Tianjin is an important industrial port in northern China, about a half-hour ride from Beijing on the new high-speed rail line. The government’s recently announced plan for a northern megacity to better coordinate trade and growth has Beijing and Tianjin at its core. About 100 Fortune 500 companies have investments in the city. Tianjin is seen as the shape of things to come in the new China.
Then on the night of Aug. 12, a series of huge blasts at a hazardous-materials warehouse owned by Rui Hai International Logistics killed more than 100 people and shattered that dream. The explosions reduced the surrounding area to ruins, displacing thousands of local residents, many of whom remain angry at the government’s poor handling of the disaster.… Seguir leyendo »
The Third Plenum, a gathering of Chinese Communist Party leaders to set economic policy, ended this month with a raft of economic and social reforms that were praised by Western observers: giving the market a greater hand in setting prices, relaxing the one-child policy, strengthening land rights and shoring up the social safety net.
But as far as I’m concerned, the party’s itinerary and timeline for so-called reform are no cause for optimism, because China’s leaders did very little to bolster rule of law and the rights of ordinary citizens. To the contrary, the economic reforms may serve as a convenient distraction from the appalling crackdown on three advocates of civil rights — the legal reformers Xu Zhiyong and Guo Feixiong and the entrepreneur Wang Gongquan, all participants in the New Citizens’ Movement, a campaign for civil and human rights — who have been detained since the summer.… Seguir leyendo »
A standoff between one of China’s biggest newspapers, Southern Weekend, and the national government ended last week with compromises on both sides. Southern Weekend hit the newsstands as usual on Thursday, after protesting staff members backed down from a threatened strike. The authorities, for their part, made tacit concessions, ending pre-publication censorship by the Communist Party’s propaganda arm in Guangdong Province and permitting greater editorial independence.
The episode drew worldwide attention to the problem of press freedom in China and threatened to escalate into broader protests across Chinese society. Over the past decade, standards of journalistic professionalism have risen in China, even though most news organizations are controlled, directly or indirectly, by the state.… Seguir leyendo »