Friday, August 28, 2009

Fate of Lai Changxing's Ex-Wife After Return to Fujian

Translation of Report on Zeng Mingna, Lai Changxing's Ex-Wife's Situation after Return to Fujian with Daughter Lai Zhenzhen

This report likely reflects Mainland Chinese perspective and "propaganda line" on the current status of the Lai Changxing matter and refers to "inside" information (under the rubric "according to reports" in the article).  The Ta Kung Pao is a Communist Party of China associated newspaper published in Hong Kong.  It is of special interest that the article claims that Lai Changxing has lost Canadian Government support in the face of the lenient treatment that Zeng has reportedly received on return to China, so Mr. Lai will shortly be returned to China by the Government of Canada as his refugee case has been "refuted."
The Chinese original can be read at:

Rough literal translation by me:

Lai Changxing's Ex-Wife Living Under Surveillance in Xiamen, Lai Probably Difficult to Re-Gain Canada's Support
DWNEWS.COM -- August 24, 2009 2:47:43(Beijing Hong Kong Taiwan time)
Ta Kung Pao/Duowei combined report

Zeng Mingna, Lai Changxing's ex-wife, who absconded to Canada several years ago, of her volition returned home to China in May of this year.  According to reports, the main reason for Zeng Mingna's return to China was to be able to see her aging parents.  Moreover in exchange for her returning to China her two younger brothers who had been held due to association with the Yuanhua case were released from prison.  At present Zeng Mingna is living in Xiamen in an apartment provided for her by the Government.

Lai Changxing is an important suspect in the "Yuanhua" smuggling caseChina's judicial authorities have laid charges against him and ordered his arrest.  According to file data, Zeng Mingna and Lai Changxing had three children together, two boys and one girl.  Their eldest son's name is Lai Junjian, their eldest daughter's name is Lai Zhenzhen and their younger son is named Lai Mingming.  All three children have already graduated from university.  Lai Zhenzhen returned to China with Zeng Mingna.

Government's leniency brings joy to the entire family
Zeng Mingna went from Hong Kong with Lai Changxing to abscond to Canada in August 1999.  In November 2000, the Canadian Department of Immigration arrested Mr. and Mrs. Lai on charges of illegal immigration.  At the end of May 2004, Zeng Mingna applied to the British Columbia Provincial Superior Court in Vancouver for a divorce from Lai Changxing.  On June 21 2005, her divorce application was ruled approved by the Court.

After ten years in exile in Canada, Zeng Mingna made a determination to return to China.  According to reports the health of both of her parents is not good.  This was an important factor that made up Zeng Mingna's mind to return to China.  Prior to this, Zeng Mingna had been bargaining with the Government of China for quite some time.  According to reports, one of Zeng Mingna's conditions for return was the release of her younger brothers who have been held in prison because of the Yuanhua case throughout her time abroad.  At present her younger brothers Zeng Mingtie and Zeng Mingyu have been released on bail and returned home.  In addition, there was an apartment in Xiamen that was promised by the  Government to be made available to Zeng Mingna for her use on return.  It has over 100 square metres of floor space.

According to a briefing, for a very long time after the "Yuanhua case" developed, Zeng Mingna's maternal family residence on Lianyu Street in Qingyang Town of Jinjiang Municipality in the Province of Fujian had been unusually quiet and desolate.  "But thanks to the Government's leniency that family has become happy and whole again."  Lai Changxing's former father-in-law, Zeng Chuanzhang in an interview revealed the recent situation of his daughter Zeng Mingna since she returned to China.  Following the return home of his youngest son, Zeng Mingtie after the ten year sentence that he received two or three years ago was reduced, on May 3, his eldest daughter, Zeng Mingna, finally returned to China.  On August 4 his eldest son, Zeng Mingyu also returned home released on bail.

The day after she returned to China, Zeng Mingna accompanied her mother and father back to her childhood home in Jinjiang.  After staying with them for a few days she retuned to her unfamiliar "home" in Xiamen.  Fortunately Zeng Mingtie's wife and two daughters live in Xiamen.  The two families often get together.  Her days there are not at all lonely.

Zeng Mingna's mother revealed that over the past 3 months, Lai Changxing has wired a living allowance to Zeng Mingna, but she is not sure how much it is exactly.  With regard to the outsiders' rumours that Lai Changxing had made a transfer of an enormous fortune put into Zeng Mingna's name, the two elderly parents deny this categorically: "This is absurd and ridiculous!"  Up to now, Zeng Mingna goes to Jinjiang to visit her parents about twice a month..  While there she is simply required to follow the reporting requirements for living under supervision (jianshi juzhu) and she can proceed there unaccompanied.  "She can be considered quite free, her mental state is much better."  Zeng Mingna's mother explained that at present it is not convenient for Zeng Mingna to have contact with the media.  When asked if Zeng Mingna might re-marry Lai Changxing, Zeng Chuanzhang just shook his head: "This is probably not going to happen."

Reports indicate that Lai and his wife, Zeng Mingna's life in Canada was not so good.  In 2005, someone who had knowledge of their circumstances revealed that in Vancouver they had to stay in a simple and crude apartment, they could not leave the City of Vancouver and ordinarily had no social life with friends.  "They didn't have much money."  The Lais' three children lived in another apartment looked after by "someone they knew."

Considering the present circumstances, Zeng Mingna's return to China will be a setback to Lai Changxing's "refugee application scheme."  It is very apparent that the Government of Canada is willing to help Lai Changxing repatriate back to China of his own volition.  Prior to this there was concern expressed that Mr. Lai would face unjust treatment after return to China.  In the face of the lenient treatment that Zeng Mingna has received after returning to China, this idea has been completely refuted.  If Lai Changxing still holds that "on return to China I will probably not get a fair trial," and continues his endless application for refugee status, he will have a lot of difficulty regaining Canadian Government support.  His being repatriated to China is likely to be a matter of sooner or later.

Nevertheless, Lai Changxing's personal lawyer, David Matas in an interview indicated that he believes that Lai Changxing will definitely not return to China of his own volition as Zeng Mingna has done.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

China Taking Advantage of Western Sanctions in Burma

This is a fragment from an op-ed entitled "We Can't Afford to Ignore Myanmar " by U.S. Senator Jim Webb published in the New York Times on August 25

"Sanctions by Western governments have not been matched by other countries, particularly Russia and China. Indeed, they have allowed China to dramatically increase its economic and political influence in Myanmar, furthering a dangerous strategic imbalance in the region.

According to the nonprofit group EarthRights International, at least 26 Chinese multinational corporations are now involved in more than 62 hydropower, oil, gas and mining projects in Myanmar. This is only the tip of the iceberg. In March, China and Myanmar signed a $2.9-billion agreement for the construction of fuel pipelines that will transport Middle Eastern and African crude oil from Myanmar to China. When completed, Chinese oil tankers will no longer be required to pass through the Straits of Malacca, a time-consuming, strategically vital route where 80 percent of China's imported oil now passes.

If Chinese commercial influence in Myanmar continues to grow, a military presence could easily follow. Russia is assisting the Myanmar government on a nuclear research project. None of these projects have improved the daily life of the average citizen of Myanmar, who has almost no contact with the outside world and whose per capita income is among the lowest in Asia."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Transcript of My Oral Comments on a Paper by Daniel Bell at U of T March 7, 2009

With regard to Daniel Bell's paper, my general comment is that I love Daniel Bell, but I hate this paper. I see it essentially as inheriting the nineteenth century perspective by Westerners resident in China at the time, who proposed schemes to make things better for China in accordance with Chinese mores as they defined them--like Arthur Smith's The Chinese. There are a whole lot of these books, all of them out of print.

I don't buy the idea that there is a tendency towards political Confucianism in China. As was pointed out in Qing Miao's paper, the tendency is towards individualization and less focus on family and the state by young people today. I think that Daniel Bell's paper conflates two different things: first, ideologies that allow us to seek meaning in our life, like Confucianism, and secondly, the political institutions that ensure a good and just society. They really are not the same. I am a Christian. I have a lot of faith in Psalm 72, which says, “He shall serve the children of the needy and shall break into pieces the oppressor.” Very meaningful for me, but I don't suggest it be written into any constitutional document.

I do think that Dan has Confucianism on the mind. For example, on page two of his paper, he says the government has been promoting Confucianism via branches of the Confucius Institute. Actually, the Confucius Institutes are a function of the Ministry of Education, guojia hanban to promote the study of Chinese language and culture. The Germans have the Goethe Institute and the Spanish have the Cervantes Institute, so the fact that it is called the Confucius Institute does not mean that the Chinese government is trying to promote the study of Confucius. They are trying to promote the study of Chinese language, literature and culture in general. I think that one shouldn't draw too much out of this.

Can Confucianism offer a compelling alternative to Western liberalism? I really don't consider the two as being the same. I see Confucianism as a way of understanding the meaning of life, but I do not find anything in Confucianism that is relevant to contemporary politics. Really nothing, zero.

On page four, he says that, “I do not deny that such 'Western' values as social democracy, solidarity, human rights and the rule of law need to be adopted in China. They also need to be adapted in China, they need to be enriched and sometimes constrained by Confucian values.” I disagree that social democracy, solidarity, human rights and the rule of law should be constrained. While there might be some cultural spins on the rule of law, or on what social democracy is, or what solidarity is, enriching and constraining these Western values by Confucian values strikes me as a justification for authoritarianism.

Finally, with regard to his proposal for a meritocratic house of government with deputies selected by such mechanisms as free and fair competitive examinations that would have the task of securing the interests of foreigners, future generations, ancestors and minority groups typically neglected by democratically selected political decision makers. I am not sure about the motivation for this. The Canadian Senate was originally designed as a house of meritorious people to constrain the Canadian House of Commons, which was people-based and it hasn't worked out as we hoped. I think the concern about tyranny of the majority has problems. If one is concerned that the majority of Chinese who are not foreigners, future generations, ancestors or minority groups, would be unfairly treated in a democratic system, the normal way in most countries for addressing tyranny of majority in a democratic system is a charter of rights and freedoms, rather than relying on the rule of virtuous men.

I think that Left Confucianism is able to be defined by whatever one wants to ascribe to it because the Confucian tradition is a very varied and rich tradition that says many contradictory things. What is Confucianism? It's in the eyes of the interpreter. I studied the history of ancient Chinese thought at Fudan University and worked on Neo-Confucianism, which is not really Confucianism at all. There are many strains there, and when you have such a huge, diverse and rich cultural tradition, you can pull a lot of things out of it to justify your own agenda.

He does mention that Jiang Qing says that Marxism no longer grabs the people and Confucianism is most likely to do so. I think that there could be some justification for that because Marxism-Leninism Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the Three Represents, which are encapsulated in the Chinese Constitution and the Constitution of the Party, are largely discredited and something else would be more appealing. Actually anything else would be more appealing. The question is, do we need another ideology to legitimate patriarchical authoritarian rule? If Marxism isn't working, why try Confucianism to justify a non-democratic society?

On the plus side, and your final point, which I do agree with because I love this stuff, you refer to the current crisis of confidence in the West that might lead Western intellectuals to urn to Confucianism for hope and inspiration. I am actually not expecting large numbers of Western intellectuals to turn to Confucianism for hope and inspiration, but I wish they would. That is my assessment of your paper and I am sure we can discuss it later.

US Ambassador Huntsman on US President's Visit to China in November

Huntsman, unanimously approved by the US Senate earlier this month as Obama's ambassador to Beijing, called the US-China relationship "the most important in the world".

Besides the economic and trade relationship, the United States and China needed to focus on a series of other issues, including energy and climate, the global economy and regional security, he said.

"These are complex issues, they are not going to be resolved easily, but in order to get to where we all know we can be... it is going to take the United States and China working more diligently on them," Huntsman, 49, said, speaking in Chinese and English.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chilling Allegation About Chinese Adoptions

While I was in China this summer, I was invited ouut to dinner and at the dinner table the conversation turned to recent loosening of the one child policy requirements. I had felt rather uncomfortable in Kunming seeing billboards and ads on buses place by hospitals and clinics competing for the business of abortion of "unplanned pregnancy." Some offered "specials" of only 100 yuan for professional fees for an abortion, no appointment necessary. That would be about $15 Canadian. So I am happy to learn about this loosening due to the new problem of aging population in some areas such as Shanghai.

Continuing the table chat, I mentioned how many childless Canadian couples had adopted abandoned baby girls from China and what a joyous thing it was to see happy families of loving white parents and Chinese looking girls together. I was then asked about the costs of adoption and I explained my understanding of the various not inconsiderable cost of adopting from China including "donation" to the Chinese orphanage. To this I was told, "you should recommend to Canadian couples that if they want to adopt they could save money by coming to my province to get them. It would be cheaper and chances of getting a boy to adopt much better." I said how so? The answer evidently is that some out of plan babies, boys as well as girls, ended up in orphanages because their parents could not pay the fine for having an "illegal" second child (usually about a year's average salary as determined by the economic conditions locally). So the local authorities are keen to get their share of the foreign "donation" for such babies and offer such "out of plan" infants from poorer families for adoption abroad at a discounted rate to ensure that the babies are well away in case their grieving parents try and find them and steal them away without paying the fine.  So these are not actually orphans on offer but actually children forcibly ripped from the arms of their loving mothers.

I have no evidence that this sort of thing actually has been going on or if it is just some urban myth repeated between toasts of Chinese wine at a convivial occasion. Nevertheless, it gives me the chills to think about it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

State Councillor Dai Bingguo on Core Interests of the PRC

According to the China  News Agency, at the US-China Economic Dialogue talks in Washington last month, Dai Bingguo indicated: "China's number one core interest is to maintain its fundamental system and state security; next is state sovereignty and territorial integrity; and third is the continued stable development of the economy and society."
and  (original Chinese language report)

Impact of Arrest of Xu Zhiyong

Sharon Hom of Human Rights in China warns: “By suppressing Xu Zhiyong, who is a moderate voice for social change and has dedicated his career to helping forge a society with genuine rule of law, the authorities are running the risk of radicalizing the forces for reform and change in China.” (

The human rights defenders movement simply attempts to ensure that Chinese citizens enjoy the rights extended to them by China's National Constitution. The suppression of the high-minded lawyers involved in this low paying and risky work is a function of the sort of venal hypocrisy that one hopes will cease to be a feature of Chinese politics in the near future.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Arrest of Activist Lawyer Xu Zhiyong

It really is very dangerous to be a conscientious lawyer in China:

BEIJING - A prominent Chinese legal scholar whose rights group has tackled some of China's most politically sensitive cases, including a tainted milk scandal, has been accused of tax evasion following his arrest a week ago, his brother said Tuesday.
The detention of Xu Zhiyong comes as China appears to be widening a crackdown against activist lawyers and non-governmental organizations to stifle any dissent ahead of the 60th anniversary of the communist nation's founding on Oct. 1.
Last month, more than 50 Beijing lawyers, many of whom focus on politically sensitive human rights issues, had their licenses revoked. In addition, several non-governmental groups have recently been targeted by police for harassment.

Detailed report can be read at:

Dambisa Moyo on China in Africa

"The West can choose to ignore all of this, but, like it or not, the Chinese are coming. And it is in Africa that their campaign for global dominance will be solidified. Economics comes first, and when they own the banks, the land and the resources across Africa,their crusade will be over. They will have won.

.     .      .

The mistake the West made was giving something for nothing. The secret of China's success is that its foray into Africa is all business. The West sent aid to Africa and ultimately did not care about the outcome; this created a coterie of elites and, because, the vast majority of people were excluded from wealth, political instability has ensued.

China, on the other hand, sends cash to Africa and demands returns. With returns Africans get jobs, get roads, get food, making more Africans better off and (at least in the interim) the promise of some semblance of political stability."

Dambisa Moyo, Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa. Farrar Strauss and Giroux, 2009, p. 152

Monday, August 03, 2009

Speculation on Jason Kenney's Leadership Potential

I think that it is too soon to speculate on who will be succeeding the current leaders of political parties in the House of Commons in years ahead, but I do find Jennifer Ditchburn's report for the Canadian press "Kenney's rising star has Tories whispering about leadership" very sound and insightful journalism:

Saturday, August 01, 2009

China-USA Contingency Plans for DPRK Future

I commend this report by Charles Hutzler on Chinese and US and Chinese-US preparations for intervention in the DPRK in the event of political and miltary instability there:
"Both Washington and Beijing are growing more anxious about the stability of the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang's recent missile and nuclear tests, uncertainty about the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and the apparent designation of his 26-year-old son as successor. There's much Washington wants to go over with Beijing in a meltdown scenario: securing North Korea's nuclear weapons, dealing with panicked North Koreans overrunning borders and drawing up ground rules to keep the U.S. and Chinese militaries from clashing as they did in the 1950-53 Korean War.  .  .  .  The South Korean capital, Seoul, is 40 miles (65 kilometers) from the North Korean border and a tempting target for a dying regime. If North Korea mounts an armed resistance to foreign militaries, a force larger than the U.S. committed to Iraq might be needed, a Council on Foreign Relations study said in January."

I do wonder if I should stop being so assertive with my students considering study or work in the ROK that South Korea is a perfectly safe place for them to travel to.

A good recent article: "Maintaining a Rogue Regime: Kim Jong-il and the North Korean Succession Process"
by Dr. Bruce E. Bechtol Jr.
Marine Corps Command and Staff College

PRC Gov't Is Promoting Rebiya Kadeer's Political Legitimacy

According to an Associated Press report "China summoned the Australian ambassador to protest a proposed visit to his country by an exiled Uighur leader whom Beijing accuses of instigating recent ethnic riots that killed nearly 200 people, the Foreign Ministry said Saturday.  Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun called the meeting with Geoff Raby because of the trip to Australia next week by U.S.-based Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, a ministry statement said. China - one of Australia's most important trading partners - has made repeated requests to the Australian government to refuse her a visa." (

My impression is that Rebiya Kadeer is not so well known yet among Uyghurs outside of major urban centres.  Nor would most people in foreign countries recognize her name.  But the Chinese Government's high volume of passionate condemnation of Ms. Kadeer is certainly helping to build her reputation as an important legitimate representative of Uyghur aspirations. It seems that the more the Chinese Government attempts to demonize her, the more Rebiya Kadeer's prestige in Xinjiang and abroad is enhanced.