What China Says

Now more than ever it is important that Australians understand the diverse perspectives within the People's Republic of China. 'What China Says' points out articles from China’s state media and sources close to the PRC in both Chinese and English as well as Chinese-language media outlets in Australia to draw attention to Chinese positions on a range of issues.

What does China say about...

People's Republic of China, People's Liberation Army (Navy) frigate PLA(N) Yueyang (FF 575) steams in formation with 42 other ships and submarines representing 15 international partner nations during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from June 26 to Aug. 1 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2014 is the 24th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Shannon Renfroe/Released)

Solution for the South China Sea

Global Times, 23 November 2017

The op-ed published in the Global Times (环球时报) argues that finding a solution to the South China Sea dispute can be achieved more efficiently ‘without the intervention of the US’ as ASEAN nations hope to work collaboratively with one another instead of ‘being directed by the US’.

The author, a scholar from the China Foreign Affairs University, suggests that the US has chosen to interfere in the South China Sea issue to ‘maintain its dominance in the Asia- Pacific region’. However, the influence that the US can impose is limited as nations such as Vietnam and the Philippines ‘have disregarded an offer made by the US to mediate’.

Despite the chairman of the ASEAN summit concluding that all members are determined to settle this dispute peacefully and ‘promote the implementation of the South China Sea Code of Conduct’, the author indicates it is undeniable that obstacles remain and the 'implementation and gradual promotion is still needed’.

Read the article: 'A regional solution needed for South China Sea'

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Foreign Worker exploitation in Australia

Xinhua News Agency, 21 November 2017

This article in Xinhua analyses the results of a survey regarding the underpayment of international students and foreign workers in Australia.

The study, undertaken by three reputable universities represented various statistics that showed the exploitation of many workers, including many who were being paid less than half of the legal minimum wage.

Xinhua points out that “Overall, students from Asian countries received lower wages on average than those from Europe or North America”, before proceeding to highlight the views of union and relevant legal requirements.

Beyond this, Xinhua highlights the reported 91 cases of employer passport confiscation, as well as 173 situations wherein international students or backpackers were forced to pay an upfront deposit of 750 US dollars to secure a job.

Xinhua supports the survey’s claim that these results reflected a “failure by governments and unions to address the scale of non-compliance” regarding employment law.

Read the article: ‘Temporary migrants systematically exploited by Australian employers: study’

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Australia's strategic outlook

环球时报, 16 November 2017

This article in The Global Times (环球时报) responds to the recent Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) report “Australia's management of strategic risk in the new era.”

In light of the report’s recommendations that found China and Indonesia as rising powers and potential regional security risks, The Global Times positions this report in the midst of other ‘vilifying’ portrayals of China from Western media and think tanks.

Further, The Global Times provides an alternative geopolitical expert in the form Zhang Junjian from the Institute of Naval Military Academies to counter ASPI’s “Cold War mentality". They then cite an unnamed researcher to establish that China’s rise brought “more opportunities, not challenges”.

The Global Times states that ASPI’s report is not surprising given that they are funded by global arms dealers (Thor and Lockheed Martin). They finish the article by asserting that the Australian people should feel pessimistic were their government to use ASPI’s recommendations in forming foreign policy.

Read the original article in Chinese: 澳智库渲染安全环境加速恶化 将矛头再次对准中国 ['Australian think tank exaggerates that the security environment is deteriorating, once again takes aim at China']

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'Silent Invasion' of Australia

环球时报, 15 November 2017

This editorial in the Chinese-language edition of the Global Times (环球时报) rebuffs accusations of PRC influence in Australia and New Zealand. It also examines Allen & Unwin’s decision not to publish Clive Hamilton’s book Silent Invasion for fear of a possible backlash from Beijing.

Any idea of a politically-backed invasion is rejected as ‘absurd’. Instead, the author argues that self-censorship is a ‘natural process’ given China’s increasing influence and economic power; publishers and other companies will be more attentive to not offend China for their own business interests.

The editorial also addresses concerns of PRC government infiltration via Chinese international students. The author flippantly remarks: ‘to organise them (Chinese international students) to implement a grand national political mission, China’s agencies would need to take a loan from ANZ to reimburse the expensive tuition fees of all those students.’

The article concludes that any international student would defend the reputation of their home country if it were slandered in a classroom abroad; and therefore Australia is being unfair to Chinese international students.

Read the original editorial in Chinese: 澳新个别学者找中国“碰瓷”有多可笑 ['How ridiculous that a few Australian and New Zealand scholars are looking to ‘scam’ China']

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Opening up capital markets

Xinhua News Agency, 6 November 2017

The article published by the Xinhua News Agency highlights the opportunity for China’s capital market to become open to the world as Wu Qing, chairman on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, states that  “favourable conditions have emerged”.

Xinhua reports on China’s favourable conditions emerging due to the fact that the Renminbi currency is stable, foreign exchange reserves are at a reasonable level, the Belt and Road Initiative is “gaining more and more responses” and the local stock exchange is “in good condition”, amongst other positive factors. As such, in recent years, China has been “stepping up efforts” to provide foreign investors “wider access into the domestic financial market” with initiatives such as The Shanghai- Hong Kong bond connect program.

However, Wu underlines that China’s “degree of market openness remains relatively low”. Further, he stresses the importance of recognising the potential for opening up in this sector as the “gross market value held by foreign investors takes up less than 2 percent of the total”. Thus, Wu states that creating better cooperation mechanisms and international exchange will undoubtedly “boost global presence”.

Read the original article: Conditions ripe for China to further open up capital market

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US-China Cooperation

China-US Focus, 2 November 2017

This article by Zhao Weibin, a researcher at the PLA Academy of Military Science, discusses the nuances of the bilateral relationship between China and US. Analysing the progression from Bush to Obama, and now to Trump, this article highlights the prudence of fostering positive diplomatic relationships.

Further, the author posits that China needs to actively respond to major American concerns, including issues of trade, the denuclearisation of the DPRK, countering global terrorism, and finally issues of cyber security. The article argues that the US can learn much from China’s governance in terms of disaster response, and fixing social inequalities. Additionally, Zhao states that China should assert its core concerns and assist on the non-negotiability of US arms sales to Taiwan.

In the latter half of the article, suggestions are made to improve bilateral relations. These include the strengthening of strategic communication, prevention and joint management of crisis situations, and generally achieving win-win results, rather than adversarial politics. Finally, compromise and cooperation are heralded as the central tenets of positive relations between these two countries.

Read the original opinion piece: Trump’s China Visit: A Basis for Coexistence

THAAD missile defence system

South Korea & THAAD

新华社, 31 October 2017

In this commentary, Xinhua News Agency discusses the progress made towards healthy bilateral relations between South Korea and China. These relations were previously tense due to the proposed implementation of THAAD (Terminal High-Altitude Aerial Defence) missile defence systems in South Korea, which Beijing claims compromises China's regional security.

Xinhua underscores that South Korea has become more considerate of China’s position, and has reassured its regional neighbour that they do not intend to interfere with Chinese security.

The article looks back at the positive relations between the incumbent South Korean government and China. Further, it highlights that there are mutual benefits in cooperation and exchange between the two nations, and a joint interest in the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

However, whilst the article points to a consensus on the THAAD issue, it also notes that it is not fully resolved. This is to say, that China still opposes its implementation due to 'geopolitical and regional security patterns'. 

Read the original commentary: 妥处“萨德”问题,中韩关系才能向前看 ['Only when the THAAD issue is handled properly can China-ROK relations move forward']

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Xi-Trump Phone call

Global Times, 26 October 2017

This Global Times editorial presents progress in US-China relations, introducing it through the lens of a positive phone call between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump after the 19th Party Congress. The article reported that Trump was the first international leader to congratulate Xi on re-election as the CPC Central Committee General Secretary. Moreover, Trump reportedly expressed his enthusiasm towards his upcoming visit to strengthen bilateral ties.

The Global Times article then pivots to highlight a dissonance within “US elite groups”, like such as senior US officials and think-tanks and who have in recent weeks voiced concerns about the US-China relationship. The Global Times proceeded to posit that Chinese think-tanks are more aware of the “importance of protecting a friendly atmosphere among the citizens of both countries”, and hence did not widely disseminate such “pessimistic viewpoints”.

The overall tone indicates that other nations need not fear the rise of China, but remain “strategically rational” in the face of growing insecurities.

Read the original editorial: Xi-Trump phone call rings positive for bilateral ties

Hammer and Sickle

New era of socialist ideology

Xinhua News Agency, 24 October 2017

This commentary published by Xinhua News Agency discusses how the Communist Party of China aims to lead China into a new era using “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism” - a new form of socialism which is adaptive to “China’s reality”. The article states that the "aim is to build China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful.”

It also claims that China is leading the world in terms of socialist development, and that this pathway can be mirrored by other highly populated developing countries in order to achieve modernisation. As such, the article argues that China offers an alternative to the Western development model: “The new world order cannot be dominated by capitalism and the West.”

Read the commentary: Milestone congress points to new era for China, the world

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Building a Clean World

Xinhua News Agency, 18 October 2017

In this article by Xinhua News Agency, Xi Jinping’s report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Part of China (CPC) is portrayed as advocating for a greater effort from the international community in ensuring a “clean, beautiful” planet.

Whilst the article hints at “universal security, and common prosperity”, it also was skewed towards issues of global economic growth, income disparities, regional “hotspot issues” and unconventional security threats including terrorism, cyber-terrorism, bio-terrorism and climate change.

Quoting Xi, "No country can alone address the many challenges facing mankind; no country can afford to retreat into self-isolation," Xinhua presents his emphasis on building a community of nations.

However, the article pivoted to focus on Xi’s push for international environmental cooperation. This includes citing Xi’s report that China should be a “torchbearer” and take a “driving seat” in steering the global response to climate change.

Read the original article: CPC advocates joint building of a clean, beautiful world

Hammer and Sickle

The CPC's mid-century goals

Xinhua News Agency, 18 October 2017

This article by Xinhua News Agency outlines Xi Jinping’s plan to transform China into a “great modern socialist country” by 2050. From 2020, China will plan to achieve this strategic vision in two separate stages.

The first, is to expand upon China’s moderately prosperous society and achieve socialist modernisation by 2035. The latter stage is to further the push for modernisation and allows China to flourish into a “prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful” country.
Xinhua proceeds to underscore the various points they look to achieve. This was namely material, political, cultural and ethical, social, and ecological advancement; modernisation of China’s system and capacity for governance; and common prosperity, happiness and safety for the Chinese population.

Finally, the article posits Xi’s drive for a comity of nations, and furthermore, positions his speech in a time where socialism with Chinese characteristics has “entered a new era”.

Read the article: Xi says CPC to develop China into "great modern socialist country" by mid-21st century

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Trump's upcoming visit to China

Xinhua News Agency, 2 October 2017

This article published by Xinhua News Agency highlights the importance of President Trump’s upcoming visit to China to enhance bilateral relations.

The piece outlines that frequent communication, negotiations and talks "based on mutual respect for each other’s core interests" will "efficiently manage diverse views and strengthen bilateral cooperation".

The commentary notes that President Xi Jinping believes that “the common interests of the two countries far outweigh their differences”, which will potentially allow both countries to “combat global challenges” collectively. As such, the commentary focuses on the possibility of targeting several areas in which the nations may work together bilaterally and also at a regional and international level.

Read the original commentary: How to ensure Trump’s upcoming China visit is a success 

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Labor's Interest in the BRI

Xinhua News Agency, 30 September 2017

This article published by Xinhua News Agency reports on shadow treasurer Chris Bowen's statements about the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) during his speech at the Asia Society on 29 September.

The article reports that if the Labor Party were to win the next election they would have an "open mind as to how Australia and China can best collaborate on the Belt and Road Initiative".

The article also notes that Labor has previously expressed potential support for the BRI. It mentions shadow minister for foreign affairs Penny Wong's comments about the initiative, including that the BRI "provides valuable opportunities for bilateral and multilateral cooperation".

Since its inception, 74 countries and international organisations have signed up to the initiative.

Read the article: Australian shadow treasurer expresses interest in China's Belt and Road Initiative 


Global Security Governance

People's Daily, 27 September 2017

The People’s Daily reports on Xi Jinping’s call for greater international cooperation in global security at the 86th Interpol General Assembly in Beijing.

Positioning China as one of the “most secure countries in the world”, People’s Daily proceeds to frame China’s strength in regional security.

The article then highlights China’s different contributions to international security, working with more than 70 countries on issues such as international terrorism, cybercrime, drug trafficking and extradition. The article also emphasises that China is the largest contributor of UN peacekeeping troops among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

In the article, Xi calls for countries to adopt “a concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and jointly respond to security challenges." Xi also promises to provide concrete support to Interpol, with special focus on training up to 20,000 within the Ministry of Public Security as international law enforcement personnel to be deployed in developing countries.

Read the commentary: Xi's proposal to boost global security governance

Chinese Book

Socialist art & literature

Xinhua News Agency, 27 September 2017

In this article Xinhua News Agency comments on Xi Jinping’s call for writers and artists to produce ideological artworks that “focus on the people”.

Xinhua reports on Xi’s instructions to artists to “record the work of the people and spread the power of positivity in their works”, ultimately working towards a sense of spiritual rejuvenation and strengthening of people’s faith. Xinhua also shows Xi’s dedication to “those working in literary and art fields”, due to their instrumental role in promoting the Xi’s Chinese Dream.

In a commendation symposium on cultural and ideological progress on Wednesday, Xi’s artistic and cultural push was echoed by Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC.

According to Liu, these artworks should demonstrate the significant achievements and “historical changes” that have been made since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012.

Read the original article: Xi calls for writers, artists to focus on the people

THAAD missile defence system

Trump's Speech at the UN

环球时报, 20 September 2017

This editorial published in the Global Times (环球时报) criticises US President Donald Trump and his speech at the United Nations on 19 September 2017. Trump’s threat to ‘totally destroy North Korea’ caused particular alarm. Chinese media outlets labelled it an irresponsible comment which was unhelpful for defusing tensions on the Korea Peninsula.

The editorial notes that the ‘total destruction’ of North Korea would necessarily involve the sacrifice of neighbouring countries, primarily China and South Korea. A nuclear exchange would result in harmful fallout in Northeast Asia, particularly South Korea and the Shandong Peninsula. The author criticises Washington for its ‘strategic selfishness’ and inability to consider security concerns of other countries.

The author even writes that ‘If nuclear war were to break out between the US and North Korea leading to large-scale nuclear pollution, then Pyongyang and Washington would have committed a crime against the Chinese and Korean peoples’.

Read the original Chinese-language editorial: “彻底摧毁朝鲜”将严重威胁中韩安全 [“Totally destroying North Korea” seriously endangers Chinese and South Korean security]