Soon before he was thrown out his job as Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych visited Beijng in December 2013 to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, and announce a substantial new Chinese investment package for Ukraine worth $8 billion. The two countries have boosted their military and trade cooperation in recent years. As VOA reports, the Yanukovych government “agreed last year to a deal for China to lease five percent of the country’s land to grow crops and raise pigs for sale to Chinese state-owned companies. As part of that deal China promised to build highways and bridges in the country.”
Then there were reports like this one about China agreeing for the first time to extend its nuclear umbrella to include Ukraine. One expert I talked with earlier this week mentioned the nuclear umbrella story and I thought… wow, that seems like a pretty big deal. It appears to be wrong though, as the Arms Control Wonk points out here. I didn’t get into the nuclear umbrella issue with my story that ran on Thursday, but here you go.
For more reading on the bind that China finds itself in after Russia’s takeover in Crimea, see Elizabeth Economy’s excellent piece on the CFR site, and Peter Ford’s story in the CSM from Beijing.
This is a really wonderfully written article by Jennifer Ruth at Portland State about Chinese documentary filmmaker Hu Jie, who she describes as the “Errol Morris… or Claude Lanzmann… of China.” Hu became obsessed with the story a young die-hard Communist Party member named Lin Zhao and he spent several years doing a film about her. Lin was persecuted as a “rightist” in the late 1950s and thrown into prison. But as Hu said about her in his film, Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul, “This girl continued to think for herself when the rest of China stopped thinking.” Many thanks to Ruth (though a bit humbling to follow such a fabulous piece) for linking to the story I did about Hu for PRI’s The World!
Absolutely amazing pictures here at ChinaFile. I visited some wedding planning shops in Beijing, but was never able to actually see an actual photo shoot. And all I can say is, wow. Here’s a link to my radio story about Chinese weddings. It’s not as stunning as those photos, but I’ve got a video there showing a fabulous wedding procession. And here is a fun segment we did with the Laurie Burkitt from the Wall Street Journal about how some Chinese couples say, ‘I love you.’
Song Renqiong, a former member of the Red Guard revolutionary youth brigades and the daughter of a former senior Chinese official, has apologized for the part she played in a notorious murder during the Cultural Revolution in Beijing. The apology is getting attention in the Chinese news media, which is significant because the Cultural Revolution is politically taboo in China. Chris Buckley has a great story about it in the Sinoshpere blog.
“Please allow me to express my everlasting solicitude and apologies to Principal Bian,” she said, according to The Beijing News. “I failed to properly protect the school leaders, and this has been a lifelong source of anguish and remorse.”
Not everyone was impressed with Song’s expression of remorse, including the victim’s 93 year-old widower, Wang Jingyao.
“She is a bad person, because of what she did,” he said. “She and the others were supported by Mao Zedong. Mao was the source of all evil. He did so much that was bad. And it’s not just an individual problem” of someone like Ms. Song, he added. “The entire Communist Party and Mao Zedong are also responsible.”
Here’s our recent story on Red Guards apologizing for their actions during the Cultural Revolution, with comments from another revolutionary youth leader (also with a famous father) I interviewed in Beijing.
UPDATE: I’m working on a radio story about documentary filmmaker, Hu Jie. He did a film about this very case of the Beijing administrator who was beaten to death by Red Guards, it’s a moving story called “Though I am Gone.” And here’s the trailer.
Beijing-based British writer Alec Ash has a great piece at his blog about learning that his landlady, Auntie Wang, has probably killed people. The political violence people committed during the chaos of China’s ‘Cultural Revolution’ is still too taboo for open discussion. But some older people who took part in it, including a former Red Guard leader and son of one of Mao’s close comrades, have tried to come clean. They’ve been making public apologies. Here’s my recent radio story.
Washington Post bureau chief Simon Denyer has some good background on the current atmosphere for Chinese reporters here. Pressure from Beijing on journalists (and academics) to adhere to the Party line in what they publish has intensified over the last decade or so, but it’s been getting even more serious in recent months. As Denyer writes:
The government, experts say, is deeply alarmed about the growing impact of social media and the Internet, and the way that critical stories, whether written by local reporters or foreign journalists, can spread around the country in an instant. At the same time, a rising tide of protests at home, and the experience of the Arab Spring abroad, have the government determined to do whatever it takes to ensure its own survival.
We tried to have a little fun with the story about Chinese journalists being forced to take an exam on “Marxist news ethics,” though at the heart of it, of course, the issue is no joke.
It’s President Xi Jinping. That’s what Sinica podcasters – and insightful China watchers – Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn told us yesterday. In the longer version of their interview with Marco Werman, we didn’t get very deep into what Xi’s consolidation of power might look like.
So, here is some smart analysis on the rise of Xi over at ChinaFile. Paul Mooney, Orville Schell and Andrew Nathan discuss the question of whether ‘Xi Jinping will bring a positive new day to China?’