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Europe Squabbles, China Frets

November 8, 2011

This has to be one of the more hilarious summaries of the EU crisis I’ve seen (from the latest issue of BusinessWeek).  Click on the image to see it in full (readable) size.

You might imagine that the schoolyard squabbling among European leaders, on the heels of the divisive debt ceiling showdown in the U.S., has further reinforced the conviction of Chinese leaders in the superiority of their own one-party autocratic system.  And on some level it has.  But there’s also a profound nervousness and uncertainty brewing among China’s ruling elite, as this excellent article in the Financial Times points out.  The headline sounds rather innocuous, but the conclusions — I particularly call your attention to the article’s last three paragraphs — are too explosive for me to reprint in a blog authored in China.  You’ll know what I’m talking about when you read it.

Along a similar vein, you should also read and/or listen to this story in NPR, about the growing divide (and serious lack of consensus) between two camps — parties, if you will — within China’s leadership, the populist “New Left” movement as typified by Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai, and the liberal market reformers, symbolized by his Chongqing predecessor, now Guangdong party boss, Wang Yang.  I hinted briefly at these tensions in my profile of Bo in my primer on China’s upcoming political leadership transition, but the outlines of the conflict have sharpened considerably — and spilled into the public arena — in the months since I wrote that post.  Since the debate coincides — approximately — with a struggle over economic policy between the statist NDRC (state planning bureau) and the market-reformist PBOC (central bank), Bo and Wang’s rival aspirations to join the 9-man Politburo Standing Committee next year may serve as a flash point that symbolizes a much broader contest over China’s future direction.

Peter Ford also has a thoughtful and well-balanced article this week in the Christian Science Monitor that is well worth reading, on China’s efforts to define “what it wants” on the world stage as a rising power.  Its webpage also happens to have an interesting graphic showing the evolving pattern of who (including China) owns the U.S. national debt.  Good stuff.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. MikeF permalink
    November 9, 2011 1:35 pm

    Patrick, I love your blog and have been reading it for some time though have never commented. If there was a Nobel Prize in blogging I’d nominate you for it.

    I live in Australia and deeply worry about the economic dependence on China that successive governments on both sides of politics here have allowed to occur.

    Let’s just hope that there’s enough time for us to realign economic and political priorities before things fall apart and anarchy is loosed upon the world.

    • HonoH Tron permalink
      November 25, 2011 10:19 pm

      1972年,日本著名歷史學家 井上清 Kiyoshi Inoue 寫了 《釣魚島的歷史解析》 一書,該書再版為書名 《釣魚島歷史與主權》。



      眾所周知,釣魚群島自明朝以來就是中國的領土 – 井上清寫到日本及琉球在1867年以前實際上沒有一份釣魚群島的歷史文獻。



      井上清幾乎是在日本有影響力的歷史學家當中唯一一個敢于尊重事實,堅持說釣魚群島屬于中國的 – 這樣絕無僅有的一個例證。

  2. November 9, 2011 3:07 pm

    I think it might be an indication of too much self-importance to assume that you’ll get censored or censured as an econ/manag. professor by the government for some mention of Tienanmen square or that China is heading for a “breaking point”. These are hardly original themes in what we all read nowadays (and I’ve read worse from other US profs teaching in China)

    Personally I am more worried about the crisis in western liberal capitalism than the authoritarian brand of capitalism “with Chinese characteristics”.

  3. JoeWonders permalink
    November 9, 2011 6:07 pm

    We’re so screwed. These people have been elected and the people who elected them are obviously a bunch of unf***** kraut pink idiotic midgets. Oh boy we’re screwed… than again, nothing we can do about it, I think I’ll go have some more cheese and watch dancing with the stars.

  4. Lucane permalink
    November 9, 2011 9:38 pm

    to ajax151,

    Mr. Chovanec’s blog is already blocked in China. I must use a VPN to access his website as I live in Shanghai.

    Guess he is important enough to be censored.

    • November 9, 2011 11:47 pm

      It’s odd then that he is still concerned about being block if he is already blocked.

      • prchovanec permalink*
        November 10, 2011 1:42 am

        If you cannot comprehend the profound sensitivity of the kind of statement that was made, or the potential consequences of discussing such scenarios in public — regardless of one’s “importance” or (in my case) total lack thereof — then, with all due respect, you are either being naive or obtuse about the realities of life here.

      • November 10, 2011 12:41 pm

        Look I am sincerely sorry if I’ve caused offence but you run an English blog covering relatively technical subjects, to assume that that this place would be the spark that ignites popular discontent and questioning is kind of a joke. Of the English speaking intelligentsia who are interested in economics and your blog, who can possibly be unaware of the topics you think so explosive?

        Anyways I shouldn’t have commented in the first place, I just felt it was unnecessary to make your readers go through FT’s registration to access a few lines under the guises of fear of censure. I’ll continue to read what you have to say with interest and probably not comment quite so much in the future.

      • prchovanec permalink*
        November 10, 2011 1:10 pm

        First of all, your readership and your comments are both welcome on this blog. I try not to snipe with commenters, and if my reply came across as sniping then I do apologize. But the reality is, there are “red lines” that exist for those living in China, whether Chinese or foreigners. One can push those lines, one can cross them at times and get away with it, but I’ve seen situations where the repercussions can be severe (revoked visas, lost jobs, blacklisting for future visas, and on one occasion I know of, even violence). Keep in mind that my wife and her family are all Chinese nationals. They often worry that I already go too far in this blog, and it is out of consideration for them that I sometimes need to raise or discuss certain issues in a more oblique manner than I might prefer.

        Thanks for reading, and I do hope you continue to comment and participate in the discussion.

  5. Annie permalink
    November 10, 2011 5:16 am

    “but the conclusions — I particularly call your attention to the article’s last three paragraphs — are too explosive for me to reprint in a blog authored in China.”

    I love the touch of black humor!
    @ ajax151:
    As to whether that was “an indication of too much self-importance”? I would say it is more like an indication of self-awareness.

    The relevance of this blog to my university politics and economics classes is valuable; I will be following — and sharing — your blog.

  6. Manule permalink
    November 10, 2011 5:44 am

    I don’t consider you an intellectual blogger BUT one that’s quietly paid by Washington to spread rumors and lies like Washington’s fake accusation and innuendo.

  7. November 10, 2011 3:56 pm

    I want to think Wang Yang is a liberal, I really do. But then I look at the recent Universiade event held in Shenzhen, where I live. It was a colossal waste of money for an event that no one I know even went to. I’ve never seen a concrete total on how much it cost to build all these one-time-use stadiums, but the number I’ve seen was something like $40 billion USD. Why agree to put that much money behind such an obscure event? And this comes on the tails of the Asiad in Guangzhou last year. With that in mind, I’m sort of hoping Bo gets the nod over Wang.

    Like ajax above, I do think it’s unfortunate you have to self censor, presumably among your students as well (which is especially damaging). But I trust your reasons and especially if your family’s safety is at stake. Reasons like these are why I’m looking to get out of China myself soon.

  8. deetee permalink
    November 11, 2011 8:10 am

    If you are a Chinese, or foreigners live in China long enough, you
    would understand “self-censure” is a necessary means of survival–
    to you and those you care and love. Don’t be too cocky !
    Infringing on their pride, especailly government, is a foolish act,
    can land you in serious unknown.
    Western democratic idea won’t apply in China, very dangerous,
    they called it “socialism with Chinese distinction” for a reason.

    • November 11, 2011 11:14 am

      If you let them do this to you, they will only keep doing it more. It’s classic bully behavior. Do you think your situation will improve with continued appeasement?

      My situation is different from the professor’s so I don’t face the same sorts of very real dangers that he does, but I still think it’s ridiculous for China to ignore or aggressively delete it’s history and expect a different result.

      Anyway, I digress. No need to get political, the finance stuff is more interesting anyway.

  9. Hua Qiao permalink
    November 11, 2011 8:44 pm

    As to what is sensitive and what gets censored, it is always a moving target. And the Party likes it that way. You can say when you self censor, then they have won. But just remember, when you are in their country, they make the rules and they change the rules as they see fit. There are too many cases of people being injured to property, person and family not to do otherise. I cannot blame anyone who lives on the mainland for being discrete.
    As to self importance, the guy is on CCTV 9 all the time, so he does have influence. He presents a well thought out and unemotional critique of the Chinese economy. If posting a link rather than a quote helps him stay accessible, the I am all for it.

    I also hear that all wordpress blogs get blocked from time to time, so the inaccessibility may be a function of the platform rather than content.


  1. Explosive Comments In The FT: China’s Elite Are Privately Talking About A Revolution | My Blog

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