Archive for the ‘politburo’ Category

Monday: China Covered in Snow, Fog, Displaced People

February 4, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 4, 2008

Overnight our friends and colleagues in China sent us a deluge of reports all with a familiar ring: masses of Chinese people remain engulfed in snow, fog, troops holding them back and just a crush of humanity unable to move or make progress.

The snow emergency is now in its fourth week and a nation that now has been revealed as a place totally ill-equipped for a major snow “event,” as weathermen love to say in the U.S., is now using military armoured vehicles (“Tanks”) to pack down snow on freeways.

Armed vehicles are deployed to crush ice covering roads in Chenzhou, ...
Armed vehicles are deployed to crush ice covering roads in Chenzhou, Hunan province, in this picture distributed by China’s official Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2008. The power supply of the city was cut off as the heavy snow and ice damaged seriously the power facilities including the transmission towers and lines, Xinhua News Agency said. Picture taken February 3, 2008.

Troops are beeng used in formations two and three deep to create a wall of uniformed men to block surging crowds from their intended objective.  But this tactic has not been foolproof.  Last week a crowd broke through the wall of troops and crushed a man to death in the process.

Freezing storms have killed scores of people and left travelers stranded before the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival — the only opportunity many people have to take a holiday all
year — or perhaps years.

The poor, nomadic migrant workers in China, sometimes estimated at up to 100 million people or one-third the total population of the U.S., do not have but this one opportunity to return home each year.  But our colleagues have spoken to dozens who have not been home for three or four years.  These people have very limited human rights and no advantages in life.

And getting home for the Lunar New Year is deeply important.  Paying respect to one’s parents and elder family in person at the start of the Lunar New Year makes one lucky all year.  To miss the event can evoke ill will from the household gods for the entire year.

A man lights candles at a stall selling foods  in Chenzhou in ...
A man lights candles at a stall selling foods in Chenzhou in China’s southern Hunan province Monday, Feb. 4, 2008. The city of four million has been without electricity for ten days.  Most electric power generating plants run off coal which cannot be distributed without trains.  The trains are blocked by snow and their power lines are felled by ice.
(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Lunar New Year is a deeply significant cultural event without an analogy in the West — especially among the rural, under educated and poor.

President Hu Jintao chaired a second emergency Politburo meeting in a week on Sunday.  Yet the communist leadership, despite its best effort and calling out over one million troops, simply does not have the experience or resources to effectively deal with a snow emergency of this magnitude.

“We have to be clear-minded that the inclement weather and severe disaster will continue to plague certain regions in the south,” said a statement issued after Sunday’s Politburo meeting. “Relief work will continue to face challenges, posing a tough task.”

The China Meteorological Administration said the weather was the coldest in 100 years in central Hubei and Hunan provinces, going by the total number of consecutive days of average temperature less than 1 degree Celsius (33.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

But there is hope for milder days said the weather agency.

“The weather over the disaster-stricken regions is likely to turn better in the next several days, but it is still necessary to remain alert for possible low temperatures, frozen rain, snow, freezing and heavy fog,” it said in a statement.

The state controlled communist government is already in full “spin” mode saying that the economic impact of the snaow is limited and is likely to create new investment.

“There is no doubt that such a big economy will encounter various difficulties each year, but the Chinese economy is maintaining stable growth momentum,” said Fan Gang, director of China’s National Institute of Economic Research.

The snow is likely to stimulate investment on items such as upgrading the national power grid or improving the transportation network for coal, Fan was quoted as saying.

AFP reported this:
“The economic situation has become complicated with the new factors cropping up,” said Wu Jinglian, an analyst at the State Council Development Research Centre, the central government’s think tank, according to the paper.

China’s economy, the world’s fourth-largest, grew by a blistering 11.4 percent in 2007, the highest level in 13 years.

Investment accounted for 4.3 of those 11.4 percentage points, more than the 2.7 percent accounted for by net exports, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The World Bank Monday also predicted limited impact on the economy, as it lowered the 2008 growth forecast for China from 10.8 percent to 9.6 percent, not because of the snow, but because of the global slowdown.

“Natural disasters normally call for economic activity to repair the damage,” David Dollar, the head of the bank’s China office, told a briefing in Beijing.

Most of the impact of the storms — including rising food prices and a decline in industrial output over January and February — will turn out to be temporary, World Bank economists said.

There “could be some pick-up (later in the year) as investment takes place to solve the bottlenecks,” said Louis Kuijs, a senior economist with the bank.

Thousands of passengers wait to get on trains outside the railway ...
Thousands of passengers wait to get on trains outside the railway station in China’s southern city of Guangzhou. A double row of troops keeps the migrants in place.  Heavy fog descended Monday on large parts of southern China, complicating the task of helping millions of workers stranded by winter weather that in some areas is the worst in 100 years.
(AFP/Liu Jin).

China Confirms Man Killed in Stampede; Winter Chaos Continues
Blizzard Strikes: What Happens in China Different From in the U.S.?
Snowstorms damage China’s reputation

China warns of “tough task” in snow relief

February 4, 2008
By John Ruwitch

CHENZHOU, China (Reuters) – Millions remained stranded in China on Monday ahead of the biggest holiday of the year as President Hu Jintao chaired an emergency meeting to discuss the worst winter weather in half a century.

The freezing storms have killed scores of people and left travelers stranded ahead of the Lunar New Year, the only opportunity many people have in China to take a holiday all year.

It has also brought China unwanted negative publicity ahead of the Summer Olympics in Beijing later this year.

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China mum on new leadership on Party Congress eve

October 14, 2007

BEIJING (Reuters) – China‘s ruling Communist Party insisted on Sunday it remained relevant in the face of rapid social change, and on the eve of a major Party conclave indicated any steps toward political reform would keep it firmly in charge.

Li Dongsheng, spokesman for the 17th Party Congress, a five-yearly meeting that decides the country’s direction and leadership line-up, kept with the Party’s tradition of secrecy, giving no hint as to how its closed-door decisions will be made.
Congress spokesman Li Dongsheng answers a question during a news conference on the eve of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in Beijing.

“Our party emphasizes holding up high the great banner of socialism with distinct Chinese features,” Li told a news conference. Political reform “must be promoted actively, yet prudently.”

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Tensions high as China’s top communists prepare to meet

October 13, 2007

by Karl Malakunas

BEIJING (AFP) – China‘s Communist Party elite will gather on Monday for the nation’s most important political event in five years — a meeting that is expected to see President Hu Jintao tighten his grip on power.

At the party’s Congress, careers of top cadres will be killed off and rising stars are expected to emerge as successors to Hu, while revamped policy blueprints will be unveiled.

Tensions have been high in Beijing leading into the Congress, with dozens of dissidents detained or placed under surveillance, although their calls for democracy and greater human rights have filtered out to foreign media.

In further efforts to silence dissent …

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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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China’s Verbal Abuse of Taiwan

October 12, 2007

The Christian Science Monitor
October 12, 2007

Small, democratic Taiwan expects volleys of verbal fireworks against it next week when China‘s Communist Party meets in a congress held every five years. The new threats wouldn’t be worth much notice – if China wasn’t also revving up its war machine against Taiwan.

China’s leaders are expected to set a higher priority to their long-standing claim over this “breakaway” island about 100 miles off the mainland. Just how high will depend on how well China reads its own past.

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China rulers ‘silencing dissent’

October 12, 2007

By Steve Jackson
BBC East Asia analyst
October 11, 2007

China has intensified efforts to silence dissent in the run-up to a key Communist Party Congress next week, human rights groups say.

The campaigners say the authorities have been arresting, abducting and intimidating activists to prevent them from staging protests.

China has stepped up security ahead of the Beijing meeting.

The congress will determine the direction the country takes for the next five years.

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Fast-Growing China Struggling To Rein In Energy Use, Pollution

October 11, 2007

Reinhardt Krause
Investors Business Daily
October 11, 2007

Red China says it wants to go green. But it still seems bent on growth.

No political bombshells are expected when China‘s Communist leaders gather at the 17th Party Congress in mid-October.

Still, some China watchers expect Beijing to use the Congress to show it is serious about environmentally friendly economic growth.

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China’s President Hu Sends “Good News Only” Order

August 20, 2007

Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Friday August 17, 2007
The Guardian (London)

China has ordered its media to report only positive news and imprisoned a pro-democracy dissident amid a clampdown on dissent ahead of the most important meeting of the Communist party in five years.

Media controls have been tightened, Aids activists detained and NGOs shut down as the president, Hu Jintao, prepares for the 17th party congress, when the next generation of national leaders will be unveiled in a politburo reshuffle.

Chen Shuqing – a founder member of the banned China Democracy party – suffered the toughest punishment meted out so far when he was found guilty yesterday of “inciting people to overthrow the government.”

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Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao