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China Politics From The Provinces
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Can a single spark still start a prairie fire?

Maybe, but only if everyone calms down. The message in at least one place seems to be that it’s not helpful for China if social progress gets lost amidst the shouting; that calm is called for.

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It’s difficult but not impossible to get a handle on discussions inside China’s Communist party—debates that reveal the thinking of Chinese officials, as well as the parameters and direction of policy.

A recent editorial by a high-profile commentator about "misunderstandings" shows that at least some in Beijing are concerned that there remains determined and possibly growing resistance to Party reforms.

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There are all sorts of instances in China where local authorities have been lousy and irresponsible, corrupt and draconian, selfish and stupid.

This isn't one of those.

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Nanjing local government has spent weeks of wondering and wavering on whether or not to take on the shared-bike companies and the proliferation of bicycles on city streets.

Would it be better to force these firms to take action to manage the situation they produced by directives, or simply let market conditions decide which companies flourished or failed?

Yesterday, officials here made an important decision.

Go after the riders instead.

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There hasn't been a lot of local news coverage about the "One Belt, One Road" initiative here in Jiangsu. That's a signal that not everyone locally thinks it's the right path for the province.

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Former China Foreign Minister Qian Qichen [钱其琛] passed away a day or so ago.

It already feels much longer, perhaps because Qian Qichen lived an extraordinary life, though he probably never saw himself as a hero.

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There’s been some outrage expressed in recent days about the Jared Kushner Traveling Road Show that’s thus far visited China’s beltway metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai.

Well-honed presentations in those cities offered affluent Chinese the chance to acquire U.S. immigration visas (green cards) for themselves and their families if they invested at least $500,000 in a real estate project in a New Jersey luxury apartment complex that’s been linked to the family of President Donald Trump's son-in-law, senior White House advisor Jared Kushner.

The treatment of reporters is one source of the current indignation.

Another involves the intimate political connections of the Americans participating.

But there’s also the role of the Chinese investors themselves.

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Strings of shops at a number of locations in Nanjing have been suddenly closing in the past few months.

It’s not due to problems in the local economy, which continues to show strength.

It’s more likely because of the military.

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Despite the reports of stronger-than-expected quarterly growth, we keep hearing that Beijing will be hard-pressed to keep the economy humming.

The possibility that Chinese officials might actually know what they’re doing seems only rarely to occur to observers.

Instead of focusing on macroeconomic indicators, it’s far more useful to note what China’s local decision-makers are focusing on in their localities; how they themselves define the situation and the problems they’re facing and fighting in their own front yard.

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The most recent post here examined the BBC podcast composed and narrated by China news editor Carrie Gracie on the rise and demise of China’s Bo Xilai—an event that Gracie insists “changed China”. The portrayal of the various players in the drama is disappointing at best.

Just as discouraging—and disturbing--is how the podcast presents politics in China.
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