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Showing posts for "Political Reform"

The Political Plight of China’s Wealthy

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Visitors look around Rolls-Royce's vintage car during the Rolls-Royce's Concours d'Elegance event for celebrating its ten years of business in China on June 28, 2013. (Kim Kyung-hoon/Courtesy Reuters) Visitors look around Rolls-Royce's vintage car during the Rolls-Royce's Concours d'Elegance event for celebrating its ten years of business in China on June 28, 2013. (Kim Kyung-hoon/Courtesy Reuters)

Technically, the news that many rich people in China have personal ties to China’s top leaders is not really news anymore. Nor is it news that many rich Chinese have placed their assets in offshore accounts or even that many rich people in China get that way through peddling influence or corruption. After all, the top fifty members of China’s National People’s Congress boast a combined wealth of $94.7 billion, making their American congressional cousins across the Pacific—whose top fifty members are worth only $1.6 billion—look positively poverty stricken. The link between politics and money in China is well-established. Read more »

China’s Unprecedented Political Reforms

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A man breaks the window of a police van with a wooden plank during a protest in Yuyao, Zhejiang province, on October 11, 2013. (Young/Courtesy Reuters) A man breaks the window of a police van with a wooden plank during a protest in Yuyao, Zhejiang province, on October 11, 2013. (Young/Courtesy Reuters)

I was heartened last week to read a piece in Foreign Affairs by Eric Li, a Chinese venture capitalist and political commentator, in which he asserts that “unprecedented” political reforms are underway in China [registration required]. Somehow I had missed them, mistakenly thinking that President Xi Jinping was tightening political control rather than offering greater opportunities for political participation. Read more »

Rising Violence Against Doctors in China

by Yanzhong Huang
People wait in line at a counter for medical services at the Guanganmen Chinese medicine hospital for treatment in Beijing. (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters) People wait in line at a counter for medical services at the Guanganmen Chinese medicine hospital for treatment in Beijing. (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters)

Practicing medicine in China has become an even more high-risk business. In ten days in October, China reported at least six attacks on healthcare workers. In the most recent case, a man, unhappy with the results of an operation, fatally stabbed a doctor and wounded two others in a hospital of Zhejiang province. Rising violence against healthcare workers has not only discouraged doctors in China from adopting medically necessary but risky procedures, but also—in conjunction with the problem of doctors’ low base salaries—provided strong disincentives for practicing medicine in China. According to a survey carried out by the Chinese Hospital Association (CHA), 29 percent of the healthcare workers prefer self-protecting medical procedures, 40 percent are considering changing professions, and 78 percent do not want their children to become a healthcare professional in the future. Read more »

The Real Challenge for China’s Third Plenum

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A security guard stands at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 7, 2013 (Kim Kyung-hoon/Courtesy Reuters). A security guard stands at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 7, 2013 (Kim Kyung-hoon/Courtesy Reuters).

A version of this post originally appeared in the Economic Times and can be found here.

Anticipation is high as China approaches the third plenum of the 18th Party Congress, scheduled to take place on November 9-12. Why the excitement? Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 4, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L), Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C), Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (2nd R), and Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera pose for photos during their meeting at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on October 3, 2013. (Koji Sasahara/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L), Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C), Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (2nd R), and Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera pose for photos during their meeting at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on October 3, 2013. (Koji Sasahara/Courtesy Reuters)

Will Piekos and Sharone Tobias look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. Obama cancels Asia trip. U.S. President Barack Obama canceled a four-country tour of Asia, including Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines, in which he would have attended meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Indonesia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Brunei. The travel was canceled because of the U.S. government shutdown. Analysts say that canceling the Asia trip, after Obama had previously committed to attending these summits every year, could deal a blow to the administration’s pivot to Asia. Secretary of State John Kerry will lead the U.S. delegation instead. Read more »

How Much Should We Worry About Poultry Imported From China?

by Yanzhong Huang
An employee sprays to sterilize a poultry farm in Hemen township, Jiangsu province (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). An employee sprays to sterilize a poultry farm in Hemen township, Jiangsu province (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

One month ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) quietly lifted the ban on processed poultry imports from China. This raised immediate concerns in the United States. The media responded critically to the decision; a recent Bloomberg article was titled “Don’t Trust a Chicken Nugget That’s Visited China.” U.S. consumers were worried, perhaps even frightened. One person commented to the CBS News report that “[I am] immediately taking anything and everything with processed chicken off my shopping list. It’s been clear for a long time now that products from China are simply not safe and may even be harmful.” Read more »

A Chill, Ill Wind Blows Across China

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Pan Shiyi, chairman of SOHO China, attends a session at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference in Boao town, Hainan province on April 8, 2013 (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy Reuters). Pan Shiyi, chairman of SOHO China, attends a session at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference in Boao town, Hainan province on April 8, 2013 (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy Reuters).

I have to give Beijing credit. When the Chinese leaders put Wang Qishan in charge of the anti-corruption effort, they knew what they were doing. Widely believed to be one of the most competent of the new leadership, he has ensured that no policy arena has as much energy behind it as his anti-corruption campaign. Other priorities such as building a social welfare net, protecting the environment, and reforming the economy are still in the familiar planning and blueprint stages. Wang, in contrast, has spearheaded campaigns against multinationals, Chinese companies, individual Chinese officials, and businesspeople. Scarcely a week goes by when one corruption case or another does not make Chinese headlines. Read more »

Death Penalty for Polluters: China’s Use of Criminal Law for Economic Ends

by Guest Blogger for Yanzhong Huang
A security personnel stands guard at the Shanghai's No. 1 People's Intermediate Court. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters) A security personnel stands guard at the Shanghai's No. 1 People's Intermediate Court. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters)

In the previous months, I have addressed air quality, environmental concerns, and food safety inadequacies. While the blame can be shared, is there legal recourse? Margaret K. Lewis, an associate professor of law at Seton Hall Law School and expert on China’s legal system, will pick up on China’s use of criminal law in addressing and combating those who intentionally and blatantly do harm. Read more »

Knowing Autumn From a Falling Leaf: The GSK Probe and China’s Business Environment

by Yanzhong Huang
A flag (L) bearing the logo of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) flutters next to a Chinese national flag outside a GlaxoSmithKline office building in Shanghai on July 12, 2013. A flag (L) bearing the logo of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) flutters next to a Chinese national flag outside a GlaxoSmithKline office building in Shanghai on July 12, 2013. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters)

There is a Chinese saying, Yi Ye Zhi Qiu, which means “Knowing that autumn is coming by seeing a single leaf fall.” This expression is fully applicable to the current business environment for foreign pharmaceutical firms in China.  Indeed, the recent investigation of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline’s involvement in commercial bribery in China should send a chilly signal to all multinational pharmaceuticals aspiring to make big money in the China market: the go-go years are over. Read more »

China’s Anti-Corruption Campaign: Old Wine in an Old Bottle

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Wang Qishan, now China's anti-corruption chief, attends a plenary meeting of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 8, 2012. Wang Qishan, now China's anti-corruption chief, attends a plenary meeting of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 8, 2012. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters)

Chinese leaders appear to have decided that the risk of a long slow death by “corruption cancer” is preferable to undergoing a high-risk operation of real political reform. The recent arrest of another batch of Chinese anti-corruption campaigners begs the question of how seriously Chinese leaders want to address the admittedly life-threatening corruption problem.  Former Chinese president Hu Jintao and his successor Xi Jinping made headlines last November by declaring that if the Communist Party failed to address corruption, it could lead to the death of not only the Party but also the Chinese state. To demonstrate the seriousness of the problem, Xi Jinping even appointed one of the Party’s most capable officials, Wang Qishan, to lead the anti-corruption effort. Read more »