Today I picked up a copy of the October 29 issue of the Chinese language biweekly, Caijing. Caijing is roughly equivalent to The Economist in US and European financial circles, and I like to think of it as the magazine for the thinking Chinese business person.
Most western journalists, especially American journalists, when it comes to covering China, start from the point “So what does it have to do with me?” With this as a starting point, it is all too easy to fall into the “You can make billions in China” or “The Chinese are going to take everything away from us” schools of thought, both of which are very far away from the truth.
The simple truth is that the west, and Americans, are not that important. I would say that more than 90% of the things which happen in China have no US/western angle; the Chinese make their decisions mostly based only on internal social and political considerations.
Just like in the US.
Caijing’s influence extends far beyond anything The Economist aspires to; it offers many insights into various topics which most other publications do not dare touch. In many cases, I believe that is floats trial balloons for policy issues. For this reason, I make it a point to pick up a copy when I have time; it offers all kinds of insights and debates many policy issues in its columns. (It may come as a surprise to many who don’t read Chinese that there are increasingly vigorous debates on many policy issues in China. There are, and you would be surprised by how open many of the subjects are.)
The October 29 issue is really excellent; it has opinions and summaries of the 17th Party Congress, which just ended in October. The party congress, held once every five years, sets the policy agenda for the next period. For this reason, it is something which is closely watched by most Chinese, and those who seek a deeper understanding of how the Chinese and the Chinese government see their changing roles.
Because many western observers of China come with their own agenda, I found this issue’s articles particularly interesting. I plan to write on some of the issues raised in the articles shortly, so if you are interested too, remember to come back.