Li Rui’s controversial life reflects diversity of opinion

Li Rui, former deputy head of the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, died i

n Beijing on Saturday. His death grabbed the headlines in many Western media outlets. A report by The New York Times called Li “standard-bea

rer for liberal values in China.” But how to evaluate him divided online public opinion in China.

Li lived for 101 years. His long life span contributed to his influence.

Li’s life was a bumpy ride. He experienced almost all historic events such as the Yan’

an Rectification campaign, and himself became the subject of several political movements.

Li was imprisoned once in Yan’an before the founding of the People’s Republic of China. In the

20 years after 1959, he was either held in confinement or in labor camps. The experiences were even quite unfortunate in that historical context.

Li’s career peaked when he was appointed as the deputy head of the Organization Department of the CPC Central

Committee after the reform and opening-up. His title as the secretary of Chairman Mao Zedong remains controversial.

In general, his positions had not offered him opportunities to exercise an enormous impact on China. His influence was limited until he retired.

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It was after his retirement that Li’s influence reached the

pinnacle. Since the end of the 1980s, he had made his voice heard constantly and had been labeled the “CPC veteran cadre + CPC critic.”

As a representative figure among veteran outspoken officials, he was hailed among Chinese liberals and Western public opin

ion. Among his propositions, the most famous was opposing the construction of the Three Gorges Dam.

Looking back on Li’s life, the prime of his life was embedded in the wave of the Chinese Revolu

tion and the country’s early development; he suffered a lot during that period of time.

In his later years, he participated in the creation of a special type of “veteran cadre + critic.” Stronger opinion was not at al

l unusual in those years, but the label of a retired official helped increase the gravity of Li’s voice and consolidated his stance.

Li’s later years were a success from another perspective as well. He had been enjoying a

generous pension and lavish benefits after retirement until he died in Beijing Hospital.

While benefiting from the privileges the state provided, he was also supported by China’s do

mestic anti-establishment forces and some Western powers. He was one of China’s least lonely old men and veteran cadres.

It should be noted that Li in his later years became a symbol of the diversificat

ion of Chinese society. Considering the meaning of this symbol, different conclusions can be drawn.

Supporters may hold that he had added a voice and more importantly a “scarce voice,” while

opponents would argue that he had become a tool for hostile and unfriendly forces to attack the Chinese system.

Li’s later years demonstrated a special way of boycotting China’s mainstream path. Such a role played by him may reflect various value judgments.

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Germany claims the crown for record gathering of smurfs

group of German friends claimed a world record on Saturday for the highest

number of smurfs gathered in one place.

Fans of the blue elf-like creatures created in a Belgian comic strip during

the 1950s, managed to gather

2,762 people dressed and painted blue in regulation smurf attire – curly hats and all.

The gathering took place at the town of Lauchringen, near the German border

with Switzerland, the organizers reported on Facebook.

Their record came three years after their first attempt failed to beat the record

held by Welsh students who managed to unite 2,510 regulation smurfs in Swansea back in 2009.

The German‘s first effort failed, with only 2,149 turning up.

The rules of the game are strict: The only people counted as the genuine article are

those with any bare skin painted blue and the rest of the body clothed in smurf attire.

The group of friends made their second, victorious attempt on Saturday with the

backing of the mayor of Lauchringen, they said.

The smurfs, small, impish creatures who live in a village, were created by the

Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford, known as Peyo.

They became so popular that the stories eventually spilled over into cartoons and

even live-action films.

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Japan’s ambition is to become a global political power.

and diplomatic means alone cannot support Japan’s global ambitions. A military presence at the global level is needed if Japan is to expand its political clout.

Compared with old European powers like the UK and France, Japan’s military influence in Europe is jerkwater. But it is different after Japan signed military pac

ts with these countries – Japan’s political influence is increasing because of the support of military powers.

With the influence of the UK and France declining in the Asia-Pacific region, their military activities can get the support from Japan via the A

CSA, which will immensely boost Japan’s military clout. These European countries will not look at J

apan through the military lens, which will effectively strengthen Japan’s political might.

Meanwhile, exchange of military provisions will help enhance pe

ople-to-people exchanges between Japan and these countries, exerting Japan’s cultural influe

nce in these countries and beyond. Even if Japan fails to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, it can still play a major role in th

e world. This has been part of the global strategies of the Abe administration.

We can see that Japan signing ACSAs with six countries is not just for d

efense and military purposes, it’s part of an overall plan to influence economics, pol

itics, military and culture, which is a long-term strategic mind-set of the Japanese government.

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According to The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Repor

eased by the World Economic Forum, global tourism revenue contributed over 10 percent of the global GDP, but China’s domest

ic tourism revenue was around 5.5 percent of its GDP, which has been the world’s second highest since 2012. C

ompared with its economic volume, the Chinese tourism industry is not very well developed, which may have something to d

o with the overall low disposable income levels of Chinese residents. For example, in 2017, China’s gross national inc

ome (GNI) per capita ranked 69th in the world, while the US GNI per capita was 6.5 times that of China during the same time period.

In recent years, various local governments have been making great efforts to promote the increase of local tourism revenue

s by building traditional towns, exploring and developing local history, local culture and other tourist resources. It is certainly justified for au

thorities to develop tourism, to expand domestic demand, to increase “green” GDP and promote an economic transformation. However, it should be no

ted that the development of a tourism industry is closely related to the growth of residents’ disposable income. As the income level of residents rises, the to

urism industry will naturally see a rapid development. In the context of the declining growth of residents’ disposable i

ncome, it is completely unrealistic to achieve a rapid growth in tourism revenues. Furthermore, as various local gov

ernments are competing to develop tourism resources, this may lead to an “oversupply” within the tourism ind

ustry, and this will result in a low efficiency of fiscal expenditure and a waste of precious resources.

In short, it is of fundamental importance to find ways to improve the disposable income level of re

sidents as well as social security and welfare, which is the prerequisite for sustainable prosperity.

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The BJP has projected Gandhi as a “Chinese propagandist.

raving about China,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra was quoted as saying in The Times of India.

The BJP has also questioned the “request” of the Chinese ambassador to give a ceremonial send-off to Gandhi for his Mansarovar trip. “When Rahul Gan

dhi went for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, a letter was sent by the Chinese ambassador to the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) that he wanted to give Rah

ul Gandhi a ceremonial send-off. This protocol is limited to heads of state or government and leader of opposition. No

w it is clear why China wanted to extend this protocol to Rahul Gandhi. Yatra was just an excuse, he had to meet Chinese ministers and discuss so

mething. The cat is out of the bag today, and the Congress needs to clarify,” Patra told Hindustan Times. The BJP didn’t stop at that. It als

o dug into Gandhi’s earlier meeting with the Chinese envoy in India during the Doklam standoff.

If the developments are any indication, the BJP is desperate to raise any issue which could work in its favor in the elections with the mood of the general

masses not looking positive towards the party. It wants to eliminate the anti-incumbency factor and divert the at

ention of the masses from more pressing issues. The main opposition has alleged the BJP failed to keep its promise of

generating 20 million jobs in a year. The opposition is also repeatedly raising the Rafale fighter jet deal to counter M

odi’s take on corruption. Now the BJP strategists feel playing the China card, to a certain extent, could help the ruling party in this matter.

But experts say such issues are not going to impact the elections. “China card will prove to be of litt

le or just no help for the BJP,” says Ajay Jha, a prominent Delhi-based journalist who is an expert in Chinese affairs.

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ccording to Jha, domestic issues, and not international

dominated Indian elections. “As such, China is not a threat to internal peace and security though a lingering border dispute has made people skeptical of China

,” Jha explains. Moreover, the way both nations dealt with the Doklam standoff indicates their maturity in handling such issues.

Pakistan, however, has been dominating every election since both nations have fought several wars and the w

ay Pakistan has been in the eye of the storm over allegations of supporting cross-border terrorism.

Pakistan also dominated the last general elections in 2014. During the mon

ths-long campaign, a top BJP leader Giriraj Singh said those opposing Modi should go to P

akistan. The remarks, many say, led to a strong polarization of Hindu votes in the surrounding areas as the BJP ma

de a clean sweep in Jharkhand and neighboring Bihar. Singh is currently a federal minister.

But why is the BJP desperate to play the China card this time? As per reports, the BJP has become apprehensive of not put

ting up a good show in the elections. Modi dropped enough hints about it when he urged people to elect a stable g

overnment so it could take “tough and strong decisions”. Various poll surveys too are making similar predictions.

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In the guidelines, the regulator set detailed rules on

the basic prerequisites that micro and small enterprises should meet to renew their loans and on the regulatory

requirements for banking institutions to do this type of business.

The loan renewal policy does not apply to real estate companies or enterprise group head office that are not engaged in production

and business operation. Besides, qualified companies should not have delinquent loans and interests with malice, according to Jiang.

In terms of pricing, the regulator said commercial banks should adhere to market principl

es and encouraged banks to renew micro and small business loans at a lending rate no higher than the previous rate.

As of the end of 2018, the balance of micro and small business loans of the banking sector in Beijing

increased by 15.23 percent year-on-year to 1.2 trillion yuan ($176.95 billion). During the same pe

riod, the number of micro and small enterprises that received loans grew by 59,500 to 257,200.

A recent survey on 617 micro and small businesses in 200 villages in Beijing’s peripheral areas found that at the start-up phase, 13 perc

ent of the businesses obtained bank loans, 13 percent borrowed from friends and relatives, 8 percent secured funding from

microcredit companies, nearly 8 percent received loans from small lending services offered by Alibaba Group Ho

lding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd, while the majority of business owners used their own money or borrowed from individual creditors, said Mo Xiugen, di

rector of research at the Chinese Academy of Financial Inclusion at Renmin University of China.

He advised policymakers to encourage joint-stock commercial banks and microcredit com

panies to play a bigger part in providing financing to micro and small companies, as these financial institu

tions are more flexible and experienced in serving small business clients than large State-owned commercial banks.

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The amount of new loans more than doubled from 1.08 tr

The M2, a broad measure of money supply that covers cash in circulation and all deposits, ro

se 8.4 percent year-on-year to 186.59 trillion yuan at the end of January, according to the PBOC.

The M2 growth was 0.3 percentage points up from the level at the end of December.

The narrow measure of the money supply (M1), which covers cash in circulation plus demand

deposits, rose 0.4 percent year-on-year to 54.56 trillion yuan by the end of last month.

New yuan loans made to households reached 989.8 billion yuan last month, while t

hose to non-financial enterprises and government institutions totaled 2.58 trillion yuan.

Newly-added social financing, a measurement of funds that individuals and non-fina

ncial firms get from the financial system, stood at 4.64 trillion yuan in January, up 1.56 trillion yuan year-on-year.

China will keep its prudent monetary policy “neither too tight nor too

loose” while maintaining market liquidity at a reasonably ample level in 2019, ac

cording to the annual Central Economic Work Conference held in December last year.

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Nation’s property sector remains robustperty models in Donggu

Experts said the Spring Festival holiday was the major factor behind the significant drop in property sales perfor

mance nationwide in the first month of 2019 and did not necessarily represent a negative market trend for the industry.

According to Centaline Property Agency’s research, in January property sales declined by 38 p

ercent year-on-year in the first-tier cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Among the four cities, Guangzhou saw the most dramatic decrease of 65 percent year-on-year, followed by Beijing, where home sales dropped by over 40 percent.

Country Garden, one of the country’s biggest developers, sold 33 billion yuan ($4.88 billion) of prop

erty in January, a 52.2 percent yearly decline. Vanke, whose monthly sales were 48.8 billion yu

an, saw a 28.1 percent drop year-on-year, while Evergrande Group’s sales performance shrank by 32.9 percent.

Third and fourth-tier cities accounted for most of the sales, but these had also slowed down com

pared to the same period in 2018. Zhang Dawei, chief analyst at Centaline, said the lack of e

nthusiasm from buyers was caused by the overheated market during last year’s Spring Festival.

“During the Spring Festival in 2018, housing prices in first and second-tier cities suddenly increased, triggering price

rises in lower-tier ones too,” said Zhang. “Back then, buying properties in one’s lower-tier hometown became a trend.”

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