Ousted editors, mummy astronauts and no more Namibia (*updated*)

  • While breath was held over the 1st March’s joint editorial calling for reform of China’s hukou (household registration system), today one of its authors was ousted. The Economic Observer’s deputy editor in chief, Zhang Hong, was removed from his position and the paper’s top editors received stern warnings, the WSJ reported. *update, 10.03.10 – Zhang has also released this letter (kindly translated by the WSJ) explaining the context and reasoning behind the editorial.*
  • In China and want to do some online research about Namibia? Mei you result. According to The Namibian, the southern African country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is keen to question President Hu Jintao’s son over a corruption case involving Nutech (of which Hu Haifeng was once chief), allowing the GFW to rear its filtering head when the topic is searched on the PRC’s web.
  • Chinese officials are so concerned that going into space could damage the fertility of the country’s first female astronauts, that only mothers are being picked for training. According to an expert at an air force hospital in China, women are better suited to the role of astronaut than men: they are “more mentally stable, better able to bear loneliness and had better communication skills”, she told The Guardian.
  • TIME‘s Austin Ramzy has provided some answers to why China is putting the brakes on its military spending, as announced during the NPC session. In addition to cutting costs in order to control inflation and delve out more to rural and social sectors, Chinese officials are now more cautious about intimidating foreign observers with the PLA’s stature, Ramzy says.
  • Shanghai Scrap author Adam Minter was not impressed with the US’ pavilion for the upcoming Expo, and not just because of a “mediocre, uninspiring” design. In his piece for Foreign Policy, he gives a detailed overview of the nepotism and fundraising fiascos embroiled in the build-up to May’s event.
  • The severe cut of communication networks in Xinjiang following 2009’s riots may be easing, as recent reports have claimed that the region’s return to the forgotten areas of the WWW is near. Josh from Far West China, however, offers 5 reasons why we should take these claims with a pinch of the proverbial.

Catching up

It’s been a minute, or a month. This post is my attempt to wade through the news I’ve missed (translation: shamefully avoided due to running off to the UK for a week). So, what’s been happening, and where are the stories? The following are a small selection.

  • A lot of talk today has been hovering around ‘Man of the Year’ Bo Xilai, the Chongqing Party chief and potential contender for the Politburo’s Standing Committee during the 2012 leadership transition. Discussions of the future generation of China’s leaders have been taking place behind the scenes at the current annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC). As the Washington Post reported, the charismatic Bo has become the poster boy for a group of emerging Chinese leaders known as ‘princelings’, or descendants of high-ranking party officials. They also claim China’s future lies with its nascent middle class, which would bring about some…interesting results if Bo does rise to power.
  • In addition to his online talks with China’s netizens (which, for blogger Han Song, left many questions unanswered) , Premier Wen preached for two hours in the Great Hall of the People during the NPC’s session. Major themes were tackling corruption and closing the country’s pressing poverty gap. Wen pledged increased social and rural spending, yet his cautious uncertainty over the global economic landscape means this year’s overall spending increase sits at 11.4% (less than half of last year’s 24% rise). Tania Branigan has the details covered here.
  • Earlier this month, thirteen Chinese newspapers surprisingly joined forces in an appeal for social reforms. They attacked the hukou (household registration system), which limits the access of rural migrant workers to basic services in China’s metropolises. The issue was also high on the agenda of the NPC session, with Wen promising change.
  • Also resulting from the session were suggestions for new regulations on China’s Internet cafes. Don Weinland from Global Voices reported that the “People’s Representative Gao Wanneng called for a ‘zero-hour cutoff’ for internet cafes due to ‘long-term Internet addiction’ in the Chinese youth.” Drastic? Yes, according to the netizens featured in Weinland’s piece.
  • The New York Times published a running debate on China’s exodus of graduates facing unemployment. In the past decade, the portion of graduates from Chinese universities has increased sixfold, but their expectations are outweighing actual careers. And while we’re on the topic of education, the China Law and Policy blog makes no effort to disguise the PRC’s academic misconduct, and the legal system that harbours it.
  • Finally, since International Women’s Day has been upon us, Shanghaiist featured a video report from Al-Jazeera about Wu Qin, a teacher at Beijing’s Rural Women’s Training School who aims to empower such women in China’s male-dominated society. God love her.

And so, for those of you not in GMT + 8 (or similar time zone), Happy International Women’s Day!

‘Just speculating’ (and other interesting reads)


The above link will direct you to ESWN’s translation of prominent blogger Han Han’s speculation over the future of the Chinese Internet. Needless to say, it was deleted by blog hosting service Sina.com pretty quickly. And apparently, we have the following to look forward to:

2019:  It is the military parade on the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the nation.  On that day, the government announces that China will lock down its national borders and concentrate on strengthening itself so that all reactionary forces will tremble in fear.  On that day, China makes a statement to the rest of the world: “If you stop beating someone for 3 days, he/she may get on the roof and remove tiles.”  Many nations say that they don’t know how to translate this sentence.

2020: …

2020:  Earth is destroyed.  The descendants of the Mayans say that it is normal to see a margin of error of plus or minus ten years on such events.

Another link comes via Peter Beaumont of the Observer. Here he discusses the growing claim that there is even less freedom in China now than before 1989, and why China is terrified of escalating dissent. Fear? Harmony? Paranoia? Power-hungry?

Finally, if you haven’t quite filled your quota of the Google-China fiasco, read Rebecca MacKinnon’s commentary on the global Internet’s future and the need for accountability from both governments and online power holders.