Wednesday, October 18, 2017

CHINA :Making Sense of China’s Nineteenth Party Congress


Xi Asserts China's Global Leadership Role
At a party congress in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping offered a sweeping vision to transform the country by 2050 (Bloomberg) in a Wednesday speech that touched on economic, environmental, and foreign policy, as well as cracking down on domestic corruption.
Xi told the gathering that China has entered a new era in which it should "take center stage in the world" (BBC) as he laid out goals for the next three decades that include transforming the People's Liberation Army into one of the globe's top militaries. The delegates at the congress, which marks the start of Xi's second term, will deliberate for a week before announcing new party leadership (FT).
"The speech signaled that Xi would prioritize extending the influence of the Communist Party in China over the next five years, raising questions over his commitment to implementing tough reforms and expanding the role of the market," Ting Shi writes for Bloomberg.
"The question now is whether the new leadership can find the right balance in allowing the market to play the 'decisive' role, while the state still plays a leading but redefined role," Yukon Huang said in an interview with the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center.
"On his numerous foreign tours, Mr. Xi presents himself as an apostle of peace and friendship, a voice of reason in a confused and troubled world. Mr. Trump's failings have made this much easier," writes the Economist.
This CFR Backgrounder discusses what's at stake at the Nineteenth Party Congress.

 by Eleanor Albert

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at the Great Hall of the People in Beijng to celebrate the ninetieth anniversary of the People's Liberation Army, August 1, 2017. 
Damir Sagolj/Reuters

Making Sense of China’s Nineteenth Party Congress

                    Eleanor Albert

As China’s senior Communist 
Party members anoint its 
future leaders, President Xi 
Jinping is poised to solidify 
his position and power at 
next week’s party congress.

October 12, 2017


China’s highest-ranking Communist Party members will gather in Beijing beginning October 18 for the Nineteenth Party Congress. The meeting takes place five years since Xi Jinping took the helm of China’s leadership and comes amid a rigorous crackdown on party corruption. While preparations for the congress have been shrouded in secrecy, the event will be closely watched for any changes to the governing system of the world’s second-largest economy and one of its largest militaries.

What is a party congress?

Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been the dominant decision-making body, providing direction and guidance to the State Council, the administrative authority of the country. The party’s national congress, held every five years in Beijing, is the central event for announcing official leadership transitions. The Eighteenth Party Congress, in 2012, solidified Xi Jinping’s ascent to power.

The most pressing question is whether Xi will name a successor.

At the gathering, more than two thousand party delegates will appoint the party’s general secretary, as well as senior leaders to bodies that oversee economic and security functions, as well as party rules, including:
  • the party’s Central Committee,
  • the Central Military Commission (the command and control organ of China’s military services),
  • the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (the party’s antigraft watchdog),
  •  the Politburo (typically comprising twenty-five officials from China’s most important cities and provinces), and
  • the Politburo Standing Committee (the most powerful decision-making body, currently comprising seven members).
The congress also approves long-term goals, including new reforms and changes to the constitution. During the week-long congress, the general secretary presents a political work report, briefing delegates on progress made since the last congress and outlining objectives for the next five years. These reports are seen as the most authoritative and revealing documentation of the CCP’s aspirations; previous reports have developed the notion of “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” which continues to inform the country’s economic policy. Ultimately, “the deeper purposes of the Congress and the Report are to reaffirm the Party’s importance to itself and to the nation,” writes former UK and EU diplomat to China Charles Parton. 

What is the significance of the party congress?

In China’s one-party state, the peaceful transition of power from one generation of leaders to the next lends crucial legitimacy to CCP rule, experts say. Previous congresses have institutionalized the process of leadership succession, elevating those who will be groomed for senior leadership positions. Mandatory retirement ages, which were standardized in 2002, require top officials at least sixty-eight years old to step down. At this year’s congress, eleven out of twenty-five of the Politburo are slated to retire, including five of the seven Standing Committee members, antigraft czar Wang Qishan, President Xi’s right-hand man, among them. However, there is some speculation that the retirement norm may be bent at the upcoming congress, particularly to allow Wang to stay on.

The deeper purposes of the Congress and the Report are to reaffirm the Party’s importance to itself and to the nation.
 Charles PartonFormer UK and EU Diplomat

What is at stake in this year’s gathering?

The most pressing question is whether Xi will name a successor. Xi’s tenure has been notable for a severe anticorruption campaign at all levels of the party, targeting “tigers” (senior officials) and “flies” (other party cadres) alike. Antigraft movements are not uncommon as a means for a new leader to consolidate power, yet Xi’s campaign shows no signs of abating and is unprecedented in scope. Xi has also broadened his power by heading up various policy-oriented groups, leading some experts to say that as Xi moves away from the norm of collective leadership, he has positioned himself to become the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. “Five years into his tenure, Xi controls the most important levers of power [PDF] in China’s political system,” writes Matthias Stepan of the Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies.
Xi has not only taken a harder line on corruption but also on dissent, with brutal crackdowns on human rights activists and lawyers, religious entities, and media organizations. In doing so, he seeks to make the party the central force bringing prosperity to the masses. Other themes of his first term include the “Chinese Dream,” a patriotic call for China to renew itself as a great nation; increased military assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region; and the Belt and Road Initiative (first known as One Belt, One Road), a plan to connect China to the West through maritime and continental transportation networks across Eurasia. For Xi’s second term as president, the party is likely to emphasize further domestic economic reform with the promotion of innovation-led development and the expansion of China’s international reach[PDF] through instruments like the Belt and Road Initiative.

Five years into his tenure, Xi controls the most important levers of power in China’s political system.

Matthias StepanMercator 
Institute for China Studies

At the congress, delegates will also be tasked with deciding on amendments to the party’s constitution. If Xi’s ideology is enshrined in the constitution [PDF] as “Xi Jinping Thought” or “Xi Jinping Theory,” he would become the first sitting leader since Mao to have his eponymous ideology incorporated. (The constitution directly references Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory; Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao’s contributions do not include their names.)   

Who is likely to be promoted?

China watchers have identified the following party stars as having the potential to be promoted this year:
  • Chen Min’er (b. 1960). Chen is a Xi protégé who served as his propaganda chief in Zhejiang Province. He was promoted to be the Chongqing party boss after the expulsion of Sun Zhengcai and is likely to be elevated to the Politburo. Because of his age, he could jump from his provincial posting to the Standing Committee, where he would be a potential successor to Xi.
  • Hu Chunhua (b. 1964). The youngest member of the Politburo, Hu is the party boss of Guangdong Province, the top performing provincial economy. He rose through the ranks of the Communist Youth League, which is linked to the power base of Hu Jintao, Xi’s predecessor.
  • Li Zhanshu (b. 1950). A longtime friend of Xi, Li is seen by many as the leader’s most powerful ally after Wang, the antigraft chief. Li was elevated to the Politburo in 2012 and is now director of the General Office of the Central Committee.
  • Han Zheng (b. 1954). Han served as mayor of Shanghai from 2003 to 2012, when he became the Shanghai party boss and a member of the Politburo. With his experience overseeing the commercial and financial capital of China, Han is poised to assume a seat on the Standing Committee.
  • Wang Yang (b. 1955). Currently seated on the Politburo, Wang is one of four State Council vice premiers, and his portfolio includes trade policy and bilateral talks with the United States. Previously, he held leadership positions in Chongqing and Guangdong. In addition to being a possible new Standing Committee member, he is also a candidate for the vice premiership dedicated to financial policy.
  • Wang Huning (b. 1955). Wang, favored for elevation to the Standing Committee, has directed the party’s Central Policy Research Office, which is responsible for drafting ideology and issuing political, social, and economic policy recommendations, since 2002. A Politburo member since 2012, he is a political theorist who has advised three consecutive leaders.
  • Li Yuanchao (b. 1950). Li rose to the Politburo in 2007, after serving as the party boss in Jiangsu, China’s second top economic performing province. He is currently the vice president and has played a hand in foreign affairs, including coordinating policy for Hong Kong and Macau.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

ISLAM AT WAR :A Pragmatic Overview of Islamic Civil Wars


A  Pragmatic Overview of Islamic Civil Wars
Daniel Greenfield

Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Centre


A pragmatic overview of what appears to be an insoluble problem affecting much of the world as we know it today?

“Forget the Syrian Civil War for a moment. Even without the Sunnis and Shiites competing to give each other machete haircuts every sunny morning, there would still be a permanent Muslim refugee crisis.

The vast majority of civil wars over the last ten years have taken place in Muslim countries. Muslim countries are also some of the poorest in the world. And Muslim countries also have high birth rates.

Combine violence and poverty with a population boom and you get a permanent migration crisis. No matter what happens in Syria or Libya next year, that permanent migration crisis isn't going away.

The Muslim world is expanding unsustainably. In the Middle East and Asia, Muslims tend to underperform their non-Muslim neighbours both educationally and economically. Oil is the only asset that gave Muslims any advantage and in the age of fracking, its value is a lot shakier than it used to be.

The Muslim world had lost its old role as the intermediary between Asia and the West. And it has no economic function in the new world except to blackmail it by spreading violence and instability.

Muslim countries with lower literacy rates, especially for women, are never going to be economic winners at any trade that doesn't come gushing out of the ground. Nor will unstable dictatorships ever be able to provide social mobility or access to the good life. At best they'll hand out subsidies for bread.

The Muslim world has no prospects for getting any better. The Arab Spring was a Western delusion.

Growing populations divided along tribal and religious lines are competing for a limited amount of land, power and wealth. Countries without a future are set to double in size.

There are only two solutions; war or migration. Either you fight and take what you want at home. Or you go abroad and take what you want there.

Let's assume that the Iraq War had never happened. How would a religiously and ethnically divided Iraq have managed its growth from 13 million in the eighties to 30 million around the Iraq War to 76 million in 2050? The answer is a bloody civil war followed by genocide, ethnic cleansing and migration.

What's happening now would have happened anyway. It was already happening under Saddam Hussein.

Baghdad has one of the highest population densities in the world, and it has no future. The same is true across the region. The only real economic plan anyone here has is to get money from the West. 

Plan A for getting money out of the West is creating a crisis that will force it to intervene. That can mean anything from starting a war to aiding terrorists that threaten the West. Muslim countries keep shooting themselves in the foot so that Westerners will rush over to kiss the booboo and make it better.

Plan B is to move to Europe. What's This? And Plan B is a great plan. It's the only real economic plan that works. At least until the West runs out of native and naïve Westerners who foot the bill for all the migrants, refugees and outright settlers.

For thousands of dollars, a Middle Eastern Muslim can pay to be smuggled into Europe. It's a small investment with a big payoff. Even the lowest tier welfare benefits in Sweden are higher than the average salary in a typical Muslim migrant nation. And Muslim migrants are extremely attuned to the payoffs. It's why they clamor to go to Germany or Sweden, not Greece or Slovakia. And it's why they insist on big cities with an existing Muslim social welfare infrastructure, not some rural village.

A Muslim migrant is an investment for an entire extended family. Once the young men get their papers, family reunification begins. That doesn't just mean every extended family member showing up and demanding their benefits. It also means that the family members will be selling access to Europe to anyone who can afford it. Don't hike or raft your way to Europe. Mohammed or Ahmed will claim that you're a family member. Or temporarily marry you so you can bring your whole extended family along.

Mohammed gets paid. So does Mo's extended family which brokers these transactions. Human trafficking doesn't just involve rafts. It's about having the right family connections. 

And all that is just the tip of a very big business iceberg.

Where do Muslim migrants come up with a smuggling fee that amounts to several years of salary for an average worker? Some come from wealthy families. Others are sponsored by crime networks and family groups that are out to move everything from drugs to weapons to large numbers of people into Europe.

Large loans will be repaid as the new migrants begin sending their new welfare benefits back home. Many will be officially unemployed even while unofficially making money through everything from slave labour to organized crime. European authorities will blame their failure to participate in the job market on racism rather than acknowledging that they exist within the confines of an alternate economy.

It's not only individuals or families who can pursue Plan B. Turkey wants to join the European Union. It's one solution for an Islamist populist economy built on piles of debt. The EU has a choice between dealing with the stream of migrants from Turkey moving to Europe. Or all of Turkey moving into Europe.

The West didn't create this problem. Its interventions, however misguided, attempted to manage it.

Islamic violence is not a response to Western colonialism. Not only does it predate it, but as many foreign policy experts are so fond of pointing out, its greatest number of casualties are Muslims. The West did not create Muslim dysfunction. And it is not responsible for it. Instead the dysfunction of the Muslim world keeps dragging the West in. Every Western attempt to ameliorate it, from humanitarian aid to peacekeeping operations, only opens up the West to take the blame for Islamic dysfunction.

The permanent refugee crisis is a structural problem caused by the conditions of the Muslim world.

The West can't solve the crisis at its source. Only Muslims can do that. And there are no easy answers. But the West can and should avoid being dragged down into the black hole of Muslim dysfunction.

Even Germany's Merkel learned that the number of refugees is not a finite quantity that can be relieved with a charitable gesture. It's the same escalating number of people that will show up if you start throwing bags of money out of an open window. And it's a number that no country can absorb.

Muslim civil wars will continue even if the West never intervenes in them because their part of the world is fundamentally unstable. These conflicts will lead to the displacement of millions of people. But even without violence, economic opportunism alone will drive millions to the West. And those millions carry with them the dysfunction of their culture that will make them a burden and a threat.

If Muslims can't reconcile their conflicts at home, what makes us think that they will reconcile them in Europe?

Instead of resolving their problems through migration, they only export them to new shores. The same outbursts of Islamic violence, xenophobia, economic malaise and unsustainable growth follow them across seas and oceans, across continents and countries.

Distance is no answer. Travel is no cure. Solving Syria will solve nothing. The Muslim world is full of fault lines. It's growing and it's running out of room to grow. We can't save Muslims from themselves. We can only save ourselves from their violence.

The permanent Muslim refugee crisis will never stop being our crisis unless we close the door.