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China’s share of global and Asian exports is falling

CHINA’s exporters once had little to offer the world and everything to learn from it. In the 1960s intrepid entrepreneurs ventured across the border from Hong Kong to the Canton Fair to buy wooden toys from China’s rudimentary factories. One visitor threw away a sock in his hotel, according to the book “Toy Town” by Sarah Monks. It was later mailed back to him, darned and washed.In 1978 when the country began to reform and open up, it accounted for less than 1% of global exports of goods. For the next 37 years, its share…

Xi Jinping decides to abolish presidential term limits

BLOGGERS in China surpassed themselves in their ingenuity after the Communist Party announced its plan to get rid of presidential term limits, which would have required Xi Jinping to step down as head of state in 2023. One online commentator posted a picture of Winnie-the-Pooh hugging a jar of honey, with the caption “Find the thing you love and stick with it.” The Bear of Very Little Brain is used in China as code for the portly Mr Xi—the post was swiftly deleted by humourless censors. Others posted mock condom…

Lessons from China’s rust belt

MAO ZEDONG called China’s three north-eastern provinces—Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning—the country’s “eldest son”. In the Chinese tradition the family’s future rests on that child’s shoulders. But this one is failing in his duties. Debate rages over what has gone wrong and what to do. Many experts conclude that the regional economy needs to be run a different way. Their analysis has lessons for the national economy, too.Mao made the north-east the centre of heavy industry. It still contains many of China’s largest makers…

China portrays racism as a Western problem

THE annual “Spring Festival Gala”, broadcast on the eve of the lunar new year, is the most-watched television programme on Earth. It is also one of the most vetted by the authorities, for it is intended not merely to entertain its 800m-odd Chinese viewers. Less-than-subliminal messaging is designed to showcase how contented all Chinese are under a wise Communist leadership—and, in recent years, how gratefully the world welcomes China’s benign activities in it. So what could one make of an excruciatingly crass sketch in this…

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, will be allowed to reign forever

 THE decision announced on February 25th to scrap term limits for China’s president, Xi Jinping, pierces the veil of Chinese politics. It reveals that, at a time when the ruling Communist Party is presenting China to the world as a modern, reliable and responsible state, capable of defending globalisation, the internal political system that the party monopolises is premodern, treacherous, inward-looking and brutal. It also shows that Chinese leaders’ own attempts to make the party otherwise have not got far.Those attempts…

China is trying new ways of skimming housing-market froth

PAN JINGYUAN has little time for traditional family values. The 26-year-old says she has no intention of ever getting married and loves living far from her parents. But Ms Pan is traditional in one way—she sees a home as the best investment for her savings. She plans to buy a small flat in the southern city of Shenzhen, where she works at the headquarters of a restaurant chain. “There is no way the government would ever let prices really fall,” she says.Such confidence has long been rewarded. Property prices in cities have…

China will soon have air power rivalling the West’s

THERE is no question which country gets the starring role in “The Military Balance”, the latest annual review of the world’s armed forces by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a London-based think-tank. Amid renewed jostling between the world’s great powers, it is the pace of military modernisation in China that stands out.China’s president, Xi Jinping, wants to be able to challenge America’s military might in the western Pacific. He is making big progress. China’s once bloated armed forces are…

Xi Jinping is no longer any old leader

Except for “Debrett’s Peerage”, no institution pays as much attention to titles as China’s Communist Party. It has already conferred a lot of them on its leader, Xi Jinping. Recently it has topped them off with a description hitherto mainly applied to Mao: lingxiu. It means leader, but conveys far more reverence than the usual word, lingdao. Last month two of the country’s most authoritative newspapers described Mr Xi as lingxiu. Now comes the video. On February 9th state media released a five-minute film called “The…

Officials in Hong Kong find new ways to stop separatists getting elected

On the steps againTHEY have become a familiar sight standing on courtroom steps. Since their pro-democracy protests in 2014, the young leaders of the Umbrella Movement—Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow—have bobbed in and out of court, and sometimes into prison. This week they appeared again, after an appeal overturned controversial custodial sentences handed down last year. But their mood was sombre. “Our hearts are heavy,” said Mr Law. “We walk free but Hong Kong’s democracy has lost a battle.”In July 2016 the trio was…
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