, has been known to be the third largest commercial web portal in China. Members of such mini blog could comment on various topics. As what everyone knows Chinese users could not gain access to Twitter since June 2009. Despite the creation of a similar site to Twitter, which is Fanfou, it was still banned by Beijing officials. It was been removed from the Internet because of the unrest happening in Xinjiang. Authorities claim that demonstrations have already been difficult to handle. Kaixin, which is the Chinese equivalent for Facebook, could also be a platform for Chinese users to engage in various debates however the content police is still monitoring it. Majority of the activities of subscribers of Kaixin are focused on entertainment and communication unlike in Facebook wherein some users uses such sites to forward their political views.

Alternatives for Chinese users who would want to engage in a political debate are the bulleting boards (BBS). It is in fact a good source of criticism. It will surprise observers due to sharp criticism towards the government and the constant exposure of corruption practices of the Chinese officials.

Images by World Media and AFP