The seemingly only thing Chairman Mao and Santa Claus have in common is an infatuation with the colour red. After all, only a short time ago Ye Olde Saint Nick and his merry elves would have been attacked as counterrevolutionaries and agents of Western Imperialism in Communist China. But change is now fast afoot in China.
The Economist‘s cover is both cheeky and prescient: China’s Communist leaders are, in fact, ruling and reforming the country much like the late Qing Dynasty a century ago. Back then, the Manchu rulers instituted widespread reforms in almost every sphere of life in China. The empire underwent massive social and economic transformation. There is one area, however, where the Imperial rulers of yore, like the Communists today, refused to make significant changes. That’s political reform.
Some 120 prominent activists and scholars have penned a letter calling for political reform and supporting Nobel Peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo. This comes on the heels of earlier letter by Communist Party elders calling for Beijing to lift censorship which stifles and warps civil society in China..
The awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese citizen, has drawn strong reactions both inside and outside China. This is a major event in modern Chinese history. It offers the prospect of a significant new advance for Chinese society in its peaceful transition toward democracy and constitutional government.
“The national bird of China is the crane,” quipped Hu Xinyu, managing director of the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Centre. Construction cranes are indeed everywhere in China, and so is this joke. While travelling across China to research my book, I heard it in Lanzhou, Xi’an, Taiyuan and even far-flung Kashgar. But in Beijing it took on an especially bitter tone.
Beijing: Reawakening After two years trekking across the Silk Road, Gustaf Mannerheim arrived in Peking on July 26, 1908. He stayed at a posh hotel kitty-corner to the Russian legation in the capital’s Legation Quarter. He remained in Peking for two months working on his military intelligence report on modernization and reform in the late [...]