After an overly long hiatus The Dragon and the Kangaroo Blog is happy to be up and running again. Plenty of big headline news has occurred over the past month and a bit within the spheres of China, Australia and international relations, and this post recaps and summarises the best and the biggest writings and events that have gone on over the past month. In particular three themes have been very prominent, namely discussion of the CCP’s longevity, women’s issues in China and environmental issues in China. So here’s the big list of writings:

  • – Easily headlining the list of important writings related to China is David Shambaugh’s incredible appraisal that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), an regime that’s had China firmly under its rule for 65 years and counting, has reached its ‘endgame’:  ‘The endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun, I believe, and it has progressed further than many think. We don’t know what the pathway from now until the end will look like, of course. It will probably be highly unstable and unsettled. But until the system begins to unravel in some obvious way, those inside of it will play along—thus contributing to the facade of stability.’David Shambaugh is a China scholar of global repute. Many simply consider him to be the smartest analyst of China, and in my opinion Shambaugh is by far the most clear-sighted and lucid China-watcher in the field. His books China’s Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation and China Goes Global: The Partial Power are incredibly clear and penetrating scholarship of China, with research as rigorous as there is on China’s politics and international relations. If you study China it is just a given that you know who Shambaugh is, and have probably cited his work. So for such a world leading scholar to take up what is pretty much a fringe position-that the Chinese regime will collapse in the not too distant future (at least, in historical terms)-is a big turn of events, and a judgement, which if true, would have massive repercussions for the world. Shambaugh predicts that the collapse of the Chinese Communist Party’s rule ‘is likely to be protracted, messy and violent’. Therefore if only because the stakes are so high, this is an absolute must-read piece that everyone with interests, or an interest, in China must read

Related pieces on Shambaugh’s The Wall Street Journal article ‘The Coming Chinese Crackup’ include:

Another big story in China over the past month and a bit has been women’s rights and women’s issues in China, which came to a head around International Women’s Day.

  • – China detained several women’s rights activists around International Women’s Day, which sure enough drew opprobrium: ‘In other countries, doing such things on International Women’s Day is natural, while in China you get detained for fighting for women’s rights’. The United States has even called for their release, with the rebuke ‘In China speaking out against sexual harassment is ‘creating a disturbance.’ Disturbance is restricting NGOs fighting for universal rights’ (source:
  • – More fuel was poured on the fire with the massive Chinese private technology company Baidu, pretty much the Google of China, deciding to have a doodle of a ballerina figure revolving atop a music box on International Women’s Day. Google themselves sure enough went with a doodle of women pictured in various roles-scientist, astronaut, sportsperson, chef-for International Women’s Day. Also, remarkably a woman was hired to come up with an illustration for another private Chinese company named Youku, which is pretty much a Chinese Youtube, and she actually came up with a doodle very similar to Google’s but her (male) bosses shot it down and created a doodle of a passive woman sitting in a garden drinking tea (which even included the sentence ‘may the world be gentle to you’ written alongside the doodle). The pictures, which are all in the above link, and their story simply have to be seen to be believed
  • – The Chinese New Year Gala, China’s annual TV extravaganza, that actually ranks as the world’s most-watched TV show, tried to spruce up its appeal  and reverse its recent ratings decline by being more youth-savvy, and by incorporating more slang and youth related topics. But ‘their effort to do so this year went over like a lead balloon’ (hardly surprising when you get clunky bureaucratic government backed organisations, that themselves are constrained by other very stodgy government censorship departments, to try and act ‘hip’). Skits on this TV show with its massive audience included skits about the body shape of some women, women that are ‘secondhand’ and women that are ‘leftover women’ (Shèng nǚ 剩女, a pretty loaded and inflammatory term that describes women who are 27 years or older and haven’t married. There is a fair bit of expectations and even shaming that are place upon Chinese women to marry before they are 27 and become ‘leftover women’)
  • – A term has been created on the internet to describe men who objectify women and exhibit misogynist attitudes: ‘straight guy cancer’ (Zhí nán ái 直男癌). As is rather clear with the above stories, there are some very rigid and uninspired gender roles that are still promoted across not insignificant swathes of China, which makes the need to identify (and hopefully change) this backward thinking and behaviour all the more important
  • – ‘This is what women’s lib looks like in China, circa 2015: self-expression via discreet body art easily hidden under a T-shirt or work pumps. A new kind of unobtrusive and artsy tattoo, known as xiao qingxin (pronounced shao ching-sheen, and roughly meaning “delicate and refreshing”), offers a generation of young Chinese women a way to be expressive and socially acceptable at the same time’. A reminder that in China at the moment freedom and civil liberties are really fought for inch by inch, rather than with grandiose struggles like democracy moments

A third big theme in China in recent times is pollution and the environment. A documentary film, Under the Dome by renowned Chinese investigate journalist Chai Jing, has taken China by storm over the past month, with the film (due to both its style and impact) drawing comparisons with Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. A number of good writings have captured this film’s impact:

  • – A good piece by the BBC: ‘It has ignited a national debate across China, with millions stopping to pay attention to an issue that has been lingering in the air for years.’  ‘China’s government leaders will appear to be very responsive to the concerns raised by Under the Dome. Chai Jing’s documentary was released on 28 February, less than a week before China’s annual parliamentary session begins. China’s central government is expected to pass an ambitious new law that hopes to impose tough new regulations on China’s coal-burning polluters.’
  • – Some further informative details written by CFR’s Asia Unbound blog: ‘Hundreds of millions of Chinese have already viewed the video, and hundreds of millions have commented on it as well. Yet over the past week, Beijing has tried to curtail the video’s reach, first calling on news outlets to avoid publicizing the video and then pulling the video from all Chinese websites, including Youku, Tencent, and the People’s Dailyportal There will no doubt be a significant public outcry if the video remains inaccessible for long. It is an important work that has sparked a national conversation.’ ‘Finally, the video is a call to arms for the Chinese people. At the conclusion of Chai’s film, she offers ideas for how every Chinese citizen can become involved in contributing to protect the environment by calling 12369 to report a complaint. She notes that the situation will only improve when people say no, when they won’t wait for change, and when they actually take action.’
  • – The Washington Post with a fine write-up: ‘In China, the problem [of pollution] isn’t an absence of regulatory structure, it’s the wholesale failure of that structure, in which Chinese industry, much of it state-owned, disregards regulations, sets its own standards, or manages to play off different parts of the bureaucracy against one another. In “Under the Dome,” heavy truck makers don’t install pollution control devices and use phony compliance stickers instead. Self-regulating oil refiners produce diesel with high sulfur content. Steel manufacturers lack pollution controls while many coal-fired power plants turn off scrubbers that reduce soot and acid rain because the scrubbers use a little bit of power that could otherwise be sold.’ Excellent summary: ‘There are so many startling aspects to “Under the Dome”: The fact that someone, especially a media-savvy former state television personality, would think of doing it; the use of the Internet to spread information very quickly; the way in which middle class Chinese, once obsessed purely with economic gains, are outraged about the quality of life; the way some well-intentioned government reforms open a Pandora’s Box of previous neglect; and the suggestion that people are angry enough to step forward.’
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