April 20, 2006


Expect a lot less backslapping for Hu in the other Washington (Kristi Heim, Alwyn Scott and Lisa Chiu, 4/20/06, Seattle Times)

For 26 hours, Chinese President Hu Jintao basked in the warm welcome of a region that has strong economic ties with his country. But he wrapped up his visit with a speech conveying that he is unlikely to offer concessions when he meets with President Bush today in Washington, D.C.

Concluding his two-day visit to the Seattle area Wednesday, Hu gave a sweeping policy address that contained no surprises but laid out firm positions on issues that have caused friction with the U.S.

He found a receptive audience among the 600 state business and government leaders who turned out for the luncheon at the Future of Flight Museum and gave him standing ovations before and after the speech.

More muscle, with eye on China (Bill Gertz, April 20, 2006, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

The Pentagon is engaged in an extensive buildup of military forces in Asia as part of a covert strategy to strengthen and position U.S. and allied forces to deter -- or defeat -- China.

The buildup includes changes in deployments of aircraft-carrier battle groups, the conversion of nuclear-missile submarines and the regular dispatch of bombers to areas close to targets in China, according to senior Bush administration officials and a three-month investigation by The Washington Times.

Other less-visible activities that are part of what is being called a "hedge" strategy include large-scale military maneuvers, increased military alliances and training with Asian allies, the transfer of special-operations commando forces to Asia and new requirements for military personnel to learn Chinese.

President Bush approved elements of the first phase of the strategy within the past several months. The key architect is Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

China's Internal Crisis (STEPHEN GLAIN, April 19, 2006, The Nation)
[N]owhere does the image of China as the Next Big Threat jar with reality more than in China itself, where economic, social and environmental upheaval has turned the country into a caldron. For now at least, the Chinese regime is a greater threat to its own population, unmoored and angry, than it is to the United States or even its neighbors. Popular unrest is now a common feature of China's political landscape, with more than 74,000 reported cases of unrest in 2005, according to an official count. The same economy that has grown by nearly 10 percent a year for the past twenty-five years has also become a perilous source of discontent.

Take the December riots in the southern Chinese city of Dongshan, when riot police fired on villagers as they protested the seizure of their land to make room for a power plant. Some twenty people were killed, according to witnesses, in the first such lethal show of force since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. The clash in Dongshan was only the latest in a running nationwide feud between local authorities and angry Chinese uprooted or marginalized by the country's unbridled economic expansion. Just last week, violent protest erupted in Bo Mei, a village in southern Guangdong province, when authorities tried to destroy unauthorized water dikes. Some two dozen people were wounded in clashes with riot police.

While the Bush Administration inflames the Muslim world, Beijing confronts its own fires ignited by an increasingly cutthroat and corrupt economy. National income has risen dramatically since China adopted free-market reforms in the late 1970s, but so has income disparity. The country is straining under an urbanization drive that in the past two decades has eliminated some 135 million rural jobs and has turned much of China's cities into ghettos for uneducated migrant workers. A number of credit cooperatives have failed, taking the meager savings of itinerant laborers down with them. Privatization of state-owned companies and appropriation of farmland for mushrooming urban communities have been exploited into asset grabs by colluding apparatchiks.

The northeastern Rust Belt province of Liaoning, the foundry of Chinese Communism, is now its epicenter of unrest. According to official police figures, one in twelve major demonstrations in China last year occurred in Liaoning, the consequence of a privatization program that left in its wake an angry legion of pink-slipped engineers, line managers and office clerks.

"Liaoning has by far the highest number of protests in China," says Murray Scot Tanner, a senior China analyst at the Rand Corporation. "And we've actually seen an increase over the last couple of years."

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 20, 2006 9:10 AM

Incorrigible. Driving around listening to an NPR bit about this Hu fellow, all I could think of was that Abbott and Costello baseball routine.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 20, 2006 3:02 PM