Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PetroChina's $1.9B buy in oilsands approved

The federal government on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for PetroChina to buy a $1.9-billion stake in a pair of oilsands projects in northeast Alberta in what observers are saying herald warming trade ties between the two countries.

Dr. Wenran Jiang said the deal marks a turnaround in policy on the part of the Harper government who had previously been critical of the communist country’s human rights record.

A series of high-profile visits by Canadian officials in recent months, including a state visit by the Prime Minister himself, has rekindled the once-chilly relationship leading to greater confidence on the part of the Chinese to invest in Canada.

“It’s a very small number, but it’s big for Canada,” Wenran said in an interview. “The Chinese recognize there has been a major policy shift. Expect more Chinese investment in the resource and energy sectors ... there will definitely be more.”

Saturday, December 12, 2009

ID card proponents push for single system

On December 12, 2008, I was quoted by Ontarion newspaper Business Edge on a proposal calling for the creation of a single identification-card system that can be used by frequent business travellers in both North America and Asia.

I noted that this new system would be a welcome step for travellers as it could reduce the stress associated with customs clearance.

To read the story, click here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Bosworth in Pyongyang: Mission Impossible?

On December 08, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang was invited by CNN to comment on top U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth's high profile visit to North Korea.

Click here to read the full story.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

China expects Harper's visit to renew bilateral relationship

On November 26 and December 1, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang was quoted in and the China Daily commenting on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit to China. Dr. Jiang says this visit will renew ties between both countries and establish new trade opportunities.

Visit here and here to read more.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Canada needs to articulate a clear China strategy

On December 2, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang published a commentary on the Canadian International Council. In the article, Dr Jiang argues, despite Harper's much anticipated visit to China, the Harper cabinet needs to formulate a strategic China policy and improve the bilateral trade and investment relationship.

To read the full story, please click here.

Dr Jiang was also quoted in the Winnipeg Free Press, The Globe and Mail, and The Canadian Press, commenting on the Conservative government's foreign policy towards China since they came to power.

To read the stories in full, please visit the following links:

The costs of a tattered connection

China slap? Turn the other cheek, shake hands and get on with business: experts

Experts urge Harper not to lose focus on Asian opportunity

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Obama Wraps up China Visit

On November 18 and 19, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, was quoted in the Christian Science Monitor and the Malaysian Insider commenting on U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to China.

Dr. Jiang commented on China - US relations, particularly the interdependence of the two economies.

Click here and here to read the full

Friday, October 23, 2009

The credit crisis and the world's financial architecture

On October 23, 2008, Dr. Jiang was interviewed in The Agenda program on TVO. The topic was "The credit crisis and the world's financial architecture: Are 20th century institutions up to the task of managing 21st century problems?"
Dr. Jiang stated that developing nations like China should be given an elevated position within the decision-making and agenda-setting structure of World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

To listen to this edition's podcast, please click here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

U. S. Climate debate why America needs more Canada

On September 26, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, was quoted in Calgary Herald on Canada-U.S. energy relations.

You can read the article here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

China's Diplomatic Adventure in Israel and Arab Nations

On September 23, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, was quoted in BBC Chinese News Service on China's recent diplomatic adventure in Israel and Arab nations.

You can read the article, in Chinese, here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Canadian government slow to woo Asia's giants

On September 18, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, was quoted in Ottawa Citizen on Canada's Conservative government's attempts to thaw relations with China, after a chilly start.

You can read the article here.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

China's move into oil sands irks the U.S.

On September 01, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, was quoted in the Globe and Mail commenting on the news that PetroChina Co. Ltd.'s $1.9-billion investment in Alberta's oil sands venture is raising alarms in Washington.

You can read the article here.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Stern Hu knows the stakes at play

On July 18, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, was interviewed by the Australian on the detention of four Rio Tinto executives last week in Shanghai, China, on charges of bribing staff of Chinese steel companies during iron ore negotiations this year.

In the interview, Wenran recalls Stern Hu, one of the detained Rio Tinto executives, from their days together at Beijing University. They were both studying in the history department there 30 years ago. He noted that it's unfortunate to see what's happening to him. In the world of commercial negotiations, the borderline between what is public information and what is a state secret may be easily crossed or blurred in China.

Now, Jiang says, because of China's desire to re-regulate the industry and the resulting media insistence that Chinese businesses that have acted detrimentally to that goal must pay a price, many of Hu's Chinese customers will be shaking, wondering when the police will knock on their door.

You can read the article here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Chinese buying spree bypasses Canada

On July 17, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, was interviewed by Calgary Herald on China's growing need for energy and its continued quest to shore up supply through overseas buying spree in Brazil, Central Asia, Venezuela, and Russia. What's curious, however, is that none of those deals has taken place in Canada.

In the paper, Dr. Jiang lists a number of reasons for this apparent lack of activity. One of those factors is the lack of pipeline infrastructure to the west coast that could facilitate the export of oilsands production to China and other countries in the Far East. Jiang makes reference to the memorandum of understanding signed with Enbridge back in 2005 in connection with the Gateway Pipeline, but it's been almost four years since that time and the pipeline has yet to be built.

You can read the article here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Is China Really a Melting Pot?

Banner image: Ethnic Uighurs go about their daily lives in Xinjiang's famed Silk Road city of Kashgar in China's far northwestern, mainly Muslim Xinjiang region.
Photo: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

On July 14, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, was interviewed by KCRW Radio on the July 6 Uyghur riots occurred in the capital of China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

First the Tibetans, now the Uighurs, are challenging China's central authority. Can 56 very different cultural and linguistic groups continue to get along?

During the interview, Dr. Jiang said that Han population in the Xinjiang Region has grown from 6 percent to over 40 percent now, but the current migration trend is motivated more by economic opportunism of the "outsiders". Nevertheless, many Uyghurs view this as an infringement over their lives and interests. The tension is on the rise and it threatens stability in the region.

You can listen to the entire audio clip available on the KCRW website. Wenran's comment starts around at 31:00 minutes from the beginning.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Uighur Unrest Seen Highighting China's Ethnic Tensions

On July 13, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, was interivewed by the AFP, commenting on the July 6 Uyghur riots occurred in the capital of China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

In the article, Dr. Jiang urges Beijing to squarely face the reality about how minorities are being treated by Hans, not only in Xinjiang, but in the rest of the country.

Even though China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported following the unrest that Xinjiang's economy quadrupled to 400 billion yuan ($60 billion) in 2008 compared with how it stood in 1997, Wenran noted that this has not produced the intended consequences of uplifting the local people as much as the Hans.

You can read the article here.

During the past few days, Wenran also did several interviews with OMNI TV, CBC National Radio News national security reporter Bill Gillespie, and CBC Radio Active Hop Spot host Peter Brown on the same topics, providing his comments, the background of the Xinjing riot, and its latest development.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Resource-rich Xinjiang crucial to China

On July 12, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, was interviewed by the AFP on the July 6 Uyghur riots occurred in the capital of China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Wenran noted that the strategic importance of Xinjiang - it takes up one sixth of China's land mass and borders Central Asia - meant any long-term unrest would not be tolerated. He told the AFP during the interview that Xinjing is China's northwest frontier, and like Tibet, is absolutely vital to the country's security. Beijing will not compromise in any way on these regions.

You can read the article here.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

West Coast oilsands exports at record, Shipments open new markets for Alberta crude

On July 09, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, was interviewed by the Calgary Herald on Canada's record high oil shipment in spring 2009 through the Port of Vancouver bounding for Asian markets. It was the first time tanker shipments have exceeded the 100,000 bpd threshold. The prospect of Canadian crude exports to China has also increased in proportion to China's growing oil consumption.

Wenran Jiang said China has made major acquisitions of Canadian companies such as Petro-Kazakhstan and, more recently, the $8.27-billion purchase of Addax Petroleum. However, he noted a reluctance on the part of the Chinese authorities to do deals in Canada itself. China will hold off on major investments in Canada until Canadian producers take concrete steps to provide long-term stable supplies, he said.

You can read the article here.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Why China has clenched its fist in Xinjiang

On July 08, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, was interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor on the July 6 Uyghur riots occurred in the capital of China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

With respect to Beijing's harsh crackdown to the riots, Wenran noted that with a rising Han population, the military garrisons, and security "the absolute guiding principle" of Beijing's policy toward minorities, there is no doubt that any means will be used to crush any aspirations to separatism.

But at the same time, Wenran sees signs of a debate within the ruling Communist party. "The first thing the authorities need to do is to actually acknowledge the problem," says him. He believes that "more thoughtful" leaders will seek a "more sophisticated" response to Sunday's unrest than a further crackdown.

You can read the article here.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

New Frontier, same old problems for China

On July 07, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, wrote an Op-ed article in the Globe and Mail newspaper commenting on the July 6 Uyghur riots occurred in the capital of China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Dr. Jiang noted in the paper that the unrest raises serious questions about China's stability, the distribution of its wealth and long-term relations between the Han majority and other ethnic groups.

Dr. Jiang first provided a historical and geopolitical background on the Xinjiang Region, followed by his opinion that force alone cannot maintain stability.

He holds the view that ethnic minorities' frustrations and grievances need to be addressed in the long run with innovative policy initiatives if Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are to be true to their words of building a “harmonious society.”

You can read the article here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

China thirsty for foreign oil

On June 30, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, was interviewed by the Globe and Mail on China's increasing appetite for crude oil, which has driven it to spend billions to acquire foreign oil producers and construct vast storage facilities to safeguard future needs.

Wenran noted that much of China's demand has come from new car owners -- in May, the government said sales increased by 54.7 per cent year over year to 812,178 vehicles. He further noted that China sold more cars last year than the U.S., and will see another 10-per-cent rise this year. He thinks this means that China is a fast-growing market for oil, and its potential appetite will be huge.

You can read the article here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

China's unquenchable thirst for oil

June 27, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair at the China Institute and Associate Professor of Political Science, was quoted in the Global and Mail on Sinopec's attempt to acquire Canadian-based oil company Addax for more than $8 billion Canadian dollars.

Dr. Jiang, who maintains close ties to many major Chinese energy firms, said in the paper that oil companies around the world are looking for investment from China. But so far, he said, Canadian-based firms are more likely to sell offshore assets to the Chinese than their domestic holdings.

You can read the article here.

Despite recession, the Chinese are aggressively pursuing energy assets.
Copyright: The Globe and Mail

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Tiananmen 20 years later: The withering of ideologies

Chinese not willing to jeopardize their prosperity by pressing for political reform

The Toronto Star
Jun 04, 2009 04:30 AM

Twenty years ago today, Canadians and people around the world were glued to their televisions to watch the tragic events in Beijing unfold as the Chinese government used force to crack down on demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square.

Two decades later, there is much debate about the nature of the student-led movement. While Beijing officially labels it as "turmoil," some call it a forgotten revolution, or even the end of revolution. For most, however, life has moved on and memories of the bloodshed have faded. When I began teaching at the University of Alberta in 1993, all students, including those from China, could recall the live coverage of the Beijing demonstrations. Today, they learn about the event the same way they do the Korean war.

Many young people who participated in the student demonstrations now live affluent middle-class lives, with their own apartments, cars and other modern gadgets, enjoying China's new urban prosperity.

They look back at 1989 with mixed feelings of nostalgia and realism. "It was an exciting moment in Chinese history, and my heart is always with those students," a friend told me recently in Beijing, "but I won't go to Tiananmen now if the same thing happens again, and I won't donate money and time as I did last time."

"Why?" I pressed further.

"Well, I have benefited a lot from the reforms since then, and there is so much to lose if there are dramatic changes."

Indeed, the Chinese government has made providing economic benefits to most citizens its top priority for the past two decades. As Deng Xiaoping, the paramount leader who ordered the bloody crackdown, put it: "Economic development is the core."

This doctrine is based on three pragmatic calculations.

First, the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist party's monopoly on power derives from continuously improving living conditions for the ordinary people. Post-1989 China, while resisting political reform, has experienced explosive economic growth at an annual rate of around 10 per cent. Beijing, Shanghai and other large Chinese cities have been transformed into modern metropolises. Several hundred million poor people have been lifted out of poverty. Today, most Chinese are satisfied with the country's material progress, and China soon will overtake Japan as the second largest economy in the world.

Second, China is becoming a modern world power not through democratization – as Mikhail Gorbachev tried in the Soviet Union – but through Western-style capitalism. Facing post-Tiananmen sanctions by Western countries, Deng asserted that the only way for China to break its international isolation was to pursue open-door economic policies. Believing that foreign multinational corporations were driven by the logic of profit, he predicted that if China could make itself a profitable place, they would return – and so would their governments. And they did. China today attracts the world's largest share of foreign direct investment, holds the largest foreign reserves, and is the largest creditor of the United States. And most Western leaders are muted about Tiananmen.

Third, political and social stability must be maintained at all cost. Zhao Ziyang, the former Communist party general secretary who lost his job in 1989 due to his sympathy with the student movement, revealed in a newly published memoir based on tapes recorded before his death that the Chinese leadership was split on how to deal with the protest: one side favoured negotiation and the other urged force. The latter prevailed at the time but the lessons were not lost on those involved. Today, Beijing does everything possible to preserve elite unity and safeguard social stability. "To nip it in the bud" has become the guiding principle in dealing with any challenges to authority.

Beneath the surface of China's brutal pragmatism, however, there is an ever-growing undercurrent for further political openness. For hundreds of parents who lost their beloved sons and daughters 20 years ago, life has never returned to normal. A group of "Tiananmen Mothers" continues to demand answers from the government. Pressure for transparency, anti-corruption, freedom of expression and other political reforms, all of them raised two decades ago, continues to build from the bottom up.

But unlike the students of the 1980s, many of whom adored the "Goddess of Democracy" and passionately advocated "total Westernization" as the answer to China's political future, Chinese youth today are more sophisticated and critical. They still share the last generation's idealism but are much less ideological.

And there is an unspoken but widely shared consensus among the Chinese people that, sooner or later, the official verdict on the Tiananmen movement as "anti-government riots" will be reversed and the patriotism of the students recognized.

In the mid-1970s, a group of foreign visitors asked long-serving Chinese premier Zhou Enlai, who had studied in France in his youth, about the historical significance of the 1789 French Revolution, which was approaching its 200th anniversary. Zhou reportedly paused for a moment and responded, "It is still too early to tell."

Those were the thoughts going through my mind when I went to Zhao Ziyang's home to pay my respects after he passed away in January 2005 and later attended his funeral – the only foreign academic to do so. I admired his final effort to avoid violent repression of the students in 1989. Today, I remain hopeful that history ultimately will deliver a fair verdict on the tragedy of Tiananmen.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Canada not yet ready for China

On June 3, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Financial Post on the recent developments of Canada China energy relations.

As reported in the Financial Post on June 2, China is renewing its push for an energy alliance with Canada and seeking the support of Canadian political leaders to establish a major energy corridor linking Western Canadian supplies to the Chinese market.

Dr. Jiang noted that the Chinese see the oil sands as expensive, largely because of high labour costs. Nonetheless, they feel they can fix the problem by supplying their own cheap workforce, as they are doing in oil projects around the world, but are frustrated by Canadian regulations and public perceptions.

You can read the article here.

GM's gas-guzzler now China's new ride

On June 3, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang was quoted by the Globle and Mail on a likely acquisition deal by a Chinese firm over the Hummer division of troubled General Motors Corp.

Dr. Jiang said the deal is all about China buying a recognizable consumer label – just as in 2004 Lenovo bought the rights to ThinkPad notebooks and other personal computer technology from IBM. He remarked that this is the automobile industry's equivalent of the IBM deal.

You can read the article here.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Tiananmen Anniversary - On the Action Plan

On June 1, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by CBC's the Current, on the twenty years anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Incident.

Twenty years after the killings in Tiananmen Square, the Chinese Government is still the focus of a great deal of international criticism over its human rights record.

In April, the Chinese cabinet unveiled a lengthy document meant to address those criticisms. It's what Chinese leaders call an action plan to better protect the political, economic, social and cultural rights of Chinese citizens ... ostensibly the first of its kind in China's history.

According to the offficial line, the plan: "Signals that the human-rights cause has become a major theme of China's national development and will promote the concept of respecting and safeguarding human rights at various levels of government and the whole of society at large."

Dr. Jiang thinks that's a step in the right direction. To listen to his complete interview with the CBC, please go to CBC webpage and click on RealOne player "Listen to Part Two".

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Treasury's Geithner Faces an Assertive China

On May 31, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang was quoted by the BusinessWeek on US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's recent visit to Beijing.

China is now pushing for a larger international role for its currency, which would by necessity weaken the leading global role the U.S. dollar now plays.

Wenran noted in the article that this is the beginning of the end for the U.S. dollar if attention is brought to the bigger historical trend. But he also concedes that it could take years for the yuan to become fully convertible and really rival the dollar.

You can read the article here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

China Thinks Beyond the Dollar

On May 28, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang was quoted in the BusinessWeek on China's concerns over the weakness of US dollar and its potentially negative impact on China's vast foreign currency reserves, 70% of which are estimated to be in dollar assets.

Dr. Jiang points out that well-informed Chinese now realize Beijing's strategy of keeping the yuan artificially low vs. the dollar to stoke exports—and then recycling export earnings back into the U.S. Treasury market—has backfired. Chinese blogs rant about "irresponsible investment policies of the Chinese government, which also happen to be subsidizing the U.S. economy.

You can read the article here.

Central banker Zhou wants a new global currency to supplant the greenback
Illustration by Sean McCabe; Photograph of Zhou by Zhang Peng/Imaginechina/ZUMA Press

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

North Korea Issues Heated Warning to South

On May 26, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Washington Post on North Korea's recent long-range missile test.

In China, where condemnation of the North's nuclear test was surprisingly swift and unambiguous, the state media on May 26th printed strong reprimands of North Korea from other countries.

The shower of criticism was far different from the reaction to North Korea's first nuclear test in 2006, when the Chinese media blamed the United States for provoking Pyongyang by cutting off aid.

Dr. Jiang believes that this may be a reflection of Beijing's frustrations for not being able to assert control and influence over North Korea.

You can read the article here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Little openness in China's progress

On May 16, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang wrote an article on the Edmonton Journal. In the article, he noted that positive developments in wake of the Sichuan earthquake in China last May have failed to yield concrete political reforms in the country.

You can read the article here.

People flock to the devastated town of Beichuan on May 12, the first anniversary of its destruction in
the Sichuan earthquake. Nearly 87,000 people died or remain missing in the 8.0-magnitude earthquake,
a disaster that galvanized the nation but left deep emotional scars.

Photograph by: Peter Parks, Agence France-Presse, Getty Images, Freelance

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Debate: Whither the United States?

The Obama administration's emerging foreign policy: mea culpa or managing the relative decline of American power?

On May 14, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang, Mactaggart Research Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, participated an hour-long debate on "Whither the US Power" for TVO Agenda with Steve Paikin. The episode is scheduled to be on air at 8 pm, May 15, Friday.
You can access to the information related to this episode here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Interview by Calgary's CHQR AM 770 The World Tonight Program on the current state of Canada-China relations

Dr. Wenran Jiang was invited for a 25 minute interview on the current state of Canada-China relations by Calgary's CHQR AM 770 The World Tonight Program on May 12. He discussed with the host Greg Bohnert a range of issues from human rights to trade, especially the recent changing policies by the Conservative government toward China.

China reports first swine flu case

On May 12, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang's May 6th Toronto Star article "Hard Lessons of SARS Crisis Explain China's Tough Action" was quoted by the Australian on their news coverage on China's swift quarantine measures against the swine flu epidemic.

"This time around, Beijing is not taking any chances," as quoted by the Australian. "Although the virus did not originate in China, the authorities have been on high alert. Senior Chinese leaders have been on the case from the beginning, and the Chinese press has followed the flu story closely with a rather open attitude."

You can read the coverage here.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

China takes firm steps to rescue itself from the US dollar trap

On May 8, 2009, Dr. Jiang was requested by a number of papers around the world to provide a short version of his April 28 YaleGlobal piece on what China is doing recently on the global financial stage, including the Globe & Mail.

His paper was also covered by a Mexican Magazine Enkidu "China: What world recession?".

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hard lessons of SARS crisis explain China's tough action

On May 6, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang was invited to write an Op-ed article in Toronto Star, commenting on China's aggressive measures against the swine flu, including quarantining Canadians travelling in China and banning Alberta pork.

Wenran advises Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon to discuss these issues with persuation, not threat, during his scheduled visit to Beijing next week.

Read the article here.


Chinese security officers, wearing masks as a precaution against the swine flu, stand guard in front of a sealed-off hotel where foreign travellers were held under quarantine in Beijing this week. (May 5, 2009)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

China Tries to Wriggle Out of the US Dollar Trap

On April 29, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang was invited to write a short essay on what China is doing recently on the global financial stage, published by the YaleGlobal Online magazine. You can read his article here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lawsuit claims Chinese workers' wages not paid

On April 25, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Edmonton Journal on a lawsuit brought by several Chinese workers against their employer for unpaid wages arising from their service in Canada. Wenran said the case will likely hinge on whatever agreements the Chinese workers signed with the host company before they came to Canada. Read the article here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Op-ed in Ottawa Citizen: You can’t promote rights from way over here

APRIL 20, 2009

Let’s give International Trade Minister Stockwell Day credit for making a successful mission to East Asia. The highlights included opening six new Canadian trade offices across China, and breaking the ground for the Canadian-funded reconstruction of a seniors’ home that was levelled in China’s devastating earthquake last year.

As Canada’s top-security-guard-turned-top-salesman, Mr. Day showed unprecedented enthusiasm for forging closer economic ties with China, now Canada’s second-largest trading partner. Yet he insisted that there are no fundamental shifts in the Conservative government’s China policy.

Mr. Day is partly right in the sense that the Conservatives never had a clearly articulated China policy to begin with. Former Canadian ambassador to the United States Derek Burney has characterized Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s China policy as “juvenile” — implying immaturity as the cause of the problem.

The reality of the Conservatives’ China policy in the past three years is more like being infected by an ideological tumor. It did not lead to brain death, largely due to former international trade and foreign minister David Emerson’s persistent efforts to engage China within the cabinet. He was right but almost a lone voice in the Harper top circle. As a result, the body of Canadian national interests has suffered.

The first casualty is in fact human rights. Unlike the commonly accepted perception that this government has emphasized human rights issues since coming to power, the record shows that Canada has done very little in promoting human rights in China since 2006.

Ottawa suspended the annual bilateral human rights dialogue, saying it was not effective, thus throwing the baby out with the bath water. The House Committee on human rights pursued a lengthy hearing that led nowhere, produced nothing tangible and became a disappointment even for human rights groups.

With the Conservatives removing China from their foreign policy priority list, Canada’s economic relations with the world’s fastest growing market have not kept pace with other industrialized countries, losing trade and investment shares. It is now evident more than ever that ignoring China has cost Canadians jobs that would have otherwise been created with an active, engaging strategy at the highest level.

And Harper’s suspension of mutual summit visits with China since 2006 has made Canada totally out of sync with other world powers — all of them have annual regular summit diplomacy with Beijing.

Thus, Harper stands alone and has no effective means of engaging the emerging superpower on important issues such as environment, global warming, and many regional issues vital to Canada’s economic and security wellbeing.

Now Stockwell Day has openly reversed Harper’s infamous quote on not selling out human rights for the mighty dollar by declaring that trade and rights are not mutually exclusive goals in dealing with China. This is a good step in the right direction.

But it’s too early to conclude that the Harperites have come to terms with China’s reality. The Conservatives must make strides in the following areas to make up lost ground in China.
In the short term, Mr. Harper must resume summit diplomacy by going to Beijing, a long overdue trip to reciprocate Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Canada in the fall of 2005. He may send more ministers to China or open more trade offices. But they are all marginal measures in contrast to personally engaging the Chinese leadership at the highest level.

Ottawa’s medium-term goal is to formulate a non-partisan China vision and strategy that treats our relationship with Beijing as no less important than our ties with Washington. It is tunnel vision for those who advocate better Chinese language skills of Canadian diplomats in the Beijing embassy as a solution to advance Canadian interests in China.

Instead, Canada must work actively to re-establish the strategic partnership that the two countries announced in 2005. In addition to regular summit meetings, Canadian interests will be best served with a number of high-level annual bilateral dialogues on issues ranging from trade to investment to security to climate change to human rights.

And Canada’s long-term China policy goal is to design a series of programs that not only serve our own interests but also assist reform-oriented forces in the Chinese society and within the Chinese government to move China toward more openness, more transparency and more respect for human rights.

Canada warms up to Beijing

On April 20, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Vancouver Sun commenting on the Conservative government's recent attempt to push for a closer relation with China. “I immediately registered a very different tone from him,” Jiang said. “I see a pragmatist, his body language, the phrases he used to describe his trip.”

You can read the article here.

[Picture: Nicholas Sonntag, president of Westport Asia, says state-owned enterprises in China are highly influenced by politics. Vancouver Sun]

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Canada seeks to strengthen trade ties with China

On April 15, Dr. Jiang was interviewed by International Herald Leader on Canadian International Trade Minister Stockwell's recent trip to China.

He noted that Canada is eager to grow business with its second largest trading partner in part because of the dwindling buying power of its largest trading partner, the U.S.. "In order to have commodity prices and other resources prices to go up, the key factor is not the United States, but China," Dr. Jiang said, "China is the manufacturing powerhouse of the world."

You can read the news report in Chinese, or in English.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The newly released 2009 provincial budget

On April 8, 2009, Dr. Jiang was interviewed by OMNI TV Edmonton on the newly released provincial budget, its implications for the provincial economy, the education sector and the energy sector.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Latest Chinese Acquisition of Oil Sands in Alberta

April 2, 2009, Dr. Jiang was quoted by the Financial Post on the latest Chinese acquisition of oil sands in Alberta.

You can read the article here.

The First Summit between Obama and Hu during the G20

April 2, 2009, Dr. Jiang was quoted by Xinhua News Agency, in both Chinese and English, on the G20 global leaders meeting in London, and the significance of the first summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

For the English article, please click here.

For the Chinese article, please click here.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Impact of Global Oil Price Fluctuations on China

April 1, 2009, Dr. Jiang was interviewed by CCTV 9 Dialogue, a 30 minute discussion on the impact of global oil price fluctuations with a focus on China, the United States and China-US relations.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Rising Impact of China in the Global Economy

March 31, 2009, Dr. Jiang was quoted by an article in the Globe and Mail, on the rising impact of China in the global economy and the U.S.-China G2 summit during the G20 summit in London.

You can read the article here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Chinese Economic Situation and the New Stimulus Packages

March 14, 2009, Dr. Jiang was interviewed by CBC TV Newsworld live, on the current Chinese economic situation, the ongoing annual People's Congress and the possible new stimulus packages by the Chinese government to further boost the Chinese economy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

China's Latest Policies on Tibet

March 10, 2009, Dr. Jiang was interviewed by CBC TV Newsworld live, on the one year anniversary of the Tibetan riots, the 50 year anniversary of the exile of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government's latest policies on Tibet.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Current State of Canada-China Relations

March 5, 2009, Dr. Jiang was interviewed by CBC Radio International Chinese broadcasting, on the current state of Canada-China relations and the prospects of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit to China.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Road to Riches Ends for 20 Million Chinese Poor

February 20, 2009, Dr. Jiang was quoted by CNN on China's gloomy labor market for the 20 million migrant workers during the recent economic slowdown.

To read the article, please click here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Exclusive Interview with Duowei News Agency on U.S. President Obama's First Overseas Visit to Canada

February 18, 2009, Dr. Jiang was interviewed by Duowei News Agency on U.S. President Obama's first overseas visit to Canada. In the article, he noted that the visit is largely symbolic, along with some real business to be discussed.

To read the entire article in Chinese, please click here.

Duowei News Agency is owned by Chinese Media Net Inc. (CMN), an ethnic media group which operates in the U.S., Canada and Hong Kong.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Beijing's Responses to Falling Oil Prices

February 4, 2009, Dr. Jiang was invited to write an article for China Brief, an online journal published by the Jamestown Foundation, on the Chinese government's recent energy security policy responding to falling oil prices and world financial crisis.

Please read the article here.

Dr. Jiang is a regular contributor to the China Brief, for his previously published articles, please click here.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

China’s Towering Tests

Edmonton Journal
January 31, 2009
By: Wenran Jiang

After a dramatic 2008, the Year of the Ox could bring soul-searching and unrest

As China enters the "Year of the Ox," there is much to reflect on from the past year and even more to speculate about the coming year.

2008 began with snowstorms that paralyzed most of central and southern China's transport system, interrupting lives and causing severe material damage. Then came the riots in Tibet, which caught the government off guard, followed by embarrassing protests over China's Olympic torch relay in several Western and Asian countries.

As Chinese were wondering why 2008, a year of supposed good fortune marked by the lucky number eight, had started with so much misfortune, an earthquake struck Sichuan province, killing 80,000 people and leaving millions homeless. Emerging more united from this tragedy, the country welcomed the world to the long-anticipated Olympics, which were remarkably successful, but were soon superseded by the tainted-dairy-product scandal in which many babies became ill, and some died.

In contrast to last year, when the rush home for the lunar New Year celebration was hampered by freak storms, this year millions of migrant workers have already returned to their rural homes. Many will be staying there, because the global economic downturn has hit China hard, costing them their jobs. According to the latest numbers, the growth rates of both China's industrial output and GDP have declined sharply in the fourth quarter of 2008, and more than 10 million migrant workers have lost their jobs.

A year of searing milestones Littered with a host of extremely sensitive anniversaries, 2009 could prove even more dramatic and unpredictable than 2008.

Fast approaching is not only the March anniversary of last year's disturbances in Tibet, but also the 50th anniversary of Tibetan unrest in 1959 that led to the exile of the Dalai Lama and his supporters.

Since the riots last spring, China's government has taken many proactive measures, even adopting a "Serf Liberation Day," to defend its record in Tibet of the past 50 years, while continuing to talk with the Dalai Lama's representatives. But it has also implemented heavy-handed police and military controls.

Then comes the 20th anniversary of the June 4 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square student demonstrations. Calls to re-evaluate the official response began when President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao came to power seven years ago. But recently, the pressure has intensified, especially with the publication of "Charter 08," a manifesto signed by hundreds of Chinese intellectuals, journalists, lawyers, and ordinary citizens, criticizing the government's rights record and demanding more democratic reform, press freedom, governmental transparency, and societal openness.

Although neither Hu nor Wen were directly involved in the crackdown, they nonetheless must tread carefully. Doing everything possible to avoid a repeat of the 1989 scenario may well be the Communist Party leadership's top priority in 2009. And, given the economic slowdown, widening income disparity, rising unemployment, and growing popular discontent over corruption, China's leaders will have their hands full.

Of course, the inspiration for almost every political reform movement in China is the May 4th Movement of 1919, when Chinese students protested against a weak and corrupt government and called for China to strengthen itself by adopting two key Western ideals: democracy and science. As the 90th anniversary approaches, China has made great strides in science, but still has a long way to go in terms of democracy.

Less known but no less sensitive is the 10th anniversary of the government's ban on Falun Gong, an organization of self-claimed religious and meditation practitioners that has challenged the Communist Party's legitimacy. Though largely discredited inside the country, this militant movement still has a following around the world, and further protests may come at any time and in unpredictable forms.

While some of the plethora of anniversaries that China's leaders must confront are potentially very destabilizing, several have, and will, work in their favour. For example, the 30th anniversary of China's reform movement and the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States has been a much-celebrated event this January.

Republic will be 60 years old More importantly, October will mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Peoples' Republic of China, an occasion that the Party will commemorate in grand style. After all, the Middle Kingdom has re-emerged as the world's third-largest economy (having recently replaced Germany), sent astronauts into space, dispatched advanced naval destroyers to the Horn of Africa, and become the largest holder of U.S. foreign debt. China will want to flex its muscles and proclaim to the world that the Party has delivered the goods to its people, while making the country strong and prosperous.

As the worst recession since the 1930s continues, both the American and Chinese economies are bound to suffer further setbacks. There is no guarantee that protectionist and xenophobic sentiment in America will not hit China-U.S. relations, or that the economic downturn will not fuel new unrest in China.

Already, the new U.S. treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, has accused China of "manipulating its currencies," a term that was not used by the former Bush administration and that may have serious consequences for U.S.-China trade relations. During his campaign, Barack Obama used the same language. And Chinese officials have hit back at the new U.S. administration's criticism.

There is also a gathering storm over who is to blame for the U.S. and worldwide financial crisis. Some have argued it was the Chinese continuous purchasing of U.S. treasury bounds and the influx of cheap Chinese goods over the years that are responsible for the subprime mortgage crisis and the U.S. recession, a position rejected by Beijing.

So far it is not that clear how the Obama administration is going to handle its China policy. But one thing is clear: without further Chinese commitment to buy a large amount of U.S.-issued debt, Obama will not be able to pay for his administration's massive stimulus package. Nor will China be overly accommodating to foreign demands when its own domestic situation is turning so volatile.

The world should not misjudge the effect of such disputes and troubles on China. Nor should it forget China's fierce display of nationalism in response to Western protests of the Olympic torch relay, the extraordinary patriotism that swept the country in response to the Sichuan earthquake, and the national pride evinced by the Olympic Games.

But in 2009, it would be a demonstration of courage if China's leadership also takes note of the need to continue assuring the world of its commitment to a "peaceful rise," and to do so by boldly addressing some of the unresolved issues this year's anniversaries will highlight.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the Chinese Economy and More

January 29, 2009, Dr. Jiang was interviewed by CBC Radio Edmonton, Hop Spot Columnist live, on the Chinese economy and the many uncertain anniversary events in China in the year of 2009.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Social Costs of China's Prosperity

by Wenran Jiang
(Jan 23, 2006)
The Standard

China continues to impress the world with its high GDP growth, staggering trading volumes and surging consumption appetite. Most figures out of Beijing look remarkable, indicating a momentum that the Middle Kingdom is reclaiming its great power status at a speed faster than most forecasts.

Yet evidence is mounting that the high-GDP-centered development paradigm is too costly to sustain: rural, urban and environment-related protest movements are moving from being localized and isolated events to becoming a widespread and serious social crisis.

Some may point to Beijing's newly revised GDP figures as proof of China's successful modernization: its national strength is now 17 percent more than previously thought, allowing China to leap over Italy, France and Britain to become the fourth largest economy in the world; its economic structure seems to be more balanced with a much bigger service industry than previously reported; and China's foreign trade grew by nearly a quarter last year while its foreign reserves tripled.

Yet other recently released numbers, which have received less coverage, indicate a troublesome trend.
As revealed by the China Human Development Report 2005, regional disparities are threatening the country's growth potential, and the widening urban-rural income distribution gap has reached a dangerous level.

Compiled by a group of Chinese researchers for the United Nations Development Program, the report demonstrates that in all major categories of the human development index - from per capita income to life expectancy to literacy rate - regional imbalances are severe and growing.

It concludes that China's Gini coefficient, a measurement of a country's income inequality, has increased by more than 50 percent in the past 20 years, with urban dwellers earning nearly four times that of rural residents.

At 0.46, the mainland's Gini coefficient is lower than in some Latin American and African countries, but its urban-rural income inequality is perhaps the highest in the world.

The new GDP numbers only make the inequality worse, and when systemic factors biased against the rural population are included, the urban-rural income ratio is as high as six to one.

The UNDP report also shows that the inland regions lag behind in education, especially among the female population.

Only two decades ago, China was one of the most equal societies on earth. Today, it ranks 90th in the UNDP's 131-nation human development index.

It is ironic that while 250 million people have been lifted out of poverty in record time - a proud achievement that no one denies - the mainland is also leading the world in creating one of the most unequal societies in history.

The Chinese government has repeatedly told the world that it needs social stability to develop its economy, and Beijing claims to value economic and social rights more than political rights.

The question is whether China's traditional political control plus the new economic and social exclusion of the majority of its population can be accepted as a model of development by those who are now excluded from China's growing prosperity.

Newly released reports from the central government cite 87,000 incidents of public order disturbances last year, up 6.6 percent from the 74,000 figure in 2004; the number of events that interfered with government functions jumped 19 percent, while protests seen as disturbing social order grew by 13 percent in 2005.

Some say that the figures are not surprising and that these may not even be new developments: they show that Beijing now allows more reporting of these protests that have existed for a long time.

Beijing even puts its spin on reports of social disorder, claiming that it is now more democratic by allowing the protests to occur and then informing the public about them.

Despite the differences in assessment, the emerging consensus is that various grassroots protests are increasing in numbers, are better organized, and often turn violent when local officials are no longer seen as working to solve ordinary people's legitimate grievances.

Again, the UNDP survey of Chinese public perception of income distribution gaps reveals popular demand for social justice and potential support for radical actions: more than 80 percent of those surveyed believe that China's current income distribution is either not so equitable or very inequitable.

Meanwhile, a recent global study by the Pew Global Attitude Project seems to contradict such pessimism.

Around 72 percent of Chinese, the highest among 16 countries polled, expressed satisfaction with national conditions. Although the survey acknowledges that the sample is disproportionately urban and is not representative of the entire country, it does convey one important message that the pollsters failed to recognize: mainlanders have extremely high expectations about benefiting from the country's ongoing economic expansion; if such high expectations are not met in the near future, their frustrations may turn to demands for equity and social justice.

Between the 1950s and 1970s, most mainlanders were very poor, but relatively equal; thus social protests were rare and the Chinese Communist Party asserted control with little concern for large-scale grassroots unrest.

Today's China, after more than two decades of reform, is much more prosperous but, at the same time, a very unequal society.

Historical experiences show that when a country is embarking on rapid economic growth, social mobility accelerates and people's expectations for their own share of the prosperity increase. Yet, at the same time, income distribution gaps widen and, with a few exceptions, only a small portion of the population enjoys the benefits of the country's modernization drive.

Such a paradoxical process often results in rising resentment among the populace and leads to large-scale protests for a more equitable distribution of wealth.

China today is at such a crossroads of unprecedented prosperity, high, unmet expectations, and growing frustrations with perceived social injustice.

The current leadership, headed by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, is keenly aware of the growing disparity and its serious consequences. After years of promoting Deng Xiaoping's famous call - to get rich is glorious - the harmonious society seems to have become a central pillar of the Hu-Wen approach to easing China's social tensions.

Despite a number of measures - ranging from investment in remote regions to elimination of agricultural taxes to campaigns against corruption - social unrest is on the rise. With some of the recent bloody confrontations between peasants and local authorities, many wonder if some kind of a tipping point for a social crisis will arrive soon.

Revolutionary change, most evident in Russia in 1917, is precipitated by three conditions: first, the masses can no longer be governed; second, the ruling elites can no longer govern; and third, the social forces are fully mobilized under the leadership of a revolutionary party to overthrow the existing regime. By these standards, China is nowhere close to the tipping point.

Yet it would be a profound mistake to take comfort from such abstract conclusions. The first two conditions have been progressively deteriorating in recent years: widespread social protests are increasing; and the corruption of government and party officials, and the plight of ordinary citizens at the hands of abusive local officials, have weakened the governance structure.

A deadly combination of these two elements could lead to a widespread belief that the majority of the population is not left behind because of its own weakness in competing with others for a better life; rather, it is the corrupt officials and the privileged few who have enriched themselves through exploitation and at the expense of the masses.

This perception may foster pressures that fundamentally reconfigure the existing social, economic, and political order.

This process may well be accelerated if the inevitable economic slowdown in the coming years and natural, environmental and other human-made disasters occur simultaneously.

An externally-imposed, alternative political mechanism is unlikely, if possible at all, given China's tightly controlled conditions. Yet a governance crisis of such magnitude is likely to trigger an internal split within the party ruling elites, with reform-oriented forces openly confronting hardliners who advocate total control by force.

The most challenging task for China and the world today is how to avoid such dangerous showdowns with reforms that effectively address the issue of income inequality, social injustice and lack of democratization.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

the New US President and the Prospects of Canada-US Relations and US-China Relations

January 15, 2009, Dr. Jiang was interviewed by CBC Radio International Chinese broadcasting, on the coming new US President Barack Obama and the prospects of Canada-US relations and US-China relations.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chinese Inroads in DR Congo: A Chinese "Marshall Plan" or Business?

January 12, 2009, Dr. Jiang contributed an article on China Brief with respect to China's growing presence in Democratic Republic of Congo, and particularly, a 9 billion dollar mining and infrastructure construction deal entered into between state-owned Chinese investors and the government of Democratic Republic of Congo. Link

Read the article here.

The same article is also available on Asia Times Online here.