The Sinocism newsletter is compiled by Bill Bishop, and republished here with permission. Be Informed About China. The Sinocism China Newsletter. Free.
This morning China announced (Reuters) that 2012 Q4 GDP growth was 7.9%, just above the expected 7.8%, and full year 2012 GDP growth was 7.8%, the slowest since 1999. I am looking forward to analyst commentary on whether or not the numbers actually add up.
Tension between China and Japan continue. In China and Japan square up: the drums of war The Economist writes that war is possible:
Watch Chinese television these days and you might conclude that the outbreak of war with Japan over what it calls the Senkaku and China the Diaoyu islands is only a matter of time. You might well be right. Since Japan in September announced it would “nationalise” three of the islands that had been privately owned, China, which has long contested Japan’s sovereignty over them, has also started challenging its resolve to keep control of them. So both countries are claiming to own the islands and both are pretending to administer them. China this week announced its intention to map them thoroughly. Something has to give.
US diplomats are in the region and have called for ‘cooler heads’ in the island dispute (New York Times, official transcript of press conference in Tokyo here). If one of China’s goals with the Dioyu escalation has been to drive a wedge between the US and Japan, it may not be achieved. Reuters reports that the US and Japan are reviewing defence guidelines amid tension with China:
“We would like to discuss Japanese Self Defence Forces’ role and U.S. forces role with eyes on the next five, 10, 15 years and on the security environment during those periods,” a Defence Ministry official told reporters, without elaborating.The revision is due because of drastic changes in the security environment over the past 15 years including China’s maritime expansion and North Korea’s missile development, the Japanese government has said.
Japan’s Prime Minister Abe visited Southeast Asia this week on a trip that seems designed to enrage China. The Mainichi Shimbun reports that Japan and Vietnam to deepen security ties amid China’s growing assertiveness:
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung agreed Wednesday to deepen bilateral security cooperation in the face of growing China’s maritime assertiveness on the first leg of Abe’s three-nation tour of Southeast Asia.
Japan and Vietnam, both involved in territorial rows with China, confirmed their opposition to “changing the status quo by force” in the South China Sea, Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko said, indirectly referring to China’s disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines in the waters.
Meanwhile, Former Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama has been in China and on a visit to Nanjing apologized for wartime crimes (Xinhua).
Reuters has an excellent look at Chinese military officials and their use of the media in China’s military hawks take the offensive:
In a political system where civilian officials hew to tightly scripted public positions, these uniformed pundits, both serving and retired, appear free to go well beyond the official line. Almost all of the most-outspoken generals are military academics or theorists.
Foreign military analysts are uncertain if the hawks represent a majority opinion in the 2.3 million-strong military or exercise real influence over foreign policy. It is also unclear if operational commanders share the views of these so-called “activist officers.”
However, there is one generally agreed explanation for their prominence: The PLA now has something to talk about. The military budget has soared to almost $200 billion, according to some Western estimates – the world’s second-highest military budget behind the United States. That money has paid for the warships, strike aircraft and missiles allowing the PLA to plan for distant conflict. For the first time in its modern history, China has the firepower to contest control of disputed territory far from its coastal waters.
There is a lot of money in being a hawk, in China and the US.
Surprisingly, there can also be money, and other benefits, in being a Marxist theoretician. A senior official has been removed from his post for an “improper life style” (Xinhua):
Yi Junqing, director of the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, has been removed from post for “improper life style,” central authorities said Thursday.
Jia Gaojian will replace him as the bureau’s director.
Chang Yan, a woman claiming to be Yi’s former lover, posted to the Internet a 120,000 character expose about Yi at the end of 2012, translated excerpts of which the Telegraph has published.
The Internet is increasingly a nightmare for dirty officials, who in turn help destroy the Party’s credibility.
As noted yesterday, our kids have started five weeks of winter holiday. I am taking them on vacation Saturday, returning to Beijing just before Chinese New Year. Once I get settled in our vacation spot I will resume publication but expect that there will be no newsletter until next Wednesday at the earliest. For interim updates you should follow me on Twitter @niubi.
Be Informed About China. The Sinocism China Newsletter. Free.
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