China

THE National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubber-stamp parliament, wrapped up its annual session on March 15th. Usually its business is unremarkable. This year, however, a piece of legislation that was passed on the final day may prove unusually important. It is known by the unlovely name of the General Principles of Civil Law. It sets the stage for China to pass its first civil code, an overarching law governing legal disputes other than those involving crimes.China has a civil-law syst...
Is he worth it?MUCH grumbling accompanied the start on March 4th of this year’s season of the Chinese Super League (CSL), the uppermost tier of professional football in China. Managers of its 16 clubs have been gnashing their teeth at a change of rules which was suddenly announced just a few weeks before the first matches. Teams are now allowed to field a maximum of three foreigners.The clubs would have preferred more notice. Many of them have only just acquired even more foreign players. All ...
THE aisles at Lotte Mart in Beijing’s Wangjing district were strangely quiet early this week. A few elderly shoppers pushed trolleys; shop assistants tidied the supermarket’s shelves. Customers have been scarce since “something happened” a few weeks ago, says one cashier. That event was a deal signed on February 28th by Lotte, a South Korean firm, allowing America to build an anti-missile system on land the company owns in South Korea. China’s government has responded by encouraging an...
LI KEQIANG is a master of metaphors for painful economic reform. In 2013, his first year as prime minister, he told the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubber-stamp parliament, that reform required the courage of a “warrior cutting his own wrist”. At the NPC’s annual gathering in 2015, he described it as “taking a knife to one’s own flesh”. On March 5th, at the opening in Beijing of this year’s 11-day meeting of the legislature, he was less gory, calling it “the str...
HOW many parties does it take to run a one-party state? Although the Communist Party is in sole charge, China also has eight other legally registered ones. It calls this a system of “multiparty co-operation”, which involves “sharing weal or woe”. The role of the non-Communist groups is to add a veneer of democracy. Ordinary people dismiss them as “flower vases”—pure decoration.On March 1st Luo Fuhe, a senior leader of one such misleadingly named party, the Chinese Association for P...
Curiously familiar namesACCORDING to a programme on China Central Television, a state-run broadcaster, the following are the names of traitors: Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao. Well, sort of. The broadcaster itself was clearly not claiming the president of that name, or his prime minister, or their immediate predecessors, were enemies of the people. Rather, it aired a historical drama called “The Qin Empire” and someone slipped the names into the latest episode. Their extrao...
A POPULAR song about Xi Jinping, China’s president, begins “From China comes Papa Xi”. It is a deliberate echo of an anthem of the Cultural Revolution that begins “The East is Red. The Sun is rising. From China comes Mao Zedong.”The idea that Mr Xi has Mao-like attributes is common currency. The manifesto of America’s Republican Party, which Donald Trump professed to espouse when he was campaigning for the presidency last year, talks about China’s “return to Maoism” and its “...
THERE is not much doubt who will be declared the next leader of Hong Kong on March 26th: Carrie Lam, who until recently was the head of the territory’s civil service. That is because the Communist Party in Beijing prefers her. The “election committee”, which will make the decision, is stacked with people who will bow to the party’s will. Far more in doubt is whether Mrs Lam will command public support. Her main rival for the job is trying to show that he has more of it. If he is right, t...
THIS time of year can be a tough one for factories in areas surrounding Beijing. To keep the capital’s sky clear of smog during the annual session of China’s parliament, which begins on March 5th, officials often order polluting firms to close down for several days. This year many are reported to have done so. Such measures, however, do little to calm an anxious public. In recent months, amid persistent dense smog in Beijing and many other cities, alarm and anger have been growing. A few bra...
YAKS graze on grassland near the turquoise waters of Karakul, a lake in the far western region of Xinjiang. Further south, towards the border with Pakistan, the imposing walls of a ruined hilltop fort at Tashkurgan mark a stop on the ancient Silk Road (see map). With such a rich landscape and history this region should be a magnet for Chinese tourists. Instead the area that accounts for more than one-sixth of China’s land mass is better known for violent unrest. The picturesque charms of the l...
FEW television dramas boast a plot as far-fetched as the one that has unfolded in North-East Asian geopolitics over the past two weeks. Days after North Korea tested a ballistic missile on February 12th, two women assassinated the half-brother of Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, by throwing chemicals in his face at a Malaysian airport. The alleged killers said they were duped into taking part, believing the attack was a prank for a TV comedy. Malaysian police suspect that a North Korean dipl...
Not the throne he had in mindCHINA has a history of hilariously inappropriate export brand-names, including Front Gate men’s underwear, Long March luggage and, guaranteed to raise a laugh, Great Leap Forward floor polish. But it has also stumbled on a brand that should surely open up vast business opportunities, at least among Democratic-voting households in America: Trump brand toilets (see picture).The name has nothing to do with the 45th president. Shenzhen Trump Industries was founded in 2...
THE Chinese stockmarket is not for the faint of heart. Over the past decade punters have endured two big bubbles and two big crashes—the latest in 2015. But those still smarting from their losses can at least be thankful that they did not suffer a worse fate: making too much money. Last week the government declared that it would be remorseless in going after investors who manipulate the market for profit. We will catch these “giant crocodiles”, said Liu Shiyu, the chief securities regulato...
IT HARDLY seemed a threatening scene when, on a Friday afternoon in February, dozens of finance wonks gathered in Beijing for a three-hour symposium on China’s exchange-rate mechanism. With a slide show featuring graphs and formulas, the main speaker talked about the arcana of the yuan’s adoption last year as one of the IMF’s reserve currencies (a development that Chinese reformists hope will encourage the government to let the yuan float freely). Other participants sipped their green tea,...
MODERATION and careful planning have not exactly been watchwords for the Trump administration so far. But the relationship between China and America seems important enough that, in dealing with it, America’s president has decided (for now) to eschew his usual penchant for shock, awe and improvisation.During an “extremely cordial” phone call with Xi Jinping, his opposite number, on February 9th, Donald Trump agreed to honour his country’s long-standing “one-China policy”, according to...
Assailed by aliens, and reviewersCHINESE cinema-goers are used to the government’s tight grip on the film industry. In deference to the Communist Party’s qualms, filmmakers eschew happy endings for teenage lovers or homosexuals, let alone anything critical of the party itself. To boost audiences for home-grown productions, the authorities have recently tried a new form of control: clamping down on unflattering reviews. Long-suffering film fans see this as a step too far.Their anger erupted i...
GOING by the numbers, China’s notoriously hazardous coal mines have become distinctly less perilous in recent years. In January the government said that 538 people had died in mining accidents in 2016, a mere 11% of the death toll a decade earlier. The number of deaths per million tonnes of coal extracted was the lowest ever. For Chinese industry generally, safety data are improving. In 2002 140,000 people died in work-related accidents. Last year the toll was less than one-third of that. On r...
CHINA’S favourite chat-show host has had an extraordinary career. Jin Xing was the country’s most successful dancer before becoming a colonel in an army entertainment troupe. He won fame in America, where the New York Times called him “a Chinese genius”. He trained dancers in Brussels and Rome, before returning to China for a sex-change operation. As a woman, she resumed her career as a ballerina, set up the country’s first private ballet company, ran a bar in Beijing and married a Ger...
FOR Admiral Wu Shengli, the commander of China’s navy since 2006, it must have been a sweet swansong to mark his imminent retirement. In November China announced that its first and only aircraft-carrier, the Liaoning, was combat ready. On December 24th its navy duly dispatched an impressive-looking carrier battle-group with three escorting destroyers, a couple of frigates, a corvette and a refuelling ship. It sailed from the northern port of Qingdao down through the Miyako Strait, past Taiwan ...
IF THE world’s most popular museum, drawing over 15m visitors a year, suddenly offered a distant city a priceless haul of artefacts—on permanent loan and absolutely free—you would expect that city’s residents to jump for joy. Not so, when the city is Hong Kong, and when the Palace Museum, which occupies most of Beijing’s vast Forbidden City, is doing the offering. In December Hong Kong’s chief secretary, Carrie Lam, announced surprise plans to build a branch of the Palace Museum in a...