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China Reform Monitor - No. 1272

Education reforms stress Xi as Party "core";
PLA looks to expand its Marine Corps

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
March 10, 2017

February  20:

The PLA is likely to expand its Marine Corps as part of the military reform advocated by Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping. "The PLA Marine Corps may expand its structure" for the sake of "resolving the Taiwan issue," "assisting the Chinese military's 'going out' strategy," and "providing better protection to China's overseas interests," 
Ming Pao reports. The PLA has released two propaganda video clips introducing the history of the "Mighty Lion" and the "Fierce Tiger" brigades under the PLA Marine Corps, which are seen as a prelude to the expansion of the PLA Marine Corps. 

February 23:

The People's Bank of China (PBoC) wants to become the first central bank to issue a digital cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, Bloomberg reports. A PBoC research team began trials of a prototype in 2014 and in January 2016. They said it would "soon" have a cryptocurrency, although no formal start date has been announced. There has been strong advocacy from senior officials, including PBoC deputy governor Fan Yifei. A PBoC-backed cryptocurrency, or "Bityuan," would be part of the money supply, replacing a portion of paper tender, the central bank's magazine reported in September. It would challenge existing intermediaries such as banks and online payment services like Alibaba's Alipay and Tencent's WeChat. Using blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin, could give the PBoC the ability to trace transactions and collect precise real-time data on indicators such as money supply growth. Theoretically, Beijing could fine-tune policies on a daily, even hourly basis. Earlier this month the PBoC halted bitcoin withdrawals and brought the heads of cryptocurrency exchanges in for talk.

[Editor's Note: The Bank of Canada, Deutsche Bundesbank, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore are examining digital currencies. Chinese people have embraced online payments for just about everything. To buy a beverage, commuters scan QR codes on their smartphones rather than feed coins into a vending machine. At Lunar New Year gatherings, instead of crisp notes handed over in red envelopes money is exchanged via smartphone.]

February 27:

Xi's "core" Party position has been cemented in ideological education at China's colleges and universities. Political thought and party leadership in institutions of higher learning should"closely revolve around the Chinese Communist Party with comrade Xi Jinping at the core," the State Council said in a document cited by Reuters. A system has been established to place young teachers in temporary assignments in government positions to improve the quality of their political thought, the State Council document said. In a separate announcement last week, the party's discipline and anti-graft agency said to help strengthen ideological education it would carry out inspections of 29 of China's top universities. The party has condemned the spread of"Western values" at universities, and inspectors have been sent to monitor teachers for"improper" remarks. In a speech last December, Xi pledged to place the Party and "correct ideology" at the heart of China's education, calling for universities to"serve the Party." 

February 28:

Renmin University in Beijing is hosting a 10-month development studies and media exchange with 48 foreign representatives including 29 African journalists from as many countries, 15 journalists from various South and Southeast Asian countries, as well as 4 from Pakistan. Training topics include China's political, cultural, media, and economic studies, Liberia's Front Page Africa reports. The group will tour China and cover major political activities at the National People's Congress and the BRICS economic summit in September. The exchange, which was organized by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), is the third such program under the China-Africa Press Center. Counselor Liu Yutong, chief of the Public Diplomacy Division at the MFA's Information Department, welcomed the journalists. He hailed President Xi Jinping, criticized Britain's exit from the EU, and the U.S. election of Donald Trump. By contrast, China, he said, maintains economic growth and a stable political situation, 
Liberia's FrontPage Africa reports.

China has provided $300 million in military assistance to Liberia's Ministry of National Defense including a large consignment of military and engineering equipment and medical supplies. A portion of the grant will be used to help repair vehicles and other equipment previously supplied by China, 
Liberia's Daily Observer reports
."This grant is very timely and the Armed Forces of Liberia highly appreciates it. Liberia stands with the one China Policy," said Liberian Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai, who lauded China's support and thanked Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yue. Ambassador Zhang said the grant will help enhance the Liberian military capabilities."China stands firmly by Liberia in whatever aspect, whether in economic development, military or political," he said.

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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