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Thursday, February 29, 2024

MEDIA EXTRACTS ON CHINA #495

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

GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON

MEDIA EXTRACTS ON CHINA

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#1   CHINA AND AFGHANISTAN

#2   CORRUPTION IN CHINA’S FOOTBALL

#3   CHINA’S ECONOMY REVIVING?

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#1    CHINA AND AFGHANISTAN

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

China’s enhanced “proactive position” in Afghanistan over the past decade has helped to safeguard security in the northwestern Chinese region that borders its troubled neighbour, according to Beijing’s special envoy for Afghan affairs.

Yue Xiaoyong said China had “accurately grasped” the issue’s general trend. Beijing has also defused various risks and maintained the strategic security of China’s northwest periphery, he added.

“In the grand picture of our foreign diplomacy, our proactive position in Afghanistan and its neighbouring South Asian region has been strengthened,” Yue told an event at Renmin University’s School of Global and Area Studies in Beijing on Tuesday.

A long-standing concern for Beijing is the potential for its neighbour to harbour terrorist and extremist groups that could pose a security threat, particularly to Xinjiang, which shares a 92.45km (57.4 miles) border with Afghanistan.

In October, the Taliban leadership assured Beijing that it regards threats to China as seriously as a threat against its own country.

While not formally recognising the Taliban regime, China is one of the few countries – along with Pakistan and Russia – to maintain a diplomatic presence in Kabul after the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan two years ago.

Yue’s comments came amid growing signs that China is continuing to step up its engagement with Afghanistan, including the arrival in Beijing in November of the Taliban’s newly appointed ambassador Bilal Karimi. That put China among only a handful of nations to host a Taliban ambassador since the Islamic fundamentalist group regained power in August 202

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS;-

In recent years the big powers – USA and USSR – have not fared well in Afghanistan.

The USSR invaded in December 1979 to support the Afghan Government in its conflict with anti-communist guerillas. The USSR withdrew in February 1989 – its mission unsuccessful.

The United States went into Afghanistan in 2001 in response to 9-11 when al-Qaeda terrorists attacked New York and destroyed the Twin Towers.  The US mission was also unsuccessful and, like the old USSR, the US withdrew from Afghanistan in disarray with local Afghanis desperately clinging to the last US military plane as it moved down the runway of the airport in Kabul to fly out of Afghanistan.

China’s big concern is that Afghanistan becomes a refuge for terrorist and extremist groups who lead actions intended to turn the Xinjiang Autonomous Region – Chinese territory – into a breakaway state. These groups led by the East Turkestan Independence Movement pose a security threat, particularly to Xinjiang, which shares a 92.45km (57.4 miles) border with Afghanistan.

China is aware that Kabul presides over a country which practices significant discrimination against women. China will not interfere. It will not engage in megaphone diplomacy to force social change in Afghanistan. That is not China’s way. In discussions with Afghan leaders it will highlight how China has in the years since 1949 step-by-step removed reactionary prejudices against women. It will also share the experience of its development of the Chinese economy but it will not dictate to Kabul steps they must take. That is for Afghanistan not China.

Unlike the old USSR in the 1980’s and the US in 2002-2021 who both placed large number of troops in Afghanistan, China has no troops in Afghanistan. It relies on diplomacy and not force. It will seek to strengthen relations as evidenced by the arrival in Beijing of the Taliban’s newly appointed ambassador Bilal Karimi and it will give priority to the promotion trade and investment in Afghanistan.

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#2  CORRUPTION IN CHINA’S SOCCER

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

The Communist Party’s top graft-buster says corruption is holding back Chinese football, revealing details of match-fixing and bribery scandals in a documentary aired on state television.

It included confessions of match-fixing and bribery from Li Tie, a former head coach of the men’s national team who represented China at the 2002 World Cup and played for Everton in the English Premier League. The programme also featured Chen Xuyuan, a former chairman of the Chinese Football Association, who said corruption was rife in the sport.

“The corruption in Chinese football does not only exist in certain individual areas – it’s everywhere, in each and every aspect,” Chen said in the CCTV documentary on Tuesday. Chen, who was charged with bribery in September, said he had received a “congratulatory” 300,000 yuan (US$42,000) each from two club officials the night before he became CFA boss in 2019, which they said was “the old rules of the game”. “If I tried to clean up the environment, wouldn’t I get myself caught?”

The documentary aired after President Xi Jinping told the graft-buster’s plenary session on Monday that they should “ show no mercy” in the campaign against corruption, which has entered its 11th year. A number of high-profile heads have rolled in the past year as a result of an anti-graft investigation across Chinese sport.

The CCTV documentary focused on an investigation into football by the graft-buster – the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection – that began last year after the Chinese team was eliminated during the preliminary stage of the Qatar World Cup.

“We also wanted … to answer the question of why the Chinese men’s football could never do well,” Ding Jintian, deputy head of the CCDI team looking into the sport, said in the documentary.

Chinese leader Xi is known as an ardent football fan who wants the nation to become a superpower in the sport.

It had a “golden bubble” from 2010 to 2019, with billions of dollars of investment going into the professional leagues, clubs hiring world-class players and managers, and foreign players becoming citizens so they could compete for China in the World Cup.

But the bubble burst in 2020-21 as some of football’s top investors from the struggling real estate sector withdrew from the sport, and it was hit by harsh pandemic restrictions and an economic slowdown.

Li, head coach of the national team from 2019 to 2021, also appeared in the documentary. He said as a player, he hated match-fixing but as a coach he realised it could improve his chance of winning – and advance his career. “Once you achieve success in the wrong way, you become more and more desperate for more success,” Li said. “This way then becomes a habit, and later on you even develop some reliance on it.”

Li Tie

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS;-

This Column has frequently referred to one of the first speeches given by President Xi Jinping after his appointment to be the top leader in China. He focused on corruption and gave notice of his intention to lead a far-reaching campaign to root out corruption.

Western commentators immediately jumped on Xi’s comments as evidence that Xi had one goal which was to remove Party members who opposed Xi’s rise to power. It was revenge, they claimed. They were wrong. Xi’s campaign had a much broader, wider and deeper purpose – it was to destroy corruption at all levels of society in China. Why? Because, as he said, the people will turn against the Party if the Party is seen to enjoy the fruits of high office – whether it be bribes, favouritism, lavish banquets or overseas travel. China, said Xi, had to be a fair society where people could have confidence that the leaders – at all levels whether county, provincial or central government – were working for the people and not for themselves.

Xi’s campaign has been relentless and is reaching into all levels of life in China – Ministers have fallen and local leaders, too, have been exposed. The most recent focus has been China’s soccer which is riddled with bribes and corruption. The boil is now being lanced assisted by the admissions of leading players and administrators including one of China’s players who appeared in the UK Premier Division for Everton FC – Li Tie.

It is reassuring to the people of China to know that their #1 Leader is spearheading the campaign himself. It is good to remember the caption “Mao saved the Country, Deng saved the Economy and Xi saved the Party.”

There is corruption and corruption. There are big stand out frauds amounting to very large sums. That is corruption. There are also much smaller examples of favouritism and family advancement. That is also corruption. It is to Xi’s credit that he is persisting with his campaign. The mass of Chinese citizens are entitled to be assured that the Leaders serve the community and do not exploit the community for personal gain.

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#3 EVIDENCE OF CHINA’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY

NIKKEI JAPAN

Fast Retailing, the owner of the clothing chain Uniqlo, said Thursday that net profit for the three months ended November 2023 rose 27% from a year earlier to 107.8 billion yen ($740 million), thanks to recovery in China.

The figure for its fiscal first quarter beat analyst expectations of 98 billion yen, according to S&P Capital IQ.

Revenue rose 13% year-on-year to 810.8 billion yen. Uniqlo’s overseas sales grew 23% from a year ago, led by China, which recovered from temporary store closures related to the COVID pandemic.

Asked about the outlook for its business in China, Fast Retailing CFO Takeshi Okazaki said the company was confident because of the casual clothing brand’s strong marketing position. “It is true that the growth in consumption is getting slower, but consumers are becoming more selective on products and prices,” he said in a press conference on Thursday.

The company maintained its outlook for the fiscal year ending in August. It is targeting a record net profit of 310 billion yen on sales of 3.05 trillion yen.

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS;-

Much has been written in the Western media about the problems of the Chinese economy. Sometimes the information is factual and balanced but more often it is written from an anti-China perspective. This is not a surprise. China threatens Western norms of democracy, freedom and development and news of China’s problems with its economy is greeted with an “I told you so” attitude. China is not meant to be successful. It is, say its critics, a society based on dictatorship and exploitation of the People by the Party. Bad news about China is welcomed as a vindication of the many inches of negative reporting.

Bad news about China’s economy does exist. China has experienced big problems in its property sector and is undergoing a period of retrenchment as it looks for solutions to its difficulties. But the West will labour long and hard to stress the negative at the expense of the positive.

But there is good news; Huawei, which has been the object of quite oppressive sanctions by Western Governments, has bounced back with a popular model of mobile communication that has confounded its critics. Further, China’s growing sales of EV’s has taken the world’s automotive industry very much by surprise and a longer feature on this topic will appear in the next Post. And new evidence of China’s bounce back factor is contained in the above article from Nikkei Japan from the international clothing chain – Uniglo – whose overseas sales grew 23% due in considerable part to increased sales in China. The Chinese people are spending again. There is still a long way to go but a prediction – China will weather the storm and emerge stronger.

GRAHAM PERRY

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