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Mainland Scholars Call for Action to Oppose the CCTV Spring Festival Gala

On January 15, 2008, five Mainland scholars issued a joint statement titled, “Declaration of the New Spring Festival Culture.” The scholars expressed in the Declaration that the Chinese Spring Festival in itself symbolizes civilization and freedom and should not be subject to any political, economic or cultural restrictions. The scholars oppose the annual Spring Festival Gala held by the State television network, China Central Televison (CCTV), since that enables the Gala to be used as a propaganda tool to glorify the Communist Party.

The Communist regime re-named the Chinese New Year as the Chinese Spring Festival after its takeover of the Mainland in 1949. Every year, CCTV has a gala as the official State celebration. The Chinese New Year begins on February 7, 2008.

Source: Xinhua, January 17, 2008
Zhong Ren Net, January 15, 2008

There’s a Workers Strike Every Day in Guangdong Province

Han Dongfang, a China workers activist told Radio Free Asia that in the Pearl River Delta region of Guangdong Province there is at least one workers’ strike a day that consists of a minimum of one thousand workers. That is in addition to the number of smaller scale strikes that take place. These workers are mainly from inland provinces such as Sichuan, Guizhou, Hubei and Hunan. He said currently the government only intervenes when the situation is out of control. As a result, workers are inadvertently encouraged to resort to strong measures such as strikes. Han said that the international community holds a fantasy that economic development will help China. However, the reason it is a fantasy is that people don’t know what lies behind the economic development: the sacrifice of many people’s health and rights.

Source: BBC, January 16, 2008

Demolition of a Symbolic Bulletin Board, the Sanjiaodi, at Peking University

On October 30, a bulletin board, once called the Democracy Wall and also called Sanjiaodi, at Peking University was demolished. The wall witnessed decades of significant historical events of Chinese history. Its demolition has received both local and international media attention.

The Beijing News reported on November 11, 2007:[1]
“Students of Peking University get information on housing/room rentals, lectures, and job openings through the Sanjiaodi bulletin board. Looking for information at Sanjiaodi has become a characteristic of Peking University. Student organizations will put out display boards at Sanjiaodi to announce campus community news.

"Mr. Wu from class of ’99 said that the Sanjiaodi is famous because it’s a place for information sharing and cultural exchange. Wu added, “Having such symbolic role, how can it be demolished so lightly? We cannot forget her place in our heart.”

Xinhua News Agency reported on the same day: [2]
“Peking University’s news spokesperson Zhao Weimin indicated that, the Sanjiaodi bulletin board had been around for many years. The demolition is due to regulation of the campus environment.

"Zhao said with the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games, the campus environment needs an overall renovation. This bulletin board, which was a platform for information dissemination, is not functioning as it should, as it mostly posts housing rentals and other advertisements. As the campus computer network is well developed, information exchange can be done through the network. He said the future site plan for the Sanjiaodi is under discussion.”

Voice of America reported on December 29, 2007: [3]
“Zhao Yong, a Beijing Normal University professor raised a question in his recent article: What is really being demolished at Sanjiaodi? Zhao’s article, in addition to mentioning several concerns regarding the demolition, asked a few more questions: Who made the proposal? Who authorized the demolition? What procedure was followed? Why wasn’t the discussion disclosed? Zhao questions, ‘Isn’t that Sanjiaodi, although no longer a platform for exchange of pure ideas and thoughts, a reflection of an important cultural phenomenon with the contents switching to overwhelming commercial information?’

"Zhao further connected the demolition to the Chinese regime’s ideology of ‘destroying an old world and building a new world.’ In 1957, despite the opposition from renowned architect Liang Sicheng, the Chinese regime dismantled the ancient city wall of Beijing. … In order to build a new Beijing and a new Olympics, Beijing is also making an all out effort to demolish Siheyuan. [4] Not only Beijing, all the cities around the country are demolishing and rebuilding, giving up traditional characteristics."
An article titled ”Peking University’s Sanjiaodi Bulletin Board Fades Out in History” was published by Zaobao (Singapore) on November 12, 2007: [5]
“The demolition of Sanjiaodi did not stir any reaction among the students. If the media had not reported, it would have gone unnoticed.”

“One Peking University graduate of the class of 1981 said that back then all the students would take a look at the bulletin board when they passed by. At that time, there was only one television for each dormitory building. With very few newspapers and magazines available, Sanjiaodi, was on the only way to the classrooms, became part of campus life.”

“The removal of Sanjiaodi is not only for political reasons. Starting from the 1990s, when the Internet became popular, the bulletin board function of Sanjiaodi was replaced by the Internet. A few political dissidents who once studied at Peking University, including several human rights attorneys and political commentators, have  expressed their opinions mostly through the Internet instead of Sanjiaodi.”

“However, the BBS site Yitahutu, through which Peking University students discuss current affairs, fell in the battle earlier than Sanjiaodi. Yitahutu, established in 1999, gained immediate popularity among the students. Its ‘Sanjiaodi‘ online section (following the name of the bulletin board) was famous for free discussion of political affairs. When the site was shut down in 2004, Peking University lost the platform for free expression.”

“Since the university computer network is well developed, any information exchanged or discussed can be done through the network.”

Nanfang Daily reported reactions from students on November 2, 2007: [6]
“The demolition made a great stir at [7] Many students raised questions: who proposed the demolition? Who authorized this? What procedure was followed? Why is everyone in the dark?”

“‘The Weiming Lake, Yabo Tower, Jingyuan Grass Land, and Sanjiaodi are all symbols of Peking University. How can it be casually demolished? Will Yabo Tower be torn down tomorrow?’ asked some students emotionally.”

“October 31 on the BBS, an extensive discussion appeared to be against the demolition. Most people were against the demolition with very few showing support.”
“Many students voiced their opinion that the Democracy Wall has both spiritual and historical significance and their opinion should have been sought and respected before any decision for the demolition was made.

"An internet user said that ‘Sanjiaodi was already dead, but a dead Sanjiaodi still has its historical significance and a special place. How can it be casually destroyed?’

"It’s reported that an electronic board would replace the demolished wall. However many feel that this means the Peking University’s administration will have full control over the information on display and hence restrict any free exchange of information."

[1] Beijing News, November 11, 2007
[2] Xinhua News Agency, Novemerb 11, 2007
[3] Voice of America, December 29, 2007
[4] Siheyuan (四合院) was a type of residence commonly found throughout China, but most famously in Beijing. The name literally means a courtyard surrounded by four buildings. Throughout Chinese history, the siheyuan composition was the basic pattern used for residences, palaces, temples, monasteries, family dwellings, businesses, and government offices. The history of Siheyuan goes as early as the Western Zhou period (1122 BC to 256 BC). Siheyuan carries the most outstanding and fundamental characteristics of Chinese architecture.
[5] Zaobao, November 12, 2007
[6] Nanfang Daily, November 2, 2007
[7] A popular online BBS for Chinese students.

Beijing Builds Detention Centers to Protect the Olympic Games

In order to express their grievances, mainland petitioners usually show up at major state activities where they can attract media attention to their plight. For example, on the second day of Indian Prime Minister Singh’s visit, the overseas Chinese affairs website Canyu reported that more than 100 petitioners attempted to enter Tiananmen Square. The police stopped them and escorted them back. It has been reported that the square is now being heavily guarded. One petitioner from Heilongjiang revealed that Beijing has set up a transit point in the suburbs to detain petitioners and prevent foreign media from accessing them during the Olympics. Similar detention centers for petitioners have also been built in all provinces and cities.

Source: Radio Free Asia, January 15, 2008

Leading Scholar Reported for Plagiarism

Xie Hua’an, an ex-fellow of the Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences (FAAS) and a leading scholar known for growing a popular hybrid rice was elected into the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in December 2007. At the time of his election, two retired FAAS researchers reported that Xie plagiarized one of his research papers. Xie’s paper “Shanyou 63 Ⅲ – China’s rice variety with the largest acreage – Photosynthetic characteristics and the utilization of solar energy” was reported to have no citations and no footnotes, except for a list of 16 references to articles that others had previously published. Data used in the paper were surprisingly identical to the data in three papers that the Jiangsu Agricultural Science team had published in 1989. CAS denied the charge.

Source: The Beijing News, January 14, 2008

On China’s Newest Administrative Reform

During the Chinese Communist Party’s (NCCCP) 17th National Congress, the party chief Hu Jintao said the party would “step up our efforts to streamline government agencies, explore ways to establish expanded departments with integrated functions, and improve the mechanisms for coordination and collaboration between government departments.” [1] A plan for the sixth administrative reform, called the “greater departments system,” is now under evaluation and will be sent to the State Council.

The followings are excerpts from the Epoch Times report on January 15. [2]
“The ‘greater departments system’ refers to having one single department to conduct the central administration of all state affairs that have similar functions and scope of business in the framework of government bodies. The benefits of this system are: avoiding the overlapping of government and multi-level management, improving administrative efficiency, and lowering administrative costs.

Although the news of combining of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), and the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) at the end of 2007 was negated, Zheng Xinli — deputy director of Policy Research Office of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (PROCCCCP) — said that a greater department was considered to have been established for the financial sector.

Signs indicate that the ‘greater departments system’ brought up in Hu Jintao’s Report to the 17th NCCCP will be the focus of China’s reform in 2008.

There have been reports that the State Council will set up a Ministry of Energy to consolidate the energy related functions from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR), the Ministry of Water Resources (MW and the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC). The new Ministry will also administer the state-owned energy giants such as China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China Petrochemical Corporation (SINOPEC), China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC).

Experts predict that if the Ministry of Energy will be established, a new round of reshuffling of administrative officials will occur during the Two Conferences (the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) in March.

The Chinese government’s administration cost is gigantic. Under the State Council, in additional to the General Office, there are 28 Cabinet Ministries, one special agency, 18 Departments directly under The State Council, 4 Offices under That State Council, 10 State Bureau Administrations under various Ministries and Commissions, 14 Institutions directly under The State Council, and more than 100+ coordination agencies.
In contrast, there are only 13 Cabinet departments in the U.S. and 12 ministries in Japan. German’s Bundesregierung (Federal Cabinet) is composed of 15 ministries and Her Majesty’s Government in the UK has 18 ministries. The number of ministries in China doubles or even triples those in some other nations. The huge management cost is as high as ten fold other governments, with a gigantic number of public servants.

However some experts doubt the effectiveness of this reform. Ren Jianming, the director of the Anti-Corruption and Governance Research Center at Tsinghua University said, "It seems that five years has become a cycle for government reform. The 1998 and 2003 reforms, which were centered around streamlining these agencies, failed to stop the cycle of expansion-after-streamlining. The ‘greater departments system’ is faces the same problem.

It’s said that the biggest issue that faces the ‘greater departments system’ reform is how to prevent the concentration of power and the consequent corruptions.

Fan Yafeng, a fellow at the Law Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Science believes that the ‘greater departments system’ reform belongs to administrative reform, while the transformation of the functions of the government is the deeper issue. The reform that the government needs is to be under the rule of law. The expansion of the powers of the government together with the distribution of the rights to taxation and fiscal expenditure need to be processed under the rule of law too.”

[1] Full text of Hu Jintao’s Report to Seventeenth National Congress of Chinese Communist Party on October 15, 2007
[2] The Epoch Times, January 15, 2008

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