November 5th Highlights


Donald Trump hopefully not vomiting on Japanese prime minister, the fate of music festivals in China, AI in China, Digital Leninism, and a solid research tool.

MIDI Music Festival in China
Photo Credit: LimDumSum

China is Looking Forward to Trump’s Truancy at the East Asia Summit

It’s been an important couple of weeks for the world. Last month we had the Party Congress, this coming week we have Trump touching down in Japan to begin his eleven day tour of Asia. Apparently the administration’s new Asia-policy concept is a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’.

In theory this looks like a rebranding of Obama’s pivot, but in practice – well, Trump isn’t well known for his stable, proactive approach to global leadership.

This Foreign Policy piece is a good read. It criticises Trump for heading home a day early, but, as this other article (which is also a good read) notes, eleven days and five countries is already a bit of a mission for a septuagenarian:

…it will still be the longest tour of Asia by any president since the elder George Bush in late 1991 — a trip that ended in Tokyo when Mr. Bush, tired and ill with the flu, collapsed after vomiting on the Japanese prime minister.

The Fate of Music Festivals in China’s Current Era of Cultural Nationalism

This piece is about the changing music festival scene in China. It’s written by Archie Hamilton, who’s been in the festival game for ten years, and has seen it change from a largely underground operation to big business.

My first heavy rock festival in China was an eye opening experience, and this piece filled me with not a little desire to pencil in a Chinese festival for 2018, despite the increasingly draconian hurdles faced by organisers like Hamilton.

But Hamilton does see a future for music festivals in China. However, like many things that must ‘align with Socialist ideals’ in China, the solution to keeping the ‘encouraged chaos’ of music festivals alive is a bit of a ‘fudge’.

If you want to read more about music festivals in China, it might be worth reading about this Brooklyn gospel choir’s experience.

Exponential View

This recommendation is not so much a single read as a general suggestion, to subscribe to Azeem Azhar‘s great newsletter, the Exponential View.

This particular edition is a couple of weeks old, but it’s written by Reuters’ ex-China chairman David Shlessinger, focuses pretty much exclusively on China, and has a good shelf life.

The Exponential View is not usually about China, but it’s a great read for those with a healthy interest in the future. Things like Digital Leninism and Made in China 2025 are important to the China story, so everyone with an interest in China should be keeping an ear to the ground on tech developments and their intersection with politics.


China’s Communist leadership has a model of totalitarianism for the 21st century

Whilst some readers might criticise this well-written piece as alarmist and belonging doggedly to the outdated anti-China camp, it raises some valid points.

It’s boring and short sighted when Western commentators can only criticise China and seem unable to move passed cliches. On the other hand, if you believe in liberal democracy, it is hard to escape the observation that Xi Jinping’s vision for the future imagines a world in which ‘human freedom would be drastically curtailed’.

Constitution of the Communist Party of China 

There’s a lot of hard work been put into this document. The Party Constitution isn’t exactly light Sunday reading, but this PDF makes keeping up to date with constitutional amendments almost fun.

The creator, Flora Sapio, has not only translated the constitution from Chinese, but has included the 18th Party Congress in a side by side comparison and has also highlighted all the changes in red.

This section is probably the lengthiest and most important addition:

Since the Party’s 18th National Congress, Chinese Communists, with Comrade Xi Jinping as their chief representative, in response to contemporary developments and by integrating theory with practice, have systematically addressed the major question of our times-what kind of socialism with Chinese characteristics the new era requires us to uphold and develop and how we should uphold and develop it, thus giving shape to Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. The Thought is a continuation and development of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development. It is the latest achievement in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context, a crystallization of the practical experience and collective wisdom of the Party and the people, an important component of the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and a guide to action for the entire Party and all the Chinese people to strive for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and must be upheld long term and constantly developed. Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, the Communist Party of China has led the Chinese people of all ethnic groups in a concerted effort to carry out a great struggle, develop a great project, advance a great cause, and realize a great dream, ushering in a new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

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