In Taiwan, it is hard to get away from the image of Sun Yat-sen, the leader of the Xinhai Revolution and one of the key figures in the history of the Guomindang (KMT): his portrait is on the money, in schools, museums, and a host of other public places. He is also the only KMT figure to be officially honored in the Chinese Communist Party’s narrative of 20th century Chinese history, and even has his own memorial in Nanjing.
The narrative of the CCP’s triumph over the KMT needs Sun’s legacy to fit events in Chinese history into a Marxist framework.
There's little chance Max Baucus, the incoming US ambassador to China, will make an entrance quite like Gary Locke's in 2011. Locke, the departing US ambassador, nearly broke Weibo when he journeyed from Seattle to Beijing in coach, carried his own luggage, then bought his own coffee. Writing in China Daily, Chen Weihua contrasted Locke’s trip with the travel styles of Chinese government officials: “In China, even a township chief, which is not really that high up in the hierarchy, will have a chauffeur and a secretary to carry his bag.”
J.P Morgan Chase, one of the largest banks in the world, can’t stay out of the news. In the past year it suffered a multibillion-dollar trading error thanks to the “London Whale,” reached a $13 billion settlement with the government over its role in selling mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crises, and a $2.6 billion settlement for ignoring telltale signs of fraud from Bernie Madoff. If that were not enough, the firm is now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for the “Sons and Daughters Program” -- the bank hires the relatives of Chinese government officials
For those worried about peace and stability in East Asia, there is plenty to keep you up at night: an international pariah armed with nuclear weapons under the apparently tenuous control of a young adult of questionable maturity; messy historical relations between regional powers; and territorial disputes that tie up political capital, inflame public opinion, and increase the chance of hostilities. If it's Tuesday, there must be a flare-up in the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.
A lot of cash changes hands around Chinese New Year. Despite the convenience of electronic payments, China is still very much a cash-based society, and pink 100-yuan notes featuring the plump visage of Mao Zedong proliferate wallets, pockets, and purses.
Most stories analyzing the Chinese demand for cash focus on the stress it puts on the banking system, but let's take a look at it from a historical angle: what can we discern about recent Chinese developments by looking at who -- and what -- appears on the renminbi?
The end of one year and the start of another lends itself to reflections and predictions. This year, the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, brings a special sense of foreboding. It’s been popular for more than a few years now to compare the 14 years preceding World War I -- a time of prosperity, globalization, and, at least in Europe, the seeming triumph of civilization over wickedness -- to the first 14 years of the 21st century. At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe drew a direct comparison between 1914 and 2014. The explicit question in this analogy is a terrifying one: is the world careening toward another bloody and futile war?
A jet-black Audi A6 with government plates rolls down the streets of Beijing and stops at a school, mall or restaurant. Out steps a teenage girl, backpack in tow, who surely can't be a government official -- but just might be the daughter of one. Secretly, every pedestrian scoffs and/or hisses.
If last November’s Communist Party announcement about the procurement and use of government cars actually pans out -- eliminating all but a select number (取消一般公车) -- familiar scenes like these may no longer dominate urban landscapes.