October 29th Highlights


China’s ideology man, Sichuan’s numbing peppers, and the nation’s gender inequality and terrible problem with sexual assault.

Sichuan Pepper Grower
Photo Credit: Slate

Wang Huning’s Neo-Authoritarian Dream

This is a great piece from Jude Blanchette on Wang Huning, who joined the Politburo Standing Committee this week, along with these four other fresh faces.

Ex-academic Wang is an ideology man, and this great article traces his intellectual history, casting him as an author of neo-conservativism. Although some have been trumpeting Wang’s liberal credentials, it is difficult to deny his deeply authoritarian philosophy.

Wang Huning hasn’t written anything on neo-authoritarianism in more than twenty years, but then again, why would he need to? Order and stability have triumphed, and while the sky may still be high, the emperor is now closer than ever.

Xi Jinping Offers a Long Term Vision of China’s Ambition (Paywall)

There’s plenty of room to query this article’s message, but it’s an interesting one that resonates with my impression of the Party’s strong sense of history: the West has no strategy.

In this piece, Kevin Rudd, whom you may remember from other roles, such as being the Australian PM, writes

The 19th Chinese Communist party congress has generated much commentary, but what does it actually mean? Party congresses are essentially about three things: first, leadership, personnel and power; second, ideology; third, political vision…

The west needs to reflect on its own condition. Since the fall of the Soviet Union there has been little strategic direction about the idea of the west itself, and the core elements of the liberal democratic and capitalist project. Instead, the west is increasingly self-absorbed, self-satisfied and globally complacent. China is marching towards its perception of its global destiny. It has a strategy. The west has none.

China Refuses to Admit It Has A Rape Problem. I Would Know.

A very brave and personal piece, this is a necessary read. It comes hot on the heels of a preposterous China Daily article that has since been removed, but which was crowing about China’s virtue following the Harvey Weinstein revelations in the US.

Where The Peppers Grow

A fun read on a favourite food. This article traces Sichuan peppers from tree to table, in particular focusing on the hoops that exports to the US have to go through.

Luckily, we have no such problems in the UK, but it’s interesting to learn a little more about such a singular spice. Anyone with a passion for Chinese cookery, surely holds a flame for these little numbing peppers, but I didn’t know quite how troublesome the harvesting process is.

And Then There Was One

An article that I had intended to write before I stumbled across this. No woman has ever sat on the Standing Committee of the Politburo, and now the number of women on the Politburo has dropped from two to one.

This is a profile of that woman, Sun Chunlan, and also a brief exploration of China’s startling gender inequality when it comes to top political jobs.

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