2023 Weekly Discussion Thread #6: Wang Yi in Europe; US-China; Struggle 斗争; Bao Fan; Football and Semiconductors corruption
Happy Friday! I have a few starter questions but as always feel free to discuss whatever you would like.
What is your take on the US-China balloon incident, and what implications do you think it might have for the already tense relations between the two countries? Would a possible phone call between Biden and Xi, and/or a meeting between Blinken and Wang Yi this weekend, help? Did the US overreact to the PRC balloon incursion?
Michael Chase, US deputy assistant secretary of defence for China, has arrived in Taiwan, per the Financial Times. How will his visit be viewed by PRC policymakers?
What might Wang Yi accomplish with his attendance at the Munich Security Conference, and then his visit to Russia? What will be his main messages in Munich?
What are the key takeaways from the visit to Beijing by Iran’s President and the PRC-Iran joint statement?
"Struggle 斗争" is a term that has been frequently used by Xi Jinping in his speeches, but its meaning can be somewhat ambiguous. How do you interpret this term, and what do you think it tells us about Xi Jinping's approach to governance and diplomacy? How should we read the recent article by Qu Qingshan 曲青山, central committee member and head of the Institute of Party History and Literature of the CPC Central Committee, in the CCDI/NSC paper on how to think about and put into practice "Chinese-style modernization"?
As noted in the Thursday newsletter, Qu Qingshan included Chairman Mao's saying ‘There is infinite joy in struggling with heaven; there is infinite joy in struggling with earth; and there is infinite joy in struggle with man! 与天斗，其乐无穷；与地斗，其乐无穷!", and adds that there is "infinite joy in struggling against hostile forces that seek to obstruct, block, and suppress China and delay or interrupt the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation 与遏制、封锁、打压中国，欲迟滞、中断中华民族伟大复兴历史进程的敌对势力斗，其乐无穷". What does this mean?
Qu and others have also recently used the phrase “历史反复证明，以斗争求安全则安全存，以软弱退让求安全则安全亡；以斗争谋发展则发展兴，以软弱退让谋发展则发展衰 History repeatedly proves that seeking security through struggle ensures security, while seeking security through weakness and concession leads to its destruction; seeking development through struggle promotes prosperity, while seeking development through weakness and concession leads to decline." What does that mean?
A corruption mess is ripping through the PRC football system, again. The semiconductor development efforts have also been riven with corruption investigations since last year. Xi has made a big deal about the development of football and semiconductors. What if anything does the corruption in two of Xi’s “signature” areas say about Xi and the system?
What kind of message does the detention of banker Bao Fan, possibly to assist in an investigation, send to finance professionals and private business people? Should it be seen as an isolated case that has no bearing on the renewed efforts to make private businesses feel more confident?
How might parts of the US Congress react to some CEOs of major US firms attending events like the China development Forum, given the current state of US-China relations?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on these topics. Don't hesitate to leave a comment below and join the conversation. Thanks
In case you missed some of Sinocism this week:
Sharp China podcast - The Balloon Frenzy Floats Along; Anti-US Propaganda; Xi and the Hardening of the CPC System; ChatGPT in China
Victory declared over Covid exit wave; Infinite joy in struggle; Startup banker detained; Biden says may speak with Xi
Covid deaths; WHO Covid origins investigation; Xi's CEWC speech; Balloon down but not dead; Elder protests
Xi meets Iran President; Football corruption; Document #1; Anti-US propaganda
Document #1; Balloon mess expands; Blinken and Wang Yi may meet; Iran President to visit
One of my favorite scenes from The Knockout 狂飙, even though it appeared early in episode 1, is the discovery of gold bars and bundles of cash deposited in the grave of the mother of a corrupt official. That gives new meaning to the term “dead drop”…
I am now up to episode 28, still enjoying it though I do not think it is as good as “In the Name of the People 人民的名义”.
Bill: WRT what Qiu Qingshan is writing, I would argue that "what it means" is that the Communist Party presently is disinclined to dial down the temperature of tensions with the United States.
This may change (and we may see signals of this in official publications) after the "Two Sessions", but I wouldn't wager money on such an outcome, despite the apparent optimism that Biden administration officials (and the President himself) have, perhaps cautiously, sought to convey.
The incursion of the stratospheric spy balloon into Canada and the United States, as well as the subsequent furore this sparked in both countries, really underscores the lack of trust that currently defines Sino-US strategic interactions. In my view, this is not mysterious--we've been watching "the straws accumulate on the camel's back" for at least four years.
In fact, the rot has arguably been building for much longer, if you count China's disingenuous behaviour in the South China Sea in the mid-2010s, its years-long destruction of Hong Kong's autonomy and the extent to which it has managed to alienate a substantial proportion of "the general public" in Canada, the United States, European Union countries, Australia and elsewhere.
"A corruption mess is ripping through the PRC football system, again. The semiconductor development efforts have also been riven with corruption investigations since last year. Xi has made a big deal about the development of football and semiconductors. What if anything does the corruption in two of Xi’s “signature” areas say about Xi and the system?"
To borrow from the French, Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. To borrow from the writer of Ecclesiastes, nothing new under the sun.
"How might parts of the US Congress react to some CEOs of major US firms attending events like the China development Forum, given the current state of US-China relations?"
What are these CEOs thinking? To borrow from someone, idiocy is doing the same thing again and again expecting a different result.