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China Reform Monitor - No. 1011
Provinces scramble to implement Xi’s “eight rules”;
DPRK trying to lure Chinese investment
Edited by Joshua Eisenman
January 21, 2013
To conform with President Xi Jinping’s “eight rules” on official behavior localities are competing to adopt the strictest regulations against bureaucracy and waste. The restrictions detail how visiting leaders should be treated: buffet meals, no liquor, no banners, no cheering crowds and no hotel suites. At least 17 provinces and municipalities and the military have already announced such guidelines and authorities in Chongqing, Guangdong, Shanghai, and Tianjin will soon do so. To pacify popular outrage over official corruption last month, the new 25-member Politburo formally adopted Xi’s “eight rules.” To date, however, they have been more concerned with reducing cadres’ conspicuous consumption (e.g. red carpets, empty speeches and police escorts) than limiting their power, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports.
On December 30 Myanmar military fighter jets fired three airstrikes at rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA) positions on the China border but they missed and landed in China. Although there were no casualties “the Chinese side demanded the Myanmar side immediately take effective measures to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” the official China Daily reports. For the week leading up to until January 4 the Myanmar air force had been using fighter jets and helicopter gunships to pound the KIA base in Laiza on the Yunnan border, but they stopped after China’s demand. Last month Myanmar’s military launched an offense against the Kachin rebels resulting in about 100,000 displaced refugees on China’s border, according to KIA sources cited by the Irrawaddy. Beijing denied a refugee problem was developing on the border and said, “the issue is Myanmar’s internal affair,” the official People’s Daily reports.
Impoverished North Korea, lacking products for export, continues to use its abundant coal, iron ore and gold reserves to lure Chinese investment and technology. Pyongyang is now offering resource development rights to Chinese companies in return for pledges to build infrastructure and investment projects such as roads and hotels. Although most Chinese firms are wary, the Korea Herald, citing “Chinese business insiders in Shenyang,” reports that Hunan Investment Co. will develop North Korea’s Unsan gold mine in in exchange for building a luxury hotel and highway. China’s Hunchun trading company has reached a similar deal with Pyongyang Moranbong Co. to develop a gold mine in Chagang near the China-North Korea border.
The CPC Central Committee’s Publicity Department has issued an urgent memo to party chiefs and media officials stressing the party’s “absolute control” over the press, the SCMP reports. It includes three conclusions regarding the Southern Weekend censorship row – in which censors changed an editorial causing hundreds to rally outside the paper’s Guangzhou offices: (1) The party has absolute control of China's media. (2) The incident is unrelated to Guangdong propaganda chief, Tuo Zhen. (Tuo has been a lightning rod for criticism as he approved the censored editorial.) (3) Hostile foreign forces interfered in the Southern Weekend incident. The memo requires officials to prevent journalists from supporting the newspaper and calls on others to reprint a Global Times editorial claiming China lacks the “social infrastructure” for a free press. “Because of China’s social and political realities the press freedoms asked by these people simply don’t exist,” read the editorial. “Media reform will never become a special area.”
A few months ago China dispatched 70 commerce officials from Jilin to North Korea to improve bilateral economic cooperation – particularly the fledgling joint economic zones in North Korea’s Rajin and the islands of Hwanggumpyong and Wihwa. The visiting officials hope to nudge the Pyongyang to reduce control over the zones, improve their management, and suggest ways to lure foreign investment. They are currently travelling from Pyongyang to Sinuiju on the China border for talks. The officials were sent after neighboring countries held talks in August over the North’s economic zones, Yonhap reports. During a meeting between Jang Song-thaek, the powerful uncle of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, and Chen Deming, China’s Commerce Minister, Jang secured Chen’s agreement to improve the zones, which remain largely inactive.