China News Digest, Issue 3, June 2011
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    The Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the apex Chinese military authority, has issued the “CMC Legislative Plan under XII Five Year Plan” on 23 May 2011. This was reported by the policy journal of the CPC – Qiushi on 24 May 2011.1 The Plan was published after the approval of Hu Jintao, CMC Chairman who is also CPC chief and China’s President. Under the Plan, various organs/formations of the PLA would draft military laws for the period under the XII Five Year Plan of China, i.e. 2011-2015. The focus of this phase of military legislation would be on political ideology, military preparedness, defence & force modernisation, administration & discipline, civil-military endeavours and other areas of urgency. All organs, formations and units have accordingly been instructed by the CMC to start the process of drafting of necessary rules and regulations through due coordination, research, feedbacks, experimentation and amendments. They have been asked to adhere to five standards in the process, namely political, policy, feasibility, secrecy and drafting.

    The PLA is in the process of giving legal basis to its changing nature suited to its current and future needs. The inclusion of civil-military endeavours in the agenda of the Plan shows that civil-military joint efforts in R&D as well as modern logistics will continue for a long term. Also, the inclusion of administration and discipline show that issues still remain within PLA on regularisation and conduct of PLA personnel.


    China tested its largest unmanned helicopter on 07 May 2011 presumably at Xi’an. This was reported by People’s Daily Online on 09 May 2011.2 The UAV which is named V750 has been jointly developed by M/s Tianxiang Aviation Industry Corporation of Weifang, Shandong and the Xi’an Automated Flight control Research Institute of M/s Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). After the test flight, a Chinese statement on the official Xinhua news agency said that V750 has filled up a gap in medium sized unmanned helicopters. China has invested heavily into the R&D of UAVs which supposedly have elint (electronic intelligence) and secondary strike capabilities.3 Basic specifications of the V750 UAV are as under: -
    (a) Weight : 757 kg.
    (b) Payload capacity : 80 kg.
    (c) Maximum speed : 161 km/hour.
    (d) Maximum manoeuvrable distance : 500 km.
    (e) Maximum flying time : Four hours.
    (f) Flight control : Manual remote/ Automated programmed.
    (g) Control radius : 150 km.
    (h) Maximum height : 3000 metres.

    V750 UAV in test flight


    An unspecified Chinese fighter aircraft of some PLA AF unit stationed in the South-western province of Guizhou burst mid-air on 13 April 2011 while taking part in an exercise.4 The accident occurred over a hilly and rural area of the neighbouring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in south China which borders Vietnam in the south. The reason of the accident was not declared. The pilot had ejected safely and was rescued by local villagers.



    China has provided unqualified sympathy and support for Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism. An article published in the official People’s Daily on 09 May 2011 appeals to countries to “think more from the angle of a country (read Pakistan) at the forefront of fighting terror.5 The article highlighted two current suspicions of the Americans against Pakistan: one, did Pakistan know of Osama’s hiding in their territory and even willingly provided shelter to him; and two, does the US need any cooperation from Pakistan henceforth since the Operation Geronimo made it almost clear that the US can achieve its goal unilaterally. At the same time, the article paints the Pakistani government in a very embarrassed colour: if it admits cooperating with the US operation, it would be blamed of been a silent watcher to violation of its territory, airspace and sovereignty. That would almost certainly invite the vengeance of al Qaeda, which is actually what’s happening now. And if it denies any involvement in the cooperation, then the contradictions in the US-Pak strategies and anti-terror views would be split wide open. The article appealed to the US to take stock of the immense sacrifice which Pakistan has had to make in the last 10 years of the war against terror. That includes, apart from arresting over 400 al Qaeda members, lives of 3000 soldiers and policemen, a loss of over $ 100 billion (much above the $ 20 billion US aid), worsening of social order and security and displacement of tribal people. There was no mention of the fact that this huge cost which Pakistan has had to bear is a direct consequence of the complicity of a section of the Pak officialdom and the warped anti-India anti-Afghanistan viewpoint of its various regimes. The article went on about US drone attacks, which though eliminated over 1000 terrorists, have also left a huge number of innocent Pakistani citizens dead and injured. Pakistan’s contributions as a front country in anti-terrorism efforts cannot be denied, the article states. In the end, the article warns of dangers in store if the US carries out such military operations in the future disregarding international laws and national sovereignties. It also reminded the US that irrespective of US withdrawal from its AfPak strategy, Pakistan would continue to play an important role in the security and terrorism within this region. Hence, the US would do well as a responsible power to help Pakistan revive socially, politically and economically while respecting Pak sovereignty. Unfortunately, it didn’t throw any light on how China has helped to bring social, political and true economic revival as Pakistan’s all weather friend.

    In another editorial on 30 May 2011, the People’s Daily again highlighted US unilateralism, US-Pak mistrust and rising anti-US feelings within the military and civil populations of Pakistan.6 Appropriate to its title, the editorial described Pakistan’s condition as angry but helpless. Angry at US actions and statements but helpless both in front of the US as well as a target of the terrorists. It also states that just as the US needs Pak cooperation for its AfPak strategies, Pakistan also needs military and economic aid from the US. It also voices an unspecified expert’s forecast saying that the US and Pak should end the fighting in Afghanistan before 2014 and put in place a broad-based government there which can stay longer than 6 months. Or else Pakistan would be the sole country to bear with the ominous consequences thereafter. Hence, the US and Pakistan should find ways to dissolve the present crisis in their bilateral relations. Again the official Chinese daily missed the basic tasks which Pakistan need to do, i.e. to de-radicalise the entire officialdom and population, strengthen democratic and political institutions, and, make its military return to its barracks.


    Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's visit to China on 17 May 2011 is an important event of the "2011 China-Pakistan Friendship Year" and may further strengthen China-Pakistan relations under the new international environment and historical conditions, reported People’s Daily.7 Both the countries are trying hard to prove to the world that despite vast differences in between their systems, ideologies, positions and stages in development, a close alliance is still possible. However, it seems that the US military operation to eliminate Osama bin Laden deep within Pak territory has spurred the leaders of Pakistan and China to a even tighter embrace.

    During Mr. Gilani’s visit, China reiterated its commitment to respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan despite the prolonged presence of the separatist elements of East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in the tribal areas at the Pakistani-Afghan border. This was to demonstrate how China exercises restraint in contrast to the US. ETIM is a secessionist, extremist and terrorist threat for China. However, China seeks to combat ETIM jointly with Pakistan and has tacitly made home the point that it won’t undertake an operation like the US. Further, China lauds Pakistan's sacrifices and contributions in the fight against terrorism, one which has earned a lot of appreciation from Pakistan.

    Apart from the usual diplomatese mentioned during Mr. Gilani’s visit, there were a few pointers to the next steps of this strategic alliance. As for Pakistan, it would receive more Chinese aid, investment and cooperation for infrastructure development. In return China would get to further develop overland transport routes in Pakistan that would consolidate its strategic reach towards West Asia and Indian Ocean. Besides, Pakistan also pledged two more diplomatic supports to China: one, that it would help China to further reach out to the Islamic countries; and two, it would further support China in multilateral fora on various contentious global issues.

    The Chinese media reiterated support for Pakistan and emphasized its contribution towards the war on terrorism, while the Chinese government called for strengthening anti-terror cooperation between the two states. China’s inability to criticize Pakistan despite patent proof of its hypocrisy in shielding Osama bin-Laden for over a decade, is indicative of Pakistan’s utility to China. Not only is Pakistan seen as essential in curbing the ETIM but perhaps, and more importantly for India, leverage over this failing state gives China a presence in South Asia that cannot be denied. Just as the usefulness of China’s leverage over the DPRK is questioned, so can its leverage over Pakistan be challenged. This leverage may exist, and China may well seek to expand it, but in the ultimate analysis, whether China would be able to utilize this leverage in any meaningful or constructive way is doubtful. China cannot but be aware of the dangers that an increasingly radicalized Pakistan poses for the world. As a good friend then, is it willing and able to help Pakistan deal with its problems and progress towards lasting stability? There seem to be few indications of this at the present.


    North Korean leader Kim Jong-il travelled to China on 22 May 2011, as reported by the official People’s Daily.8 However, private media reports suggest that the North Korean leader arrived in China on 20 May and left Beijing by train on 26 May 2011. This was his third visit to China in one year, apparently to seek economic cooperation from Beijing. Kim arrived in Yangzhou of the prosperous Jiangsu Province in east China and stayed at a State guesthouse, the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reported. Sources close to the local government told the Global Times that Kim was received at the local train station by a number of Yangzhou government officials, including the local party secretary. Before his visit to Yangzhou, Kim Jong-il had reportedly travelled to China's north-eastern regions to discuss an ambitious development project in Jilin Province which is adjacent to North Korea, the Korean Times reported Sunday. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said during his meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Tokyo on 22 May 2011 that Beijing had invited Kim Jong-il in an effort to help Pyongyang learn about China's economic development and help North Korea revive its economy, AFP reported. While in Beijing, Mr. Kim was reportedly accompanied by Mr. Li Keqiang, tipped to be the next Chinese Premier, to Zhongguancun which is a hub of the Chinese information technology industry. Mr. Kim reportedly also expressed his willingness to resume de-nuclearisation talks.

    Kim Jong-il's frequent visits to China can be seen as part of his efforts to strengthen the North Korean economy by enhancing economic ties with China. In previous China visits too, Kim Jong-il had travelled to economically prosperous areas trying to learn from the Chinese experience in modernization. Ensuring the support of China’s next generation leadership for Kim’s succession plans of power transfer to his son Kim Jong-un could also have been an important agenda for the visit.


    The Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping met the visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on 24 May 2011 in Beijing. This was reported by the Guangming Daily of China on 25 May 2011.9 The two leaders reviewed the steady progress of bilateral ties and expressed their desire for further improvement on the basis of deepening political trust and cooperation in trade and economy. The two leaders also discussed the situation in West Asia and North Africa and stated that their countries would maintain close interaction and coordination on regional and international issues. The status and effect of Iran and the international standing and influence of China were stressed in the meeting.

    Mr. Xi Jinping is widely expected to be the next Chinese President after Mr. Hu Jintao. Thus the meeting between the Iranian Foreign Minister and the future Chinese President and the contents both signal towards the strategic course of ties between China and Iran.


    Wu Bangguo, China's top legislator went to a tour of African-Asian countries during 18-31 May 2011.10 The countries included Namibia, Angola, South Africa and the Maldives. Wu, Chairman of China's National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, China's top legislature, made a three-point proposal in a speech at the National Assembly of South Africa to boost China-Africa strategic partnership to higher levels.

    First of these points was, China and Africa should continue to treat each other as equals. China was ready to work with African countries to continue to view and develop China-Africa relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, conduct closer dialogue and consultation within the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) framework, and consolidate the political foundation of China-Africa relationship on a sustained basis, he said.

    Second, they should adhere to mutually beneficial cooperation since Chinese and African economies are highly complementary. Africa is rich in natural and human resources and China has applicable technologies and mature experience.

    Thirdly, China and African countries should continue to support each other in a multi-polar and the international system which is undergoing profound changes. The two sides need to vigorously promote South-South cooperation and North-South dialogue, step up collaboration at the United Nations, the WTO and other multilateral forums, actively participate in the reform of the global governance structure and international financial system, and work together to make the international political and economic order more just and reasonable, urged Mr. Wu.

    Wu’s emphasis on the common interests between Africa and China clearly highlights the importance China accords to ties with African states. Not only for the resources that they provide to sustain Chinese economic growth but also as legitimizing China’s image as the champion of the developing world at the international stage and for a greater voice in global governance.



    Even with first-quarter growth at 9.7 percent, worries of a "hard landing" of the world's second largest economy have began to emerge, as the government switches from stimulating to deflating the economy. Private businesses aren’t making the money they used to. Production costs are rising and borrowing has become harder as the government has hiked interest rates and raised the reserve ratio for banks amid high inflation. The manufacturing sector PMI released by the National Bureau of Statistics, a key measure of the outlook for industrial growth, dropped to 52.9 percent in April, down from 53.4 percent in March. The value-added industrial output grew 13.4 percent in April, 1 percentage point lower than a month earlier. The economic data suggests the probability of hard landing is building in China, according to JPMorgan Chase.

    However, Fan Jianping, chief economist with the State Information Centre, contended on 24 May 2011 that a hard landing is unlikely. The situation in China is not like that which followed the U.S. credit crisis in 2008, rather it's the result of the macro-economic regulation, he said. China's growth decelerated to 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2009, as the global financial crisis sapped demands for Chinese exports. He predicted China's GDP growth would slow to 8.4 percent in the fourth quarter of the year. However that cannot be recognized as a hard landing. Fan noted the slowdown momentum is a good thing since it is a necessary condition to tame consumer prices, and could also make way for economic restructuring. The Chinese government is taking steps to change China's growth pattern to one based on innovation and domestic demand. He said although the present slowdown is intended by the government and within control, the macro-policy should be forward-looking to avoid a real recession.11



    The Information Office of the State Council China (IOSC) on 04 May 2011 announced the creation of the State Internet Information Office (SIIO) which shall function as a powerful internet regulator of China.12 The SIIO would be the final authority relating to internet and other public networks in China. Its areas of responsibility include implementation and drafting of rules, guidance, planning, approvals, coordination, administration, supervision and prosecution. It would function as a part of IOSC and not a separate organ of the State Council. Wang Chen, the present Director of IOSC would concurrently hold the post of Director, SIIO while the current Deputy Director of IOSC, Mr. Qian Xiaoqian would be the Deputy Director of SIIO. Two other concurrent Deputy Directors appointed to SIIO are Xi Guohua, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Industry & Information Technology, and, Zhang Xinfeng, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Public Security.

    The reasons for setting up such a powerful organ were given by an SIIO official on 05 May 2011.13 It was stated that the internet has helped the spread of false news, malafide contents, pornography, online fraud, gambling, illegal online PR etc which have harmed public interests in China. It was also said that SIIO was a demand of the Chinese people and has met an important demand of the Party Central Committee.

    However, while the effect of the ills of internet over China has been stated, it goes without saying that the creation of SIIO was hastened due to the Jasmine Revolution. Chinese authorities, who have long been weary of the growing impact of internet among the 500 million (and growing) Chinese netizens, had watched with alarm how internet and online community sites facilitated the rapid spread of the Jasmine Revolution in North Africa and West Asia. Thereafter when Chinese dissidents began organizing protest rallies in various parts of China, the authorities hit the alarm button, screened word specific internet searches and SMS communication and started police action against such protests. The rationale given was that internet, as a vehicle of communication, was for promoting social stability and not for disrupting it. SIIO, with its broad sanction and far reaching capabilities, may just prove to be an important stabiliser for the Chinese authorities to ensure that economic growth ultimately stays on track.


    A series of blasts on 26 May 2011 rocked a government compound in Fuzhou, Jiangxi province, killing two people including a suspect and injuring another ten. The China Daily reported on 27 May 2011 that Qian Mingqi, 52, a jobless local resident, allegedly set off the bombs on Thursday morning within about half an hour at three different locations in the Fuzhou city of Jiangxi.14 Qian was killed in one of the blasts, reported Xinhua News Agency, citing sources with the provincial public security department. Earlier it was wrongly reported that a disgruntled farmer was suspected of having caused the explosions to vent his resentment over a legal suit.

    A source with the Linchuan district government said Qian was involved in a house demolition dispute, triggering suspicions that he might have set off the explosions as revenge against the local government. Qian reportedly left a message on his micro blog, saying he was forced to "step on a road I don't want to step on" due to the loss of his newly-built house, which was "illegally demolished". Local authorities are investigating the blasts.

    Earlier in May, a petrol bomb set off by a disgruntled former employee at a rural bank in a heavily Tibetan region of north-western China's Gansu province wounded 49 people. Last year, three people set themselves on fire in a Jiangxi county not far from Fuzhou to try to stop officials forcing them out of their homes to make way for a bus station. In 2001, a string of explosions at workers' dormitories in the northern city of Shijiazhuang killed 108 people.

    This is the latest of many such “sudden incidents” where Chinese farmers have sought to retaliate against illegal land acquisition and property demolition for reconstruction. Inadequate compensation coupled with intimidation by local developers has engendered anger and hopelessness among the sections of the rural population. This is symptomatic of the vast economic gulf between the rich and the poor in China and the limited success met by government policies aimed at reducing this divide and providing effective governance in rural China.



    China’s PLA has introduced smarter concepts to strengthen monitoring and control at the international regions of its Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Part of this programme is also to nurture “outstanding PLA Staff Officers” and a new pool of “Border Security Experts”. The PLA in the Tibet Military District (TMD) has started to train PLA Staff Officers with modern tools for better discharge of command duties and for better response skills to “contingency situations”, an euphemism for public unrest. This was stated by the Chinese Defence Ministry and reported by the PLA Daily Online on 03 May 2011.15

    In a training for Staff Officers, which was conducted in the TMD in April 2011, aviators from the PLA Army Aviation Corps trained the participants on aerial survey and patrol techniques. Given the remoteness of Tibetan localities and the simmering secessionist struggle which erupts every now and then, the PLA seems to be investing into technologies to contain a political problem. The objectives of the training programme appear to be to enhance capabilities to quicken the detection and assessment of public unrests and shorten the response time. This enhancement of post-incident capability would have a definite impact on cross-border traffic after any public unrest in Tibet.