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China Reform Monitor - No. 1233

Chinese fishermen raise hackles off West Africa;
Xi stresses Party

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
August 10, 2016

July 1: 

The Communist Party of China is going back to its Marxist roots, Xi Jinping pledged in a speech marking the party’s 95th anniversary. In an 80-minute address in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, the president stressed ideological purity and urged the CPC’s 88 million members not to “betray or abandon" Marxism. “The whole party should remember, what we are building is socialism with Chinese characteristics, not some other –ism."The speech was live-streamed on the official Xinhua news agency and on YouTube, which is banned in China, the Financial Times reports.
July 8:

Chinese fishing vessels operate illegally off the coast of Guinea, depleting its fish population and destroying marine life, 
the BBC reports. Despite the economic and social consequences of illegal fishing, the Guinean government has failed to police its waters because it doesn't have money to operate surveillance equipment donated by the EU. In 2008 there were 14 Chinese trawlers, now there are close to 500 operating in West Africa. During the Ebola outbreak at the end of 2014, while the disease was ravaging Guinea and all resources were targeted at the epidemic, a month-long Greenpeace mission spotted an illegal Chinese trawler once every two days. Most of the Chinese vessels are bottom trawlers, which scrape up everything from the bottom of the ocean, including coral and oyster beds. 

July 10:

The Communist Party of China (CPC) is waging an ideological war against hostile Western ideas on the internet and Chinese dissidents are in the firing line. As with radio and TV, social media has become a tool to control and manipulate Chinese people, 
the Washington Post reports. Social media has allowed the CPC to become stronger, more informed and more adaptable. Through censorship, intimidation, and repression, and with the help of an army of "patriotic" netizens, the CPC is winning. The goal is to "channel" public opinion into narratives that suit the party and divert public attention. Real-name verification has been introduced for social-media accounts, and the government censors Sina Weibo. Pro-government voices generally do not engage critics in discussion or argument, but instead subject critics to personal attacks and redirect readers – a form of psychological warfare that harkens back to the Mao era.

[Editor’s Note: In its annual "Public Opinion Report" for 2015, the People's Daily OnlinePeople's Daily Online reported a "major increase in consensus online" in support of the CPC, with millions of "young cyber civilization volunteers" emerging as the most prominent force. "Due to the strengthened management of online platforms, netizens showed an increased sense of self-discipline."]

July 11:

China is falling far short of its goals for water desalination. By December 2015, China’s total installed desalination capacity was 1.03 million tons a day, well below its minimum target of 2.2 million tons. Of China’s 669 largest cities, at least 400 suffer from water scarcity and 93 percent of power generation relies on water. To quench its thirst, the massive 1,000-kilometer-long South-North Water Diversion Project pumps 25 billion cubic meters of water per year from the Yangtze River to the north China plain via two routes. The problem is that desalination plants are expensive and energy-intensive, and thus hard to sell to urban water authorities. “When there is a drought, local officials and enterprises all come to see us,"said Wang Zhi at Tianjin University. “But if there is sufficient rainfall the next year, they will drop the idea and invest elsewhere,"
Technology Review reports.

July 12:

China massive Tiangong-1 space station appears to be uncontrollably hurtling towards Earth, 
reports The Independent. Tiangong-1, launched in 2011, should have had a controlled crash in the ocean but China has lost control of it and it could crash down onto the Earth any time. The freefalling station might burn up on its way back into Earth and return as molten metal landing in the ocean or in an unpopulated area rather than with a big crash. Officials have struggled to establish contact with the satellite, but have not reported on its health in recent months, which experts said indicates problems and a lack of transparency in China’s space program.

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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