Purges, Huawei, and local government debt problem
+ China's tobacco monopoly and Hangzhou's Asian Games
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PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Rahile Dawut, Uyghur intellectual, gets life in prison from China – The Washington Post
Rahile Dawut, a prominent Uyghur academic who disappeared six years ago at the height of the Chinese government’s crackdown in Xinjiang, has been given a life sentence in prison, according to a human rights group that has worked for years to locate her.
Dui Hua, a California-based group that advocates for political prisoners in China, said in a statement Thursday that the 57-year-old professor — who was convicted in 2018 on charges of endangering state security by promoting “splittism” — had lost an appeal of her sentence in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region High People’s Court.
China Wants You to Forget Ilham Tohti – Human Rights Watch
It’s been two years since Ilham Tohti, a well-regarded ethnic Uyghur economist and peaceful critic of the Chinese government, was sentenced to life in prison by the Xinjiang People’s High Court for alleged “separatism” after a grossly unfair trial. Tohti and his family had already endured years of harassment and periods of house arrest by state agents, but in September 2014 Beijing evidently felt it necessary to take him off the grid permanently.
Congress in recent years has passed laws to pressure China over what the State Department says is an ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other largely Muslim minority groups from Xinjiang.
But the House of Representatives select committee on China said in a letter that the Biden administration has not issued sanctions under one of those laws – the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act (UHRPA) passed in 2020 – which requires the U.S. president, absent a waiver, to identify and sanction Chinese officials responsible for abuses.
Chinese diplomats issued a warning to all other permanent missions to the United Nations, telling them not to attend an event on the sidelines of the annual General Assembly this week dedicated to human rights abuses committed against ethnic Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region.
The sternly worded letter, which is dated Sept. 14, says China’s permanent mission to the UN expressed its “resolute opposition” and strongly recommended that “your mission NOT” participate in “this anti-China event.”
POLITICS & SOCIETY
China's former Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who was ousted from his position in July, had an extramarital affair while he was ambassador to the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with a briefing.
The report said Qin was cooperating with the investigation, which was now focused on whether the affair or Qin's conduct had compromised China's national security.
"Xi Jinping began purging top personnel in the military and security forces very early in his time in power, and has continued to do so through to the present," Sheena Chestnut Greitens, an expert on authoritarian politics in East Asia who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin, told AFP.
The Chinese leader views corruption as a "fundamental threat", she said, "because it makes people loyal to personal profits, rather than to the Party".
But while early corruption probes targeted officials seen as a challenge to Xi's rule -- populist upstarts or allies of ex-leaders, for example -- recent investigations appear to be hitting closer to home.
In the spirit of making a serious attempt to figure out what the hell is going on, today we’re running a guest column from Matt Bruzzese, senior analyst for BluePath Labs, who takes us through the dramatic house-cleaning of China’s Rocket Force and what it tells us about Chinese military readiness.
China has released a new five-year plan to deepen its corruption crackdown in sectors such as finance, health care, sports, higher education and on state-owned enterprises, with an aim to stamp out “industrial, systemic and regional corruption.”
The announcement came as the party’s Central Committee passed the 2023-2027 work plan of the Central Anti-Corruption Coordination Group, an agency coordinating party disciplinary organs and government law enforcement departments.
“The postponement of retirement ages is undoubtedly a global trend,” said Du Peng, Renmin University vice-president, who is also an adviser to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
“As this year’s college graduates have just exceeded 11 million, the approach to postpone the retirement age cannot be a one-size-fits-all, synchronous shift.”
Policymakers must take targeted and flexible measures to suit the new reality, he added, noting that many older people are better educated nowadays.
China has a lot to learn from other countries, Du said, from community elderly care to fostering seniors’ social engagement.
For instance, he said, the long-term-care insurance systems in Germany and Japan strengthen a network of community-based elderly care, while Singapore encourages adult children to live closer to their elderly parents, promoting more community participation.
And in the UK and Ireland, there are also abundant activities and senior universities.
Policies meant to relieve academic pressure on students in primary and middle school have actually exacerbated inequality in the Chinese school system, a recent research study found, revealing that various government measures have made it harder for children from low-income families to get into high school.
The study by Peking University’s National School of Development and business school showed that the chance of students from the bottom 10% on the household income scale entering high school decreased by 9.3 percentage points and increased by 5.3 percentage points for students from the top 10%, from 2010 to 2018.
There was also a widening gap in family investment in education and students’ time spent studying. Among the top 10%-income families, average expenditure on education rose by nearly 67% while children’s weekly study time increased by an average of 10.37 hours during the same period.
For the group from the bottom 10%, the number fell by 21% and 9.19 hours, respectively, following the implementation of “burden reduction” policies in the country’s education sector, according to the study, which was first published in China Economic Quarterly in May and drew public attention online recently.
“The price of the decline is that the [low-income families] have a diminishing chance of gaining access to the competition for higher education,” the study said. “The past education model that did not rely on family education or financial resources is disappearing.”
COVID wasn't kind to wedding planners in China, where marriages are traditionally elaborate, expensive affairs, but the industry estimated at almost $500 billion is now facing a bigger threat: a plunge in the number of couples willing to tie the knot.
The trend, which has become more obvious as the economy weakens and consumer confidence wanes, is also worrying officials trying to revive marriage, and birth, rates which dropped to record lows last year, leading to the first decline in population numbers in 60 years.
"The number of marriages is falling and few are willing to spend a lot on weddings," said Yuan Jialiang, who ran a full-scale wedding planning business for almost a decade in Shanghai before switching to focus on wedding photography before the pandemic.
"The future of this industry doesn't look promising."
My bosses made a bet that I would quit. I haven’t… yet. – The China Project
China’s youth unemployment rate is soaring, and competition for good jobs is fiercer than ever. At the same time, young people are choosing to exit the rat race, jump between jobs, or quit working altogether. What gives?
The trial of two prominent activists detained since 2021 has begun in secret in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, in a case that has attracted widespread attention to Beijing’s repression of civil society.
Huang Xueqin, a feminist activist and journalist who covered China’s #MeToo movement, and Wang Jianbing, a labour rights activist, were detained in Guangzhou in September 2021, shortly before Huang was due to move to the UK to study at the University of Sussex. The pair were charged with “inciting subversion of state power” the following month. The charge normally carries a sentence of up to five years, although terms can be longer in cases deemed severe.
The roads around the courthouses appeared to be closed to public access, supporters said on Friday morning.
China's long-term military modernisation efforts are bearing fruit, with a string of upgrades for its warships and warplanes under way amid intensifying tensions in the Indo-Pacific, particularly the Taiwan Strait.
China Keeps Trying to Crush Them. Their Movement Keeps Growing. – The New York Times
The rise of China’s underground history movement challenges conventional wisdom on how to view the country. The dominant way of understanding China today is that nothing happens there except a string of dystopian horrors: surveillance, cultural genocide, mindless nationalism. As someone who has written extensively about religious and political persecution, I know these problems are real. But so, too, are Chinese people with other visions. Critical voices still exist.
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