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China’s Communist Party: We Will Rule Forever

Last Thursday, a senior official historian said China’s ruling organization can stay in power indefinitely. “The Communist Party has built China to what it is today,” said Li Zhongjie to an audience of Chinese academics and journalists. “Many countries in the world are extremely envious. So why can’t we carry on?”

At the beginning of this year, almost all analysts agreed with Li. We were assured that the party was resilient, foresighted, and durable.

Now, there is doubt as the global narrative is beginning to change. There are many reasons for the reappraisal, and many of them start with the economy, now the world’s second largest. China’s economy, in short, is deteriorating. Economic growth is slowing fast at the same time inflation is accelerating. And just about every observer is worried that sky-high property values, not supported by economic fundamentals, will collapse. Economic failure—or perhaps even just slow growth—will expose the deep fault lines in Chinese society.

Tiananmen’s 22nd Anniversary

An estimated 150,000 people attended the annual Tiananmen vigil in Hong Kong on Saturday, transforming six soccer fields “into a sea of light” as the young and old held up candles in memory of those slain 22 years ago in the Chinese capital. Said Lee Cheuk-yan, Hong Kong legislator and longtime activist, “We want to give a very strong message to the Communist regime that they cannot suppress the memory of June 4.”

Beijing nonetheless tries to do so, saying there’s nothing more to talk about. “A clear conclusion has already been made concerning the political turmoil that happened in the late 1980s,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei last week, responding to Washington’s criticisms of the murderous crackdown.

Bombings Show Growing Unrest in China

On Saturday, an explosion killed one person and injured two others at the offices of a bus company in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. Doctors and nurses arriving on the scene at the Chengdu City Bus Group smelled gunpowder.

Investigators are still trying to determine what happened. The blast, if caused by a bomb, would be the third such attack in China in a little over two weeks. The first incident, on May 13th in impoverished Gansu, injured 40 people at a bank. Authorities said the suspect is a former employee angry over being fired for embezzlement.

China Changes Its North Korea Policy ... Maybe

On Sunday, leaders of China, Japan, and South Korea agreed that Pyongyang needed to address concerns about its uranium enrichment program before long-stalled denuclearization talks could resume. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan made the striking announcement in Tokyo at the annual trilateral meeting among the three neighbors.

The trio participates in the six-party talks along with the United States, Russia, and North Korea. The last full session of the Beijing-sponsored negotiations, which began in August 2003, was held in December 2008. Apart from a loosely worded statement of principles issued in September 2005, the negotiations have proved fruitless.

China Tries to ‘Brainwash’ Hong Kong

Last week, the culture chief of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong came out in favor of—in his own words—“brainwashing” primary and secondary students in the city with patriotic education. Hao Tiechuan also indicated he opposes encouraging critical thinking in classes below the university level.

His controversial comments, posted on his microblog, came in response to the proposal, introduced by the Education Bureau of the Hong Kong government, to institute compulsory “moral and national education” for all schoolchildren in the former British colony, now a “special administrative region” of the People’s Republic of China. Instruction would take up 50 hours per school year, essentially two classes a week.

Meet China’s Mysterious Crusader: Rollerman

Every country needs a hero. China’s, at the moment, is a foreigner.

The only problem is that no one seems to know his name. In Guangzhou, a slim Caucasian male, perhaps in his thirties, has become known as “Rollerman.” Navigating the streets of the busy metropolis on inline skates and short pants, the brave young man has been stopping military vehicles as they blatantly violate traffic laws.

One photo posted online by a city resident shows Rollerman, sporting sunglasses concealing his identity, as he stands in front of a gray seven-seat van bearing military license plates, his right hand pointing to a sign indicating the vehicle was going the wrong direction down a one-way street. “It’s not allowed to go this way, no way,” he reportedly told the driver in Chinese. The enigmatic figure also challenges military and official cars entering bus-only lanes.

Everyone Is Defriending Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter, in Seoul after his three-day trip to North Korea last week, accused the United States and South Korea of committing human rights violations.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the 39th president said this: “One of the most important human rights is to have food to eat, and for South Korea and the US and others to deliberately withhold food aid to the North Korean people is really a human rights violation.” Carter did not level the same charge against the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, who has deliberately withheld food from his people for more than a decade.

China’s ‘Red Culture’: Let’s All Sing Revolutionary Songs

The authorities in Chongqing, in the interior of China, are ordering millions of residents to sing 36 newly written “Red Culture” songs. The patriotic tunes, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, are also being played on 24-hour-a-day telecasts on China’s revolutionary history.

The around-the-clock airing of the music comes after a directive, from the Communist Party’s municipal propaganda department, requiring all print and electronic media to promote the songs. Since April 10th, local newspapers have featured background stories on each tune, and the coverage is scheduled to continue until the middle of next month.

China Overreaches in Crackdown on Christians

This Sunday, authorities in Beijing detained almost 50 congregants of the Shouwang “house church” as they tried to pray outdoors at a plaza. The roundup comes in the midst of a national campaign against Christianity and the regime’s latest crackdown against dissent, its most comprehensive in years. Since February, hundreds of activists, dissenters, lawyers, and critics have been jailed across China.

Shouwang is not part of the officially recognized Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China, nor is it registered with China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs. The thriving house church, which was formed in the early 1990s in the northern part of the city, tried to register in 2006, but its application was turned down three years ago. Since the denial, Beijing officials have continually harassed the congregation.

Beijing Bans Ancient History

On Friday, the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Youth League canceled this year’s debate competition on China’s 1911 revolution. Officials issued their order just a day before the opening ceremony. Sixteen educational institutions, including elite Peking University, were planning to take part.

The debate was going to focus on “The Three Principles of the People—nationalism, democracy, and livelihood,” which were espoused by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, generally acknowledged as the founding father of modern China for his role in overthrowing the last imperial dynasty, the Qing.

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