Having been the Chinese premier for much of the eighties, Zhao Ziyang was party chief in 1989, when students and other citizens held a protest campaign in central Beijing against corruption, calling also for more political participation. Their movement was brutally suppressed by the army on June 4. The Chinese leadership claims to the present day that the clampdown was necessary to prevent the overthrow of the government. On the tapes, which have now become public, Zhao Ziyang questions this view: "First, it was determined then that the student movement was 'a planned conspiracy' of anti-Party, anti-socialist elements with leadership. So now we must ask, who were these leaders? What was the plan? What was the conspiracy? What evidence exists to support this? And can it be proven that the June Fourth movement was 'counterrevolutionary turmoil', as it was designated? The students were orderly. Many reports indicate that on the occasions when the People’s Liberation Army came under … [Read more...] about The Secret Memoirs of a Dead Chinese Premier
At the height of China's student-led democracy movement in 1989, the country's powerful Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang went to Tiananmen Square on May 19 and requested the hunger strikers to go home. He reportedly said, "I came too late." The next day, the government declared martial law and Zhao disappeared. After the military crackdown on protesters in June, 1989, speculation was rife that Zhao had been stripped of power. A month later, he was ousted from the Communist Party. Zhao was placed under house arrest in Beijing until his death on January 17, 2005. DW: What comes to your mind when you think of Zhao Ziyang? Eberhard Sandschneider: Zhao was one of the founders of China's liberal economic policies. Together with another Chinese reformer, Deng Xiaoping, and the long-time Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang, Zhao steered the early stages of the country's agricultural and industrial reforms. Unfortunately, the whole thing came to an inglorious end after the 1989 Tiananmen … [Read more...] about Zhao Ziyang: The forgotten architect of China’s economic reforms
Traditionally, the National People's Congress is the prime minister's show. He's the head of government, and the government is accountable to the 3,000-odd delegates of the Chinese parliament. This Thursday, Prime Minister Li Keqiang will be presenting his work at the annual meeting of parliament. Even if its delegates are not freely elected in the western sense, the discussions they're conducting among themselves these days are getting the leadership hot under the collar. Given current power structures, the tension is rising in the current situation in Beijing. Xi Jinping is the most powerful state and party head since Deng Xiaoping. So how much room does that leave Prime Minister Li to make his own mark? He is unlikely to dwell on the anti-corruption campaign, even though it's such a hot button issue on China these days. It's a party matter, and therefore Xi's business. Li has most room to manouver in the area of economic reform. He's the architect of China's new 'normal.' In … [Read more...] about Sieren’s China: What the public expects of the upcoming National People’s Congress
This year's meeting of China's rubber stamp legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), is taking on more salience as it comes months ahead of an even more significant political event, the twice-a-decade national congress of the governing Communist Party. At the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party this fall, President Xi will officially start his second term and a reshuffling of top party leadership is expected to be made. The agenda at the NPC, which kicks off March 3, features discussions on social and economic reform as well as a new defense budget, which has surged over the past several years to become the world's second biggest. In an interview with DW, Willy Lam, a Chinese politics expert and professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, talks about how President Xi Jinping is consolidating his grip on power in the country and why it could be a big defeat for political reform in the communist nation. DW: What can we … [Read more...] about Is Xi Jinping’s political ambition bad for China?
Fraudster, insane and paranoid: words often used by the Chinese media to describe 49-year-old Ma Yun, also known as Jack Ma. "I am not good at math, have never studied management, and still cannot read accounting reports," Ma recently said. But despite these "shortcomings," Ma has single-handedly transformed Alibaba from an apartment-based company to an e-commerce empire. Nicknamed "fly with the wind," which refers to a mysterious and maverick character from popular Chinese literature, Ma does not hesitate to break the rules. He is viewed both as a "constructor" and a "disrupter" in his country. Unlike Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, Ma does not have any background in computer sciences or information technology. In fact, the IT billionaire did not even hear the word "computer" in his childhood. He scored 1 out of 120 in a math exam, thus failing to secure a college admission. For these reasons, he calls himself an "outsider." In the 1980s, after studying English in a college in his … [Read more...] about Jack Ma: China’s controversial ‘Mr. Internet’
Pu Zhiqiang, who is awaiting trial, has already been behind bars for 587 days. It is a case amongst peers, as all parties involved are deeply familiar with every detail of the Chinese legal system, as well as its recesses. In the only three page criminal complaint against him, the state prosecutor has accused the human rights lawyer of "inciting hatred among ethnic groups" within the country and being a "public troublemaker." On Monday, December 14, the case will be heard by Beijing's Second Intermediate People's Court. Last year in March, nine people clad in black indiscriminately attacked pedestrians with machetes at a railway station. Twenty-nine people were killed and several hundred were wounded in the attacks. The perpetrators belonged to the ethnic Uyghur group, a Turkic-speaking minority based in western China. Chinese authorities describe them as "terrorists" and "separatists." After the assault, Pu allegedly published eight short messages on the Internet, which, the … [Read more...] about Chinese human rights lawyer to stand trial
What was it about? The Cultural Revolution was a socio-political campaign launched in 1966 by Mao Zedong, the then-chairman of the Communist Party of China (CPC), to create a "new person." According to the Sinologist Oskar Weggel, this "new person" was supposed to be a "selfless communal being in a society free of domination, which had always wandered like a ghost through human utopias." To attain the goal, Mao called for the destruction of the "Four Olds" - old ideas, culture, customs and habits. Mao Zedong's ideas were supposed to replace them. Mao also called for the neutralization of "counter-revolutionaries" and revisionist elements in the party, embodied by his rival Liu Shaoqi, who had replaced him as president of the People's Republic of China just a few years earlier. So the Cultural Revolution was a power struggle within the CPC's leadership. Economically, Liu was more inclined toward market forces (like Deng Xiaoping later) while politically he favored discipline in the … [Read more...] about Q&A: What was the Cultural Revolution?
When Chinese troops moved into Tiananmen Square, the large plaza at the heart of Beijing, on June 4, 1989 with orders to end a stand-off with thousands of pro-democracy protestors, the world watched in horror. After weeks of demonstrations, industrial action, hunger strikes and eventually pitched battles with the authorities, the Chinese government's use of the army of the People's Republic to crush the pro-democracy movement drew almost global condemnation from the international community. The European Economic Community, the forerunner of the European Union, condemned the Chinese government's response and cancelled all high level contacts and loans. The EEC also set up an arms embargo against China which remains in place to this day. "In the early 1980s, China was considered to be one of the more advanced of the Communist states in terms of reform and there were high expectations of China leading the other Communist countries and setting a good example," Dr. Yiyi Lu, senior … [Read more...] about EU’s uneasy relationship with China endures 20 years on
Berlin's Zoological Garden received two pandas from the Chinese government. The couple - the female Meng-Meng and male Jiao Qing - landed in Berlin on June 24 and were formally handed over on July 5. Many Germans have appeared ecstatic about the event. Others, like German philosopher Richard David Precht, are skeptical about the fascination with "cute" animals. DW spoke with the best-selling author, whose works have been translated into dozens of languages. DW: Mr. Precht, are you looking forward to Meng-Meng und Jiao Qing? It's a very unusual visit. Richard David Precht: "Looking forward to it" is perhaps not quite the appropriate expression. But I do think it is a good thing for the zoo to have been granted the bid to host the pandas, since very few zoos outside of China are home to them. The Berlin Zoo has been busy building and installing air-conditioning systems, places with shade, a little river, some places to retreat to, and so on. The … [Read more...] about Why our obsession with animals is schizophrenic
He was confined to his homeland for over four years by the Chinese authorities. When Ai Weiwei was finally allowed to leave China at the end of July 2015, he moved to Berlin to join his family. Beyond accepting the guest professorship at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) he had already been offered in 2011, the dissident artist's future plans were still open. But it was clear to many that the famous Chinese provocateur wouldn't stop tackling political issues: "He's assumed his responsibility as a defender of human rights and I don't think that's about to change," museum curator Adrian Locke, who was preparing an Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 2015, told DW at the time. That same summer, an unforeseen flow of refugees was reaching Europe. The migrants' plight echoed Ai's own experiences; the dangerous journeys they undertook inspired a series of projects. "With every exhibition, I also try to answer the question of who I am," … [Read more...] about Provocative forever: Ai Weiwei turns 60