Drishtikone Newsletter #363: Understanding Chinese Politics Intrigues

When Hu Jintao was thrown out of the 20th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress, many things were set in motion. So what happened and why? What is Xi Jinping up to?

Last updated on Oct 30, 2022

Posted on Oct 30, 2022

Photo by Robert Harkness / Unsplash
“To be alive at all is to have scars. ” ― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

In the corridors of power, weakness is a death sentence.  Negotiations and truce talks are like venomous snakes that will come back to bite you when the space is enough.  

So, the enemies should be left with nothing to negotiate with.  No space to maneuver.  And no hope to come back.

Ramón María Narváez y Campos, 1st Duke of Valencia was a Spanish general and statesman.  He served as the Prime Minister on several occasions during the reign of Isabella II.  Ramon was known as El Espadón de Loja, "The Big Sword of Loja".   While on his deathbed, the priest asked him:

“Does your Excellency forgive all your enemies?”

The general retorted:

“I do not have to forgive my enemies, I have had them all shot.”

The intrigues of the power corridors are many and the ones who have been successful are the ones who were ruthless and decisive.  But with a vision.


Xiang Yu was a prominent general when the Qin Dynasty was falling apart.  After the second Qin emperor's incompetent rule, Liu Bang (Liu Pang) and Xiang Yu were the main rivals.  Liu was a peasant from a small village in what is now the Jiangsu province, while Xiang was from a family of ancient leaders.

Hongmen Banquet and the beginning of the Han dynasty

In December 206 BC, Xian Yu and Liu Bang reached Xianyang.  It was the capital city of the Qin Dynasty.  

There was a huge banquet organized and on the insistence of Fan Zeng (Xiang Yu's advisor), Yu asked for a swordsman to play a sword-dance sequence.  The idea was to kill Liu.

But at the last minute, Xiang Yu became indecisive and Liu escaped.  Now two camps emerged - King of Han which was Liu Bang and Overlord of the Western Chu which was Xiang Yu.

At one point, Xiang Yu had captured Liu Bang's father and stood outside the city walls to execute him by boiling Liu's father alive.  Liu retorted: "When you are done with my father, let me have a taste of the soup."

Xiang Yu let Liu's father go.  And went to sign a peace treaty.  As soon as Xiang returned the hostages to Liu's army, Liu tore the treaty and attacked Xiang's army, and defeated it.

Xiang was finally left with nothing much and eventually committed suicide.

Such an amazing warrior was Xiang Yu that even Han Xin one of the greatest ever commanders in Chinese history never confronted him in the battle directly.  Han Xin isolated Xiang and Liu Bang used that to defeat Xiang.

Liu Bang later went on to start the famous Chinese Han dynasty.  He brought in the Confucian system and the Han dynasty lasted for 400 years.  That period is considered to be the greatest period in Chinese history.

“For it must be noted, that men must either be caressed or else annihilated; they will revenge themselves for small injuries, but cannot do so for great ones; the injury therefore that we do to a man must be such that we need not fear his vengeance.” ― Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

The exit of Hu Jintao

At the closing ceremony of the Chinese Communist Party's 20th National Congress, a power struggle unfolded in full public view.  The CCP congress is a twice-a-decade affair.  Here is the unedited video of that entire episode.

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Here is a quick list of what happens in this video:

  1. Hun Jintao tries to look at the paper in front of him - which is the list of the new Politburo members. Li Zhanshu stops him and covers it with the red folder.
  2. Hu insists on taking a look but Li stops him again.
  3. At that time an aide comes to Xi and talks to him and leaves
  4. Meanwhile, the low-volume arguments between Li and Hu are going on about the list.
  5. The aide comes back again to Xi.
  6. Xi gives some instructions and Hu is listening to them
  7. Then Wang Huning says something too.
  8. Then the aide talks to Hu and meaning Kong also comes and helps Hu up
  9. Then there is a back and forth and Hu is trying to sit back again
  10. As the aide and Kong are taking Hu out, Li tries to get up, and immediately Wang pats Li on his back instructing him to sit down
  11. Hu finally relents and starts walking
  12. He first stops to say something to Xi Jinping who simply nods
  13. Then Hu starts walking again and while walking Hu pats Premier Li Keqiang on the shoulder
  14. At this time as he is being pushed by the aide while Kong walks behind them, Hu gets the point and understands the situation

The man on the right is Premier Li Keqiang, who was hitherto number two.  Now he has been removed.  

Li was the proponent of market reform.  It must be noted that, unlike past conventions, this administration was always known as the "Xi administration" as opposed to the "Xi-Li administration" (like "Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao administration" or "Jiang Zemin-Zhu Rongji administration")

Source: "Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era: Reassessing Collective" by Cheng Li

The other three who were dropped from the 24-man Politburo are Vice Premier Han Zheng, party advisory body head Wang Yang, and Li Zhanshu, a longtime Xi ally and the head of the largely ceremonial legislature (Source: AP News).

The guy who came to pick Hu Jintao up on the instructions of Xi Jinping was Kong Shaoxun, the deputy director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee. Kong's boss is Ding Xuexiang.  Ding (60 years) is the director of the General Office of the Communist Party of China and Xi’s personal secretary.  Now he is part of the seven-man Politburo Standing Committee.  He is the youngest member of the Politburo (Source) and is tipped in some circles to be Xi's successor.  Ding was on Xi's staff beginning in Shanghai, then followed him to Beijing.

Source: Wikipedia

Here is the cast of characters on the scene as Hu Jintao is being taken out.

You can see that Hu is patting Li on his shoulder while he is looking at Wang, who has been Hu's trusted guy and part of the League.  Wang was hand-picked by Deng and worked closely with Hu Jintao.  He was considered to be the most liberal of all Politburo members. (Source: Reuters)  Behind Hu is Kong Shaoxun.

You can see in the video at the 1:57 mark that Li Zhanshu tries to get up from his seat as Hu Jintao is trying to remonstrate.  He is tugged from behind by the guy sitting next to him.  That was Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Huning.

Wang Huning is known as the "Grey Eminence" (éminence grise or a powerful decision maker who works behind the scenes without coming out in prominence) of the CCP.  His last name Huning is a combination of "Shanghai and Nanjing."  He is seen as the principal architect of all the main ideologies of the three main leaders until now:

  1. "Three Represents" by Jiang Zemin
  2. "Scientific Development Concept" by Hu Jintao
  3. "Chinese Dream" and "Xi Jinping Thought" of Xi Jinping

Quite remarkable when you consider how different these all were.

Wang Huning Source: Wikipedia

The Congress ended with a resolution that said:

“The congress calls on all party members to acquire a deep understanding of the decisive significance of establishing comrade Xi Jinping’s core position on the party Central Committee and in the party as a whole and establishing the guiding role of Xi Jinping Thought.” (Source: AP)

The "Xi Jinping Thought" is Xi's ideology that was included in the party charter in the previous Congress in 2017.

The Chinese Political Factions: Shanghai Gang,  "The Youth League" and the new "Zhejiang clique"

Contrary to people's belief, China's Communist Party is not a monolith.  It has its own factions and internecine power struggles.

“No party outside the party reflects an imperial ideology; no faction within the party is an incredibly bizarre notion,” said Mao during the Eleventh Plenum of the 8th National Party Congress, held at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966 (Source: The Rise of the Xi Gang: Factional politics in the Chinese Communist Party /Srijan Shukla)

In the past many decades, two factions have ruled Chinese politics - Shanghai Gang and the Chinese Communist Youth League (CCYL). The rise of Xi Jinping created another parallel group.  

The two factions in the Chinese Communist Party - the Elitists and the Populists have been the Shanghai Gang (led by Jiang Zemin and also called the Blue Team) and the Communist Youth League (CYL) (led by Hu Jintao, also called the Red Team).

Even though there were factions - these two, the Red and the Blue Team, the balance was always served.

CCP leaders chose a two-fold method to achieve political legitimacy. First, as has been argued by several scholars, the CCP leaders gained the trust of the Chinese people by consistent provision of economic growth.[13] Second, the CCP built a system of patronage, whereby a leader in a position of power would appoint his loyal protégés in various other positions below him. As the said leader was promoted up the ranks, he ensured that so were his protégés. This power-sharing patronage network is how China’s formidable factions were built. From 1989 to 2014, the Chinese state was ruled by either the Shanghai Gang or the CCYL, or a combination of the two. The formation of these factions was based on sound political rationale. (Source: "The Rise of the Xi Gang: Factional politics in the Chinese Communist Party" / ORF)

What about Xi Jinping?

Well, he built his support in Zhejiang province when he was the party boss and Governor there between 2002-2007.  So his group is known by that place.

Xi’s group is known as the “Zhejiang Clique” after the eastern province of Zhejiang where be built support when he was governor and party boss from 2002-2007. He also has the support of the so-called "princelings", or red aristocrats, because like him they had parents who were senior party, government or military officials. (Source: Business Insider)

The  20th National Congress will go down as the place where the erstwhile two factions were totally wiped out.

"On Hu Chunhua, I think this has been Xi Jinping's main tactic of shutting down the youth league faction," said Victor Shih, an expert on elite politics in China and a professor at the University of California, San Diego.  "He has stifled the careers of quite a few cadres in that faction."  In a dramatic incident widely viewed as symbolic of the faction's demise, Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao, who is 79 and a Youth League veteran, was unexpectedly escorted from the stage at Saturday's closing ceremony of the party congress.  (Source: "China's Xi deals knockout blow to once-powerful Youth League faction"/Reuters)

Let us get acquainted with the main factions.

Shanghai Gang (Jiang's clique) led by Jiang Zemin

This was an informal group of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials who rose during Jiang Zemin's time as the CCP General Secretary. During the 1990s, Chinese politics was dominated by Jiang's Shanghai Gang.

The dominance of the gang continued even after Jiang's retirement in 2004.  He had by then filled the Politburo Standing Committee with is own cronies.  It had become very tough, it is said, for Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao to fully execute their own agenda and policies.

Source: "Analysis: Xi Jinping wants to liquidate the "Shanghai Gang"?" / BBC

The fall of Chen was a very significant event in the power struggle between the Shanghai Gang and the League.

The fall from power of Chen Liangyu and the persistence in power of most members of the Shanghai Gang suggest that something new is afoot in Chinese elite politics. While this development seems difficult to understand using a traditional factionalism model of zero-sum games in Chinese politics, it is less confusing if interpreted in the context of newly emerging norms of “inner-Party bipartisanship,” a hypothesis that notes that leaders associated with the coastal development strategy pursued by Jiang Zemin and Zeng Qinghong are now increasingly being balanced, but not overthrown, by those affiliated with the Chinese Communist Youth League networks headed up by Party secretary-general Hu Jintao. An examination of the fall of Chen suggests some of the new rules that are emerging to guide the country’s top leaders as they seek to manage inner-Party political conflict while maintaining rapid growth, social stability, and one-party rule. (Source: Hoover Institution)

The influence of the Shanghai Gang had reduced over the years as Jiang Zemin receded from Chinese Politics (Source: Hong Kong News)

When Alibaba started in 1999, Jiang Zemin was at the helm.  Jiang's Shanghai Gang benefited from Alibaba's expansion and Alibaba's growth skyrocketed because of Jiang's administration's backup.

When Jack Ma founded Alibaba in 1999, President Jiang Zemin and his "Shanghai Gang" were at the apex of their influence. After a difficult period in the post Tiananmen years they had consolidated power and through proxies maintained significant influence when the leadership officially changed in November 2002. And so as Alibaba prospered it naturally came into the orbit of the Jiang faction and to some degree the company appears to have embraced these new friends. (Source: Australian Financial Review)

Xi's administration recently took down Jack Ma and took Alibaba down with personal action from Xi himself.  

Different commentators were giving all kinds of reasons as to why Xi would have done such an idiotic thing as taking down one of the biggest entrepreneurs in China just on a whim.  And everyone seemed to have suggested an ego battle with Jack Ma.

The actual reason may have been that Xi was getting ready to take down the Shanghai Gang.  Hitting at their biggest money spinner was the first step.

But the picture looks much murkier if you’re Jack Ma, China’s tech-entrepreneur grand master. Regulators squelched what would have been a record-breaking initial public offering of Ma’s fintech giant, Ant Group, a mere two days before its November debut on the Shanghai and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges. The official reason they offered was an altered regulatory environment, but there is widespread concern that Chinese authorities were punishing Ma for criticizing their oversight of the finance industry. Xi reportedly made the call himself. (Beijing subsequently launched an antitrust investigation into Ma’s other creation, the e-commerce company Alibaba Group.) Days later, another prominent entrepreneur, Sun Dawu, was detained for “provoking quarrels and disrupting production,” and the government seized his agriculture company. Sun, who has sometimes been critical of the government, may have been targeted over a land dispute with a state-owned farm. (Source: The Atlantic)

So the fall of Jack Ma may not have been an ego battle or a masochistic move but a way to take control of internal Chinese polity.

The Communist Youth League and Hu Jintao

Hu Jintao was the paramount leader of China and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 2002 to 2012.  His political journey started in Qinghua University where he joined the CCP in 1964.  He had become a political instructor at the university before he graduated.

Later he went to Gansu province and became the head of Gansu's CYL.

Before Hu Jintao brought CYL into prominence, it was a prominent group that played a supporting role in Chinese politics.  Hu Jintao ensured that its cadres and members were promoted to senior party roles in CCP and also to the state council posts.

Source: "Rise of the Communist Youth League" by Jinfei Wu/Economic and Political Weekly Vol. 41, No. 12 (Mar. 25-31, 2006), pp. 1172-1176

CYLC has always supported the Communist party by providing fresh blood for the CCP and Chinese politics.

The Youth League, known as the party’s “helping hand and  reserve army”, is the entry point for those wanting to join the Communist Party. It recruits and trains the nation’s best and brightest, mostly university students. The older officials are considered to be members of the faction, though they are no longer members of the actual league. (Source: Business Insider)

On May 5th, 2022, the Communist Youth League of China (CYLC) of the Chinese Communist Party celebrated its centenary.  It has at times been at odds with the CCP elders.  CYLC’s relationship with the CCP is interesting.

According to some estimates, the CYLC has over 81 million members, compared to the CCP’s 95 million, roughly 6 per cent of China’s population. The CYL’s membership is independent of the CCP, and individuals can be members of both or either one of them. (Source: ThePrint)

The membership within CYLC has now come down from its high that almost touched 90 million at one time.

Source: Statista

Such a large reservoir of budding and interested political cadres was a ready pool to acquire a base for the future power struggles for any ambitious politician.  And that is how Hu Jintao used CYLC for consolidating and promoting his power.  

The Communist Youth League of China (CYLC) has over 73.7 million members nationwide as of December 31, 2021, according to statistics released by the CYLC Central Committee on Monday. Up to 43.81 million CYLC members are students and the rest are in enterprises, public institutions, urban and rural communities, social organizations, and other fields. The CYLC has 3.68 million organizations across the country by the end of last year, the statistics showed. There are a total of 1.84 million such organizations among students, according to the figures.  (Source: "Communist youth league of China has over 73.7 mln members" / Xinhua)

Given how big CYLC is it would seem that it is indeed a world of its own and as some say it is independent of the CCP and at times even at odds with it.  

However, some do suggest that ultimately it is about who the national overlord really is.  The strongman.  He can control and direct the destiny of CYLC as well.

Of course, juxtaposing the CYL to the CCP is a nonsense – the CCP controls the CYL. But it is a nonsense which many western commentators echo when they portray the CYL as an independent power base or faction within the party, at odds with the “princelings” and the “Shanghai gang”. Power in China is about the strongman, less about factions or organizations. When he was CCP General Secretary, Hu Jintao promoted colleagues whom he knew and trusted. Some he had worked with in his three years as head of the CYL, others in Guizhou or Tibet, or when he joined the Politburo. (The same is true of Xi and will likely be true of his successor.) (Source: "China's Communist Youth League: Eternally young at a hundred" / MERICS)

Be that as it may, the fact is that Hu Jintao had almost weaponized the CYLC by promoting its cadres who became loyal to him and it was very tough to dislodge him from his pre-eminence.

Xi Jinping: Going beyond the Red and the Blue

That is where Xi came in.

As early as 2016, Xi Jinping started the crackdown on the Communist Youth League.  The first step was to slash its budget in 2016 by over 50%.

China’s influential Communist Youth League has had its budget slashed by more than 50 percent for this year, a state-run newspaper reported on Tuesday, after the organization came under fire in official media over graft scandals and inefficiency. (Source: "China slashes influential Communist Youth League's budget" / Reuters May 3rd, 2016)

The next step was to prevent its cadres from occupying the positions of power within the CCP.  That started with the 19th Congress in 2017.

Source: "Xi Jinping is cracking down on one of the main paths to power in China — again" / Business Insider Sept 2016

The youth league has since been the focus of Xi and he has tried every way to rein it in.

Source: "Youth League faction is first ‘internal’ victim of Xi Jinping's total takeover" / Asianews / Oct 27, 2022

With so much consolidation going on and attacks on the Shanghai Gang and the Youth League sharpening, the pushback from the old guard was just about the corner.

The Pushback from the Old Guard

It all started during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit held in Samarkand on September 15th and 16th.

Subramanian Swamy who has been close to the Chinese establishment and keeps in touch with the things happening there tweeted this after the SCO summit.

And he suggested that Xi Jinping was under House Arrest.

This Chinese handle on Twitter (we follow her for information and news that mainstream channels don't share) had shared how the PLA vehicles were heading to Beijing.

The rumors were that these forces were gathering at Shenyang Military airport under the orders of Li Qiaoming. (Source)

On September 21st, there was a rumor that 60% of the flights in China were canceled.  That may not have been correct, however.

Was there a massive cancellation of flights in China and empty airspace over Beijing?
There were unconfirmed reports of massive flight cancellations and empty airspace over Beijing, fueling coup rumours.

And on that day itself, there was a CCP’s National Defense and Military Reform Conference organized by the Central Military Commission.  

During the proceedings of this Conference Xi Jinping and his Minister of Defense, Wei Fenghe were absent.  

Interestingly, however, PLA Commander Li Qiaoming (who reportedly had been dismissed by Xi Jinping before he left for Samarkand) was seen attending the seminar in Xi's absence sitting in the middle of the left group in the first row under the stage, next to the Chinese Army Commander Liu Zhenli.

Xi Jinping finally appeared on September 27th.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday appeared in the public for the first time days after house arrest rumors went viral. Earlier in the day, Xi Jinping visited an exhibition of the Communist Party. Notably, he appeared in public for the first time after his return from the SCO summit on September 16, which sparked rumours about his absence from the limelight ahead of next month’s key Congress of the ruling party. (Source: India.com)

So what did really happen during that time?

Here is Elmer Yuen sharing his views based on his knowledge of Chinese polity with the PGurus channel.  Elmer is a retired entrepreneur and industrialist in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and the US, known for founding technology companies in Hong Kong and the US (Source).

Elmer-speak - what really happened

What Elmer is saying here is that his information says that Xi was indeed under house arrest because of Shanghai Gang and Youth League coming together against Xi.  However, Xi joined hands with Hu Jintao to push back Shanghai Gang and got out of the situation by promising Hu the world.  When the 20th Congress started, Hu wanted to check the list and at that time Xi Jinping was ready to throw Hu out.

So, per Elmer, this is how Xi double-crossed both the Shanghai Gang and the CYLC Gang of Hu Jintao.  And as expected all of Hu's men were out of the Standing Committee by the end of the Congress proceedings.

So what is next now with China?  

The way forward for and from China

We know that the Chinese economy is in the doldrums.  First, we shared how the three main sectors - Manufacturing, Real Estate, and Banking - have been hit by their own devils.

Drishtikone Newsletter #353: The Chinese Ponzi Economy
Mortgage Revolt due to real estate crisis in China has hit the banks hard. Manufacturing sector is reeling. Is China a giant Ponzi scheme waiting to unravel?

And, then the way US President Biden brought down the semiconductor chips industry in China.

Drishtikone Newsletter #361: Biden and the Global Chessboard
Guns trained at Russia and everyone engaging with Russia cast as ‘evil’. Saudis heckled and threatened. China’s major growing industry was brought down overnight and Indian leadership demonized. What is the Biden administration planning for?

On top of that the internal fissures and intrigues in Chinese polity.

How does Xi handle it?

Aggression.

Kyle Bass, founder and chief investment officer of Hayman Capital and a China critic says that Xi has installed a "War Cabinet"!

Others like Drew Thompson a researcher at the National University of Singapore echoes Kyle's take.

Source: "China's 'Wartime Cabinet' Is Complete: What Xi Jinping's Loyalists Mean For US Stocks, Investing, Chip Sector, Taiwan" Benzinga

What does a focus on national security and war preparation over the economy mean for the world?  Canadian commentators are thinking about it as are the others. (Source: "Canadian businesses have much to lose if China puts security over economy, experts say"/ CBC)

Xi is planning to “build a socialist modern power by 2049”.  Have this at the back of your mind while looking at what Xi is trying to do.

Some experts - like Bilahari Kausikan, former permanent secretary at Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs - feel that China wants to take Taiwan but it may not be imminent. (Source: "Xi warned about Taiwan interference — but don’t expect an imminent invasion, analysts say"/CNBC)

Admiral Michael Gilday, the Chief of US Naval Operations does not agree with though.  He thinks that the attack may happen by the end of this year or the next.

Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of US naval operations, was the latest senior US military official to indicate heightened alarm over Beijing's intentions towards the island.  "So when we talk about the 2027 window in my mind, that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window. I can't rule that out. I don't mean at all to be alarmist by saying that. It's just that we can't wish that away." (Source: "China could invade Taiwan by end of the year, US warns" / Telegraph UK)

The obvious question would be - has Biden's chip maneuver made the attack on Taiwan - the main chip outlet - a necessity for Xi?

With money dwindling and the economy, an all-out war - with the US backing Taiwan - may not be that intelligent a strategy.

So is China looking to unleash biological warfare?

India Today's reporter Geeta Mohan thinks so given the measures that Taiwan is taking already.  China, per Mohan, may be “weaponizing bacteria bombs.”  The bioweapons can include any disease-causing agents - viruses, bacteria, and toxins - to cause damage.

Listen to this.

Bottomline

China could be prepared to launch a bioweapons attack on Taiwan. It would be cheaper and easier and difficult to pinpoint to anyone. Once the chaos and the impact deepen, then the conventional or even nuclear options could come out.

Chinese society is changing - Lying Flat Movement

As geopolitics is changing, so are things within the larger Chinese society.

The situation in the last few years in China has started impacting the youth in different ways.

An interesting satirical caricature of the youth was created by an internet user in China of what really is the "ideal youth".

“The socialist successor of the new era does not attend after-school tutoring, does not play video games, does not chase celebrities,” said the post, which was shared widely before it was censored. “They finish all their homework at school, read President Xi’s selected works for one hour every day, go to sleep before 10 p.m., take the initiative to do chores, urge their parents to have more children and help look after them.” (Source: Japan Times)

This was an indicator of how the prosperity that the last three decades has brought incredible pressure on people and specifically youth to study and work hard nonstop.

In April 2021, there was a post on Baidu by Luo Huazhong (username "Kind-Hearted Traveler").  He had discussed why he liked a low-key minimalist lifestyle.  He shared how he quit his factory job in 2016 because he felt empty.  

Five years ago, Luo Huazhong discovered that he enjoyed doing nothing. He quit his job as a factory worker in China, biked 1,300 miles from Sichuan Province to Tibet and decided he could get by on odd jobs and $60 a month from his savings. He called his new lifestyle “lying flat.”  “I have been chilling,” Mr. Luo, 31, wrote in a blog post in April, describing his way of life. “I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong.”  He titled his post “Lying Flat Is Justice,” attaching a photo of himself lying on his bed in a dark room with the curtains drawn. Before long, the post was being celebrated by Chinese millennials as an anti-consumerist manifesto. “Lying flat” went viral and has since become a broader statement about Chinese society.  (Source: "These Chinese Millennials Are ‘Chilling,’ and Beijing Isn’t Happy" / New York Times)

Luo started a Lying flat movement.

Source: South China Morning Post

That struck a chord with the youth specifically in the Shenzhen area.

The movement has struck a nerve especially in Shenzhen, the technology hub bordering Hong Kong in southeastern China where the culture known as “996” -- working 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week -- has long been common. It’s home to giant electronics factories and companies such as Huawei Technologies Co. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. as well as 18 million people -- many of whom moved there to chase dreams of affluence. Yet as the era of explosive growth has waned, many workers are reassessing their choices. That Shenzhen is among the world’s least affordable cities adds to their woes. (Source: "Why Some Chinese Are ‘Lying Flat’ and What That Means" / Washington Post)

Luo shared his vision where he reserved the “right to choose a slow lifestyle”.  A lifestyle that includes reading, exercising, and doing odd jobs to get by.

The main reason that is propelling the lovers of the Lying Flat movement can be framed in two sentences.

Work has become intolerable. Rest is resistance.

This runs counter to the "Chinese Dream" vision that Xi Jinping has.

“It is necessary to prevent the stagnation of the social class, unblock the channels for upward social mobility, create opportunities for more people to become rich, and form an environment for improvement in which everyone participates, avoiding involution and lying flat,” Xi said in comments published on October 15 by the Communist Party’s flagship journal on political theory, Qiushi.  His words address a trend that strikes at the very heart of his “Chinese dream” ideology, which he has described as the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”. (Source: "What is ‘lying flat’, and why are Chinese officials standing up to it?" / South China Morning Post)

So just as the faltering economy will be a challenge for Xi along with the aggression from other countries in geopolitics, so will the subtle but marked shift happening in the Chinese youth of today.


Last year this week: Issue #324 - Control over Media and the One World Order

Media is an extension of power. Those who own and those who control it globally can lead the world. 'One World Order' is their goal. Our pusillanimity their weapon.

Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #324 - Control over Media and the One World Order
Media is an extension of power. Those who own and those who control it globally can lead the world. ‘One World Order’ is their goal. Our pusillanimity their weapon.

Video Corner: A New Counter-Terror Strategy from India

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recently excluded Pakistan from the grey list (Source: Economic Times)

That is not what India wanted to see given how Pakistan has been backing terror in India.  So what does the Indian administration do?

They hold a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee in Mumbai and Delhi on the 28th and 29th of October.

The theme was Countering the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes.

There was a ‘Soft Opening Session and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism’ in Mumbai on the  28th of October through a ceremony at Hotel Taj Mahal Palace.  And that is where the whole magic happened.

First the External Affairs Minister, Dr. Jaishankar laid out the context of what is happening.  

Then Safi Rizvi, the Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs gave an eye-opening presentation.  The data analytics and the depth of information gathering along with the deep scientific analyses done by the ministry were remarkable.

More importantly, Rizvi tied the drop in terror activities by Pakistan in Kashmir directly to its presence in the Grey list!

I am sharing this video just for that.  Start at the 8.14 mark if you want to get right into that presentation and skip Dr. Jaishankar's remarks.

That is not all.

After that, the Senior Intelligence Bureau officer, Pankaj Thakur played the audio clip of Sajid Mir - one of the 26/11 planners and executors while everyone was sitting in the Taj Mahal hotel - the venue of the killings during 26/11 attacks.

Such proactive aggression has rarely been seen by the Indian foreign ministry.

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