Archive for March, 2012

Kung Fu star Donnie Yen to sue Vincent Zhao for slander [China.org.cn / Sweet and Sour Cinema]

Posted in China, Donnie Yen 甄子丹, Hong Kong, Sweet & Sour Cinema on March 31, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by An Wei

March 19, 2012

Actor Donnie Yen will sue Vincent Zhao for slander, according to reports by Hong Kong media.

Yen made a statement on Sunday that the discontinued partnership with Zhao was the decision of the investors of “Special Identity.” Yen said Zhao distorted the truth in interviews, claiming that he was forced out by Yen. Yen said it was a malicious act of slander, which Zhao used to promote himself.

Yen said he will sue Zhao for damaging his reputation, and that he reserved the right to pursue monetary damages.

“I am rather disappointed by Vincent Zhao’s words,” Yen said. “If I had made a mistake, it would have been my insistence in casting him in the movie. I have no energy to entangle myself in this issue. My lawyer has started on the case.”

He added he and Zhao may never work together again.

The production crew of “Special Identity” announced on Feb. 29 that Zhao had officially stepped away from the film, disappointing fans hotly anticipating the collaboration between the two kung fu superstars. In a media interview published on March 15, Zhao blasted Yen for allegedly diminishing his lead role in the script. He said the film producers announced his removal also without prior discussions with him.

Yen is known for portraying Bruce Lee’s master in the “Ip Man” movie franchise. Zhao starred in popular Hong Kong action film, “True Legend” (2010).

Zhao and wife Zhang Danlu attended a friend’s wedding on Sunday and was asked about the indictment. His managers company said they could not comment on the case because of ongoing negotiations and confidential business agreements.

Article link: http://www.china.org.cn/arts/2012-03/19/content_24933377.htm

The struggle in China: Capitalist crisis versus planning [Workers World]

Posted in Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, Corruption, CPC, Deng Xiaoping, Economy, Hong Kong, Income gap, Marx, Reform and opening up, Social Security system, south Korea, Taiwan, Transportation, Universal Health Care on March 30, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Fred Goldstein
Published Mar 27, 2012 11:42 PM

The following is Part 2 of a series on the leadership struggle in China.

As contradictions mount in the global capitalist economy, they are reflected in China. The factional struggle in the Chinese leadership can only be understood as a struggle over which way to go forward and how to contain and resolve the mounting economic and social contradictions arising out of capitalist development.

The Chinese economy has been growing on a dual basis. First, it is based on centrally planned guidance designed to develop the productive forces and the material foundations for a society encompassing 1.3 billion people. However, since the victory of Deng Xiaoping and the “capitalist road” faction in 1978, planning has been increasingly based on the central government fostering and attempting to manage capitalism and the capitalist market as the means for national development.

The central government, through control of interest rates, credit, taxation and vast state-owned enterprises, both guides the economy toward broad economic and social goals and fosters capitalist development. The latter means class exploitation, inequality and corruption. The present political struggle is over which side of this contradiction to strengthen.

This complex subject will be discussed at length in subsequent articles. But suffice it to say that the so-called “reform” groupings in China — with the enthusiastic support of world imperialism and global finance capital — want to move away from state intervention, planning and central guidance and go further toward turning the fate of China over to the capitalist market, both internally and externally.

In our last article we covered the fact that Bo Xilai was summarily ousted from his post as Chinese Communist Party Secretary of Chongqing. This was a blow against the growing forces in the CCP and throughout China who want to combine the use of the capitalist market with social and economic planning and state intervention in order to deal with growing inequality and who emphasize the needs of the masses. In Bo’s case, this economic orientation was combined with a popular attempt to revive Maoist culture and socialist values.

In China today, the concept of planned guidance of the broad direction of the economy and its various sectors is a drastic modification from the direct economic planning initiated after the triumph of the great Chinese Revolution in 1949. At the same time, it is an attempt to retain the planning principle as the fundamental framework guiding the overall development of the Chinese economy.

Consider just some of the goals and objectives outlined by the 12th Five Year Plan for 2011-2015, and the antagonism between planning and the anarchy of the capitalist market becomes utterly transparent. This plan was developed beginning in October 2010 and was approved by the National People’s Congress in March 2011.

The government is planning to devote 4 trillion renminbi ($158.7 billion) to the development of seven Strategic Emerging Industries: biotechnology, new energy, high-end manufacturing equipment, energy conservation and environmental protection, clean-energy vehicles and next-generation internet technology. (APCO worldwide, Dec. 10, 2010)

An article in the March 4, 2011, New York Times detailed the plan’s goals, including:

* A 19.1 percent cut in the amount of energy used per unit of economic growth and a rapid expansion of the service economy.

* Building a national nanotechnology research center, 50 engineering centers, 32 national engineering laboratories and 56 other labs focusing on technologies like digital television and high-speed internet.

* Laying 621,000 miles of new fiber-optic cable and adding 35 million new broadband ports for a total of 223 million.

* A cap on total energy use, especially limiting the burning of coal.

* The development of well-equipped statistical and monitoring systems to gauge greenhouse gas emissions.

* Accelerated construction of sewage treatment plants, the retrofitting of coal-fired power plants with pollution controls, and the continuation of a pilot project to develop low-carbon cities.

In the previous period the state had opened 3,100 miles of new railroads and 74,600 miles of highways, completed 230,000 sports and fitness projects for rural residents, and built or renovated 891 hospitals and 1,228 health clinics.

In the realm of social welfare, the broad goals are to increase consumption from 35 percent of the gross domestic product to between 50 percent and 55 percent by increasing minimum wages, health care services and social welfare payments of various kinds.

Of course, it goes without saying that under a genuinely socialist government, workers would have their fundamental economic rights guaranteed as political rights. But those rights were largely overturned by the reforms that developed in China after 1978. Instead, in the environment of the capitalist market — with its mountains of corruption of government and party officials — the welfare of the workers and peasants has to be built up slowly and painfully through an uphill battle, which happens only through the intervention of the state. (More on this in future articles.)

Whether or not the government achieves the precise goals set out is not the issue. The point is that such sweeping social and economic goals could not possibly be handed over to profit-driven capitalists and the anarchy of the commodity market. The bosses would seek the highest rate of profit. They would never voluntarily raise wages, improve working conditions, build hospitals, clinics, rural fitness centers or anything that did not bring a profit.

– China’s response to 2008-09 world capitalist crisis –

To grasp the seriousness of the proposals to further limit planning and intervention by the state, it is only necessary to consider what happened during the world capitalist financial and economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, when the global crisis of capitalist overproduction and the financial collapse invaded China.

More than 20 million workers lost their jobs, mainly in manufacturing and predominantly in coastal provinces such as Guangdong, where special economic zones had been set up so imperialist corporations, companies from Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea, and other exploiters could take advantage of low-wage migrant labor flooding in from the rural interior.

During this period production of world capitalism dropped more than it had in 70 years. Tens of millions of workers worldwide were thrown onto unemployment lines. Most of them are still there. Bankruptcy followed bankruptcy, and the capitalist system has still not recovered.

What happened in China? When the crisis hit, China’s central planners went into motion. Plans drafted as far back as 2003 to go into effect in future years were pushed forward and implemented.

Nicholas Lardy, a bourgeois China expert from the prestigious Peterson Institute for International Economics, describes how consumption in China actually grew during the crisis of 2008-09, wages went up, and the government created enough jobs to compensate for the layoffs caused by the global crisis:

“In a year in which GDP expansion [in China] was the slowest in almost a decade, how could consumption growth in 2009 have been so strong in relative terms? How could this happen at a time when employment in export-oriented industries was collapsing, with a survey conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture reporting the loss of 20 million jobs in export manufacturing centers along the southeast coast, notably in Guangdong Province? The relatively strong growth of consumption in 2009 is explained by several factors. First, the boom in investment, particularly in construction activities, appears to have generated additional employment sufficient to offset a very large portion of the job losses in the export sector. For the year as a whole the Chinese economy created 11.02 million jobs in urban areas, very nearly matching the 11.13 million urban jobs created in 2008.

“Second, while the growth of employment slowed slightly, wages continued to rise. In nominal terms wages in the formal sector rose 12 percent, a few percentage points below the average of the previous five years (National Bureau of Statistics of China 2010f, 131). In real terms the increase was almost 13 percent. Third, the government continued its programs of increasing payments to those drawing pensions and raising transfer payments to China’s lowest-income residents. Monthly pension payments for enterprise retirees increased by RMB120, or 10 percent, in January 2009, substantially more than the 5.9 percent increase in consumer prices in 2008. This raised the total payments to retirees by about RMB75 billion. The Ministry of Civil Affairs raised transfer payments to about 70 million of China’s lowest-income citizens by a third, for an increase of RMB20 billion in 2009 (Ministry of Civil Affairs 2010).” (“Sustaining China’s Economic Growth after the Global Financial Crisis,” Kindle Locations 664-666, Peterson Institute for International Economics)

The Ministry of Railroads introduced eight specific plans, to be completed in 2020, to be implemented in the crisis. The World Bank called it “perhaps the biggest single planned program of passenger rail investment there has ever been in one country.” In addition, ultra-high-voltage grid projects were undertaken, among other advances.

The lesson is that while the anarchy of production of world capitalism invaded China, the rational and meticulously developed plans drawn up for social use overcame the anarchy of the capitalist market. This not only protected the masses from a protracted, massive unemployment crisis, but it actually continued the process of raising the standard of living during a time when hundreds of millions of workers throughout the entire capitalist world were left helpless and traumatized by the crisis of capitalist overproduction.

In Marxist terms the principle of planning, established by the Chinese socialist revolution of 1949 — even though it has been watered down to the practice of “guidance” — overcame what Marx called the law of labor value, the very law that governs the operation of capitalism itself. The Chinese leaders were compelled, and had the capability, to use rational planning based on satisfying human need to overcome the disaster brought about by their own policy of relying on the world capitalist market.

To be continued.

Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” (2008) and “Capitalism at a Dead End” (2012) published by World View Forum. Both books as well as his articles and speeches can be found at lowwagecapitalism.com.
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Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/2012/world/china_0405/

2012 highlights acute ideological struggle in China’s Communist leadership [Voice of Russia / Strategic Culture Foundation]

Posted in China, Corruption, CPC, CPC Central Committee (CPCCC), Income gap, Premier Wen Jiabao on March 30, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

17.03.2012

China needs political transformation…China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said in a statement that the world press has described as sensational.

Wen Jiabao made his statement during a press conference following the Chinese Parliament session on March 14th…

..[he] said in his address that the growing market economy gave rise to some fresh problems, such as the unfair distribution of benefits, corruption and moral degradation.

The mass media interest in Wen Jiabao’s address was also stirred by the fact that he is due to step down as a party and government leader following the Chinese Communist Party congress in autumn 2012…

…Some news media in the West have linked Wen Jiabao’s statements to the apprehensions for a flare-up of China’s Jasmine Revolution, similar to those in North Africa and the Middle East. But the conclusion, as well as the suggestion that the West has brought pressure to bear on China, are hardly relevant, says the Head of the Centre for Oriental Studies at the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy, Andrei Volodin, and elaborates.

“China is a big country that has never tried to follow in the West’s footsteps; it lived as it saw fit and cared about its own interests, Andrei Volodin says. China is currently transferring from one paradigm of political development to another. The transfer will prove gradual and will give rise to some minor, but consistent changes. The Chinese will, of course, take account of the experience of the so-called Arab Spring, or Arab Revolutions. But this kind of experience can only serve to critically reconsider the current Chinese experience.”

Meanwhile, some conclusions have already been made from the Chinese Premier’s address. The Secretary of the Party Committee of China’s major city Congqing, Bo Xilai, was sacked on Thursday, March 15th. He is known as a leader of the Communist Party’s conservative [sic] wing. The Chinese Conservatives see excessive liberalization as destructive to the nation. Left-wing ideology is still in demand amid the growing social disproportions. This may certainly affect the handover of power to the fifth-generation leaders, Deputy Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Professor Sergei Luzianin says, and elaborates.

“A large group of new left-wingers has emerged from China’s party elite, and from the ruling class, in general, Sergei Luzianin says, a group that feels that the current degree of bourgeois liberalism threatens the nation. The new left-wingers call attention to mass-scale social protests, especially those that have to do with land possession. They claim that the liberal policy is pernicious and has run its course. When commenting on the union of capitalism and socialism, they tend to lay emphasis on socialism.”

Professor Luzianin believes that the resignation of Bo Xilai is the first, but by no means the last one in the ongoing standoff between the ideologists of two different ways of China’s development. The acute political season will be obviously geared by preparations for the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. The Congress will give rise to the process of changing political leadership. The Congress agenda will feature a discussion of the way that the fifth generation of leader will decide on as the best one for China to follow.

Edited by Zuo Shou; article’s original title: “China: is change inevitable?”

Full article link: http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/03/17/china-is-change-inevitable.html

First trailer, stills released for Lu Chuan’s “The Last Supper” / 陆川《王的盛宴》亮相 预告&人物造型齐曝光 [Mtime.com / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Liu Ye 刘烨, Sweet & Sour Cinema on March 28, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

“The Last Supper” trailer link [w/o Eng subs]: http://movie.mtime.com/122227/trailer/37979.html

Stills link, also includes trailer video (but reduced in size compared to above): http://news.mtime.com/pix/2012/03/27/203019.html

Leung wins Hong Kong election by wide margin [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Corruption, Hong Kong, Housing, Income gap, Transportation on March 27, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Zhao Qian and Miranda Shek (Global Times)
March 26, 2012

Leung Chun-ying, a former government adviser who pledged to protect local residents’ interests, won Sunday’s election to become the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s (SAR) fourth-term chief executive.

The 57-year-old, British-educated real-estate surveyor won 689 of 1,132 valid votes cast by members of the 1,200-member Election Committee. He beat Henry Tang, former secretary of administration, and Albert Ho, Democratic Party leader, by wide margins.

Leung had dedicated his election campaign to protecting the rights of Hong Kong residents, including tough policies to control the city’s runaway property prices and banning pregnant mothers from the mainland from giving birth at local public hospitals.

At the press conference after winning the poll, he reaffirmed his election pledges to build more public housing and promised to only sell homes to Hong Kong residents when the market becomes over-heated.

Leung also promised to speed up construction of the city’s infrastructure and railway systems. His term will begin July 1 when Donald Tsang Yam-kuen completes his second term as the city’s chief executive.

Leung was born into an ordinary family. His father was a police officer. After completing his studies in the UK, he went back to Hong Kong in 1977 to work as a property surveyor.

At age 31, Leung was appointed to draft the city’s Basic Law in 1986, and in 1999 he took up the post of convener of the Non-Official Members of the Executive Council of Hong Kong.

“Livelihood issues, including soaring property prices and the widening wealth gap, could be the major challenges for Leung during his tenure,” Zhang Dinghuai, a professor at the Contemporary Chinese Politics Research Institute at Shenzhen University, told the Global Times.

Zhang noted that Hong Kong could rely on the fast economic growth momentum of the mainland and seize a good opportunity to boost its economy.

The central government’s supportive policies, including setting up an offshore renminbi center in Hong Kong, could benefit the region’s development, said Zhang.

Bernard Yip, a political commentator and politics professor at Hong Kong University, told the Global Times that by only securing 689 votes, Leung will have a difficult time winning support from local residents.

“Hong Kong is going through a tough period as the election campaign revealed a lot of corruption suspicion toward the current chief executive and Henry Tang,” Yip said. “Leung needs to rebuild the public confidence in Hong Kong’s governance.”

Tang’s popularity was dealt a huge blow after he admitted to building a basement under his villa without government permits. Local media also reported that he did not pay his real estate taxes.

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, the current chief executive, is under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). He is the first chief executive to be suspected of corruption during his tenure.

About 2,000 people protested outside the election site Sunday, according to Reuters.

Eric Lai, spokesman for the Civil Human Rights Front, which organized the protest, said they did not want a selective committee to choose Hong Kong’s leader for them, and they needed universal suffrage.

But Ji Shuoming, a senior commentator of Asiaweek based in Hong Kong, told the Global Times that “the relatively lower votes for Leung could also be ascribed to more candidates this time than previous elections.”

Ji noted that the number of election committee members expanding from the previous 800 to the current 1,200, as well as more candidates being allowed to stand, all paved the way for universal suffrage in 2017.

The central government has said universal suffrage can start from the election of the Hong Kong chief executive in 2017 and for the legislature in 2020.

Zhang said that Hong Kong residents have the right to express different opinions, but they did not realize that universal suffrage has already been approved by the central government, and the SAR is now gradually moving toward the ultimate aim of universal suffrage.

“On Hong Kong’s constitutional development, both the central and local governments are fully committed to promoting constitutional development in accordance with the Basic Law, with a view to achieving the ultimate aim of universal suffrage,” a spokesman of the SAR government said in November.

“The SAR government has made it clear that the future universal suffrage models should comply with the Basic Law and the principles of universality and equality. The community has sufficient time to reach a consensus on issues relating to the implementation of universal suffrage in future,” the spokesman said, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Article link: http://english.people.com.cn/90785/7768456.html

U.S. racist slurs towards Chinese widespread [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, China-US relations, FBI, USA on March 25, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Joanna Law (People’s Daily Online)
March 06, 2012

Making fun of people’s name is insult, and mocking one’s race is racism. Anyone who does so is rude, unprofessional, and disrespectful. But some U.S. media and Americans don’t seem to have this concept. They recklessly use offensive and racist remarks to target on Chinese, regardless the person is in high recognition or in trouble.

One of the incidents focuses on the news about New York City comptroller John Liu, the first Asian American running for mayor in 2013. His name has been on the headlines of many U.S. media due to the FBI’s investigation on Liu’s donation sources. But New York Post has deliberately smeared Liu’s name by using an ethnic slur for its headline saying “The biggest Liu-ser!” It is apparent that readers immediately associated the word “Liu-ser” with loser. New York Post is making fun of Liu’s last name and twisting it into a negative, offensive word targeting to Liu himself. The media used the same term again in another article about Liu, with a headline saying “John’s looking more like Liu-ser everyday”.

Similar incident happened to Jeremy Lin, the famous NBA basketball star. ESPN used the headline “Chink in the armor” for one article on Jeremy Lin. The word “Chink” is a disparaging and insulting remark referring to Chinese. It means to the stereotypical Western image of Chinese as narrow-eyed. ESPN needed to issue a formal apology, and two employees responsible for this statement were punished: one was fired, one suspended.

Shortly after ESPN fired the staff, Ben & Jerry issued a statement apologizing for its “Taste of Lin-sanity’ flavor” yogurt that many customers found offensive. One of its stores sold a yogurt that was marketed as Taste of Lin-sanity’s flavor, with lychee honey and crumbled with fortune cookies. Complaints quickly flooded the store for being stereotyped. Ben & Jerry issued a statement and apologized to customers and emphasized that the company is “proud and honored to have Jeremy Lin” hail from one of the fine universities in the States.

New York City Assemblywoman Grace Meng has also encountered racist treatment when she was dining at a restaurant chain called Boston Market in Queens, New York. According to NY Daily News, Meng said employees there repeatedly referred to her as “la China”. Fluent in Spanish, Meng questioned the staff when paying for the meal. But the staff just simply shrugged. “Whether they were trying to be racist or not — it’s not appropriate,” Meng said. “I was the only customer in there.” Meng’s office confirmed to People’s Daily Online USA that Boston Market has apologized…

Full article: http://english.people.com.cn/90782/7748854.html

Chinese web video rivals Youku, Tudou merged [People’s Daily]

Posted in China on March 24, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) — Youku.com (NYSE:YOKU), China’s largest online video company, said on Monday that it has inked a merger deal with its main rival, Tudou Holdings Ltd.(Nasdaq:TUDO), in an unexpected move that the company claimed would form an industry leader in the world’s biggest Internet market.

The two companies will merge through a 100 percent stock swap to forge a combined entity named Youku Tudou Inc.

Once the deal is completed, Youku shareholders and holders of American depositary shares (ADS) will own about 71.5 percent of the new entity, and Tudou will get the remaining 28.5 percent.

With a market value of around 2.85 billion U.S. dollars, Youku is worth roughly six times more than the Nasdaq-listed Tudou.

Under the agreement terms, Tudou’s shares will be canceled, while Youku’s will continue to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

After the merger, the combined entity will hold more than a third of the country’s online video advertising market, according to the Internet research firm Analysis International.

However, the move came as a surprise as the two companies had been engaged in a bitter rivalry involving allegations of copyright misuse and unfair competitive practices.

Last month, Youku filed a lawsuit against Tudou, saying it suffered losses after Tudou accused it of misusing copyrighted material.

Youku CEO Victor Koo seemed to consign those disputes to the past when he said, “We expect to see significant synergies across a number of areas including leveraging licensed content over a larger user base and realizing efficiencies in bandwidth management and other common expenses.”

The merger is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2012.

Article link: http://english.people.com.cn/90778/7756204.html