Archive for the ‘communist party’ Category

China: Longest Running Labor Unrest, Strike Ever

November 28, 2008

Another day, another strike. But this isn’t France or India. It’s China. On Nov. 27, yet another Chinese city was hit by a work stoppage by its taxi drivers, this time in Chaozhou, a city of some 2.5 million residents in the southern province of Guangdong. Repeating the pattern started when cabbies went on strike in the huge metropolis of Chongqing in central China on November 6, the mayor of Chaozhou sat down for talks with representatives of the drivers, who complained of competition from illegal cabs, gouging by the taxi companies from whom they rented their cars and collusion between the companies and corrupt local officials.

Time Magazine

File photo shows Chinese police on Hainan island. A strike involving ... 
File photo shows Chinese police on Hainan island. A strike involving hundreds of taxi drivers in south China entered its third day on Wednesday, as they demanded the release of 21 colleagues who police detained for protesting, state media reported.(AFP/File/Chai Hin Goh)

By a rough estimate, this was the eighth time in four weeks that taxi drivers around the nation had slammed on their brakes, making the rolling strikes the longest sustained chain reaction of labor unrest in the history of the People’s Republic. The strikes are emerging as a test case of a new policy of information control and management instituted by President Hu Jintao that shuns the authorities’ traditional emphasis on suppressing bad news altogether and stresses instead using official media to attempt to control how events like strikes, protests and even natural disasters are reported in China. The complex methods Beijing uses to try and dictate what its populace reads, watches and hears about events in their own country are a key element of how the Communist Party maintains power. But as the world economic crisis deepens and unrest becomes more widespread, the central government has had to tweak how it wages its propaganda war. Just how successfully it manages to control the way events unfold will become increasingly critical in preventing isolated cases from turning into the kind of large-scale civil unrest that threatens the party.

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China Says It Is Ready To Release Human Rights Plan

November 4, 2008

China will issue a “human rights action plan” that an official said will seek to improve citizens’ rights over the next two years, state media reported Tuesday.

The action plan would be the first of its kind for this one-party state that faces constant criticism from international rights groups for censorship and jailing peaceful dissidents and protesters, as well as rising demands from increasingly assertive citizens.

An official in the government’s public relations department said the plan showed the ruling Communist Party was committed to improving citizens’ rights.

“Respecting and protecting human rights…is an important objective and principle of the Chinese Communist Party and the government,” Wang Chen of the State Council Information Office told the official Xinhua news agency.

He did not say when the plan will be released.

The document will be drafted with contributions from courts, the Party-run parliament and non-government groups, and will include proposals to “expand democracy and strengthen rule of law,” the report said.

Wang did not mention any participation from the powerful ministries of public security and state security, which oversee the government’s sweeping powers to detain citizens.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by David Fox, Reuters)

Problems creep out past official front in China

March 20, 2008
BEIJING — Last month, Olympic organizers were showing off a new basketball arena and denied that any residents were forcibly evicted to build the many sites for the Summer Games. But the Olympic Media Village sits where Li Yukui and his neighbors had to leave their homes.

Olympic officials promised to clean Beijing’s severe air pollution, but an Ethiopian runner said last week that he won’t run the marathon because breathing the air could harm his health.

And the neighborhood volunteers touted for learning English to give directions to visitors instead spend their time monitoring residents and even confronted one pregnant woman about whether she was violating China’s one-child policy.

Five months before the Olympics, China is discovering the difficult line between promotion of its many successes and concealment of deep problems that dog the communist nation.

China’s crackdown on pro-independence protests in Tibet is just one front of this struggle. The world’s most populous nation wants to present a united image of harmony and prosperity. But the ruling Communist Party, which bristles at outside criticism, sometimes contains dissidents and ignores human rights complaints.

Riot police take a rest on a street in Tongren, in China's Qinghai ...
Riot police take a rest on a street in Tongren, in China’s Qinghai province, March 17, 2008.(Kyodo/Reuters)

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A Whiff of Openness at China’s Congress

March 14, 2008

By Jill Drew 
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, March 14, 2008; Page A13

BEIJING — China is awash in policy proposals as more than 5,000 people meet this month to ratify laws handed down by Communist Party leaders. The official Chinese news media portray it as democracy in action — delegates, selected by local officials to represent their regions, offer ideas for laws they believe will improve conditions back home.
China's Polituro standing member and likely future successor ... 
China’s Polituro standing member and likely future successor to President Hu, Xi Jinping, foreground, delivers remarks as China’s President Hu Jintao looks on during the plenary session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in this March 11, 2008 file photo. Entrusted with the Beijing Olympics and set to be made vice president, Xi Jinpeng is moving closer to cementing his status as China’s future president and Communist Party leader.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

The Great Hall of the People is not exactly filled with activists and partisans vigorously debating the future of the country’s leadership. That topic is off-limits. Still, the delegates are engaged in an elaborate process that analysts say is opening a window on President Hu Jintao‘s tentative efforts to make the Communist Party relevant and to provide a controlled forum for debate.

Chinese officials have trumpeted the openness and inclusiveness of this year’s two-week National People’s Congress (NPC) and a concurrent set of meetings by the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress, the government’s top advisory body. Proposals are being published for public comment instead of just being offered for a rubber-stamp vote. There are noticeably more news conferences than in years past. And for the first time, several meetings of the provincial delegations have been opened to journalists.

In meetings, delegates can disagree with party positions and suggest alternatives, said David Shambaugh, director of the China policy program at George Washington University. “But if you go out and organize others,” he said, “the red line is crossed.”

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China’s Latest Crackdown: The Liquid Lunch

March 8, 2008
XINYANG, China — Li Bin, a barrel-chested retiree on special assignment for this city’s Communist Party boss, strode down an empty hallway of the Xinyang Middle Court in search of bureaucrats. He rattled locked doorknobs and barged into offices without knocking. A court officer retreated in red-faced terror.The booze squad had arrived.

“Blow,” ordered one of Mr. Li’s young subordinates a few minutes later as he pressed an alcohol monitor to the nervous lips of a Communist Party functionary.

The target of Mr. Li’s mid-afternoon sting last week was not just tipsy cadres but a ritual that many Communist Party officials have long considered a part of their job description: the hours long, alcohol-soaked midday banquet (usually paid for with public money).

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China says US exaggerates military threat

March 6, 2008

BEIJING (AFP) – China‘s official Communist Party mouthpiece on Thursday said a Pentagon report exaggerated Chinese military capabilities to justify US sales of military hardware to Beijing‘s rival Taiwan.

Chinese soldiers are seen here during a ceremony in Nanjing, ...
Chinese soldiers are seen here during a ceremony in Nanjing, in December 2007. China’s official Communist Party mouthpiece on Thursday said a Pentagon report exaggerated Chinese military capabilities to justify US sales of military hardware to Beijing’s rival Taiwan.
(AFP/File/Liu Jin)

“The report maliciously exaggerates China’s ability to wage computer warfare and its space capabilities,” said a commentary in the People’s Daily news headlined, “An Outmoded Report.”

“These reports by the US Defence Department have been used in the past as a pretext to justify continued weapons sales to Taiwan,” it said.

The editorial marked the latest salvo in a verbal tit-for-tat since the Pentagon report earlier this week expressed a range of concerns about China’s growing military might.

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Famous Vietnamese dissident dies

February 9, 2008
By Nga Pham
BBC News, Hanoi

One of Vietnam’s best-known dissidents, Hoang Minh Chinh, has died at the age of 85 after a long illness.

Hoang Minh Chinh

Chinh was one of the last of the older generation of activists

His family said he passed away peacefully on the first day of the Lunar New Year.

Hoang Minh Chinh was once a leading figure in the ruling Communist Party, holding several senior positions.

But he became disillusioned with the communist ideology, and began calling for more democracy. He spent many years in jail and under house arrest.


Born in 1922 in Nam Ha province, he joined the revolution in 1937.

He held a number of high positions in the Vietnamese government, including vice-minister of education, vice-director of the Nguyen Ai Quoc Communist Party School and director of the Marxist-Leninist Philosophy Institute.

He was considered one of the great ideologists of the regime until the 1960s, when he began criticising some of the ruling party’s decisions.

He was jailed for being a member of the so-called “anti-party revisionist campaign”.

During the last decade of his life, Mr Chinh was actively involved in the democratic movement in Vietnam, and restarted the Vietnam Democratic Party two years ago.

In 2005, in an unprecedented move, the Vietnamese government allowed him to go to the United States to receive treatment for pancreatic cancer.

During the trip, he appeared before a congressional committee to speak about the situation inside Vietnam, and called for greater pressure on the Vietnamese government.

The speech prompted an aggressive campaign against him in the Vietnamese media, but Mr Chinh was still allowed back into the country.

In 2006 he took part in the establishment of the largest democratic campaign to date, Bloc 8406.

But his past attachment to the communist ideology somewhat alienated him from the younger generation of activists, who wanted a clean break from the past.

Mr Chinh’s health worsened last year.

He was suffering from numerous illnesses and was in and out of hospital for most of the year.

Vietnam parade marks 40 years since Tet Offensive

February 2, 2008

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam on Friday marked 40 years since the Tet Offensive with colourful military parades of its veterans and re-enactments of the surprise wave of urban assaults that marked a turning point in the war.

Veterans march during a parade held at the former presidential ... 

Communist Party leaders and military chiefs watched as former guerrillas and regular soldiers filed past Ho Chi Minh City‘s Reunification Palace, formerly the presidential palace of the US-backed Saigon regime ousted in 1975.

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Veterans of the Vietnam war march in rememberance. Vietnam on ... 
Veterans of the Vietnam war march in rememberance. Vietnam on Friday marked 40 years since the Tet Offensive with colourful military parades of its veterans and re-enactments of the surprise wave of urban assaults that marked a turning point in the war.

China: Officials Violating ‘One-Child’ Policy Forced Out

January 8, 2008

By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
January 8, 2008; Page A16

BEIJING, Jan. 7 — Officials in Hubei province have expelled 500 people from the Communist Party for violating China’s “one-child” family planning policy, state media reports said Monday.

Of the 93,084 people who had more children than allowed last year, 1,678 were officials or party members, the New China News Agency reported. Among the violators were seven national or local legislators and political advisers, all of whom were stripped of their political status. Another 395 offenders lost their jobs.

China’s family planning officials, worried about a baby boom that could further strain the country’s resources, have been trying to crack down on parents who have more children than they are permitted under the law.

Under the current rules, city residents are limited to one child, while rural residents may have two children. In addition, parents who themselves are only children and members of ethnic minorities are granted exceptions.

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SecDef Gates sees division in Chinese actions

December 22, 2007

By Bill Gertz
The Washington Times
December 22, 2007

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday that recent military incidents involving the U.S. and China indicate troubling signs of division between Beijing’s military and the nation’s communist political leaders.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, accompanied by Joint Chiefs ...

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, accompanied by Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright, takes part in a news conference at the Pentagon, Friday, Dec. 21, 2007. (AP Photo/Heesoon Yim)

China’s refusal to permit U.S. Navy ship visits to Hong Kong last month and a provocative anti-satellite weapon test in January are prompting U.S. intelligence agencies to worry that the Chinese military is not under the control of the civilian government in Beijing, according to other defense officials.

Mr. Gates voiced similar concerns yesterday when asked by a reporter whether China had explained why it barred the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk and accompanying warships from making a Thanksgiving Day port call in Hong Kong.

“What has been interesting to me this year is that I think we have had two situations in which there appears to have been a disconnect within the Chinese government,” Mr. Gates said.

After the Chinese military’s successful January test of a missile against a weather-satellite target, China’s Foreign Ministry “didn’t seem to understand or know what had happened” and indicated “confusion” over the test, he said.

“We seem to have had a little bit of the same thing with the Kitty Hawk, where the military may have made a decision that was not communicated to the political side of the government,” Mr. Gates said. “Now, I don’t know that for a fact, but there’s just some hint of that.”

A senior defense official said that Chinese President Hu Jintao was familiar with China’s secret anti-satellite weapon program but may not have known about the Jan. 11 test, which contradicted China’s public position against the development and deployment of space weapons.

A senior U.S. military officer said there also were signs earlier this year that senior Chinese air force generals were not aware of the existence of the anti-satellite weapons program, which is thought to be a top-secret effort directed by the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission. It is led by Mr. Hu as chairman and has two senior Chinese generals as vice chairmen.

Intelligence officials are said to disagree over the analysis of a Chinese leadership split, with pro-China analysts citing a split as explaining hostile Chinese behavior as the result of differences between hawks and doves. A similar analysis during the Cold War sought to explain Soviet behavior, though post-Cold War analysis showed the appearance to be deliberate disinformation.

Still, worries over suspected divisions in China’s leadership are prompting concerns about the control over China’s nuclear arsenal, which is currently expanding in both quantity and quality, defense officials said. China’s military is deploying three new types of advanced, long-range nuclear missiles and a new class of ballistic-missile submarines.

Chinese military leaders so far have not agreed to U.S. government requests for talks on strategic nuclear weapons, despite a promise made by Mr. Hu to President Bush last year to send the commander of China’s nuclear forces to visit the United States and the military’s U.S. Strategic Command. China’s military leaders are said to fear that talks on nuclear forces with the U.S. will lead to disclosures of information that could be used against China in a conflict.

U.S. intelligence agencies know very little about the forces and command-and-control arrangements for China’s nuclear weapons, which are estimated to include about 20 long-range nuclear missiles and several hundred shorter-range, nuclear-capable missiles.

Mr. Gates said that China is continuing its military buildup but that he does not consider China “an enemy.”

“I think there are opportunities for continued cooperation in a number of areas,” he said. “I still think it’s important for us to develop the strategic dialogue with China where we sit down and talk about how we see the threat, how each of us perceives the threat and the purpose behind our modernization programs and so on.”

Richard Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military, said Mr. Gates’ comments on a possible split among Chinese leader is a cause for concern and should be clarified.

“If such a split is real, then he should also explain if there is a danger of a [military] coup against the party,” said Mr. Fisher, vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center. “Such a coup could lead to a PLA-led war against Taiwan for ‘national unity,’ a war that could easily escalate into a nuclear exchange.”

Mr. Fisher said he knows of disturbing reports of tensions between the ruling Communist Party and the military over efforts by Mr. Hu to crack down on corruption in the military.

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who appeared with Mr. Gates, also said he wants to develop closer lines of communication with the Chinese military to avoid misunderstandings over issues like the Kitty Hawk, the anti-satellite test and Taiwan.

Asked about tensions between China and Taiwan over Taipei’s plan to hold a nationwide vote seeking United Nations membership under the name Taiwan, instead of the formal Republic of China, Mr. Gates said he is not worried “there will be a military reaction.”

Mr. Gates also called “specious” claims in the Chinese and U.S. press that the reason the Kitty Hawk was blocked from Hong Kong was Chinese anger that the defense secretary had not warned Chinese military leaders during his visit to China in October that the Pentagon was set to sell upgraded Patriot missile equipment to Taiwan.