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    China's 'rejuvenation' and prosperity

    October 01, 2019

    China's 'rejuvenation' and prosperity
    Anna Jones


    It was no surprise that there were no surprises in President Xi Jinping's speech opening the grand parade today. He focused on a key theme of his presidency: that China is undergoing a "national rejuvenation" and must remain united in pursuit of peace and prosperity. "Forging ahead we must remain committed to strategy of peaceful reunification and One Country Two Systems," he said. "Peaceful reunification" is a reference to Taiwan, which has been self-ruled for decades but which the Chinese government wants to return to mainland rule. While Beijing wants that to be a peaceful process it has not ruled out doing it by force.
    "One country two systems" has described the relationship between mainland China and Hong Kong since the territory was handed back by the UK in 1997. That system is due to expire in 1947 – a year which once felt a long way off but now for many Hong Kongers feels very soon indeed, causing anxiety which is helping to fuel the ongoing protests. The Chinese government at times seems baffled as to why some in Hong Kong resist its leadership, when it is promising mutual prosperity and progress. State media has often, for example, depicted Hong Kong as a child rejecting its mother’s love.
    Mr Xi also called on "the people of all ethnic groups" to be "firmly united". China is relentless about enforcing this spirit of unity, as Xinjiang can attest. The massive security operation there - which has seen more than a million people, mostly ethnic Muslim Uighurs, taken to what China calls training camps - is in the name of crushing separatism and preventing terrorism. The drive for unity also lies behind the near-total control of China’s media and its people’s access to information.

    In a statement, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) - Taiwan's top government body in charge of mainland China affairs - said the country's communist party had "imposed a one-party dictatorship for 70 years, a concept of governance that violates the values of democracy, freedom and human rights".The MAC added that China's "shouts about a struggle for unity, great revival and reunification are only an excuse for military expansion, seriously threatening regional peace and world democracy and civilisation".
    Earlier today, President Xi Jinping said China would promote peaceful relations with Taiwan and "continue to strive for the motherland’s complete reunification". Beijing claims the self-ruled island of Taiwan as part of its territory, to be reunified by force if necessary."The lifeline of the survival and development of mainland China is not tied to one person and one party," the MAC said, stressing that Taiwan would not be "bullied" into accepting China's territorial claims.The MAC also said Taiwan would never accept the "one country, two systems" model proposed for the island by Beijing. The model is current in place in Hong Kong and Macau.
    As traffic is rerouted by protesters, large buses full of passengers are forced to make a U-turn.Silently, as they pass the protesters on the road, the passengers raise their open palms in unison and press them against the glass.The protesters raise their hands back in solidarity, chanting “five demands - not one less”.People place their hands on the windows of a bus passing by the protests in Hong KongHong Kong protesters are calling on each other to tuck in their shirts and roll up their trousers in what they say is an effort to expose undercover cops, the South China Morning Post reports.Messages circulating on social media platforms such as Telegram and Reddit-like site LIHKG, have called for a "new dress code" for protesters that will make it difficult for undercover police to hide batons or revolvers around their waist and ankles.The campaign comes after an alleged undercover Hong Kong police officer fired a warning shot into the air during clashes on 29 September."You think it’s too nerdy to tuck your shirts in? It could probably save your life!" reads a post on LIHKG, according to SCMP.
    Police have fired today’s first tear gas in the working-class neighbourhood of Wong Tai Sin in Hong Kong.The first canister was fired outside of a shopping mall as hundreds of protesters in black were trying to occupy a major road.My colleague Danny Vincent is at the scene. He saw a few protesters throw paving stones at a police van that was forced to drive off from the crowds.
    My overall impression of the military parade we saw earlier in Beijing is more about questions than answers. The military element of the parade was not that different to its two predecessors during Xi Jinping's leadership. There was a clear emphasis on "intelligent warfare" and networked command and control capabilities, seeking to demonstrate that the People's Liberation Army is part of China's digital revolution.A key question which is difficult to answer from watching a parade like this is the effectiveness of the reform and restructuring of the PLA launched by President Xi in late 2015. This is going to be a long-haul process up to 2049, the target date for the PLA to be a world class military.The PLA, like many militaries, across Asia has not been tested in combat for several decades. Ironically, the period of time when the PLA has made its fastest technological advances matches the decade when US and allied forces fought their hardest during bloody wars of intervention in the middle east and Afghanistan, gaining invaluable operational experience.
    As we pass through Admiralty, where the police and government headquarters are located, there are signs of the march starting to take a darker tone.“Frontliner” protesters stop to put on armour, shielded by their friends holding umbrellas.Nearby, some start breaking up the pavement and amassing bricks. Police are glimpsed along an overhead bridge with protesters shouting abuse at them. Some are even making loud barking noises - a reference to a common derogatory term for the police as “dogs”.As I move closer with my camera, the mood turns a little hostile and some start opening umbrellas to block my view. “Careful, a reporter is here," shouts someone. They clearly do not want to be captured on film preparing what could end up as projectiles and weapons in a clash with police.In the main, however, the march is continuing peacefully, with many singing songs and shouting slogans.But it leads you to wonder: how long will it last?But China’s embrace of its South East Asian backyard gets only a qualified welcome.Its assertion of sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea is challenged, vigorously by Vietnam, less so by the Philippines. Anti-Chinese sentiment is especially strong in Vietnam, forcing the fellow-Communist government to tread a delicate line in relations with its powerful northern neighbour.But there has been growing unease in Indonesia and Malaysia too over Chinese-funded infrastructure, countries where the success of the ethnic Chinese business class has long stirred local resentment.Asean encourages the engagement of other powers like the US, Japan and India, to counteract China. South East Asia hopes to accommodate and benefit from Chinese power, without becoming overdependent on it.
    For hundreds of years, China referred to warm and resource-rich region of South East Asia as Nanyang, the "south sea", and millions of Chinese migrated there in search of work and commercial opportunities.But the turbulent politics in China prevented it exercising much sway in SE Asia, until the end of the 20th Century. In this century though, its influence has risen, to the point where it is broadly viewed as the regional superpower whose interests cannot be ignored.Chinese trade and investment now dominate the small Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states Cambodia and Laos. China is the biggest trading partner for Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, and a growing source of funding for infrastructure, through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Governments in Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines have openly pursued closer diplomatic and military ties with China.
    Let's have another look back at the military display we saw earlier. Pictured here is the JL2 missile which can be launched from China's Jin class submarines, tasked with mounting seaborne deterrent missions and helping to ensure China's second strike capability.
    In order to mount nuclear deterrent patrols, these subs need to be able to leave their base in Hainan, transit the South China Sea and penetrate the "first island chain" into the Pacific Ocean. This might help to explain the significance of China's new bases in the Spratlyislands which could serve as a bastion to protect the Jin Class submarine patrols.
    How the country became the world's 'economic miracle'
    By Virginia Harrison & Daniele Palumbo
    As the country celebrates the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, we look back on how its transformation spread unprecedented wealth - and deepened inequality - across the Asian giant."When the Communist Party came into control of China it was very, very poor," says DBS chief China economist Chris Leung."There were no trading partners, no diplomatic relationships, they were relying on self-sufficiency."Over the past 40 years, China has introduced a series of landmark market reforms to open up trade routes and investment flows, ultimately pulling hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.The 1950s had seen one of the biggest human disasters of the 20th Century. The Great Leap Forward was Mao Zedong's attempt to rapidly industrialise China's peasant economy, but it failed and 10-40 million people died between 1959-1961 - the most costly famine in human history.This was followed by the economic disruption of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, a campaign which Mao launched to rid the Communist party of his rivals, but which ended up destroying much of the country's social fabric.
    Yet after Mao's death in 1976, reforms spearheaded by Deng Xiaoping began to reshape the economy. Peasants were granted rights to farm their own plots, improving living standards and easing food shortages.The door was opened to foreign investment as the US and China re-established diplomatic ties in 1979. Eager to take advantage of cheap labour and low rent costs, money poured in."From the end of the 1970s onwards we've seen what is easily the most impressive economic miracle of any economy in history," says David Mann, global chief economist at Standard Chartered Bank.The day China became communistThe deep cuts behind China's extraordinary riseThrough the 1990s, China began to clock rapid growth rates and joining the World Trade Organization in 2001 gave it another jolt. Trade barriers and tariffs with other countries were lowered and soon Chinese goods were everywhere."It became the workshop of the world," Mr Mann says.Take these figures from the London School of Economics: in 1978, exports were $10bn (£8.1bn), less than 1% of world trade.By 1985, they hit $25bn and a little under two decades later exports valued $4.3trn, making China the world's largest trading nation in goods.
    The economic reforms improved the fortunes of hundreds of millions of Chinese people.The World Bank says more than 850 million people been lifted out of poverty, and the country is on track to eliminate absolute poverty by 2020.At the same time, education rates have surged. Standard Chartered projects that by 2030, around 27% of China's workforce will have a university education - that's about the same as Germany today.Rising inequality
    Still, the fruits of economic success haven't spread evenly across China's population of 1.3 billion people.Examples of extreme wealth and a rising middle class exist alongside poor rural communities, and a low skilled, ageing workforce. Inequality has deepened, largely along rural and urban divides."The entire economy is not advanced, there's huge divergences between the different parts," Mr Mann says.The World Bank says China's income per person is still that of a developing country, and less than one quarter of the average of advanced economies.China's average annual income is nearly $10,000, according to DBS, compared to around $62,000 in the US.
    For years it has pushed to wean its dependence off exports and toward consumption-led growth. New challenges have emerged including softer global demand for its goods and a long-running trade war with the US. The pressures of demographic shifts and an ageing population also cloud the country's economic outlook.China's annual growth slowest in decadesTrade war pushes Asian nations towards recession
    Still, even if the rate of growth in China eases to between 5% and 6%, the country will still be the most powerful engine of world economic growth."At that pace China will still be 35% of global growth, which is the biggest single contributor of any country, three times more important to global growth than the US," Mr Mann says.The next economic frontier China is also carving out a new front in global economic development. The country's next chapter in nation-building is unfolding through a wave of funding in the massive global infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative. mThe so-called new Silk Road aims to connect almost half the world's populations and one-fifth of global GDP, setting up trade and investment links that stretch across the world.
    The deep cuts of 70 years of Communist rule
    China's version of its past is a story of prosperity, progress and sacrifice for the common goodChina's extraordinary rise was a defining story of the 20th Century, but as it prepares to mark its 70th anniversary, the BBC's John Sudworth in Beijing asks who has really won under the Communist Party's rule.Sitting at his desk in the Chinese city of Tianjin, Zhao Jingjia's knife is tracing the contours of a face.Cut by delicate cut, the form emerges - the unmistakable image of Mao Zedong, founder of modern China.The retired oil engineer discovered his skill with a blade only in later life and now spends his days using the ancient art of paper cutting to glorify leaders and events from China's communist history."I'm the same age as the People's Republic of China (PRC)," he says. "I have deep feelings for my motherland, my people and my party."
    Born a few days before 1 October 1949 - the day the PRC was declared by Mao - Mr Zhao's life has followed the dramatic contours of China's development, through poverty, repression and the rise to prosperity.Now, in his modest but comfortable apartment, his art is helping him make sense of one of the most tumultuous periods of human history."Wasn't Mao a monster," I ask, "responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of his countrymen?""I lived through it," he replies. "I can tell you that Chairman Mao did make some mistakes but they weren't his alone."I respect him from my heart. He achieved our nation's liberation. Ordinary people cannot do such things."
    How the Communist Party runs ChinaThe country is staging one of its biggest ever military parades, a celebration of 70 years of Communist Party rule as pure, political triumph.Beijing will tremble to the thunder of tanks, missile launchers and 15,000 marching soldiers, a projection of national power, wealth and status watched over by the current Communist Party leader, President Xi Jinping, in Tiananmen Square.An incomplete narrative of progressLike Mr Zhao's paper-cut portraits, we're not meant to focus on the many individual scars made in the course of China's modern history.
    On 1 October 1949, Chairman Mao stood in Tiananmen Square urging a war-ravaged, semi-feudal state into a new era with a founding speech and a somewhat plodding parade that could muster only 17 planes for the flyby.This week's parade, in contrast, will reportedly feature the world's longest range intercontinental nuclear missile and a supersonic spy-drone - the trophies of a prosperous, rising authoritarian superpower with a 400 million strong middle class.It is a narrative of political and economic success that - while in large part true - is incomplete.New visitors to China are often, rightly, awe-struck by the skyscraper-festooned, hi-tech megacities connected by brand new highways and the world's largest high-speed rail network.
    They see a rampant consumer society with the inhabitants enjoying the freedom and free time to shop for designer goods, to dine out and to surf the internet."How bad can it really be?" the onlookers ask, reflecting on the negative headlines they've read about China back home.The answer, as in all societies, is that it depends very much on who you are.Many of those in China's major cities, for example, who have benefited from this explosion of material wealth and opportunity, are genuinely grateful and loyal.In exchange for stability and growth, they may well accept - or at least tolerate - the lack of political freedom and the censorship that feature so often in the foreign media.For them the parade could be viewed as a fitting tribute to a national success story that mirrors their own.But in the carving out of a new China, the knife has cut long and deep.
    The dead, the jailed and the marginalised
    Mao's man-made famine - a result of radical changes to agricultural systems - claimed tens of millions of lives and his Cultural Revolution killed hundreds of thousands more in a decade-long frenzy of violence and persecution, truths that are notably absent from Chinese textbooks.Tens of millions starved to death under Mao, as China radically restructured agriculture and society After his death, the demographically calamitous One Child Policy brutalised millions over a 40-year period.Still today, with its new Two Child Policy, the Party insists on violating that most intimate of rights - an individual's choice over her fertility.The list is long, with each category adding many thousands, at least, to the toll of those damaged or destroyed by one-party rule.Beijing still regulates how many children families can haveThere are the victims of religious repression, of local government land-grabs and of corruption.There are the tens of millions of migrant workers, the backbone of China's industrial success, who have long been shut out of the benefits of citizenship.A strict residential permit system continues to deny them and their families the right to education or healthcare where they work.And in recent years, there are the estimated one and a half million Muslims in China's western region of Xinjiang - Uighurs, Kazakhs and others - who have been placed in mass incarceration camps on the basis of their faith and ethnicity.China continues to insist they are vocational schools, and that it is pioneering a new way of preventing domestic terrorism.
    The stories of the dead, the jailed and the marginalised are always much more hidden than the stories of the assimilated and the successful.Viewed from their perspective, the censorship of large parts of China's recent history is not simply part of a grand bargain to be exchanged for stability and prosperity.
    Prof Guo Yuhua, a sociologist at Beijing's Tsinghua University, is one of the few scholars left trying to record, via oral histories, some of the huge changes that have affected Chinese society over the past seven decades.Her books are banned, her communications monitored and her social media accounts are regularly deleted.For several generations people have received a history that has been falsified, faked, glorified and whitewashed," she tells me, despite having been warned not to talk to the foreign media ahead of the parade."I think it requires the entire nation to re-study and to reflect on history. Only if we do that can we ensure that these tragedies won't be repeated."
    A parade, she believes, that puts the Communist Party at the front and centre of the story, misses the real lesson, that China's progress only began after Mao, when the party loosened its grip a bit."People are born to strive for a better, happier and more respectful life, aren't they?" she asks me."If they are provided with a tiny little space, they'll try to make a fortune and solve their survival problems. This shouldn't be attributed to the leadership."
    Another anniversary, of which Tiananmen Square is the centrepiece, is also being measured in multiples of 10 - it is 30 years since the bloody suppression of the pro-democracy protests that shook the foundations of Communist Party rule.The troops will be marching - as they always do on these occasions - down the same avenue on which the students were gunned down.The risk of even a lone protester using the parade to mark a piece of history that has largely been wiped from the record is just too great.With central Beijing sealed off, ordinary people in whose honour it is supposedly being held, can only watch it on TV.Back in his Tianjin apartment, Zhao Jingjia shows me the intricate detail of a series of scenes, each cut from a single piece of paper, depicting the "Long March", a time of hardship and setback for the Communist Party long before it eventually swept to power.
    "Our happiness nowadays comes from hard work," he tells me.It is a view that echoes that of the Chinese government which, like him, has at least acknowledged that Mao made mistakes while insisting they shouldn't be dwelt on."As for the 70 years of China, it's extraordinary," he says. "It can be seen by all. Yesterday we sent two navigation satellites into space - all citizens can enjoy the convenience that these things bring us."

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