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Thursday, February 29, 2024

CHINA MEDIA EXTRACTS #492

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Graham Perry
Graham Perry
Experienced Arbitration Lawyer | China & Chinese Business Affairs | Public Speaker/Lecturer.

GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON

CHINA MEDIA EXTRACTS

#1  SHANGHAI REVIVED 

#2  CHINA’S YUAN GREATER REACH IN 2023

#3  XI JINPING LEADS TRIBUTES TO MAO TSETUNG

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#1   SHANGHAI REVIVED

        SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

On December 24, the Holy Trinity Church in Shanghai held its first Christmas Eve service in some time. The second restoration of the 1869 building, one of the oldest of its kind in China and unused for decades, was completed in 2019.

Across the city, inflatable Santas have been fixed to buildings, mid-climb. Christmas trees and other decorations abound. In some residential buildings, carols are sung in the lobby.

The ChristKindlMarkt, a German market close to the historic Bund, featuring nutcrackers, a carousel and an Audi, has been extended for another week due to popular demand.

Starbucks, extending a long list of flavoured drinks unique to a Chinese market upon which it relies heavily for growth, has added its “Apple Pie-ty” options.

A small booth by the Hennessy Christmas tree, which is more of a Christmas bottle, offers discounted coffee if visitors upload a photo to social media.

As for Holy Trinity Church, the restoration has remained notably true to its 1865 design. Its gothic arches bring to mind the Victorian architecture of the St Pancras hotel in London: it was built by the same architect, George Gilbert Scott. But the features are not entirely unaltered. In the stained glass windows, just behind Noah and a dove, there is, this time, a panda.

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS;-

In addition to the Holy Trinity Church, Shanghai is also home to the Ohel Rachel Synagogue which was built in 1920 by Sir Jacob Sassoon in memory of his wife, Rachel. The synagogue has been a protected architectural landmark since 1994. It was reopened for Jewish holidays – Pesach, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur – in 1999 and for Shabbat services during the 2010 Shanghai Expo.

The Catholics have also been active. Archbishop Joseph Li, who was installed by China’s state-controlled Catholic church, visited Hong Kong in November at the invitation of Cardinal Stephen Chow, marking the first official visit by a Beijing bishop to Hong Kong. Joseph Li’s five-day tour was a reciprocal visit following Cardinal Chow’s landmark trip to Beijing in April — the first visit to the Chinese capital by a Bishop from Hong Kong  in nearly three decades – a sign that relations between China and the Vatican are improving.

China is reaching out and the outside world is responding positively. The celebration of Christmas in Shanghai shows life and vitality  But a more open policy is not a signal that China is going to make any fundamental change in its own domestic character.

China remains committed to building a prosperous Socialist society with Chinese characteristics but it recognises that religion can play a role in the lives of some of its citizens. China, however, has endured bad relations with some foreign religions – eg the missionaries who sought to convert Chinese citizens to Christianity. China keeps its eyes wide open while extending handshakes with foreign religious leaders.

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#2    CHINA’S YUAN INCREASED USED IN INTERNATIONAL PAYMENTS

NIKKEI ASIA

China’s currency was used more than Japan’s for international payments in November for the first time since January 2022, capturing the fourth-largest share.

The data comes from the Swift international payment service. The use of the yuan for oil and other transactions with Russia is increasing due to sanctions from the West in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.

For trading in November, the yuan’s share among all currencies was 4.61%, the highest since the earliest data available in 2015. Heading the list was the U.S. dollar with 47.08%, followed by the euro with 22.95% and the British pound with 7.15%. The yen’s share was 3.41%.

China has been pushing for payments in currencies other than dollars in trade with Russia, the Middle East and South America.

“It appears that other emerging countries are also using the yuan when importing Russian crude oil,” said Toru Nishihama, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

Looking at trends in yuan payments by country or region outside mainland China, Hong Kong accounted for about 80%.

“If you exclude transactions with Hong Kong, the yuan’s presence as an international currency is small,” said Naoki Tsukioka, chief economist at Mizuho Research & Technologies.”

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS;-

China’s presence as an international currency is “small” but significant. It is developing and growing. Today it is “small” but tomorrow it will be “large”. This is the way China develops.

Recall how Deng Hsiaoping oversaw the creation of the three Special Economic Zones in the early 1980s. This development was overlooked in the West. After all, Western experts opined, “China is a hard line authoritarian state dominated by a Communist Party and wedded to the principles of Marxism-Leninism. They won’t change. They can’t change

The rigid mechanical understanding of the West reflected their own intellectual sterility. The West did not understand the significance of the changes taking place. They did not see the relevance of Deng’s comment that it did not matter whether it was a white cat or a black cat that caught the mouse. The West – Washington, London, Wall Street, Chatham House – were victims of their own rigid inflexible assessment of China. They disregarded the first rule of diplomacy – Know the Mind of the People on the Other Side of the Table.

They repeated the error when they failed to see the significance of the willingness of the Party to see an important role for Billionaires in the economic development of Marxist China. It is China that has been bold and imaginative and willing to experiment to find the best way to provide the people of China with more clothes, better life style, more savings and, most exceptionally, the Belt and Road Initiative.

The same Western experts will continue to fill the columns of the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times with their flawed thinking and misconceived  conclusions about China.

So the yuan will grow as a reserve currency. This is because the world is changing – the role of the Group of Ten and the World Bank and the IMF  is under challenge. And “the Western Experts”? They need to remember the words of Atticus Finch in Lee Harper’s To Kill A Mockingbird “You only really know someone when you see things from their point of view”.  The West is unable to see developments in China from China’s point of view.

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#3   XI JINPING LEADS TRIBUTES TO MAO TSETUNG

        SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

        Chinese President Xi Jinping paid tribute to Mao Zedong and hailed his political teachings on Tuesday, the 130th anniversary of the late leader’s birth, saying mainland China will “surely” be unified with Taiwan in the future.

Hailing Mao’s political thoughts as a “spiritual treasure”, Xi said his teaching would “guide our actions in the long term”. He also called for efforts to make the Communist Party even stronger so it could continue to lead China’s modernisation.

‘[We must work] to enable our party to adhere to its original mission … maintain vitality and vigour, and ensure that our party never degenerates, never changes its colour, and never loses its flavour,” he said.

Before the speech, Xi led the Politburo Standing Committee, the country’s most powerful decision-making body, in “remembering Mao Zedong’s achievements” at Mao’s mausoleum in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, where his embalmed body is on display.

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS

Why is Mao still so revered in China today? Wasn’t he married to Jiang Qing and didn’t she – together with three three other members of the Gang of Four, Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao, and Yao Wenyuan – preside over the chaos, brutality and economic slide that almost brought China to its knees in the Cultural Revolution?. If this is the case, why isn’t Mao discredited?

There is an answer. Remember the dictum – “Mao Saved the Country, Deng Saved the Economy and Xi Saved the Party”. In the immediate aftermath of Mao’s death in October 1976 a preliminary judgment on Mao was “70% Good, 30% Bad”. No new figures have been officially released but the judgement is that Good/Bad is 50/50 perhaps even lower.

China’s judgment is analytical. Mao is seen for the positive and the negative. He is accorded deep respect for leading the Party to victory after the Civil War against the Kuomintang and the Patriotic War against Japan. The US backed the wrong horse. They put their money on Chiang Kaishek. He lost and fled to Taiwan and it was Mao who stood on the rostrum at the entrance to the Forbidden City and proclaimed the initiation of the Peoples Republic of China. For China it was a great moment, and a great victory. From January 1935 when Mao was appointed the Chair of the Military Commission of the Communist Party at the Tsunyi Conference he was the Leader of the Party. The story up to 1 October 1949 is good news. From 1949 to 1976, progress was more erratic and Mao carries a large measure of blame for the failure of the Commune Movement, the Great Leap Forward and the political campaigns of the years leading up to the Cultural Revolution.

But No Mao means No China. Xi Jinping and the Party today do not want to discredit Mao more strongly lest such denunciation is used by factions in the Party today to undermine the leading role of the present leadership. But this is not just about political infighting today for it is the case that Mao assumed leadership of the Party in 1935 and remained steadfast in the Civil War and the Patriotic War. So we need to see the whole picture. Recognise the Good and the Bad and make a balanced judgment about China’s emergence from the Caves of Yanan in the mid 1930’s to the Forbidden City on 1 October 1949 and, further, to the progress of China from the end of the Cultural Revolution in October 1976 to the present day.

GRAHAM PERRY

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