Happy Birthday Confucius!

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Google celebrates Confucius

On 28 September, Google was not the only one to pay tribute to Confucius on his 2,566th birth anniversary.

The celebrations have become an occasion to unite and create harmony, as hundreds of members of Confucius’ legacy celebrate all over eastern Asia and around the globe, with festivals and special events across Confucius Institutes.

Confucius' birthday at Confucius Temple in Qufu, Shandong ProviceIn China hundreds of people marched toward the Confucius Temple in Qufu, the home town of Confucius, where a ceremonial dance performance was held.
In Qufu about 1,800 students and residents recited quotes from the Analects – the most famous collection of sayings and ideas attributed to Confucius and his contemporaries.

To read more about Confucius’ birthday celebrations check out the following articles:
China observes 2,566th anniversary of Confucius’ birth
Grand ritual held to mark Confucius’ birthday
Lessons Confucius taught us

Where’s China’s (Panda) Bear Market Going?

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Chinese stock market

China has no doubt experienced a (panda) bear market this week, but will it stabilise in the near future?

Over the past few weeks, the Shanghai Composite has been on everyone’s minds. It swung from a loss of 0.7 percent to a 5.3 percent gain in the last hour of trading on Thursday, ending a rout that erased more than $5 trillion of value since mid-June (1). Whereas just on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that “the slowdown deepening this year is part of a bumpy transition away from an era when smokestack industries, huge exports and massive infrastructure spending—underpinned by trillions in state-backed debt—powered China’s seemingly unstoppable rise. Today, debt has swelled to more than twice the size of the economy, and some of those industries, such as construction and steel, are reeling.” (2)

panda What will happen next? What is causing this instability? The problem may well relate to a lack of weighing the risks involved in the stock market. Understanding how to be reasonably balanced in order to make well informed decisions is an important factor to consider. In addition to individuals weighing risks involved in their own participation, it is also important to remember China’s place in the world and its continuously growing strength.

Australia’s Treasurer Joe Hockey has been cited by The Australian as saying that investors should not forget the underlying strength of the Chinese economy nor underestimate Beijing’s determination to keep it growing (4).

“The resources the Chinese government can mobilize are more than any other country in the world,” said Li Xunlei, a vice president at Haitong Securities Co., a publicly-trade brokerage in China (5).

yin yangChina is philosophically well equipped to pursue a balanced path to stability, as the yin yang symbol so well illustrates. A yin yang analysis could be applied to the bull and bear relationship that is occurring. The market can swing into yin or yang at any point and it is important to not overestimate the power of the bull but instead to spread your shares, invest your money strategically, and realise that the bear will soon move on.

With the wisdom of Confucius never far from consultation, China can resume its bright economic future. What would Confucius say about the stock market? Tell us your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Want more?

For an understanding of the Chinese stock market – (including the reasoning behind the colour red as a favourable colour) check out this video.

Featured Student: Aneale Banerjee

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AnealeWhat are the strategic opportunities and dangers of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s slogan, the Chinese Dream

International Relations and Law student, Aneale Banerjee, explores the possibilities. This is an excerpt from his paper for INTR13-301 ‘Strategic China’.

The People’s Republic of China has experienced nearly four decades of unprecedented economic growth. It has risen to claim the title of second largest economy, and since 2011 the nation has been described as a middle-income economy (Feng, 2015). These factors have assisted in consolidating the political legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  However, in recent times, China’s economy has been slowing to a more sustainable growth rate. While this is beneficial for the country in the long term, it nonetheless has the potential in the short term to create social unrest and dissatisfaction towards the CCP. Therefore, China still faces challenges in maintaining a harmonious balance of sustainable economic growth with social and political satisfaction by the populace. This is where the ‘Chinese Dream’ comes in.

One of President Xi Jinping’s grand plans to achieve the desired balance is to increase political rhetoric by perpetuating a positive narrative about the direction in which China is heading. This rhetoric is in the form of a slogan: the ‘Chinese Dream’. It is a call for rejuvenation, rise in prosperity, advance of socialist society and the formation and development of a stronger military (Mahoney, 2013). It is a slogan that aims to create opportunities to: (1) unite the population behind a common theme of the ‘Chinese Dream’; and (2) campaign against corruption, and therefore ensure the political legitimacy of the CCP.

Despite the opportunities of the ‘Chinese Dream’, groups within China and abroad may misinterpret it. Within China, this was exemplified in the 2013 Southern Weekly incident. A Guangdong Province newspaper, Southern Weekly noticed that propaganda officials, without their knowledge, altered the New Year’s editorial. This sparked the largest freedom of the press standoff in recent years (Freedom House, 2013). The original piece referenced the ‘Chinese Dream’ and the ‘great revival of the Chinese nation’, stating that the ‘Chinese Dream’ served as a call for political reform to “build a truly free and strong nation” (Freedom House, 2013). The alteration pushed the newsroom to go on strike to protest against censorship…READ MORE HERE

Changing Times for Chinatown

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Img Cred: goldcoast.qld.gov.au
Img Cred: goldcoast.qld.gov.au

Southport on the Gold Coast has been transformed into what some would refer to as a “vibrant” Chinatown. The Gold Coast Chinatown is responsible for providing a platform for authentic Asian experiences through an exciting mix of restaurants, cultural festivals and celebrations. On the first Saturday of every month, the streets of Chinatown extend with entertainment and a range of multicultural Asian inspired food, a part of the Chinatown Street Markets.

Confucius statue located in SouthportTo symbolise the establishment of Chinatown, a statue of the sage himself was unveiled this year on January 23. The Confucius statue was designed and donated by the Jining People’s Municipal Government, China Glory Society, China Confucius Foundation, Shandong Provincial Glory Society and the Australia Confucius Institute. Three Paifang (gateways) Harmony, Harvest and Wealth are set to enter Chinatown and will represent the relationship with Chinese sister and partner cities (1).

Although there are several opportunities in the creation of a new Chinatown, Southport shopkeepers were able to identify a few weaknesses as well. Our journalists took the streets of Southport to find out how local business owners felt about this “vibrant,” new establishment. While several did not want to comment on the new Chinatown development, a few local business owners had much to say. Two business owners (who will remain unnamed) felt that Chinatown itself is an unequal representation of Asian culture. The business owners even suggested the name change of Asiatown rather than Chinatown for Chinatown areas worldwide. An “Asiatown” they claimed, would help to better signify the entire Asian trans-cultural region rather than highlighting Chinese-specific culture. A concern was also expressed that Chinatowns are a form of commercial branding to sell Asian food to westerners, rather than an expression of community and identity. When westerners came along on Saturday for food, the idea of their venue being a Chinatown did not seem relevant.  Are Chinatowns becoming artificially constructed business opportunities and less of a cultural identification to the diverse peoples of Asia and beyond? Do other Asian cultures feel left out among the China-focused developments? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Featured Student: Alessandro Benedetti

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“Women Hold Up Half the Sky”

Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong declared his commitment to gender equality through his famous saying that ‘women hold up half the sky’. Did Mao’s view transform underlying gender relations in China? Bachelor of International Relations student, Alessandro Benedetti, investigates this engaging topic. The following is a short excerpt from his paper for INTR13-301 Strategic China.

alessandro benedettiChinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong declared his commitment to gender equality through his famous saying that ‘women hold up half the sky’. Did Mao’s view transform underlying gender relations in China? Bachelor of International Relations student, Alessandro Benedetti, investigates this engaging topic. The following is a short excerpt from his paper for INTR13-301 Strategic China.

The condition of women in pre-revolutionary China was one characterized by a long story of misery. The binding of the feet, female infanticide, concubinage, loveless marriages were just some of the many humiliating customs to which Chinese women were subjected during imperial times (Clark & Wang, 2004). The condition of women in China at the beginning of the 20th Century was dismal compared to the rights that women were already holding in western countries; this era could rightly be identified as the ‘feminine-humiliation’ within China’s ‘Century of Humiliation’. However, with the rise of Mao Zedong in 1949, proclaiming his commitment to gender equality with his famous statement, ‘women hold up half the sky’, it was clear his ‘Chinese road to socialism’ was going to break forever with the traditions of the past, making women ‘comrades’ with the same rights as their male counterparts.

Taking on the heritage left by Sun Yat-Sen, Mao and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have changed forever the underlying gender relations in China. The newly founded People’s Republic of China (PRC) after the victory of Mao’s troops in 1949 saw as one of its first laws the Marriage Law of 1950. This clearly reflected the importance that gender issues played during the Revolution. With this law, old practices such as concubinage, brideprice and child betrothal were abolished and at the same time more freedom was given to women in regards to marriage and divorce. Furthermore, provision was made for maternity leave and kindergartens were established (Bailey, 2012). One of the reasons for Mao’s success in the Communist Revolution was his appeal to young women in rural China; they rose to the promise of reform (Johnson, 1985). The 1950 Marriage Law represented a stepping stone in the advancement of human rights. This was coupled by redefining a women’s work role. The image of women in the workforce was communicated through the model ‘female worker’. She was usually represented, in propaganda pictures, as a peasant with a confident smile, strong and capable, using technology and sometimes instructing…READ MORE

China: An old hand at soft power

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Our Associate Professor of International Relations, Dr Rosita Dellios poses that Beijing’s approach of resolving difficulties before they arise is helping the region realise its human and economic potential.

Her writing was featured on the Asia & The Pacific Policy Society (APPS) Policy Forum.

Rosita Dellios

China: an old hand at soft power – Policy Forum

The West may worry that China is unwilling or unable to solve global problems. But if you look more closely, Beijing has a knack of solving problems before they arise.

Despite China’s rapid rise and its plans to build ‘silk roads’ of development from Asia through to Africa and the Middle East, it is still regularly dismissed as unfit for global leadership – neither willing nor able to solve global problems. The reasons for this vary, but much rests with China being perceived as more foe than friend. The absence of multi-party democracy puts China at odds with prevailing international norms. Many among the West’s opinion-makers do not believe the world has anything to learn from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), or that a CCP-ruled China could find legitimacy in the international order.

Lately, this sentiment has been expressed through the popular concept of ‘soft power’ – the power of attraction rather than coercion. An article by China specialist David Shambaugh in Foreign Affairs investigated China’s soft-power credentials and found them severely lacking. Despite admitting that China had pledged to invest US$1.25 trillion worldwide by 2025, he finds that it is to no avail as ‘’soft power cannot be bought.’’  It would be interesting to hear what the beneficiaries of this investment would have to say.

Shambaugh mentions Joseph Nye, the political scientist who coined the term ‘soft power’ (but did not invent the condition); and Nye himself quotes Shambaugh’s findings that China spends about US$10 billion a year in ‘’external propaganda’’, but still lacks trust and respect.

This is ironic as China itself is an old hand at soft power. ‘’Come and be transformed’’ (lai hua) was the motto of the Celestial Empire with its civilisational attributes that included trade and economic incentives. As to how soft power may be used to solve problems, China’s best known classical strategist, Sun Tzu, observed that whoever ‘’excels at resolving difficulties does so before they arise.’’ In the military sphere, he advised that it was best to win a war before it reached the battlefield. The Daoist concept of wu-wei – or ‘actionless action’ – is also relevant here. It is better for China’s critics to belittle and diminish Beijing’s achievements, which are nonetheless real even if not readily recognised, than to engage in a dramatic clash…READ MORE

International Symposium: Confucianism and Modern Society

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Did you miss the 2015 International Symposium: Confucianism and Modern Society? Click on the video above for a glimpse into the event and don’t forget to participate in our online discussion!