Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) yesterday wrapped up his shake-up of the State Council and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as the National People’s Congress approved a slate of new appointments that will allow Xi to place his stamp more firmly on the party and the nation by putting people loyal to him in key posts.
Interestingly, his picks for two key posts were US-trained economists, Yi Gang (易綱), promoted to People’s Bank of China governor, and Liu He (劉鶴), who is now one of four vice premiers.
Yi earned his doctorate from the University of Illinois and was an associate professor at Indiana University’s Indianapolis campus before returning to China to teach at his alma mater, Peking University, while Xi earned his doctorate at Harvard University and is known as a supporter of free markets.
While Yi has more than just academic experience — he served as deputy bank governor for years — Xi is considered a novice when it comes to the kind of bureaucratic infighting that he will have endure to get Xi’s — and his — policies implemented.
However, the capitalist-influenced education that the two men received should not be expected to influence them to move to loosen the CCP’s reins on the Chinese economy, or voice opinions that differ from that of their protector and mentor, Xi.
Meanwhile, former minister of supervision Yang Xiaodu (楊曉渡), who last fall was one the officials who championed more party influence over foreign-run companies, is to head the National Supervisory Commission, Xi’s new anti-corruption “super agency,” which has been placed higher than the Chinese Supreme Court and the top prosecutors’ office in the hierarchy of power.
That is not good news for smaller party fry that have escaped Xi’s housecleaning up to this point, but it is also not a good sign for the nation’s legal system or Xi’s vow to see China governed by the rule of law.
Close Xi ally Wang Qishan (王岐山) on Saturday was named vice president in a move widely seen as part of an effort to limit the influence of Premier Li Keqian (李克強), who was re-elected on Sunday to a second five-year term, and reduce his ability to challenge Xi, while Xi’s former chief of staff Li Zhanshu (栗戰書) is the new chairman of the National People’s Congress.
While Mao Zedong (毛澤東) has long been known to have said that women “hold up half the sky” and female comrades could do whatever their male counterparts did, Xi followed the lead of Mao and most of his successors by keeping the number of women in key posts to the bare minimum.
Sun Chunlan (孫春蘭), a former the United Front Work Department head, now joins Liu on the vice premier line-up, making her the only woman in a top government position.
Xi is China’s “new helmsman.” However, any predictions about what this might mean for China or the rest of the world should be taken with a very large grain of salt, given the deluge of analysis pieces and pundit predictions in 2012 that he would prove to be a great reformer who would lead China toward liberalization and perhaps even democratization.
Xi has laid out his ambitions in recent years, and while he has succeeded in having his “thoughts” enshrined in the both the CCP’s and the Chinese constitutions, he may fare less well in his international ambitions, as the nascent push-back against his Belt and Road Initiative has shown.
He should also remember that while he has great influence over the minds of the Chinese, he cannot control what people in other nations do or think.
Complaints about “meddling in China’s domestic affairs” can go both ways. Beijing cannot complain that other nations are interfering with its internal affairs — its standard response when it comes to Taiwan — when its complaints about the US’ new Taiwan Travel Act should be viewed as meddling in the US’ internal affairs.
In November last year, a man struck a woman with a steel bar and killed her outside a hospital in China’s Fujian Province. Later, he justified his actions to the police by saying that he attacked her because she was small and alone, and he was venting his anger after a dispute with a colleague. To the casual observer, it could be seen as another case of an angry man gone mad for a moment, but on closer inspection, it reflects the sad side of a society long brutalized by violent political struggles triggered by crude Leninism and Maoism. Starting
If social media interaction is any yardstick, India remained one of the top countries for Taiwan last year. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has on several occasions expressed enthusiasm to strengthen cooperation with India, one of the 18 target nations in her administration’s New Southbound Policy. The past year was instrumental in fostering Taiwan-India ties and will be remembered for accelerated momentum in bilateral relations. However, most of it has been confined to civil society circles. Even though Taiwan launched its southbound policy in 2016, the potential of Taiwan-India engagement remains underutilized. It is crucial to identify what is obstructing greater momentum
In terms of the economic outlook for the semiconductor industry, Taiwan has outperformed the rest of the world for three consecutive years. This is quite rare. In addition, Taiwan has been playing an important role in the US-China technology dispute, and both want Taiwan on their side, reflecting the remaking of the nation’s semiconductor industry. Under the leadership of — above all — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the industry as a whole has shifted from a focus on capacity to a focus on quality, as companies now have to be able to provide integration of hardware and software, as well as
The US last week took action to remove most of the diplomatic red tape around US-Taiwan relations. While there have been adjustments in State Department “Guidelines on Relations with Taiwan” and other guidance before, no administration has ever so thoroughly dispensed with them. It is a step in the right direction. Of course, when there is a policy of formally recognizing one government (the People’s Republic of China or PRC) and not another (the Republic of China or ROC), officials from the top of government down need a systematic way of operationalizing the distinction. They cannot just make it up as