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China Reform Monitor - No. 1204

Xi presses military reform China bleeding foreign exchange reserves

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
January 19, 2016


January 4:

On December 31, Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) Xi Jinping outlined the direction of the PLA in an official speech known as a “precept,” or xunci, which translates as “admonishing words.” The only other leader to have given a precept to the military in the PRC's 67-year history was Mao Zedong in 1952 and 1953,
the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports. Xi used the speech to call for his military reform plans to be implemented, and marked the launch of two new army forces and the establishment of a separate command for ground units. "No other former CMC chairman – Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin or Hu Jintao – gave a military precept, which means Xi's power and authority is even higher than theirs," said Chen Daoyin at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. "It also signals Xi's discontent and anxiety over the status of the army - the rampant corruption and the Soviet-style command structures." 

January 5:

Police in Shenzhen have arrested three taxi drivers and placed another under detention for damaging commercial vehicles after drivers protested against mobile ride-hailing apps and high taxi rental fees around 400 yuan per day. 
A Shenzhen official told Caixin magazine that to protest their poor pay "several hundred taxi drivers gathered outside a citizen center," at Longhua and at the Luo¬wu border checkpoint. A statement was circulated online calling on drivers to strike to raise awareness of their plight. "Now we work 10 to 12 hours a day but earn only a little more than 100 yuan per day. Vehicles without commercial licenses are everywhere and yet the government is doing nothing about it," the statement read. The strike left the city short of taxis and produced long queues at the airport, border checkpoints, and transport terminals. Similar protests against ride-hailing apps have occurred in various cities last year.

January 6:

Seventeen people were killed in an arson attack on a public bus in Yingchuan, Ningxia. Police arrested 33-year-old Ma Yongping, who according to state media was involved in a debt dispute with a contractor, which led him to commit the “extreme act.” T
he official Global Times offered its "unconditional condemnation." Other Chinese papers have highlighted recent similar incidents, and questioned why there has been a string of such attacks. The attack shows “society's sickness,” the Oriental Daily argued. “If the government genuinely governs for the people, why will there be so many extremists carrying out attacks one after one?"

January 7:

For the first time ever China's foreign exchange reserves fell more than $100 billion in a month as the central bank continues to cope with massive capital outflows and fights off attacks on the yuan, reports the 
SCMP. Reserves fell a record $107.9 billion in December, the tenth month in which reserves dropped in 2015. In total, China's reserves fell $512.7 billion in 2015 to $3.33 trillion, down from $3.84 trillion at the end of 2014. The outflow accelerated after Beijing ended its peg to the U.S. dollar and linked the yuan to a basket of currencies on August 11. August's $93.9 billion drop in reserves was second only to the drop in December and has triggered repeated interventions by the central bank to defend the currency. Lu Zhengwei, chief economist at Industrial Bank said: "The fact that the market cares so much about changes in the foreign exchange reserves implies we still rely on reserves to defend the exchange rate and are concerned about whether our ammunition is enough or not. But the foreign exchange reserves can only decide how long we can fend off depreciation expectations.”

January 12:

Li Dongsheng, former deputy head of public security and an associate of jailed former security chief Zhou Yongkang, has been charged with abuse of power and taking nearly 22 million yuan ($3.3 million) in bribes, 
BBC reports. Before joining the public security ministry, Li spent 22 years at CCTV, ascending from a photographer to become a deputy head of the biggest television network in China. He was also a vice chief of the Communist Party's propaganda department for seven years. Li is the latest in a long line of former Zhou allies to be jailed under President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption drive. During the investigation of Zhou Yongkang, who has been sentenced to life in prison, Li was accused of sending information gathered by Zhou about the country's top leaders to websites outside the country.


Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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