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The future leader of China and high school wrestling

When Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visits the United States next month, I'm sure there will be all sorts of very interesting analysis about the future of relations between the two nations. Xi is widely expected to be named the next leader of China later this year. He is scheduled to meet with President Obama on Feb. 14.

But if I were in America during the trip, Washington would not be first on my list. For my money, Des Moines is the place. The Des Moines Register has reported that during Xi's visit to Iowa on Feb. 15 and 16, the vice president and his large delegation will be lodging at the Des Moines Marriott. The Chinese are said to have wanted to rent the entire hotel but were told they'll have to split it with ... "fans and participants of the Iowa high school wrestling tournament, which will be held that same week."

A blog item at the Register's website quotes the general manager of the hotel as saying,“There was concern about how the two groups would blend together.”

But according to the newspaper's interview with General Manager Terry McLane: "Hotel officials have assured the foreign visitors that all the proper protocols will be followed to keep dignitaries safe – and keep a distance between the two groups."

(I learned of Xi's travel plans from a tweet by Time reporter Austin Ramzy, who wrote a smart blog post on the upcoming Iowa trip: "Why China’s Future Leader Is Going to Iowa")


 

The Chinese Communist Party as fire extinguisher

Crabfarm16012012-b1
(Image from: http://hexiefarm.wordpress.com/)

As I've begun to pay more attention to the Google+ platform, the work of an anonymous political cartoonist has caught my attention. The cartoonist posts at a blog named Hexie Farm -- or river crab farm. River crab is a term common to Internet users here who are critical of the government's push for all things "harmonious," a word that sounds like river crab in Chinese. (For more on that turn of phrase and others in the Chinese netizen lexicon, a great link is here.)

The cartoon above, an apparent reference to ongoing self-immolations by ethnic Tibetans in Sichuan Province, is the latest entry. It's typical of the River Crab Farm oeuvre -- a simple image with a razor sharp message.

 


"Rationally handling group incidents" in China

Just a quick note: This upcoming year will see a shuffling of the deck (probably seven of nine seats) at the Politburo Standing Committee, the very core of power in China. Against that backdrop, the Global Times, a state-run tabloid, carried an editorial yesterday about the prospect of incidents of social unrest in China during 2012. More specifically, it offered guidance on how we should think about such matters.

An excerpt:

"China's group incidents are characterized by reasonable requirements as well as extreme demands. It's hard to generalize. Various reforms are proceeding in China and are driving improvements in people's livelihoods. In general, the public has a positive expectation for social development and China will continue to hold a favorable position on the international stage.

Chinese society in 2012 will be shaped by various forces as well as various problems. What's important is not to exaggerate the implication of certain issues, for example, minor matters shouldn't be given attention that is out of proportion  to their scope.

China is learning to deal with group incidents. It is still uncertain about the results of those protests, how will they develop and what the solution is. Protests usually disturb Chinese more than they disturb people in other countries. 

China should make substantial efforts to reduce group incidents, including doing its utmost to eliminate public dissatisfaction, ensuring smooth communication channels and promoting favorable social sentiment. These are the basis for social stability and harmony. 

But it's far from enough. China should avoid allowing grass-roots mass incidents to become national political issues. This is particularly important considering the forthcoming 18th National Congress of the Communist Party. Much of the public has the impression that society may easily get caught up in turbulence during this national party congress year. If the authorities focus too much on group incidents, they will encourage certain people to mount protests as shortcut way of realizing and maximizing their interests."

(The full text can be found by clicking here.)

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Tom

"China Rises" is written by Tom Lasseter, the Beijing bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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