This week China was on holiday, and millions of people spent it traveling. On Oct. 1st alone, the start of the break for National Day, nearly 9 million people climbed aboard China’s busy trains. Thousands of mainland tourists visited Taiwan, with a few taking advantage of the newly relaxed restrictions that allow for travelling as an individual instead of in a group. Both governments hope that it will help to ease tensions between the two sides, but Taiwanese locals aren’t always so impressed by their mainland visitors.
Despite the holiday, Xinhua (a state media company) did not miss the chance to point out the flaws in American democracy as Occupy Wall Street protests grew. In a single week Xinhua published more than 25 stories about the movement and offered a number of narratives. In Zhengzhou a group of Chinese gathered to “resolutely support the American people’s mighty ‘Wall Street Revolution.’”The most frequently repeated one being that the US is a deeply unequal society, which is a strange choice given that China’s wealth distribution is even further off.
Meanwhile in the US politicians stepped up their rhetoric on all issues relating to China. Their main focus was a bill aimed at currency manipulators, which would allow new tariffs on Chinese goods (China intentionally keeps its currency weak to promote exports). While it would be popular with conservatives and liberals alike, it would likely do little to actually affect Chinese policy (we’ll look at why it is a bad idea in the next few days). Michelle Bachman also claimed that China had used lasers to blind US satellites, which the Washington Post quickly debunked. While US-China relations are hugely important to the US, hopefully politicians will realize that these plays will do little to help the underlying problems.
Also the latest announcement of Nobel Peace prize winners has again brought up the continued detention of last year’s winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife. The Chinese media have maintained a kind of rationale about Liu’s case that was lampooned in the story of Ah-Q: if Liu is an innocent man, then why is he in jail? I’ve actually heard this line from a co-worker. It will also be interesting to see how China spins the actions of Tawakul Karman, one of this year’s winners, who is active in the current protests against the Yemeni government. So far they’ve made no mention of it.
The real story of Ah-Q was written by Lu Xun around the turn of the century. He is one of China’s most famous authors, and has been used by the party in a variety of ways. For more on him read China Geeks “interview” with Lu Xun.
Finally I would just like to recommend a quick read from Foreign Policy’s website titled “The top 10 unicorns of China policy,” which brings a very interesting perspective to some of the debates going on about China. As well as a post from China Real Time Report looking at Chinese reactions to the death of Steve Jobs, which sparked discussion about the lack of creativity in China.