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Is China Resisting the West? (Asia Carousel Live Event)

Where will the rise of China take the country in the 21st century? Will China confirm to the Western world order, or will it create a new world order? What is the ‘China dream’ (中国梦)? These questions will be addressed at today’s Asia Carousel at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Manya Koetse

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Where will the rise of China lead to in the 21st century? Will China confirm to the Western world order, or will it create a new world order? What is the ‘China dream’ (中国梦)? These questions will be addressed at today’s Asia Carousel at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (To see more events live-blogged by What’s on Weibo, see our live events list.)

Event: Asia Carousel, “China Resisting the Western World Order?”
Date: June 9, 2016
Place: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Hague

During this edition of the ‘Asia Carousel’, an initiative launched by the Dutch government to enhance knowledge and understanding of Asia, all focus will be on China and its role in international society today.

Today’s speakers are sinologist and author Henk Schulte Nordholt, Leiden Asia Centre director Frank Pieke, and Arjen van Dijkhuizen, Senior Economist Emerging Markets at ABN AMRO. The discussion will be led by Arjen Schutten (China Expertise Centre).

An Economic Perspective (Van Dijkhuizen, 11.05 CET)

Today’s first speaker, Arjen van Dijkhuizen, starts his talk by addressing the audience to ask people whether or not they think the rise of China and its influence on the world economy is a cause for concern. Although the majority of people in the room raise their hand for being ‘not too worried’, Van Dijkhuizen says that there might actually be more cause for concern than today’s attendants might think.

 

“Improving communication is one of the biggest challenges that China is facing in its transition to the world economy.”

 

China is often at the focus of attention in today’s global financial markets. This, on the one hand, has to do with the rising importance of China’s economy, and, on the other hand, also relates to the country’s lack of transparency and communication. According to Van Dijkhuizen, opening up this communication is one of the biggest challenges that China is facing in its transition to the world economy.

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But there are also other various issues that play a big role. Debts are one of China’s bigger problems- “although this might be more of a domestic problem than an international one”, Van Dijkhuizen says.

He continues: “The World Bank might be too bureaucratic for China – it is not fast enough, and too focused on the USA. It is therefore not surprising that the PRC is now setting up its own initiatives like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which we will hear much more about.”

“All in all, there are many hurdles to come”, Van Dijkhuizen says. The rising debts are one major point of concern. But China won’t try to turn around the global financial market: “The country is reforming, but stabilization will be the number one priority – which is something that the whole world will profit from.”

Looking at China’s Nationalism (Schulte Nordholt, 11.25 CET)

Speaker Henk Schulte Nordholt is all too familiar with today’s topic, as he is the author of the China and the Barbarians: The Opposition Against the Western World Order (2015) that is also focused on the theme of the rise of China.

“Maintaining the single-party state is a central aspect of nationalism in today’s China,” Schulte Nordholt says. One way to preserve this system is focusing on territorial issues – the Party suggests that without China’s single-party system, the country’s “territorial integrity” will not be maintained or reached. Where the borders of this “complete China” exactly are, Schulte Nordholt says, is not really clear.

 

“The main problem in China-US relations is a lack of trust.”

 

So except for the economic perspective, it is important to focus on military aspects when talking about the rise of China and its attitude towards the Western world order, according to Schulte Nordholt. The question “Who will dominate the Pacific Ocean – China or the US?” is an important one in this matter.

Could China and the US clash? “The main problem is a lack of trust,” Schulte Nordholt says. There are consistent strategic talks between the two nations, but the tensions continue. For China, economic development, sovereignty, and social safety/stability are three major issues – and they do not necessarily benefit from closer ties with the US.

These are exciting times, according to Schulte Nordholt. In the long run, he is optimistic – no one will be able to stop China’s rise to the world order and its integration in the world economy, it has already passed the “point of no return” in 2001. Continuing dialogues, Schulte Nordholt says, is crucial.

China’s Neo-Socialism (Frank Pieke, 11:45 CET)

“China is a country where nothing is allowed, but everything is possible,” says Frank Pieke. A country like the Netherlands might very well be the other way around, Pieke smilingly points out – and it is not necessarily better that way. For Chinese people, and foreigners alike, there are many possibilities for individual development in today’s China.

“Neosocialism”, is what Pieke calls China’s current political system. It is a continuing process. The Party is getting increasingly powerful – and its demonstration of power changes from year to year, from month to month, and from day to day. It also varies per theme, where some things might become more free, whereas others are more limited, like the recent restrictions on religion.

“The single-party state and China’s sovereignty is now emphasized more than ever,” Pieke says. We now first see that the Party and the government has a plan that they are creating. This was different in Hu Jintao’s era; now it is clear that the Party leaders have a clear vision of where they are going and how they will reach this. It is almost like a grocery list that they are completing.

 

“It is not a renewed ‘maoism’; you could compare it to nazism.”

 

There is also a sense of completing this within the coming 6-7 years, Pieke says, so there is a new sense of power and urgency that is making Xi Jinping’s reign different from that of his predecessors. “The Party and its leaders will become more dominant,” according to Pieke. The role of the Premier Li Keqiang is seemingly becoming less important, as all eyes are on President Xi Jinping.

This growing importance of the President will not lead to a renewed ‘maoism’, according to Pieke: “China is not going back in time. This is much more managed and the plans are different from Mao’s era. If you want to compare it to anything”, Pieke says, “then you could compare it to nazism” – cultivating not only the Party, but also the leader: “Its background is aggressive, nationalistic and based on a history where China was victimized.”

“What worries me most is not a revival of state-socialism”, Pieke argues: “but that the Party dictatorship will become more like a fascist regime.” Pieke sees this as a potential danger within the rise of China and its attitude to the West, as he also speaks of China’s route of ‘Lebensraum‘.

Dialogue is therefore crucial, Pieke says – reiterating the views of the previous speakers. The dialogue has to be constructed and maintained with several layers in Chinese society; keeping communication alive with the various institutions and government bodies. “We cannot close the door to China,” Pieke says: “But we also cannot accept a Chinese hyper-nationalistic agenda to grow.”

Discussion & Questions (12.25 CET)

“It is a worrisome trend that China’s image in the west is not getting more positive, while the country is growing,” Schulte-Nordholt says: “If China is indeed continuing with a neosocialist system that has some fascist features [as suggested by Pieke], then this doesn’t do much good for its future international image.”

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“We shouldn’t see ‘China’ as one entity,” Frank Pieke comments: “When I was talking about the fascist regime, I am talking about something that finds its roots in an aggressive form of nationalism that is alive at multiple layers in society – from top to bottom – but it is not that this nationalism applies to the entire society. This growing, and potentially dangerous, group is not representative for all of China.”

Pieke does not see a strict division between Party and society, as there are movements in the Party that can be traced back to what is happening at grassroots movements. But Schulte Nordholt does not necessarily agree with Pieke’s view when it comes to this Party & society symbiosis: “There really is a clear division,” according to Schulte Nordholt.

Yet Pieke says: “A Party separate from society is fundamentally non-Chinese. Social government and social management are essential in understanding China,” – suggesting close ties between state, government and society in China today.

Audience participant Ingrid d’Hooge has a question for the panel. She says that there are many of her friends in China who worry about the growing dictatorial regime in China, as it paralyzes the people to some extent. “How do you see this?” she asks the panel.

 

“2002-2006 were China’s golden days with relative freedom and endless possibilities.”

 

“I understand your friends,” Pieke says: “But we should not forget that there are many people, both inside and outside the Party, who are happy that a ‘real’ leader has stood up who has the guts to watch the West in the eyes and show China’s limits.” In the end, Pieke says, a regime can only change when internal forces want it to change – “I’m fairly pessimistic about this,” he concludes.

One other audience participant, China Analyst Mr. Hofman, wonders if the significance of China’s previous President Hu Jintao (2002-2012) is not undervalued in discussions such as these – even 4, 5 years ago, people never spoke too highly of him. “He indeed did not get enough credit for what he did,” Pieke answers: “Perhaps he was less media-genic, but I think 2002-2006 were China’s golden days with relative freedom and endless possibilities. I want to emphasize that Xi Jinping cannot be blamed for today’s fascistic changes in China – it is part of a movement that is larger than the President.”

Audience participant Fred Sengers (@blogaap) wonders if there might be international consequences to China taking a route of ‘Lebensraum’, as Pieke previously mentioned.

“Of course it has international consequences. It is not all about creating trade routes, it is more than that. It is project of expanding China’s [economic] influence. It is not necessarily bad, but we have to set limits when we no longer profit from it. There is major diplomatic influence of China within today’s Europe. Let alone in Africa. Europe is more and more influenced by China, and we should set a limit to how much it will influence us.”

This live blog is now closed.

– By Manya Koetse

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©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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    China Media

    CCTV Calls for Chinese Animal Abuse Laws

    “Where’s China’s animal protection law?” – voices calling for a Chinese animal protection law are growing louder. Now, state media also call for legislation.

    Manya Koetse

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    Just a day after a horrific story of a Chinese security guard pouring scalding water over a pregnant cat went viral on social media, the call for legislation against animal abuse is top trending on Weibo.

    Chinese state broadcaster CCTV initiated the hashtag “CCTV calls for rapid legislation against animal abuse” (#央视呼吁禁止虐动物尽快立法#), which received 510 million views on Thursday.

    The state media outlet stated that society is against animal cruelty, but that this opposition can now only exist on a “moral level,” rather than legal. “Whenever animal cruelty happens, people can only condemn it,” CCTV wrote, adding that they look forward to seeing laws against animal abuse be implemented as soon as possible.

    According to CCTV, many delegates already raised the issue of animal cruelty laws during this year’s Two Sessions, (lianghui), China’s largest annual legislative meetings.

    China currently has no laws preventing animal abuse. But over the past few years, the voices calling for the legal protection of animals in China have become louder.

    Every now and then, extreme stories of animal abuse become the topic of the day on Chinese social media. Sometimes, Chinese netizens take matters into their own hand; they spread personal information on the animal abusers online. This phenomenon where Internet users hunt down and punish people is known as the ‘Human Flesh Search Engine‘, and it often comes into action in cases connected to animal cruelty.

    In one 2016 case of a man abusing a dog, for example, a group of animal welfare activists traced the man down, dragged him out of his house and publicly shamed him and beat him up.

    In 2017, netizens cried out for rapid implementation of animal welfare legislation in China after a heartbreaking video of a young girl holding her killed dog went viral on social media. Her dog was shot by a neighborhood guard with an air gun.

    Two years ago, another brutal case of pet killing also shocked Chinese social media users, when a Chongqing man threw his golden retriever and a pregnant cat from the 21st floor of his apartment building. The man allegedly committed the cruel act after learning his wife was pregnant and not wanting her to keep pets in the house.

    This week, it was captured on video how a security guard in Shandong, Taiyuan, poured boiling water over a pregnant stray cat while she was captured in a cage. The cat was treated at a local animal hospital, where vets found that all of her unborn babies had died. The mother cat died soon after. After the story became trending, Chinese netizens soon exposed the man’s address and personal details. The man has since been fired from his job.

    As the many social media stories and trends over recent years have shown, this is definitely not the first time for people to call for animal abuse laws. It is more uncommon, however, for a state media outlet to make such a statement.

    CCTV also asked Weibo users whether or not they would support an animal welfare law, with virtually all commenters responding that they would also like to see such laws be implemented as soon as possible.

    “People who abuse animals have serious problems, legislation is needed,” some Weibo users wrote, with others saying: “[These laws] need to come soon, we need them now, and I hope they’ll be strict.”

    However, there is also skepticism about CCTV’s call for immediate legislation on animal abuse.

    “When I was studying at university this was already called for, but we’ve waited so many years already,” one lawyer writes: “I haven’t seen any progress being made.”

    Others also comment that “the law is always lagging behind.”

    Read more about discussions on animal rights in China here.

    By Manya Koetse

    Featured image by author

    Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

    ©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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    China Media

    Girl Brings 23 Relatives on Blind Date, Dinner Bill Comes Down to 20,000 Yuan

    The girl said she wanted to test out the generosity of her date.

    Manya Koetse

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    Image via Qilu Evening News

    An expensive blind date has become top trending on Chinese social media platform Weibo, after a girl allegedly brought 23 of her relatives and friends to the dinner. The restaurant bill was 20,000 yuan – close to 3000 USD.

    According to China Newsweek Magazine (中国新闻周刊), a man by the name of Xiao Liu had asked the young woman out for dinner, saying it would be his treat. The girl then unexpectedly showed up with an entire crew, saying it was to “test out” Liu’s generosity.

    Xiao Liu is a 29-year-old man from Zhejiang province. Struggling to find the time to date with his busy work schedule, Liu’s mother hired a matchmaker to find a suitable potential girlfriend for her single son. The incident happened during a date that was set up by this matchmaker.

    The story was originally published by local media outlets Taizhou Evening News (台州晚报) and Qilu Evening News (齐鲁晚报) on WeChat. These sources report that Liu took off without paying once he saw the restaurant bill, quickly turning off his cellphone afterward.

    Since Liu left the ‘dinner date’ without paying, the woman was stuck with the bill.

    In an attempt to solve the situation with Liu later on, the young woman said she was “willing to go Dutch” on the bill. Liu refused but was still willing to pay the 4398 yuan bill (660 USD) for two tables, leaving the girl with the rest of the 15,402 yuan bill (2305 USD).

    The girl reportedly turned to her relatives for help in paying the bill. Screenshots of the WeChat group chat were apparently leaked online, with some group members showing unwillingness to share in the high bill, saying that they did not smoke nor drink and just had a bite to eat – and that it was her who invited them in the first place.

    On Weibo, the topic attracted 260 million views on Tuesday, with most commenters siding with Liu and condemning the girl.

    Despite the online interest in the topic, there are also some netizens doubting whether or not the story is real. Although screenshots were shared by online media, the actual source of the story remains unknown. It is also not disclosed where or when the incident took place.

    The fact that the story was also shared by some official (local) media makes people think that perhaps it was just posted as clickbait.

    “Even an idiot would never bring 23 people to a date,” some commenters say.

    It is not uncommon for these kinds of interpersonal incidents to go viral on Chinese media.

    In 2016, one Shanghai girl was so disappointed about what her boyfriend’s parents served her for Chinese New Year, that she ended her relationship because of it. The story went mega-viral, reinforcing the ‘demanding leftover woman’ media cliché.

    By Manya Koetse

    Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

    ©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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