From Bo Xilai to Helen Keller: Today's China-News Roundup

1) The Atlantic's own Helen Gao has a very interesting look at the interplay among rumor, fantasy, official "fact," and forced revisions to those facts, in the riveting Bo Xilai drama in China. Part of her story is based on following Chinese social media feeds, including this message from Weibo, the counterpart to Twitter:

"Why does the U.S. not censor rumors?" asked one Weibo user last November. "No matter how wild they are, nobody bans them, and the creators of rumors do not worry about getting arrested. Perhaps for places where truth persists, rumors have no harm. Only places that lack truth are fearful of rumors."

2) Reuters has an attention-getting story today on this topic. It's an answer to this question: If Bo Xilai's wife really did order the killing of a British businessman (as she has now been accused of), why on Earth would she have done that? Here's the Reuters headline. Thanks to Clement Tan, formerly of the Atlantic, for the lead.


UPDATE: In the WSJ, Minxin Pei has an excellent essay on "what have we learned about the Chinese system??" via the Bo Xilai case.

3) This story, which is played at the top of the front page of today's WSJ (and has been rumbling around for a while), has potentially large real-world and also political-world significance.


The real-world ramifications, as discussed over the years, involve the effort to "rebalance" the Chinese economy in various ways -- exports vs domestic growth, investment vs consumption, region vs region, etc. Everyone agrees that a more flexible value for the Chinese yuan RMB will make that process easier.

Political-world ramifications: the main thing I've heard Mitt Romney say about China is that on Day One he would slap on tariffs to stop their currency manipulation. I suppose now it's time to ask what he'll do on Day Two. Also: if the U.S. is finally getting what many politicians (notably Sen. Chuck Schumer among Democrats) have been asking for, we're not going to like all the results. These will inevitably include a shift of more world trade from dollar-based to RMB-based pricing and settlement. This will have both good and bad effects from the U.S. perspective. More another time.

4) A friend in China sends this screen shot of an ad at the bottom of a China Daily story.

The Chinese state media never disappoint. My friend writes:
If they only used Google [eg, to research possible brand names], they would know, but instead, they use Baidu so they end up with this.