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BBC Chinese: China Saw Slowest Growth Rate in Ten Years

BBC Chinese recently reported that, according to the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, China’s third quarter GDP year-over-year growth rate fell to 6.5 percent. This rate is lower than the 6.6 percent Reuters estimated and is the lowest rate since 2008. China’s first quarter growth rate was 6.8 percent and the second quarter number was 6.7 percent. In the past few months, China has been taking action to improve liquidity and infrastructure investments. However, with its high debt level, the market did not turn optimistic. The Chinese stock market has been free-falling, which does not reflect the still “rapid” growth rate. Many experts now tend to agree that China’s best bet should be giving up some economic benefits to arrive at an agreement with the United States, and quickly declare success. This way, China can immediately focus on fixing some of the deeper issues in the economy. The Chinese leadership has been making positive comments to boost the market. Vice Premier Liu He recently just told the press that China and the U.S. are “in talks.”

Source: BBC Chinese, October 19, 2018
https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/simp/chinese-news-45915821

Duowei News: Xi Jinping Speeds up Military-Civilian Integration – Opportunity for Private Businesses?

Duowei, the Pro-Beijing Overseas media, reported that Xi Jinping recently hosted the second National-level Military-Civilian Integration Development Committee meeting and delivered a speech. China has been pushing for Military-Civilian integration which promotes cutting-edge technology and talent exchanges between the military and private companies in order to enhance military strength and the competitiveness of private companies. The military-civilian integration development strategy was included in the report of the 19th National Congress and written into the Constitution.

The Duowei article stated that promoting the integration of military and civilian development means that the future development of China’s national defense industry will introduce the power of private capital, which will provide new opportunities for the future development of the military industry. According to the article, there are currently about 130,000 private high-tech enterprises in China, but only about 3,000 have entered the military field. The conversion rate of China’s military scientific research results is only 15 percent, far lower than the 40 percent rate in developed countries. Among the major enterprises that have obtained research and production licenses for weapons and equipment, private enterprises account for more than two-thirds. Meanwhile technical cooperation and the flow of talent between the Chinese military, military research institutes, and private high-tech enterprises are also surging. Private companies could have the opportunity to participate in the areas of National defense information, equipment manufacturing, and the development of new materials. The article concluded that the advancement of military-civilian integration could provide a different way of thinking in the current media speculation that Beijing is allowing “the state to advance and the private sector to retreat” or Guo jin min tui (国进民退).

Source: Duowei News, October 18, 2018
http://culture.dwnews.com/renwen/news/2018-10-18/60091829_all.html

RFA: The Last Private Think Tank Faces Shutdown

Radio Free Asia (RFA) published an article about Tianze, a private think tank that is facing shutdown in China. Beijing Tianze Research Institute is considered the last private think tank. It consists of liberal Chinese economists. For many years, the institute was registered under the name of the “Tianze Consulting Company.” On October 9, the Beijing Municipal Administration of Industry and Commerce notified Tianze that its license had been revoked because it conducted business that was “outside the scope of its business.”

During a hearing held on October 17, the lawyers representing Tianze questioned how the Beijing Industrial and Commercial Department misused the law. The charge regarding its business scope referred to the claim that the company launched business in education without prior approval. Tianze countered that they ran seminars but not schools. On the other hand, if the Department found that the business scope of the enterprise had changed and there was no industrial and commercial registration, in accordance with the regulations, it should first have issued a warning to require the enterprise to register. Only in the case of “serious circumstances” can they revoke the license. Also, during the annual inspection, the Beijing Industrial and Commercial Department never raised the issue.

The famous economists Mao Yuzhen, Zhang Shuguang, Sheng Hong, Wu Bin and others, and the Beijing Elephant Culture Company founded Tianze in 1993. It operates under the name of the Tianze Research Institute Co., Ltd. In 2005, it got in trouble due to the comments its members made in support of the reform of the property rights of  state-owned enterprises and in promoting marketization. In 2012 its business license was revoked.

Subsequently, the Tianze Research Institute continued to operate under the name of the Tianze Consulting Company. In January 2017, the authorities closed the company’s website claiming it failed to obtain a permit. At the beginning of 2018, the landlord of the house that Tianze rented forcibly took it back and the police welded the entrance door shut.

Currently, the Tianze Institute is still waiting for the final verdict. RFA called the Beijing Haidian Industrial and Commercial Bureau, but the no one ever answered the phone.

Source: Radio Free Asia, October 19, 2018
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/renquanfazhi/xql2-10192018105407.html

VOA: Xi Jinping Calms Private Enterprises

VOA reported that, in recent years, private enterprises have been suffering a slowdown. On October 21, Xinhua published a letter Xi Jinping wrote, which stated that the Party’s consistent policy of supporting the development of private enterprises will not waver and any statements that negate and weaken the practice of the private economy are all wrong.

On October 21, Xinhua published a letter Xi Jinping wrote in response to some private entrepreneurs who were awarded for their contributions in a poverty relief campaign. In the letter, Xi acknowledged the historical economic contributions private businesses have made and stated that the “role of the private economy is unquestionable. Any statement or practice that denies or weakens the private economy is wrong.” Xi insisted that “supporting the development of private enterprises is the consistent policy of the Party Central Committee. This will not waver.”

According to VOA, a research report that China’s Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business released showed that the index of business conditions of Chinese private enterprises in August fell significantly from the previous month, from 55.6 in July to 49.8 in August, the worst performance in four years. The VOA article concluded that the current mechanism to “allow the state to advance and the private sector to retreat ” has caused private enterprises to be unable to have the same advantages as state-owned enterprises and has resulted in a large gap between the operations of these two types enterprise.

Sources:

1. Xinhua, October 21, 2018
http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-10/21/c_137548892.htm

2. VOA, October 21, 2018
https://www.voachinese.com/a/xi-calls-to-protect-private-business-20181021/4622566.html

Beijing Scholar Teaches “Xi Jinping Thought” on edX

After the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, the authorities have been strongly promoting “Xi Jinping Thought” inside China, and are now exporting it to the U.S. On October 18, the website of Foreign Policy magazine published an article that Australian scholar Kevin Carrico wrote. “I was so excited to learn this August of a new course offered on the edX website, a U.S.-based learning platform: Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era—the official full name of Xi Jinping Thought. The instructor was none other than the Tsinghua University professor Hu Angang, known for his close links to senior government leaders and his claims that China has already overtaken the United States as the primary global superpower.”

edX is an online course provider that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University created.

Carrico said that, after paying a $49 fee, and providing a verified certificate with instructor professor Hu’s signature, he “was able to receive a final score of 100 across all the multiple choice quizzes.”

“The course’s promotional materials promised that learners would obtain ‘[s]ystematic and full knowledge of the {Chinese Communist Party’s} people-centered core concept,’ as well as a ‘deeper understanding of the socialist road with Chinese characteristics.’” Carrico explained about the contents of the course, “It is fair to say that China is a society different from Western society. Mainly, it has established a people’s society.” “Hu reminded us that the Chinese republic is the people’s republic, the national bank is the people’s bank, the police are the people’s police, and the army is the people’s army. But wait, there’s more. Hu proudly reported that Xi used the term ‘people’ 203 times in his report to the 19th Party Congress in 2017—more than any other term.”

Hu once said in his published research that China’s comprehensive national strength has completely surpassed the United States and it is ranked first in the world. It caused academic controversy after the Sino-US trade war.

A group of Tsinghua alumni signed a letter to the president of Tsinghua University in August. It criticized Hu Angang’s theory {about China’s surpassing the U.S.} as “misleading the national policy, as well as the general public, setting off alarm bells among other countries. It asked the university to fire him.

Source: Central News Agency, October 20, 2018
https://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/201810200204.aspx

After Meeting with CCP’s Central Propaganda Department, Hong Kong Media Revised Reports amid Concerns over Self-censorship

On Tuesday October 16, about 20 Hong Kong media executives met in Beijing with the Chinese Communist Party’s head of the Central Propaganda Department, Huang Kunming. Siu Sai Wo, the head of the delegation and Chief Executive of the Sing Tao Group, told the media what Huang said at the meeting: “I hope that the Hong Kong media will not become a base for interfering with mainland politics.”

Some Hong Kong media broadcast Siu’s words on television and on social media. However, the report about Hong Kong media interfering with the mainland political base later “disappeared.” This triggered concerns over self-censorship in the Hong Kong press, as Chinese officials have never used such strong language targeting the Hong Kong media. However, Siu later told the South China Morning Post that the meeting related content should not be used for interviews and clarified that the original text should be “to prevent external forces from turning Hong Kong into a base for intervening and destroying the mainland.” It was not targeting Hong Kong media.

Bruce Lui, a lecturer at the Hong Kong Baptist University’s Department of Journalism, believed that, as a professional practice, the media has a responsibility to verify the facts. If the interviewee made a false statement, the media and its senior executives should offer clarification, so that the public will not feel that the Hong Kong media, following the practice of the mainland media, will collectively revise their story.

Lui pointed out that the CCP’s Central Propaganda Department mainly takes charge of the ideology inside the Party. “In theory it should not intervene in matters in Hong Kong or Macao.” This time the Central Propaganda Department was directly talking to the senior executives of the Hong Kong media and handing out opinions. It was different from the courtesy visits in the past and was “not normal.” He suspected that the Central Propaganda Department intends to become the direct superior of the Hong Kong media. Possibly it wants to intensify its influence on the Hong Kong media.

The Hong Kong media is different from that in the mainland in that there is a greater degree of freedom in reporting and editing. However, recently, the Asia news editor for the Financial Times, Victor Mallet was denied the renewal of his Hong Kong work visa. It happened after he invited Andy Chan, founder of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), to give a speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC). The event caused the outside world to be concerned about Hong Kong’s freedom of the press.

According to the Hong Kong Journalists Association’s 2017 survey, the Chinese government controls 35 percent of Hong Kong’s mainstream media or they have received financial investments from China.

Lui expects that the mainland will exert more influence on the Hong Kong media in the future. It will use different political and economic tactics to deal with overseas media more often.

Source: BBC Chinese, October 17, 2018
https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/simp/chinese-news-45887146

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