Archive for the ‘Communist Party Congress’ Category

Putin: Persistent, Popular, Pugnacious…Paranoid

February 20, 2008

By David J. Smith
Tbilisi 24 Saati
February 18, 2008

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two farewell performances—farewell as president, anyway—revealed no new substance.

Instead, his February 8 Development Strategy to 2020 speech and his February 14 mega-press conference showcased a persistent, popular and pugnacious Kremlin strongman who increasingly defines Russia in terms of foreign bogymen.

Take heed.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
Владимир Владимирович Путин
Vladimir Putin

Putin’s twelve-year strategy—to use his word—must have brought a smile to the face of anyone nostalgic for Soviet times. It was stuff worthy of a Communist Party Congress: denunciation of earlier times, glowing progress report, indignant criticism of unnamed officials, frank talk of what is yet to be done and a pinch of paranoia.

Putin’s Russia is looking more-and-more Soviet—or maybe some of us are only now noticing how Russian the Soviet Union was.

These days, of course, Putin mixes capitalist and socialist themes. Investment, stock market capitalization and GDP are all skyrocketing.

And Russia has made major advances in machine building, transportation, housing, education and health care. One expected happy peasant girls to dance across the stage, their baskets brimming with food for the people!

However, Putin’s February 8 speech was more notable for what it did not say. Russia’s soon-to-be prime minister failed to mention Dmitry Medvedev, the man he chose for Russians to elect as president on March 2.

Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev
Дмитрий Анатольевич Медведев

Medvedev, it seems, has little to do with Putin’s strategy to persist in the Kremlin.

In his 4½-hour Saint Valentine Day press conference, though, Putin managed a few words about Medvedev. Prime Minister Putin will place President Medvedev’s picture on his wall. “We will establish our personal relations,” said Putin, “I assure you there will be no problems here.”

There will be no problems because Putin reread the Russian Constitution to achieve an understanding that had eluded him during eight years as president. “The highest executive authority in the country is the government, which is led by the prime minister.”

Putin’s Duumvirate with Medvedev may change some of the Kremlin’s personal dynamics and style, but he said, “If I see that in this post I can continue realizing these goals, I will work as long as possible.”

Though Putin’s switcheroo may appear odd to some westerners, his persistence in the Kremlin is fine with most Russians.

With the presidential election less than two weeks away, Medvedev shuns campaigning and debates, counting on Putin’s popularity to elect him president. Expect him promptly to appoint Putin prime minister.

With this kind of popularity, it was appropriate for Putin to give his Castroesque press conference on February 14. An adoring Russian journalist even passed him a Valentine Day present—a wire service photo captured Putin leaving the stage clutching the pink and red heart.

In this loving environment, concern for the integrity of elections and the scrutiny of foreign observers is misplaced. Indeed, there will be no observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the foremost election observation group.Asked about the OSCE spurning the March 2 presidential election, a pugnacious Putin replied, if the election monitors want to teach something, “Let them teach their wives to make shchi.” (Shchi is a Russian cabbage soup.)

And there was plenty more in that vein.

Asked about reports of corruption, he replied that these were rumors that journalists “picked from a nose and smeared onto their papers.”

One might dismiss these remarks as crude muscle flexing for domestic consumption, but Putin’s pugnacity sparks greater concern when considered with his apparently growing paranoia in the international arena.

“I cannot but say a few words…about our foreign policy strategy,” said Putin toward the end of his strategy speech. No foreign policy strategy followed—nothing about trade, neighbors, world peace, climate change or any of the usual foreign policy topics.

Instead, Putin recapitulated his familiar grievances against the west: American missile defenses in Central Europe, “a new spiral in the arms race,” purportedly violated treaties and NATO enlargement.

Then he added, “A fierce battle for resources is unfolding, and the whiff of gas or oil is behind many conflicts.”

In his press conference, Putin connected western criticism of Russian elections with disagreement on Kosovo: “Who is going to listen to Russia’s position on Kosovo if Russia itself is supposedly an undemocratic country?”

On most of these matters the Russian position is just plain wrong.

On Kosovo, Moscow has a point, but stupid western diplomacy is just that, not an anti-Russian plot. Criticism of Russia’s democracy deficit is well founded and unconnected to Kosovo.

But cogent arguments only detract from the image Putin is creating. “We are effectively being forced into a situation where we have to take measures in response, where we have no choice but to make the necessary decisions.”

One cannot escape the fear that Putin is not cataloging Russian foreign policy challenges—or even grievances—but defining Russia by his paranoia.

David J. Smith is Director, Georgian Security Analysis Center, Tbilisi, and Senior Fellow, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Washington.

Peace and Freedom wishes to thank Ambassador Smith andMr. James T. Hackett who made use of this article on the internet possible.


China Cuts Asia Imports as Korea, Malaysia, Singapore Lose Jobs

October 21, 2007

By Michael Dwyer

Oct. 22 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. isn’t the only country watching jobs and manufacturing migrate to China. Increasingly, so are China’s closest neighbors.

The nation is reducing its reliance on imports from Southeast Asia as it makes more of the higher-value-added intermediate and capital goods it previously bought from abroad. That is threatening growth in countries whose export sales are already in danger of erosion from the U.S. slowdown.

More than 13,500 electronics-product workers in Singapore have lost their jobs since 2004, according to Ministry of Manpower statistics. An International Monetary Fund forecast released last week calls for weaker expansion there next year and in the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea.

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China’s Hu Jintao: Big Winner from Communist Party Congress

October 21, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Hu Jintao’s political doctrine was enshrined in the Communist Party’s constitution on Sunday, the closing day of the Party’s largest gathering in five years.

Writing Hu’s “scientific concept of development” — an effort to temper growth with concern for environmental sustainability and economic equality — into the constitution allows him to take his place alongside former leaders Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin in the pantheon of Chinese Communist greats.

By Chris Buckley

Sunday, October 21, 2007; 3:21 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong retired from the Communists’ upper ranks on Sunday, bolstering Party boss Hu Jintao’s grip on power and clearing the way for a younger generation of potential successors.

Zeng, 68, a powerful Party organization boss promoted by Hu’s predecessor, Jiang Zemin, was left off the newly elected Central Committee of 204 full members, Xinhua news agency reported.  

His departure, an influx of recruits into the Central Committee, and changes to the Party charter all underscored Hu’s growing clout as he launched himself into five more years in charge of the world’s fourth biggest economy.

“Hu has the power….

China’s Party Congress: Not Like An American Political Meeting At All

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Door to secretive China Congress opens by a crack

October 20, 2007

By Benjamin Kang Lim and Lindsay Beck

BEIJING (Reuters) – In Mao Zedong’s day, the world was not even aware China’s ruling Communist Party was holding one of its agenda-setting congresses until the whole event was over.

When the meeting packed up, firecrackers lit up the sky over Beijing and state television announced its great success, with no one outside of the Party’s inner circle any the wiser about what went on behind closed doors.

The Mao era is long over, but the Party is still firmly in charge, and with its 17th Congress under way, the door to its secretive meetings is opening — if only by a crack.

Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao

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China Communists meet in secrecy and promise democracy

October 18, 2007

By Chris Buckley

BEIJING (Reuters) – China‘s ruling Communist Party began closed-door discussions on Thursday to settle on a new lineup for its ruling council, even as a rising political star promised more openness and accountability.

The Party’s five-yearly Congress has begun considering a preliminary list of candidates for the Central Committee — a body of about 200 full members who meet once or twice a year to discuss and endorse major decisions, Xinhua news agency reported.

Later in the week, the more than 2,200 carefully vetted Congress delegates will vote, with firm guidance from senior leaders, on a new Central Committee ….

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Taiwan’s Chen says no peace deal with China

October 16, 2007

TAIPEI (AFP) – Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian on Tuesday snubbed a peace overture made by China, saying Taipei would never sign what he called a “surrender agreement” based on Beijing‘s “one-China” principle.

Chinese President Hu Jintao made the offer on Monday in his keynote speech at the opening of the Communist Party’s five-yearly Congress, but insisted independence for the island would never be tolerated.

“Since Hu Jintao still demands ‘one China’ as a precondition, this would be a surrender agreement rather than a peace agreement,” Chen said ….


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US gives cautious welcome to a China-Taiwan peace proposal

US gives cautious welcome to a China-Taiwan peace proposal

October 15, 2007

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States gave a cautious welcome Monday to Chinese President Hu Jintao‘s call for a peace agreement with long-time rival Taiwan.

Washington “encourages any movement by parties on both sides of the strait toward a peaceful agreement,” State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson told AFP, without specifically citing Hu’s call.

Taiwan and China should “increase communication and dialogue that will lead to a peaceful resolution of their differences,” she said.

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China’s Hu Jintao: State Of China Address Opens Party Congress

October 15, 2007

By Chris Buckley and Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) – China‘s Communist Party must stay firmly in charge as the nation embraces economic and social change, President Hu Jintao said on Monday in an agenda-setting speech vowing tightly controlled political reform.

President Hu spells out plan for Taiwan, economic growth, environment, military overhaul.
Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Jintao, left, shakes hands with former President and Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin after Hu’s speech at the opening of the 17th Communist Party Congress in Beijing.

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China’s tightens Internet controls

October 12, 2007

BEIJING — At first, Liu Xiaoyuan just fumed when his online journal postings disappeared with no explanation. Then he decided to do something few if any of China’s censored bloggers had tried. He sued his service provider.

“Each time I would see one of my entries blocked, I’d feel so furious and indignant,” said Liu, a 43-year-old Beijing lawyer. “It was just so disrespectful.

Liu’s frustration is hardly unique. For China’s 162 million Web users, surfing the Internet can be like running an obstacle course with blocked websites, partial search results, and posts disappearing at every turn.

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“Where Did My Lucky Go?” Asks China’s Hu Jintao

August 21, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
August 21, 2007

China’s President Hu Jintao might be fed up with his “wonderfully pleasing idea” to bring the Olympics to Beijing.

He has seen his nation come under ever increasing scrutiny. People want to know about China’s record on human rights, HIV/AIDS, global warming and the environment and just about everything else.

Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao

When things go horribly wrong you might expect to hear someone from China utter, “Where Did My Lucky Go?”

Luck, or more appropriately, “good fortune,” is one of the centerpieces of Chinese life.

When you live in a godless society, luck takes an even larger role.

So all of good fortune was implored as the one year countdown to the Olympics started in China earlier this month.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge marked the start of the one-year countdown with a lavish Chinese-style ceremony that stared on the 8th day, of the 8th month at 8 PM and 8 minutes 8 seconds.

Eight is a lucky number in China.

But to the Chinese, Tiananmen Square has not always been lucky — especially for those seeking democratic and human rights reforms.

Chinese tanks mowed down pro-democracy demonstrators 18 years ago right where tonight’s Olympic ceremonies commenced.

“Not lucky place” a Chinese friend said to me as we watched events unfold.

Yesterday, the “not lucky place” was shrouded in toxic air pollution as Beijing completed a four day test with more than one million cars off the road. Unfortunately, the test was supposed to prove that by removing one million cars from Beijing the city would enjoy cleaner air.

Beijing is rushing to make its air clean for the 2008 Olympics, but experts say it will be impossible for the site to be totally safe for athletes at the global sporting event.

The test failed. Air pollution, as measured by the official state environmental agency, was up from three days ago.

President Hu Jintao of China must be saying about now, “Where Did My Lucky Go?”

President Hu has a host of other issues dogging him: Darfur, the poisoned food scandal, the poisoned toy scandal and a mine disaster of epic proportions.  Read more at:

If China Has Nothing to Hide, Why Do They Hide So Much So Often?

China Plans Happy Olympics But A Few “Small” Problems Remain

China Planning a Surreal Facade for Summer Olympic Games: Beijing 2008

Beijing’s Pollution Rises in 4-Day Test Of Restricted Driving

Psst. China! Enforce your laws, make new regulations where needed, admit the truth and wash your hands!