Tuesday, December 12, 2006

If Trade With China Is Vital to Our Future, What is Harper up to?

On December 12, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Edmonton Journal, questioning Stephen Harper's actions of restricting certain kinds of foreign investment, including China's state-owned enterprises. Jiang says Harper is making a mistake and his aggressive strategy won't help Canadian businesses trying to get into China.

You can read the article here.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ottawa open to China in small doses; Resources Minister says investment should be limited to minority stakes

On November 30, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Globe and Mail on Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn's recent message during his China visit that Chinese investment in Canadian energy and natural resource sectors is welcome, but as minority interests in Canadian-controlled joint ventures.

Dr. Jiang said Chinese officials fear the investment monitoring could result in a highly politicized process, similar to the one in the United States that derailed a bid by Chinese National Offshore Oil Corp. to acquire Unocal Corp. But he noted that most Chinese companies are not looking for majority control in Canadian companies, preferring minority position along the lines of two recent investments in Canadian oil sands projects.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Flaherty defends plan to screen foreign takeovers

On November 29, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Globe and Mail on Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's recently announced plan to "protect Canadian assets" against takeovers by some foreign state-owned companies.

Dr. Jiang said that Chinese company and government officials are increasingly skeptical about Canada's openness to Chinese investment.

Wenran said Canada is losing ground in the global competition to gain access to Chinese markets and be the recipient of out-bound Chinese investment. He said Canadian governments would have full power to regulate any foreign subsidiary that resulted from an acquisition.

You can read the article here.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Canadian-Chinese energy ties promoted

On November 17, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Business Edge, contending that the federal government's failure to understand Chinese intentions in Canada will jeopardize future investment. "We're facing a very uphill battle in winning Chinese investment in Canada," said Jiang, during a recent Asia-Pacific Summit held in Vancouver. "We are already in a position of needing China more than China needs us."

You can read the article here.

Minister criticizes China's human rights record

On November 17, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Globe and Mail on Canada's diplomatic friction with China over the latter's human rights record.

Ironically, the federal government has been much more active and positive in its engagement with China in recent weeks, Dr. Jiang said, but Beijing may still be focusing on the friction in the early months of the Harper government. “In its initial stages, this government gave a bit of a cold shoulder to China, and this might have had an effect on China. But now Canada is eager to engage China on all fronts.”

You can read the article here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

China, Africa forging closer ties

On November 10, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Globe and Mail on the recent China-Africa Cooperation Summit. The summit wrapped up yesterday with news of a further $1.9-billion (U.S.) in trade and investment deals between China and Africa, on top of the $10-billion in loans and assistance China offered on Saturday.

"This summit was quite unprecedented," said Wenran. "No other power has the will or ability to pull this off. It really marks the emergence of China as a dominant power in a faraway continent that was previously the back yard of the European powers."

You can read the article here.

On November 5, Dr. Jiang gave an interview on the same topic with the Guardian, read here.

The New York Times also interviewed Dr. Jiang on November 3, with a focus on China's strategic presence in Africa. “African leaders see China as a new kind of global partner that has lots of money but treats them as equals,” said Wenran. “Chinese leaders see Africa, in a strategic sense, as up for grabs.”

Dr. Jiang said that unlike in the cold war, when China’s foreign involvement was motivated by ideology, Beijing now had a commercial strategy as the developing world’s biggest beneficiary of globalization to unite with the region most conspicuously left behind.

It will be up to each country’s leaders, and ultimately each country’s people, to decide how to use the wealth, he said. “From China’s perspective the Western powers and Western companies have had their chance in Africa and really nothing has happened,” he said. Read the article here.

City safari … Beijing was festooned with posters of African wildlife in the run-up to the summit, with the main shopping street adorned with wooden animals.
Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters

A policeman in Beijing passes by a billboard promoting the China-Africa diplomatic forum this weekend.
China Photos/Getty Images

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

North Korea won't blink in the game of nuclear chicken

By Wenran Jiang
(Oct 10, 2006)
The Globe and Mail

In defiance of warnings from the international community, Pyongyang carried out its long-threatened nuclear weapons test yesterday, setting off worldwide condemnation and concern over nuclear arms proliferation in the region and around the globe.

Like Pyongyang's launch of seven missiles on July 4, its choice of timing in going nuclear was no accident. The United States has recently tightened its sanctions against North Korea, which views the measures as a declaration of war, and Beijing appears to be shifting away from its traditional support of the regime of Kim Jong-il. As well, South Korea's foreign minister is about to be voted in as the new United Nations Secretary-General, and Japan's new prime minister, a hard-liner against Pyongyang, is being welcomed in both Beijing and Seoul this week to resume long-interrupted summit diplomacy. Left behind, North Korea's own demands have failed to register a sympathetic hearing in the world.

For years, many believed that North Korea was just bluffing. How could an isolated, technologically backward, small Communist dictatorship with a starving population pull off a sophisticated nuclear arms operation that only half a dozen states could achieve. Such an attitude only propelled Pyongyang to be more resolute in proving its credentials. By failing to address repeated warning signs seriously, the world now must pay the price of either living with a nuclear North Korea or living without it.

For the United States, the test represents another foreign policy blunder of the Bush administration. Since 2000, Washington has been more obsessed with ending the Kim regime than ending its nuclear program. It discontinued the Clinton administration's 1994 "framework agreement" that provided aid to Pyongyang in exchange for the latter's suspension of its nuclear program. The Bush team labelled North Korea a "rogue state," part of an "axis of evil" and an "outpost of tyranny." After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Pyongyang reactivated its nuclear operation hoping to avoid the fate of Saddam Hussein.

In the ensuing six-party talks designed to resolve the crisis, involving South Korea, China, Japan and Russia, the U.S. took a hard-line position. Instead of fully engaging North Korea and providing security guarantees, Washington sought to press Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambition without preconditions. Mr. Kim, convinced that the current U.S. government has no intention of normalizing relations with North Korea, has refused to return to the negotiating table.

Yesterday's test is a wakeup call for the Bush hawks. Instead of a regime collapse, Pyongyang now has a nuclear arsenal of some seven to 10 weapons (in contrast with having a suspended nuclear facility and, at most, one or two nuclear bombs back in 2000). The cost of now reversing the course, either by carrot or stick, will be much higher.

For China, Pyongyang's nuclear escalation is a slap in the face at the worst time. Chinese leaders have spent much energy in playing host to the six-party talks over the past few years, trying to broker a compromise between North Korea and the United States, only to be frustrated by both sides. Beijing is facing mounting domestic challenges and needs a stable international environment, especially good relations with its trading partners -- the U.S., Japan and South Korea.

But unlike what is often portrayed in the press or argued by Bush administration supporters, Beijing's leverage over the secluded North Korea is not unlimited. Yes, China lost more than one million lives to save the North from being wiped out by U.S. forces in the Korean War in the early 1950s, and, yes, it is the de facto ally of the Kim regime, economically sustaining it from collapse.

But this doesn't automatically make North Korea a Chinese patron. In fact, Pyongyang has been angered by China's recent decision to join Washington's financial sanctions against the North, by China's siding with others in the UN in condemning the North Korean missiles test in July and by Beijing's warming relations with Japan's hawkish prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who came to prominence in Japanese politics largely through bashing Pyongyang. By moving away from its neutral position between Pyongyang and Washington, Beijing's leverage over North Korea, limited in the first place, is weakened rather than strengthened.

And sandwiched between the big powers, South Korea is the most vulnerable of all due to its close geographic location to the North.

Seoul has pursued a "sunshine policy" of economic co-operation and political engagement with Pyongyang for some time. The lack of support from the Bush administration has strained its allied relationship with Washington. Now, amidst the outrage and disappointment, the South must soberly reflect on what to do next.

Christopher Hill, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Asia Pacific affairs, warned recently that North Korea can have either nuclear weapons or a future, but not both. Pyongyang, backed into a corner and desperate for regime survival, is not blinking in this high-stake game of chicken. The challenge for the Security Council, including the United States, is to go beyond tough words and come up with a well-thought-out solution to the crisis.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Japan, China reach agreement over shrine

On October 6, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Globe and Mail on the recent development of Sino-Japan relations. Japan's new Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, appears to have made a significant concession to China on the shrine. Analysts say he must have offered a private assurance to Beijing that he will refrain from high-profile visits there, although he could perhaps make personal visits without publicity.

"The Chinese are hinting that there was an agreement behind the scenes that China can accept," said Wenran Jiang. "I can't imagine that China would do this without getting acceptable terms from Japan. Otherwise, how could President Hu Jintao accept a visit at such short notice? The Chinese had to get something in return. It's a huge concession from Japan."

You can read the article here.

Friday, September 29, 2006

China is job No.1 for Japanese PM

Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Globe and Mail on September 29, 2006, a day after Japan's hawkish new Prime Minister took power. Shinzo Abe, the tough-talking politician, faces an uphill battle as he seeks rapprochement with China and South Korea while still pushing his policies of patriotic education and national assertiveness.

"There are clear gains for Abe if he gets a quick summit with Hu Jintao," said Wenran. "He can demonstrate that he can manage relations with the two countries [China and South Korea] better than Koizumi. And it would create a positive international image for the new leader if he is capable of dealing with foreign-policy issues."

You can read the article here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

China Rebukes 2 Officials Over Farm Seizures

On September 28, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times on internal discipline investigation against two Shanghai officials for illegally seizing farmland.

As the Shanghai inquiry continues, other disciplinary action could be taken against the city's senior leaders and their relatives. Reports are spreading that security has been stepped up at Shanghai airports and that officials' passports have been confiscated to prevent potential suspects from fleeing the country.

Dr. Jiang points out that Beijing has ample incentive to prevent the Shanghai scandal from undermining social stability and investor confidence in a city of 20 million that is home to the nation's fastest-growing concentration of middle-class residents and a favorite destination for foreign capital.

You can read the article here.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Many Questions for Koizumi's Successor

By Wenran Jiang
Sep 23, 2006
BusinessWeek Online

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe just celebrated his 52nd birthday. And he could not have wished for a better present: The Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan for the past six decades, overwhelmingly voted him in as its new president, replacing retiring Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Since the LDP controls the Lower House of the Diet, Abe on Sept. 26 will become Prime Minister and assume stewardship of the world's second largest economy.

Like his predecessor and mentor Koizumi, Abe belongs to a political family dynasty that goes back three generations: his grandfather, an accused war criminal, went on to be Prime Minister in the late 1950s, and his grand-uncle took the same job a decade later. His father was Foreign Minister.

Like Koizumi, Abe comes to power with a lot of media worship and fanfare. He's riding a wave of public adulation, and there will be great expectations attached to his premiership.


Abe is no slouch as a political tactician. His popularity owes much to his hawkish stance toward North Korea and China, and he has portrayed himself as a true economic reformer, though that remains to be seen. He's telegenic, charismatic, talks of "creating a new and beautiful nation," and is an advocate of revising the section of Japan's constitution that prevents the country from using military means to settle international disputes.

Abe is Japan's youngest postwar Prime Minister and the first one born after World War II. He represents his generation with energy but is untested as a leader and has benefited from Japan's largely uncritical media.

Abe served as his father's secretary until his death in 1991, and first entered politics in 1993. That's a common practice in a country where sons and daughters routinely inherit their parents' parliamentary seats with the endorsement of the party. He never took a cabinet position until appointed Chief Cabinet Secretary last year. ??Abe has given few hints on how he will manage the country's economy, and the social disparity that grew under Koizumi. Nor has there been much meaningful debate about these domestic issues. Abe's popularity has shielded him from any tough questions.


An extremely hawkish line on North Korea several years ago, over the issue of Japanese abducted by Pyongyang's secret agents, brought Abe to the nation's attention. The recent missile tests by North Korea have further enhanced his position at a time when the Japanese public is concerned about its security.

Unlike Koizumi, who has pursued a close relationship with the U.S.—whether by sending Japanese troops to Iraq or impersonating Elvis—Abe has declared that he wants Japan to be more than just a follower in international affairs. He thinks Japan should be in the ranks of rule-setting states.

Abe has made it clear that he intends to revise Japan's constitution, originally written by the U.S. after the war, within the next five years. Japan's military, one of the strongest and probably the most technically sophisticated in the world, is likely to see its status raised from the rank of an agency to a ministry under Abe.


Also unlike Koizumi, who has isolated Japan diplomatically in Asia by insisting on worshiping at the Yasukuni Shrine where war criminals are buried among the war dead, Abe has shown some flexibility in how he will handle relations with China and South Korea. Both countries view the Yasukuni Shrine as a symbol of past Japanese militarism and so have stopped holding summits with Koizumi.

Abe has not made a pledge to the right wing of the LDP, as Koizumi did five years ago, that he would worship at Yasukuni annually. Stating earlier that he would pay homage to Yasukuni on Aug. 15, the date of Japan's defeat in World War II, Abe has dodged the question of whether he would do so as the Prime Minister.

Instead, Abe revealed that he made a private visit to Yasukuni back in April, clearly a calculated move to satisfy the conservatives of the LDP. This will also give him time to repair ties with Beijing without the shadow of Yasukuni. A Japan-China summit would certainly boost Abe's international standing, as most Japanese want to improve relations with China and South Korea.


But whether true reconciliation between Japan and its neighboring countries can be sustained under the Abe administration is uncertain. Abe has been a core supporter of a revisionist history textbook that glosses over Japan's past militarism. He sees it as enhancing Japanese patriotism.

He has openly questioned the legitimacy of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal that prosecuted Japanese war criminals at the end of World War II. And in recent LDP leadership debates, he was the only candidate who refused to use the word "aggression" to describe Japanese war activities in the Asia Pacific in the last century.

Even the U.S. is taking a closer look at where all these history-related issues are heading. In a House of Representatives Committee on International Relations hearing last week, Republican Chairman Henry Hyde demanded that the Yasukuni Shrine change its war exhibits to reflect the facts. Meanwhile, ranking Democratic member Tom Lantos has compared the Japanese Prime Minister's worshiping of war criminals as equal to honoring Nazi leaders.

With Koizumi stepping down, all eyes are on Abe. Will he look back into Japan's troubled history for inspiration, as Koizumi has done? Or will he look into the future by building bridges with Japan's neighbors as the new leader of a generation?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dr. Jiang Accompanied Local MLA to Arkansas to discuss oilpatch issues

Grande Prairie-Smoky MLA Mel Knight is in the United States this week trying to ease American worries that Alberta is allowing China to invest too much in the province's oil developments. To help alleviate some concerns, Knight is traveling to the conference with Dr. Wenran Jiang, who will answer some questions about China's growing economy and its energy needs. Read the report here.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A history lesson for Koizumi

The Japanese prime minister could learn from the example of one of his predecessors

By Wenran Jiang
Saturday, Aug 19, 2006, Page 9

Once again, protests against Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's annual visit to the Yasukuni Shrine are breaking out in China as well as South Korea. Koizumi's insistence on paying homage to the war dead interred at the shrine, where convicted war criminals from World War II are among the buried, has been damaging relations with Japan's neighbors for years. Indeed, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) continually affirms that he will not hold a summit with a Japanese prime minister who goes to Yasukuni, which most Chinese regard as a glorification of past Japanese aggression and colonialism.

Even some in Japan are becoming critical of Koizumi. While the public remains negative about Chinese outbursts against Japan, a recent survey indicates that more than 70 percent of Japanese view the current state of Japan-China relations as unacceptable. More people do not support Koizumi's annual pilgrimage to Yasukuni, with seven former prime ministers jointly demanding that he refrain from the visits.

Yet Koizumi remains defiant. Moreover, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzu Abe, the front-runner to succeed him, has openly declared that he will continue to visit the shrine as prime minister. Foreign Minister Taro Aso, another possible successor to Koizumi, has called for the Japanese emperor to pray at Yasukuni.

Lessons to learn

So pessimism appears to be settling in, and the deadlock over Yasukuni appears to be deepening. But the past can do more than bring us troubles of this kind. Even on the issue of Yasukuni, there are positive lessons to be learned.

Consider Yasuhiro Nakasone, Koizumi's predecessor in the 1980s. Both are master politicians who remained popular and served long terms in office. Both are conservative and nationalistic, advocating the revision of the Constitution and an assertive political and military role for Japan abroad. Finally, both are pro-US, with Nakasone declaring Japan to be the US' "unsinkable aircraft carrier" in eastern Asia and Koizumi sending troops to Iraq in support of the US-led war effort.

But a crucial difference between Nakasone and Koizumi is often overlooked: their handling of the Yasukuni controversy and relations with China.

Nakasone broke the taboo by being the first prime minister to worship at Yasukuni in an official capacity on Aug. 15, 1985, the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II. The decision triggered a severe response from China, where students held demonstrations against his visit. Bilateral relations were frozen.

But, instead of capitalizing on domestic resentment over China's criticisms, Nakasone decided not to visit Yasukuni again. He chose to mend relations with China by focusing on the positive aspects of bilateral ties. In 1986, Nakasone went to Beijing at the personal invitation of Chinese Communist Party General-Secretary Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦) and laid the cornerstone for a Sino-Japanese Youth Exchange Center, promising to forge future friendships with China.

This genuine embrace of reconciliation provided much-needed support to Chinese leaders, who were eager to control anti-Japanese sentiments.

Hu praised Nakasone's courage and warned Chinese youth publicly that if they "think merely of the well-being of their own country ? they are not sober-minded patriots."

Nakasone emerged from the crisis and was recognized as a capable statesman in managing Japan's diplomacy with China. There was no accusation that Nakasone was "selling out" to Beijing. Nor were his conservative, nationalist, and pro-US credentials damaged.

More than one option

This episode suggests that Koizumi's hard line position isn't the only option. A Japanese prime minister can be strong without exploiting domestic resentment against the country's neighbors, and conservative, patriotic, and pro-US while forging a healthy working relationship with China. Indeed, the cessation of Yasukuni visits would likely open the door to the long-overdue Sino-Japanese summit, which in turn might strengthen moderate voices in China seeking a future-oriented relationship with Japan.

Unfortunately, Koizumi and his allies are not prepared to move forward on the Yasukuni issue.

As Aso recently put it: "The more China voices [opposition], the more one feels like going there. It's just like when you're told `Don't smoke cigarettes,' it actually makes you want to smoke."

No one expects the current Japanese and Chinese leaders to embrace, as Nakasone and Hu did two decades ago, but it is a sad state of affairs when the leaders of neighboring giants pretend not to see each other at international forums. If Nakasone, who now urges Koizumi to stop the Yasukuni pilgrimage, were to respond to Aso, he might simply extend the analogy: it is not in Japan's national interest to continue to inhale Koizumi's second-hand smoke.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

China and Japan: Reconciliation or Confrontation?

by Wenran Jiang
(Aug 16, 2006)
Jamestown Foundation, China Brief, Volume 6, Issue 17

Openly defiant of the mounting domestic opposition, the strong protests from Beijing and Seoul and the growing criticism of international opinion, on August 15 Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid homage to the Yasukuni Shrine where Class-A war criminals from World War II are honored among the fallen Japanese soldiers. Despite having made five visits in the past, for the first time, he chose to visit the shrine on August 15, the anniversary of Japan’s defeat in 1945. This fulfillment of his campaign pledge from earlier was clearly an affront to the leaders of China and South Korea, and damage to Japan’s relations with its neighbors is expected. Yet, Koizumi will step down from the prime minister’s post in September and the question now is whether his successor will seek reconciliation with Japan’s neighbors and end the country’s diplomatic stalemate.

Intensifying Efforts of Reconciliation

Having given up on Koizumi, Beijing is now looking ahead and has stepped up its diplomatic activities in the past few months to ensure that Japan’s next prime minister will not repeat Koizumi’s confrontational approach to China. While maintaining that there would be no bilateral summits so long as Japan’s prime minister visits Yasukuni, top Chinese leaders have met with several visiting Japanese delegations and leaders, including the new opposition party leader, Ichiro Ozawa of the Democratic Party of Japan, who is critical of Koizumi’s China policy.

While the bilateral talks on the dispute over the exploration of oil and gas fields in the East China Sea have stalled after several rounds of negotiations, Beijing has been trying to find a new focus in its relations with Japan through cooperation in the areas of energy conservation, efficiency and environmental protection. Led by China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), a multi-ministry effort has resulted in Sino-Japanese cooperation on Energy Saving and Environmental Protection in Kyoto a few months ago and was met with much greater interest and participation from both sides than expected (the author’s interview with NDRC officials; China Brief, June 7).

In the recently held Beijing-Tokyo Forum, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Wang Yi, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary and the leading candidate to replace Koizumi, Shinzo Abe, and other high-profile figures from China and Japan exchanged views on possible ways to improve bilateral relations in the post-Koizumi era. Viewing these developments in a broader context, Koizumi’s latest Yasukuni visit may have a short-lived negative impact on the future of Japan’s relations with China. The focus seems to be on the most promising things that the two countries can do to advance reconciliation and there are a number of emerging policy options that are being discussed by policy makers, academics and the mass media in both China and Japan [1].

Three Possible Ways of Advancing Reconciliation

First, as a short-term solution, many agree that it would benefit Japan as well its neighbors if top Japanese leaders were to stop visiting the Yasukuni Shrine. This would certainly place Sino-Japanese relations back on track for the “second normalization” process—regular bilateral meetings at all levels, especially the summit meetings. Clearly, the Yasukuni Shrine remains the central issue of the current deadlock in Sino-Japanese relations, and no additional reconciliation measures can take place without sorting out this controversial issue between Tokyo and its neighbors. Koizumi’s visits to the Yasukuni have damaged Japan’s relations with China as well as with others. It has put Tokyo’s ties with Seoul at the lowest point in many years, and there is growing evidence that the Yasukuni issue and Japan’s deteriorating relations with its neighboring countries are perceived in Washington as detrimental to U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific region. Prominent U.S. Congressman Henry Hyde wrote a letter prior to Koizumi’s visit to the United States in May, demanding as a precondition for any consideration of addressing the U.S. Congress the commitment by the Japanese prime minister to cease his visits to the Yasukuni Shrine.

There have been promising signs of a potential breakthrough on the issue of Yasukuni. In spite of grassroots pressure to get tough with Japan, Chinese leaders have instead decided to look for a “face-saving” way for Japan to end the Yasukuni visits. There also have been growing voices in Japan that oppose visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by future Japanese prime ministers. In a recent opinion poll, 60 percent of the Japanese public indicated that they are opposed to Koizumi’s Yasukuni visits, with only 20 percent supporting them. Furthermore, an overwhelming 82 percent of those surveyed said that the next prime minister should not visit Yasukuni, while only 10 percent supported the continued homage (Asahi Shimbun, July 25). The changing tide of public opinion in Japan has also been strengthened by a memo made public by an imperial household official, which clearly indicated that the late-Emperor Hirohito was critical of putting the war criminals into Yasukuni back in the late 1970s and stopped going to the shrine ever since. The coming departure of Koizumi will provide an opportunity for Shinzo Abe and other potential successors to make a firm commitment against visiting the shrine.

Second, in the medium-term, many advocate that China and Japan should establish a number of mechanisms to manage the bilateral relationship of the new century: institutionalized official dialogues that address bilateral differences, private sector associations that deal with bilateral business ties and regular track-II style meetings that bring government officials, business, academics and public opinion leaders together. While historical issues may dominate the headlines, China-Japan relations are multi-dimensional and require extensive care at several levels. The existing institutions, largely built in the 1970s after the two countries established diplomatic relations, are either outdated or ineffective. Many old “Japan hands” in China and old “China hands” in Japan, who bridged both sides for most of the postwar decades, have passed away. “Friendship” organizations on both sides have had difficulties coping with the new changes and the growing negative attitudes of peoples in both countries toward one another. In addition, the crucial institutions that can effectively address bilateral differences are very few in number. Meaningful and effective working institutions, as many have realized, will improve communications, benefit mutual understanding and lead to reconciliation between Japan and China.

Such institution-building projects may produce tangible results in the near future because there is a certain consensus in both countries that the communication channels established in the 1970s and 1980s are no longer suitable for the 21st century. At the same time, the attempt to cope with pressing issues such as the East China Sea energy dispute and the North Korean nuclear crisis has resulted in existing management mechanisms (although not institutionalized) between Tokyo and Beijing. The challenge for both countries will be the task of making them more permanent and effective. The task may also be made easier now that both countries have much younger and more professional diplomats, a much more internationalized business community and an academic workforce with significantly more international exposure. These developments will no doubt facilitate the task of reconciliation between Japan and China.

Finally, in the long-term, there have been calls for Japan to undergo a thorough national reflection on its war past. Simultaneously, there have also been voices advocating that China should be more self-reflective and forgiving in order to establish a future-oriented, healthy bilateral relationship. The momentum for such long-term solutions is partly due to the recognition that true reconciliation must be based on soul-searching and nationwide reflections of the past. There are also concerns that the growing negative feelings of the two peoples only fuel narrow-minded nationalism. It is necessary for the leaders of both countries to resist the temptations of using nationalism for political gains. Both peoples need to come to terms with each other at the emotional level and learn to treat each other as equals. With the realization that external forces, international institutions and world opinions can affect the behaviors of Japan and China—both powerful states—substantial international initiatives around the world are gradually becoming a part of the China-Japan reconciliation process.

There are reasons to be cautiously optimistic for the long-term reconciliation between China and Japan. An unintended consequence of Koizumi’s visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, a purely political move to benefit his leadership ambitions, has been the nationwide debate in Japan on its attitude toward its past aggressions. In China, internal and open debates about Beijing’s Japan policy have also been going on for sometime, with ideas such as the “new thinking” on Japan being proposed (China Brief, February 1, 2005). Meanwhile, world opinion, assisted by the rapidly evolving communication technologies, will have a continual impact on the leadership and the public in both Japan and China.

It was not so long ago when Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso described his resentment of Chinese criticism of the Japanese leadership’s Yasukuni visits in such a way: “The more China voices [opposition], the more one feels like going there. It’s just like when you’re told ‘Don’t smoke cigarettes,’ it actually makes you want to smoke” (Xinhua, January 30). In an about face, Aso now openly calls for the reform of the Yasukuni Shrine, even proposing that the Yasukuni Shrine lose its religious status and hinting at the possibility of separating the Class-A war criminals from the other soldiers (Mainichi Shimbun, August 8) . Beijing’s latest outrage over Koizumi’s Yasukuni visit aside, the good news may well be that the Japanese have finally come to realize it is not in their own national interest to continue to inhale Koizumi’s second-hand smoke.


1. This is the central theme of an international workshop organized by Professor Peter Van Ness at the Australian National University from August 17-18, with participants coming from Japan, China, Australia and other parts of the world, including this author.

Beijing hopes visits to the shrine will be a thing of the past

On August 16, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by South China Morning Post on Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's recent visit to the Yasukuni Shrine on the 61st anniversary of Japan's surrender in the second world war.

Mr Koizumi is likely to be replaced by Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe. Although Mr Abe is a part of the conservative faction of the Liberal Democratic Party, and has taken a hawkish stance on China and North Korea, Beijing is hoping growing public opinion against visits to the shrine and pressure from Japanese business to improve relations will force him to end the controversial visits and pave the way for normalisation of relations.

Dr. Jiang said Mr Abe, the grandson of a member of Japan's second world war cabinet, was a staunch nationalist and favoured visits to the shrine. He said, however, "the pressure now is enormous" not only from China, South Korea and the United States, but increasingly from the Japanese public.

Public opinion has turned against the visits after it was recently disclosed that Emperor Hirohito stopped visiting the shrine when Yasukuni secretly honoured 14 class-A war criminals - including the executed wartime prime minister General Hideki Tojo - in 1978.

You can read the article here.

Friday, July 14, 2006

China's Party All Aglow, but May Be Blinkered

On July 14, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times on Chinese Communist Party's ideological campaign. "History will once again prove that the Communist Party of China is a glorious, great and correct party," said Ouyang Song, deputy head of the party's organization department, who helped oversee the campaign.

From the outside, the campaign looks increasingly out of step with much of the rest of China, which has seen a capitalist-style leap in economic growth, highlighted by an explosion of consumer choice, including entertainment options from MTV to MP3, soap operas to beauty pageants.

"Very few people take it seriously," said Dr. Jiang. "But to totally dismiss it is not quite accurate either. They hope to go back to the original party ideals, a cleaner organization that's closer to the people and more disciplined."

You can read the article here.

Monday, July 10, 2006

China Isn't Desperate For Canadian Oil

On July 10, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Daily Oil Bulletin on China's interest in Canada's oilsands.

Wenran suggested that major Canadian oilsands producers are indifferent to the Chinese market, but part of the explanation may also be that Chinese oil companies don't have to come to Canada.

You can read the article here.

Friday, July 07, 2006

China wants nothing less than equity stake in oilsands

On July 7, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Calgary Herald on Chinese investment in Alberta's oilsands industry.

Song Yiwu, vice-president of the China National Oil and Gas Exploration and Development Corporation the international wing of the Chinese National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) told a TD oilsands conference his company is looking to secure a minimum of 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) from Canada as part of his country's efforts to diversify oil supplies from around the globe.

Dr. Jiang said it's in Canada's interest to engage China. "China is coming it's the reality. The issue is, how do we work with China? We should work with China together to help solve their problems and benefit ourselves at the same time."

You can read the article here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

China's Booming Energy Relations With Africa

by Wenran Jiang
(Jun 21, 2006)
Jamestown Foundation, China Brief

With continuous economic growth averaging an astonishing annual rate of 10 percent over the past quarter century, China has transformed its landscape, become one of the largest economic powerhouses on earth, created development opportunities for its trading partners around the world and, in the process, generated huge demands for new sources of energy and other resources. Africa, on the other hand, has been left behind in the global quest for industrial modernization, economic prosperity and political stability. Yet, into Africa the Chinese are coming. They are coming for trade, investment and joint ventures, and they are consuming all the energy, minerals and other raw materials that the continent can offer.

An Evolution of Traditional Sino-African Ties

Africa's importance to China is reflected by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's ongoing tour of Africa. According to China's Ministry of Commerce, the seven countries on his itinerary—Egypt, Ghana, the Republic of Congo, Angola, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda—have a combined trade volume of over US$20 billion with China, or 50.6 percent of total China-Africa trade last year. Only two months earlier, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited three other African states—Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya—following his trip to the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Such high-profile visits, a recurring practice over the past few years, have aroused speculation that Beijing's pursuit of great power status may include a new grand strategy regarding Africa. After all, top Chinese leaders have done the same extensive tours to Latin American countries since late 2004 when President Hu first visited Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Cuba. China's ties with African countries, however, can be traced back to the 1950s when newly emerging African states declared their independence. From the 1950s to 1970s, China developed close relations with many of these countries based primarily on shared ideological belief and political identity: anti-colonialism, national independence, economic self-reliance and Third World cooperation. Beijing provided substantial aid and other assistance to struggling African states in order to demonstrate that China was on the side of the Third World.

Things changed in the late 1970s. China's economic reforms gradually moved China away from its radical revolutionary worldview of the past. Beijing's open-door policy, primarily designed to attract foreign trade, investment and joint-venture opportunities from Western countries and to facilitate China's entry into the World Trade Organization, moved China much closer to a market economy where profits, not political agendas, drove most of the economic and trade activities. In this process, China's relations with African and other Third World countries have also evolved from anti-colonial brothers-in-arms to economic and trade partners based on market principles. Yet, many things have remained the same. Beijing continues to pay and train young African diplomats in the Chinese Foreign Ministry's prestigious Foreign Affairs University, a practice that has continued for many years; China continues to present itself as a member of the Third World; and since 1991, every Chinese foreign minister's first visit abroad each year has been to an African country. Beijing has even named 2006 the "Year of Africa," and it is getting ready to host a Sino-African summit toward the end of this year. Furthermore, according to Beijing's report to the People's Congress, most of China's foreign aid—totaling 7.5 billion yuan ($950 million) last year—has gone to more than 50 African countries. In fact, Wen claimed that China has offered Africa more than $44 billion in aid over the past 50 years to finance 900 infrastructure projects (AP, June 18). Meanwhile, all signs indicate that China-African relations are entering a new phase centered on energy and raw materials.

The New Focus on Energy

China's relentless pursuit of economic development turned the country into a net petroleum importer in 1993, and by the turn of the new century, its dependency on foreign oil had jumped to about 40 percent of its demand. Beijing's new target is to quadruple its economy again by 2020, as it did from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. To achieve this goal, however, China must rely even more on external energy supplies as the Middle Kingdom already burns through 6.3 million barrels of oil a day. Although still far behind the United States, which consumes some 20 million barrels a day, the International Energy Bureau projects that Chinese consumption will reach a daily level of 10 million barrels within the next two decades or so.

Thus, China's quest for energy and other resources has brought China to Africa with urgency. Chinese customs statistics reveal that from 2001 to 2005, China's trade with Africa increased 268 percent, slower only than the growth of China's trade with the Middle East in the same period (367 percent), but faster than China's trade growth with Latin America (238 percent), ASEAN (170 percent), European Union (184 percent) and North America (163 percent). In the first quarter of 2006, the Ministry of Commerce reported that China's trade with the seven countries on Premier Wen's current African touring list amounted to $6.56 billion dollars, a surge of 168.2 percent. It is not surprising, therefore, that in such a broad economic context, Africa has turned into a major energy supplier to China in recent years. Back in 2003, both President Hu and Premier Wen visited several oil-producing African states with Chinese energy company executives, and since then China has become involved in an increasing number of energy deals on the continent that bear a number of unique characteristics.

Energy Security with Chinese Characteristics

First, Beijing is willing to get into the "troubled zones" with bold investment and aid packages in exchange for energy. When Angola ended its 27-year civil war in 2002, few foreign countries and firms were willing to invest in the country. China, on the other hand, committed a $3 billion oil-backed credit line to rebuild the country's shattered infrastructure. Beijing also made Angola its largest foreign aid destination. Now, Angola is the second largest oil producer after Nigeria in sub-Saharan Africa, producing 1.4 million barrels per day with one-third of its oil exports—13 percent of total Chinese imports—going to China. In the first four months of this year, Angola was also the largest supplier of crude to the Chinese market after Saudi Arabia (AFP, June 20). Similar arrangements have been made with Nigeria and other countries as well.

Second, Chinese energy companies are committing large amounts of funding and labor for exploration and development rights in resource-rich countries. Sudan is one of the earliest and largest overseas energy projects by China's major energy companies. Chinese operations in Sudan include investment, development, pipeline building and a large number of Chinese labor deployments. Today, China has $4 billion of investment in the country. The China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) has a 40 percent controlling stake in Greater Nile Petroleum that dominates Sudan's oilfields. Last year, China purchased more than half of Sudan's oil exports, and earlier this year, China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) announced that it had bought a 45 percent stake in a Nigerian oil-and-gas field for $2.27 billion and also purchased 35 percent of an exploration license in the Niger Delta for $60 million. Chinese companies have made similar investments in Angola and other countries.

Third, Chinese energy companies enter into joint-ventures with national governments, state-controlled energy companies or individual enterprises in order to establish a long-term local presence. It appears that the Chinese companies are often willing to outbid their competitors in major contracts awarded by African governments because their concerns are not in short-term returns but rather in strategic positioning for the future.

Fourth, China does not take into consideration the particular concerns of the United States or other Western countries when selecting energy cooperation partners and has a different set of standards on how to advance political reform and human rights in Africa. Most notoriously, China has been willing to engage in energy deals with the Sudanese government despite the ongoing crisis in Darfur. Likewise, China has just reached an energy and mining deal worth $1.3 billion with Zimbabwe. In exchange for building three coal-fired thermal power stations, Zimbabwe is likely to repay the Chinese investment with its rich deposits of platinum, gold, coal nickel and diamonds (The Guardian, June 16).

A Model for Future Cooperation or a Return to the Past?

In the past few years, the demands from China and other developing economies for oil and natural gas have become the major factor, although not the only one, that has driven up world energy prices. Chinese energy companies' extensive activities in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Central Asia in search of oil and gas assets have created anxiety regarding the world's future supply of energy. Discussions of a new "great game"—a term traditionally associated with competition among major world powers for the control of Eurasian oil resources since the late nineteenth century—have become frequent among observers of energy security.

Today, Africa supplies China with nearly a third of its oil imports. Beijing's extensive engagement and its ascending status in Africa also raises important questions on the nature of China's involvement in the continent as well as Beijing's long-term objectives in the region. Critics charge that China has pursued mercantilist policies in the region for pure economic benefits without human rights or environmental concerns. Due to China's support, they argue, the Sudanese government has been able to continue its genocidal policy in the Darfur region, and the Mugabe regime has been able to survive and carry on its abuses of human rights in Zimbabwe.

Officially, Beijing rejects the criticism with two arguments. The first is China's trademark policy of non-interference in domestic affairs. As Premier Wen stated, "We believe that people in different regions and countries, including those in Africa, have their right and ability to handle their own issues" (South China Morning Post, June 19). The second is China's emphasis that its involvement in Africa is different from the colonialism of the past, and that an affluent China is now putting money back into the local African economy. As Chinese leaders like to say, it is a win-win situation.

With China speedily expanding its activities in Africa, international concerns over Chinese behavior are also deepening and calls for Beijing to be a more responsible world power are becoming stronger. There are also indications that Chinese policy makers, academics, NGOs and even enterprises are beginning to reflect upon China's role in Africa. Many African countries are benefiting from a "China boom," but they would be better served if Beijing were to take further steps in balancing between economic interests and the welfare of the African people. Only by doing so would China be able to demonstrate to the world that its arrival in Africa is indeed different from the old colonial powers.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Dirty Secret of China's Economy

On June 16, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the BusinessWeek on China's worsening environmental problems.

The "policy elite has realized that China, with its huge scale of economic development and emissions, cannot consume energy and pollute the earth the way traditional economies have done in the past," says Dr. Jiang.

You can read the article here.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The changing hues of China

In June 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Oilweek Magazine on China's energy industry and its foray into the Canadian oil sands development.

Dr. Jiang rails against the Canadian government’s short-sightedness when it comes to allowing business exchange between the two countries.

You can read the article here.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

China Looks Beyond Koizumi in its Japan Diplomacy

by Wenran Jiang

Volume 6, Issue 12 (June 07, 2006)
China Brief, Jamestown Foundation

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is reportedly preparing for another visit to the Yasukuni Shrine where World War II war criminals are being honored among the war dead. If he carries out his sixth homage before stepping down as the prime minister in September, Tokyo’s relations with China, South Korea and other Asian countries are certain to become more strained. There are positive signs, however, that Sino-Japanese relations are improving—an indication that both senior Chinese leaders and their Japanese counterparts are willing to look beyond Koizumi.

Resumption of High-Level Contacts

Political relations between China and Japan have been at low ebb for much of the past five years since Koizumi began his pilgrimages to Yasukuni. The deadlock over the issue, combined with the large-scale anti-Japanese demonstrations in major Chinese cities in the spring of 2005, has cut off much of the senior level contacts between Tokyo and Beijing. Chinese President Hu Jintao reiterated China’s bottom line on its policy toward Japan in late March: there would be no summit between the two countries as long as Japan’s prime minister visits the Yasukuni Shrine. Nevertheless, in spite of the political impasse, bilateral economic relations have developed along a separate track.

Two years ago, China became Japan’s largest trading partner and Tokyo is keenly aware that much of Japan’s economic recovery in the past years is due primarily to a growing Chinese market. China and Japan have continued to hold bilateral strategic consultations and negotiations aimed at resolving disputes over territories and exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea. After much speculation and negotiation, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing met with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso on the sidelines of an Asia economic conference in Doha, Qatar. This was the first foreign-minister level meeting of the two countries in a year and the first time for Aso in his capacity as the foreign minister to meet his Chinese counterpart. The two ministers chatted about sports and took a forward-looking posture. “We will benefit from good relations,” Li said. “But if we fight, we will both be worse off. The world also wants Japan-China relations to improve.” Aso’s response echoed this tone: “We should have more dialogue. We should do that especially when we have difficulties, and Japan is open to this” (The Daily Yomiuri, May 25).

Both Li and Aso agreed that the two sides should speed up negotiations on the East China Sea dispute where Japan fears that China’s development of gas fields on the Chinese side of Japan’s declared “median line” (not acknowledged by Beijing) might lead to the loss of resources on the Japanese side. Aso has also proposed another meeting in Malaysia as a part of the “ASEAN+3” (Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus South Korea, Japan and China) next month when ASEAN foreign ministers will meet with their counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea. Aso even predicted with optimism that Japan is on its way to restoring relations with both China and South Korea.

A New Focus of Bilateral Cooperation

A few days after the meeting of the two foreign ministers, China’s Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai met with Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshihiro Nikai while attending the Sino-Japan Forum on Energy Saving and Environmental Protection in Kyoto. Participating in one of the largest bilateral events in recent memory with 700 government and business leaders from both sides, Bo was received by the Japanese side with formal head-of-the-state status (Kyodo, May 28). He talked to Nikai about the importance of bilateral commerce and how cold political relations have affected economic ties. In the end, both agreed to pursue further collaboration in the areas of energy efficiency and environmental protection.

Senior-level attention in these areas has marked a renewed focus in the development of bilateral relations. China’s “11th five-year program” has placed a tremendous emphasis on energy conservation and environment-friendly measures. Japan, on the other hand, is one of the most energy efficient users in the world and is a leader in many of the technologies needed by China. Nobuyori Kodaira, director-general of Japan’s Natural Resources and Energy Agency, who recently engaged in bitter talks with China over the East China Sea dispute, has now signed a memorandum of cooperation with China on energy conservation.

But Bo went further to suggest broader, long-term cooperation based on energy and the environment. He drew a comparison to the European Union that began with the European Coal and Steel Community centered on France and Germany. "If China and Japan can do better in the area of energy and environmental cooperation, Sino-Japanese relations will be pushed to a new platform,” said Bo (Kyodo, May 30).

Tokyo seems to have sensed the new momentum. In what will certainly be seen by Beijing as a positive step forward, it announced that Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA) to China for the 2005 fiscal year—frozen due to the deadlock over the East China Sea negotiations—will be resumed with 74 billion yen (US$650 million) worth of low interest loans and assistance being dispersed soon (Asahi Shimbun, June 6). When Tokyo began to provide China with ODA in the late 1970s, it was part and parcel of Japan’s energy security policy. The initial projects focused on large infrastructure projects that directly benefited Chinese exports of coal and oil to Japan. After becoming a net oil importer in 1993, China continued to supply Japan with good-quality, low-cost crude from its Northeast Daqing Oil Fields, only stopping in early 2004 when the two sides could not agree on the pricing. At the same time, China, with its own energy in serious short supply, overtook Japan as the second-largest energy consumer in the world. Although Japan has substantially decreased its ODA to China since the 1990s and expects a total suspension in the near future, it remains an important source of finance and is a symbol of close economic relations between the two countries. In the past few years, Japanese ODA to China has shifted to environment-related projects since China’s growth has caused many environmental problems that have an increasingly detrimental effect on Japan.

Post-Koizumi Diplomacy in Full Swing but Obstacles Ahead

These developments are certainly music to the ears of those who would like to see China and Japan overcome the “Yasukuni syndrome” and move forward to build better relations that will benefit not only the two countries, but also the entire Asia-Pacific region. Even on issues of history, Beijing has indicated through informal channels that it is willing to conduct joint studies with Japan—a sign of flexibility in searching for a breakthrough in this sensitive area. Beijing’s new posture toward Japan recalls its efforts in the 2001-2004 period when Chinese leaders implicitly endorsed the “new thinking” on Japan advocated by some scholars and journalists who argued that China should move beyond issues of history and forge a future-oriented relationship with Japan. Unfortunately, neither the Japanese leadership nor other segments of Japanese society responded with positive measures and the “new thinking” lost its appeal in China and was largely discarded.

The tide seems to be changing now and the Japanese public is overwhelmingly concerned about the state of Japan’s deteriorating relations with China. Furthermore, seven former prime ministers have called on Koizumi to stop visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, the business community has clearly voiced its opposition to Koizumi’s homage and consensus is growing that the next prime minister should refrain from going to Yasukuni in order to repair relations with Japan’s Asian neighbors. Shinzo Abe, Koizumi’s chief cabinet secretary and a leading contender for the prime minister’s position, has recently softened his hawkish stand on the Yasukuni issue. Once adamant about going to Yasukuni if selected as the next prime minister, Abe is now refusing to give a clear answer. Aso, another contender for the prime minister position and an advocate for the emperor’s worshipping at Yasukuni, also treads carefully on the issue: “I’ll make an appropriate decision with both my personal belief and my public duty taken into consideration” (The Daily Yomiuri, May 25). Additionally, former cabinet secretary Yasuo Fukuda has clearly expressed his opposition to the Yasukuni visit and has built his bid for the prime minister’s post mainly on the resumption of healthy, friendly ties with Beijing and Seoul.

While it is unclear how the Yasukuni issue and the “history question” will manifest itself in Japanese politics in the next few months, it is unlikely to be a source of military conflict. A much more difficult obstacle, however, lies in the East China Sea where territorial claims by both China and Japan have caused much tension. In a world of diminishing resources, it is estimated that there are 200 trillion cubic feet of potential gas reserves and up to 100 billion barrels of oil deposits on the entire shelf of the East China Sea. The reserves, close to both Japan and China, could provide a long-term, secure supply to both countries if a cooperative solution is worked out. Yet, the complex interdependence between Beijing and Tokyo has created an economic security dilemma—one country’s drive to secure its own energy supply has turned into a real or perceived depletion of the other’s potential resources.

Although the positions of Beijing and Tokyo remain at odds after the fourth round of negotiations, both sides have expressed willingness to continue negotiations that would allow for joint-exploration. It is evident that both countries are attempting to search for grounds of cooperation and are making an effort to move beyond the areas of contention. One can only hope that the potential Koizumi visit to the Yasukuni shrine will not derail the hard-earned progress in Sino-Japanese relations.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

China Attacks Its Woes With an Old Party Ritual

On March 9, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the New York Times on the Chinese Communist Party's recent "preserving the progressiveness" ideological campaign.

For 14 months and counting, the party's 70 million rank-and-file members have been ordered to read speeches by Mao and Deng Xiaoping, as well as the numbing treatise of 17,000-plus words that is the party constitution. Mandatory meetings include sessions where cadres must offer self-criticisms and also criticize everyone else.

Dr. Jiang observed that it is an effort to cope with the declining reputation of the party and the distrust of the people toward party officials.

"The executives were asking me if this political movement will affect China's way of doing business," Mr. Jiang said. "The Chinese immediately reassured us that it wouldn't."

You can read the article here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

CHINA: New rules 'aimed at tightening local media'

On April 19, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Straits Times on China's recent media rules aimed at cleaning up and filtering out foreign influences from local news and entertainment content.

Dr. Jiang noted that the oscillation of positions on media control is inextricably linked to which faction within the Communist Party is having the upper hand. "The recent clampdown is a sign that at this point in time, the conservatives, who favour tight control, appear to be winning," he said.

You can read the article here.

Friday, April 14, 2006

US-China Differences Go Way Beyond Protocol for Hu's Visit

On April 14, 2006, Dr. Jiang was interviewed by CNSNews on Chinese President Hu Jintao's debut trip to the U.S. last fall.

China's embassy in Washington, official media, and -- more than once this week -- the foreign ministry in Beijing all have referred to the April 18-21 trip as a "state visit." But the White House pointedly described it as merely "a visit" and the agenda does not include the official state dinner or banquet traditionally associated with the highest-level visit by a head of state.

Professor Jiang says getting the full state-visit treatment "is important for Hu politically back home, and for the international image of this ascending economic power abroad."

But the move from Washington will be seen as "a slap in Hu's face," Jiang said. "It suggests that Washington doesn't fundamentally acknowledge the legitimacy of China's authoritarian communist government."

You can read the article here.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Farmers take fight to Internet arena

On February 27, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Straits Times on how Chinese discontented farmers are using the internet to vent their grievances.

In the past, Beijing could regard the peasants as a backward lot whose interests were strictly parochial. Their grievances, no matter how intense, were isolated from the outside world, said Wenran.

You can read the article here.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Land rights and graft a thorny issue

On February 25, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Straits Times on the growing rights movement among Chinese peasants stemming from China's ambiguous and frequently abused land ownership-acquisition policies.

Analysts are divided on whether China's rural reforms can succeed without addressing the thorny questions of land-ownership and rights.

Professor Jiang Wenran thinks the land issue will neither make nor break the bid to improve rural living. He commented that the land-rights issue is not the key issue that is going to make Chinese peasants better or worse off.

You can read the article here.

Rural unrest not near any 'tipping point'

On February 25, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Straits Times on rural unrest in China.

For now, experts do not think the country is close to any 'tipping point', citing the lack of an organised political opposition.

But Wenran noted that it would be a mistake for Beijing to take comfort from such observations, adding that every new protest inched the regime closer to a potential crisis.

You can read the article here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

China: threat or victim of U.S. fuels policy?

Washington accused of manipulating oil markets to slow pace of modernization

by Wenran Jiang
(Feb 22, 2006)
Edmonton Journal

China's growing appetite for energy has caused widespread concern around the world.

The Middle Kingdom is blamed for the sharp increase in global oil prices in the past few years. The United States is uneasy about Beijing's evolving cosy relations with major oil producers such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Venezuela, many of which are hostile toward Washington. And there are growing calls for containing China as an energy threat in a world of diminishing resources.

But many Chinese are resentful of such attitudes. Rather, they argue that China is the victim of mounting oil prices. In 2004 alone, Beijing spent an extra $7 billion US of its foreign exchange due to climbing oil prices, with payment totalling more than $43 billion US, making oil the country's largest single import item.

While the Western mainstream holds that the global increase in demand -- especially from China and India -- and decreasing spare production capacity will keep oil prices high, Beijing sees the real cause of high oil prices as manipulation of the energy markets by Western government-backed, profit-seeking "international petroleum crocodiles." Reports of huge earnings by Western energy firms only enhance such perceptions.

When the U.S. Congress voted overwhelmingly to block the sale of American energy company Unocal to China's National Offshore Oil Corp. last fall, it became further proof to many in China that the United States doesn't play by market rules -- its intention is to halt China's pace of modernization by keeping energy prices dear and keeping Chinese firms out of the global energy equity market.


Chinese energy companies are keenly aware of the volatile situation and high risks involved in their energy investment ventures in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. And they are bitter when Western media accuse them of being in bed with dictators or "rogue states" as defined by the United States.

Given the perception gap, the recent Chinese debates on energy security have resulted in some people strongly advocating for a speedy buildup of China's navy in order to protect vital energy shipping routes.

Currently, a popular Chinese online novel, The Battle in Protecting Key Oil Routes, depicts a war scenario in 2008 near the Strait of Malacca where the Chinese navy destroys the entire U.S. Pacific carrier group in a decisive sea battle.

But more seriously, all Chinese government officials who talk about energy nowadays emphasize that China is not just the second-largest energy consumer on earth but also the second-largest energy producer, with only six per cent of its annual energy needs coming from abroad.

They quote statistics that China accounts for only three per cent of overall global oil trade. The psychological impact of the dragon's thirst for oil aside, this does not seem to be the number that will drive up energy prices.

Beijing also announced recently that China's demands for external oil grew by only 3.3 per cent last year, which is more than 30 per cent lower than in 2004. "China will import less oil and oil products in 2006 than in the previous years," says Lu Jianhua, director of the foreign trade department of the Ministry of Commerce. "It is unfair to blame China for the rising international oil prices."

Meanwhile, China has begun to implement a range of policies to boost domestic energy exploration and production, together with energy diversification and conservation measures. We also hear that China is not in a hurry to fill its strategic oil reserve under current conditions, and that the newly added electricity supply will meet China's demands this year.

Such a calculated move reflects at least four policy priorities of the Chinese leadership on energy security:

- China is refocusing on the self-reliance strategy that depends primarily on domestic energy sources to meet economic development needs;

- Beijing's drive to increase energy and power production to satisfy the explosive demands for energy in the past two years has some initial success;

- China does not want to be seen as so desperate for oil that it would pursue a scorched-earth strategy for energy acquisitions around the world;

- China is learning to play the psychological game in the global marketplace by lowering expectations of China's demands for oil, thus taking away what Beijing believes to be an unjustifiable excuse for big Western oil companies to increase oil prices.

It may well be the case that China's energy demand will slow down substantially this year. It is also true that China, with 22 per cent of the world's population, consumes just over six per cent of global oil production while the United States, with only five per cent of the world's population, uses 20 per cent of the world's daily oil supply.

On a per capita basis, the Chinese only consume a fraction of the oil that their American counterparts do.


But China remains the second largest emitter of carbon-dioxide after the Unites States; most of its cities and rivers are severely polluted; it burns three times as much energy as the global average and many times more than industrialized countries in producing every unit of GDP; and it is willing to spend $150 billion on renewable and alternative energy in the next 15 years.

Instead of blaming Beijing for its energy demands or containing China as an energy threat, industrialized countries should seize China's vast energy market potential in technologies of energy conservation and efficiency, environmental protection techniques and know-how, renewable and alternative energy production, and joint-efforts in managing global warming.

A co-operative approach to solving common energy securities concerns between China and the West will moderate Beijing's foreign policy behaviour, thus making easier the task of solving tough issues such as the ongoing Iranian nuclear crisis.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The world's energy reserves: Where the buffalo roam...

On February 10, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Independence Online Edition on China's commercial interests in Canada's oil sands sector.

The province of Alberta in Canada's west is sitting on the world's second largest oil reserves. Its vast fields cover 149,000 square kilometres, an area larger than England, and experts estimate it holds 1.7 trillion barrels of oil. A mere sliver, 10 per cent, is recoverable at today's oil prices, but that is enough to make Canada's viable supply second only to that of Saudi Arabia.

"Some Americans think one more barrel to China means one less barrel to America," said Professor Jiang. "China's investment is still a cautious one as they watch and see if the oil sands are viable and profitable."

Click here to read the article.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Energy reshapes China's priorities

On February 9, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by Seattel Times on China's global quest for crude oil.

Jiang described the country's energy grab as "driven by desperation." Already there are blackouts in major cities. If development hits a speed bump, the Communist Party in power may lose its grip if it can't deliver jobs and economic growth.

Although China's rise is often viewed negatively in the U.S., evidenced by political interference in the Unocal deal, perceptions of China are more positive elsewhere, Jiang said.

You can read the article here.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Ignoring China's energy needs risky: expert

On February 2, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by the Business Edge, warning the Canadian government and the energy industry that they must make China more of a priority or risk losing out on potential billions in future business.

You can read the article here.

Friday, January 06, 2006

China's energy security strategy

My keynote speech at the 3rd Canadian Oil Sands Summit on January 18th in Calgary. Details of the conference HERE.