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China Reform Monitor - No. 1287

Two U.S. frigates to Taiwan;
Senior naval officials caught in corruption crackdown

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
June 9, 2017

May 3:

President Xi Jinping has put the Xiongan New Area in the hands of Xu Kuangdi, 79, who helped transform Shanghai's Pudong backwater into China's financial hub. Xu, who was Shanghai mayor from 1995 to 2001, will lead Xi's "thousand-year" plan to develop Xiong¬an, which will encompass three counties in Hebei. Xu said Xiongan was chosen because the area was like "a piece of white paper," so Xi could create a dream city. Xu's appointment appears to be a reflection of Xi's preference for a voice free from the vested interests of ministries and local authorities. Over the last decade, Xu had retired from his public positions, standing down as a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in 2013. In 2014, however, he was tapped to head of the expert committee on the president's Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration plan,
South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports.

May 4:

On March 26, as part of a campaign to curb skyrocketing home prices in Beijing, authorities banned sales to individuals of new "apartments" built on plots that were acquired as commercial or office land, reports
SCMP. Only those with Beijing residency permit or those that have paid social security for five straight years and do not already own a home can buy the existing apartments. Banks have been banned from lending for such purchases, which means they can be bought only with cash. All property agents must pull the apartments, estimated at 250,000, off their books, which means owners can neither sell or lease their properties through agents, essentially making them "dead assets." Authorities also banned owners from using the apartments as collateral for bank loans. Until the March 26 crackdown, such units accounted for 60 percent of the city's new home market, up from 29 percent in 2015. Subsequently, sales dropped from 2,264 units in the week before the restriction to just 24 last week. "I estimate my property has lost at least half its value," said one owner.

[Editor's Note: For years, such apartments were in a grey zone and became popular as the dwindling supply of new residential land boosted home prices. The flats were an affordable alternative option, especially for young buyers. Moreover, since such units were not subject to purchase limits, such units were the only option for people without a Beijing residency permit seeking to buy multiple units.]

May 9:

"Many senior naval officials" including PLA Navy Deputy Commander Su Zhiqian, PLA Navy Political Work Department director Yang Shiguang, East Sea Fleet deputy political commissar Li Jiangtan, former East Sea Fleet chief of staff Liu Hongshen, and former East Sea Fleet Logistics Department head Liu Jizhen, "have been detained for investigation,"
Ming Pao reports. The PLA Armed Police Force and General Logistics Department are the "hardest hit units." The PLA Navy kept an "unusually low profile" on the 68th anniversary of its establishment on April 23, which suggests "the internal rectification of the PLA Navy has not yet come to an end" and "some even more high-ranking naval officials are going to be removed." President Xi has carried out a strict anti-corruption campaign within the PLA since the 18th Party Congress.

May 11:

In Qingyuan, Guangdong, thousands of local residents have taken to the streets to protest against government plans to build a new trash incinerator,
Hong Kong's Oriental Daily reports. Authorities deployed riot police who used tear gas and arrested hundreds of protesters. After days of rallies, however, the local government relented and announced that the incinerator plan would be scrapped. Official Chinese news outlets have ignored the story, and censors have barred messages relevant to the protests from Sina Weibo.

[Editor's Note: In recent years, China has witnessed a string of similar NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) protests against government projects throughout China. In March, similar protests broke out in another part of Guangdong. In February, residents in Heilongjiang protested against plans for an aluminum plant. Last August and June, NIMBY protests occurred in Jiangsu and Hubei, respectfully.]

May 13:

The two Perry-class guided missile frigates Taiwan purchased from the United States for $175 million have arrived in Kaohsiung,
Taiwan's Central News Agency reports
. Taiwan's military held a welcome ceremony for the two vessels, which were sailed by Taiwanese crews into Zuoying Military Harbor. The ships, built in the 1980s and named by Taiwan as "Ming Chuan" and "Feng Chia" will join the Navy's 146th fleet on Penghu Island and will patrol the Taiwan Strait. Perry-class frigates have high mobility and are equipped with the SQQ-89 undersea warfare combat system and the SQR-19 sonar system, which will provide a boost to Taipei's anti-submarine capabilities. The sale of four Perry-class frigates to Taiwan was approved by former President Barack Obama in December 2014.

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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