Sunday, January 25, 2004

Happy New Year:
PARIS, Jan. 24 - The Eiffel Tower turned red to celebrate the Chinese New Year on Saturday, but it might just as well be blushing at the country's ardent embrace of all things Chinese on the eve of the Chinese president's arrival here.

President Hu Jintao's first state visit to France, which begins Monday, coincides with the 40th anniversary of the two countries' diplomatic relations. The anniversary is being commemorated with a national, government-sponsored campaign that has produced an outpouring of Orientalism in the French capital.

As part of the country's "Year of China" promotion, officials closed Paris' grand avenue, the Champs-?lys?es, on Saturday afternoon for a huge parade dominated by a dancing dragon ? the first time the avenue has been taken over by an intrinsically non-French event since German troops marched down it during World War II.
Chalk the Gallic eagerness up to China's market potential and its emerging role as a strategic node in the multipolar world that both France and China hope will eventually supplant the world's sole-superpower status quo.


The New Manchester:
"If Marx could see Guangdong today he would die of anger," says Dai Jianzhong, a labor relations expert at the Beijing Academy of Social Science. "From that perspective, China is speeding in reverse."
Not surprisingly, Chinese officials do not put it that way, and few here believe that China needs another Marxist revolution. Nor would Communist Party officials say that democracy, rather than an authoritarian political system, is needed to bring greater social justice to China.

Still, Communist leaders increasingly seem convinced that neither economic growth nor China's tattered legacy of socialist laws will prevent social unrest, even violent upheaval of the kind that helped bring the party to power in 1949.

President Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, the prime minister, have vowed to raise peasant incomes and stop the most egregious abuse of workers. Executives of multinational corporations say they have a harder time getting appointments with Mr. Wen and Mr. Hu than they did in the past.

"Inequality these days is too stark to be ignored," says Kang Xiaoguang, a leading political analyst in Beijing. "The party has begun to recognize that its legitimacy cannot come from economic reform as such. It needs to stress fairness and justice."