Top Stories of the Week: Sept 24 – Oct 1

  • Tea Leaf Nation reports that netizens again flex their power-muscles and successfully oust a Shaanxi government official who became instantly notorious after a picture of him smiling at the scene of a car accident went viral. An admirable grassroots anti-corruption campaign, or simply another victory for China’s mob justice?
  • Front-page news for both People’s Daily and China’s Daily is the dip in China’s manufacturing sector. While the purchasing managers’ index raised from 49.2 to 49.8% since August, it remains below the 50% mark that divides expansion from contraction (just look at the graph in that link). This is an important indicator of what China will be facing in the future: an economy not based on manufacturing with a strengthened currency, may be an unavoidable future. The questions posed are, how fast will this transition happen, and how will the next leadership handle it?
  • In the wake of a farmer’s terrifying protest (As he self-immolated, he was shot by a policeman, whose actions were later ruled as “legitimate.”), reformist Chen Lan has written a plea to stop violent land grabs in China “before it’s too late.” Forced evictions for the profits of local powers (typically via real estate development) is a major domestic issue and threat to stability, as it embodies a conflict between have’s and have-not’s, government power versus ideology.
  • Bo Guagua, the educated and cosmopolitan son of Bo Xilai and Gu Kailai (whose names should be familiar to anyone who regularly reads the news), publicly defends his father. The New York Times reports that the government official’s son cannot accept the allegations of corruption and sexual misconduct made against his father. This continues China’s endless narrative of conflict between outward appearances and inner values.
  • People’s Daily tapped into what seems to be a widespread fascination with Thai transexuals by posting a series of “private photos” (which don’t seem private at all) of a famous Thai transexual. Depending on how you interpret it, this could be either a celebration of a specific cultural phenomenon, or a condescending smirk at the depravity of foreign peoples.
  • More tastefully, China Daily ran a forum of before-and-after pictures from China in the 1980s to today.
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