Thursday, June 12, 2014


My blog a couple of days ago dealt in part with China's ability to move quickly in adjusting its economic circumstances. A story from Reuters today follows that is a perfect example of how the one-party system gives China the ability to do what would be difficult if not impossible in governmental systems that have more balanced representation as well as checks and balances.

China ramps up spending to spur economy, central bank sees stable policy

BEIJING Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:30am EDT
A labourer, wearing an improvised protective mask, welds steel bars at a residential construction site in Quzhou, Zhejiang province April 3, 2014. REUTERS-Stringer
1 OF 2. A labourer, wearing an improvised protective mask, welds steel bars at a residential construction site in Quzhou, Zhejiang province April 3, 2014.
(Reuters) - China's central bank said on Wednesday it will keep monetary policy steady in 2014, even as the finance ministry said fiscal spending had surged nearly 25 percent in May from a year earlier, highlighting government efforts to energize the slowing economy.
Total fiscal spending in May rose to 1.3 trillion yuan ($208.75 billion), quickening sharply from a 9.6 percent rise in the first four months of the year.
China's cabinet also revealed on Wednesday that it was now planning more big infrastructure projects, including highways, train networks and oil and gas distribution and storage facilities, as part of its efforts to keep the economy growing at a stable rate.
The higher spending comes after the world's second-biggest economy got off to a soft start to the year, growing at its slowest pace in 18 months in the first quarter.
The economy has since shown some signs of stabilizing, but the recovery appears patchy and analysts do not rule out further stimulus measures, especially if the cooling property market starts to deteriorate rapidly.
Fiscal revenues rose 7.2 percent in May from the same month last year, slowing from a 9.2 percent rise in April. The ministry attributed the slower revenue growth in May to the slowdown in the economy and falling property transactions.
China's central bank has been describing its policy stance as "prudent" in recent years, even when it is clearly loosening or tightening the policy reins. At the moment, for instance, authorities are in a gentle easing mode to counter the cooldown in the economy.
The People's Bank of China said the outlook for external demand was uncertain, capital flows were volatile, and financial risks were weighing on the economy.
The PBOC's pursuit of stable monetary policy contrasts strongly with the finance ministry's mini-stimulus, which saw total fiscal spending rise 24.6 percent to 1.3 trillion yuan ($208.75 billion) in May as it brought forward spending sharply, from growth of 9.6 percent in the first four months of the year.
Stimulus measures taken so far by Beijing include speeding up the construction of railway projects and public housing, as well as orders to local governments to fast-forward their fiscal spending to prime the economy for growth.
Central government spending rose 15.8 percent in May from a year earlier while local government expenditure soared 26.9 percent, the finance ministry said.
The PBOC said on Monday it would lower the reserve requirement ratio - the level of reserves banks must hold - for those banks that have sizeable loans to the farming sector and small and medium-sized firms. This is the second reduction following a cut in April aimed at rural banks.
To re-orient China's economy away from exports and investment and towards domestic consumption, China will also speed up interest rate liberalization this year and work on introducing deposit insurance.
Two separate programs that allow foreigners to invest in Chinese capital markets and Chinese investors to invest overseas will also be expanded.
The two schemes are known as qualified foreign institutional investor, or QFII, and qualified domestic institutional investor, or QDII, respectively.
Chinese leaders have ruled out any large stimulus as the country is still nursing the hangover from the 4 trillion yuan ($640 billion) stimulus implemented during the global crisis in 2008-09, which took local governments deep into debt.
Economic data for May released so far indicate the economy remains wobbly, with export growth picking up but imports unexpectedly falling.
Inflation picked up to a four-month high, easing concerns the country was slipping into a deflationary trend but remaining well below the government's comfort zone, giving Beijing ample room to step up policy support if necessary.
The yuan has also appeared to stabilize after a sharp slide earlier in the year, though traders are not sure if the PBOC is comfortable enough with the export recovery to allow the currency to start appreciating again.
(Reporting By China Economics Team; Editing by Kim Coghill and Nick Macfie)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A headline in today's SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST:

China accuses Vietnam of ramming its ships 1,416 times around disputed oil rig

The first temptation is to make a joke of it. 
"Nonsense", I wrote to friends and colleagues: "I know it was only 1,412 times." 
But the headline and the culture of numbers from various levels of the Chinese government are not jokes.

"Size Matters" is a recurrent theme in this blog. This is another in the series.

A group in the Propaganda Ministry was convinced that with the specificity of 1,416 rammings, Chinese citizens would be convince their country had been wronged, and the international community would be faced evidence of the seriousness of the issue.

Chinese in all walks of life are prone to a reverence for numbers. 5000 years of history will do that to you. Chinese journalism, particularly in the Party era can be stultifyingly loaded with statistics. 

Chinese journalists are taught to load up on statistics, including minor decimals. (14.62% of people do not believe in...43.67% of people believe.... 41.71% were undecided is a typical report of a survey; yet with all that second decimal "accuracy” missing are the source of the survey, the sample size, and the error rate.) 
The theory is that all those numbers alone will convince readers that the story they are reading is accurate. How could it be wrong if the numbers are carried to the second decimal?

Journalism outside China has learned that while statistics are important, they can also cause readers to glaze over or simply bypass stories. Financial reporting has a particular cross to bear because the financial and economic stories require so many statistics (and graphs) to make their points.

Statistics in China have come to haunt the Party.

China's growth over the last 35 years has defied all economic theory. No country in modern history has had sustained growth of 7-12% for more than 35 years. It cannot be done, is the conventional economic wisdom. This pattern of growth has created a culture of growth within the Party that has made it a slave to the numbers.
There is general agreement about China's growth, but I learned a lesson from a Director of Citibank in Hong Kong more than a decade ago. "We don't believe Chinese statistics, the Director said, "We pay attention to trends, they are more difficult fudge."
Diplomatic language for the fact that Chinese have been lying to each other about their prized statistics since the Mao era. 

False statistics during Mao's time were the cause of tens of millions of deaths from famine when collective farms falsely reported their harvests to protect their jobs and enhance their chances of promotion. Many of those reporting the false statistics died with their numbers.

In modern China Five Year Plans drive the leadership. Setting goals and priorities has been ingrained in Party discipline since the modern Chinese Communist Power took shape in 1949. But now the Party is stuck with a new challenge every five years to say nothing of having to explain why they may have fallen short on some of their goals. 

The Presidents and the Central Committee that rule China have tied their hands in an era when 5 years is a lifetime, certainly a generation. Economic and social conditions change as frequently as semi-annually and sometimes faster than that. 

In a globalized world in a country whose economic strength is challenged by factors outside of its control around the world, the lack of flexibility inherent in a Five Year Plan (even with generalized and fuzzy goals) is a problem. And the problems get pushed downhill from Beijing to the 34 Province level administrative regions in China. 

Each of those regions has a Party Secretary and a hierarchy of officials. Every Party Secretary has ambition; the leaders of the bigger Provinces contemplate their shot at the top in Beijing. Every person under each of those pyramids looks up at their next promotion.

By what standards do they advance?

Now we're back to "Size Matters". 

The statistics count. The numbers, until recently, have been the only guiding measure to be considered for promotion. Not quite true. There is also guangxi, that all-inclusive word that describes your relationships, family and colleagues and mentors and schoolmates. You need both statistics and guangxi to advance in the Party hierarchy.

While the leadership of the Central Government is concerned with meeting its national targets, those targets can only be achieved if the Provincial level is contributing to the growth or minimizing the negative effect slow growth.

Take 2012.

The slowest GDP growth of any Chinese Province was in Beijing, one of China's Provincial-size Municipalities = 7.7% growth but the 290 US$) growth put Beijing 13th on the Provincial list. 

The top growth rate almost doubled Beijing. Guizhou came in at 14% growth but its 110 billion (US$) growth had it 26th on the Provincial list.

Dean Shira and Associates


Play the "Size Matters" game.

China's richest Province is Guangdong (bordering on Hong Kong, one anchor of the Pearl River Delta, 50 million people between Guangzhou, the old Canton, and Hong Kong - an area known on the Mainland as "factory to the world").

Guangdong would rank behind South Korea as the 16th "richest" country in the world. One of 34 administrative regions alone is the 16th richest country in the world on the heels of South Korea one of Asia's tiger economies.

Contrast Guangdong to Tibet, the 31st and last of China's official Provinces (the rest are administrative zones like Hong Kong and Macau). Tibet comes in between Chad and Zimbabwe at 128th on the list of countries ranked by GDP. 

Whatever your political perspective on Tibet, the Province would likely have been near the bottom of the list of the 200 ranked countries when Tibet was independent and among the poorest countries in the world.

China is ranked as the world's second economy measured by GDP (2012 rankings). But at 8.36 trillion dollars China still has a mountain climb to catch up to No. 1 USA at 15.68 trillion dollars (and only 1/4 of China's population).

(The European Union as a whole tops them all with 16.63 trillion GDP in 2012.)

Have your eyes glazed over yet.

There isn't a single statistic I have quoted that cannot be questioned. Canada and India at 1.82 and 1.84 trillion dollar GDPs could have a Talmudic argument over whether their 11th (India) and 12th (Canada rankings are accurate. 

All of these statistics are estimates. It is hoped they are "best" estimates. 

The big question in China is there any "best" estimates. Remember the caution from the Citibank Director: "we don't believe any Chinese statistics."

Consider the challenge to the Chinese leadership at all levels. 

Corruption in China has been raised to a high art since Mao's day. The current administration of Xi Jinping has gone wider and deeper to fight corruption than any previous administration. There are thousands (likely 10s of thousands) of corruption investigations underway in China all the time. How many? It’s a state secret as are so many other facts about China, including many statistical "facts".

The corruption has been shown to be ubiquitous from the village level to within the Ministerial ranks in Beijing. 

Whether you are a Mayor in one of China's 200+ cities with populations of more than 1 million, a Party Secretary in one of China's Provinces, or a member of the Politburo (where the buck finally stops) you know only one thing for sure: you are being lied to. I assume that all of these men (and they are overwhelmingly male an issue I deal with in an earlier blog) do just what the Citibank Director does: they look at trends. But even then, trends can be shaped to lie.

Some of you may say: So what's new? Every executive faces the same challenge. Am I being told the truth? Are the figures I am given accurate and can I rely on them to set policy? Part of the answer lays in the regulated transparency the world outside China has come to require of financial and statistical reporting.

The globalized economy produces information at a rate that is impossible to absorb. It takes algorithms to analyze statistics, to make comparisons, to check and recheck patterns. The Ministries in China have sophisticated software and analytical tools at their command. Their problem is confidence, or more appropriately lack of confidence in the numbers they deal with.

In short the core number 8%, 20%, 36% may or may not be meaningful. Its downhill from there. 8.2%, 20.6%, 36.5%, to the right of the decimal = doubtful at best. 8.23%, 20.68%, 36.43% that second digit to the right of the decimal is for show.

The Chinese single party system has an advantage in dealing with the problems of "Size Matters” and pervasively unreliable statistics. 

The Party's ability to command the economy.

Key is the fact that China's banking system under a variety of different bank brands is owned and operated by the Central Government. The Central Government not only appoints all banking officers but also controls the regulatory apparatus. Interest rates. Deposit margins. Lending priorities. They are all part of a command economy. The Vatican control of the Roman Catholic Church infrastructure and senior officials is a useful way to think of the Chinese system. The problem is the Roman Catholic Church is Lilliputian compared to China. Size Matters.

(For the best description of how China operates on all levels Richard McGregor's THE PARTY remains the best book on the subject.)

The Central Government can reorder Chinese economic priorities with a keystroke, and they regularly do to adjust to domestic and foreign circumstances. The problem comes when those commands make their way down to Provincial, county, city, village and hamlet level. Much can be lost in translation. 

The Party Secretary of Guangdong Province is powerful. he sends far more money to Beijing in taxes and fees than he gets in return. The Guangdong Party Secretary runs the 16th largest economy in the world. He's up there among the OECD rich countries of North America, Europe and right behind South Korea. If a policy command from Beijing threatens his priorities, he tries to finesse the balance between Party loyalist and his Provincial economy.

Down near the bottom of the list Qinghai with 1/33 of Guangdong's GPD can be counted on to be a loyal soldier and follow commands from Beijing. An astute observer of China would point out that guanxi can change any equation. If Qinghai's Party Secretary has a connection in high places he may have more maneuvering room than one might imagine. But then if the guangxi were there why would the Party Secretary be stuck in China's second poorest Province.

The interstices of the Chinese economy are at least as complex as our intestines, but increased to elephant level. Size Matters. 

Monday, June 2, 2014


The case for eliminating Confucius from China's Confucius Institutes

Kerry Brown makes the case that China should find a new cultural figure to represent it

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 June, 2014, 3:25am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 June, 2014, 3:25am

Kerry Brown
For all the controversy surrounding the opening of hundreds of Confucius Institutes across the world in the last decade, one crucial factor has been overlooked: Confucius himself.
The institutes, funded partially by the Chinese government through its Hanban organisation, have been accused of operating as propaganda outfits. They have been criticised for being part of a sinister global campaign by a cash-rich Communist Party to brainwash outsiders and win the Chinese government illicit influence abroad.
But there is a less dramatic interpretation: the proliferation shows Beijing understands the theory of soft power projection but not its implementation and real practice.
The issue here is simple. If you wanted, as a modern Chinese, to promote a deeper understanding and a more favourable attitude towards your country and its culture, why choose a figure as unattractive, remote and contentious as Confucius to represent you? Confucius is well known, for one thing. But then, Goethe is hardly a household word in America or the UK and yet the Germans have named their cultural outfits abroad after him. And the British Council and Alliance Francaise carry names of no one at all, while doing work which has been compared to that of the Confucius Institute.
The very Communist Party now lionising Confucius attacked and vilified him just four decades ago. Surely it would have been better to use someone with a less difficult recent history to represent the culture abroad.
On top of this, there is the question of the values with which Confucius is associated: patriarchal, hierarchical, and conservative. Why celebrate in 21st century China a figure who is linked to these old ideas when you are also promoting your country as innovative, outward-looking and modern?
Add to this the remoteness and elusiveness of Confucius as a historic figure, and the problem is only compounded. In the Analects, he comes across as stuffy and elliptical. His near contemporary Mencius is at least clearer, if less well known. He communicates in paragraphs rather than staccato ambiguous sentences. And as even the best scholar of Confucius would admit, we know almost nothing about him as an individual. Why hang a soft power campaign on a figure so historically vague?
Finally, there is the biggest issue of all. Chinese history teems through its long and diverse course with wonderful, vivid, inspiring figures. Many of these deserve to be better understood and known than Confucius. Some were political figures, such as the sole female empress Wu Zetian from the 7th century, or the great Qing figures of 300 years ago from emperors Kangxi to Qianlong.
American scholar Patricia Ebrey has just written a good biography of Song emperor Huizong from 1100 showing that he was a painter, calligrapher and poet whose work still holds up today. And unlike with Confucius, we can study works that came directly from Huizong's hands. There was, of course, the slight matter of him being a disastrous political leader - but for a cultural institution, should that disqualify him?
Outside the realm of politics, there are the great Tang poets Du Fu and Li Bai. Their works speak of common human emotions and aspirations in a way that Confucius never does. Or artists like the wonderful Han Gan, whose portraits of horses are still so moving after more than 1,000 years.
Scientists such as Bi Sheng might be worth considering to help illustrate the notion of a China now working on its innovation. A figure like this would also reinforce the message that China was a science leader long before the transformative thinkers of Europe appeared on the scene. With such an array of inspiring figures, why on earth would China choose a philosopher from two-and-a-half millennia ago?
I have a modest proposal to make to the Chinese government: it should seriously consider renaming the new institutions, and there is one truly great figure about whom everyone can agree: Sima Qian, the father of Chinese history, who lived in 100BC, produced a body of work which is accessible but also very modern in its concentration on the psychology of its many subjects.
There is a link, too, with Confucius, because Qian is the sole decent source for the biography of the philosopher - even if his portrait of Confucius is a little unflattering.
And unlike Confucius, Qian is someone we can truly know. The tragic story of his castration after he criticised the emperor, combined with the fact he still continued his great work, sends a great message for victory in the face of disaster.
As a human, a historian of genius and a cultural figure, Qian is truly great, and someone who should be celebrated across the world today. And Sima Qian Institutions, in view of the courage of the person they are named after, would be much harder targets for those looking to criticise them.
Kerry Brown is executive director of the China Studies Centre and professor of Chinese politics at the University of Sydney

Is there a CHINA? 
Has there ever been a "CHINA" in more than name and geography? 
The Han population of China is "approximately" 92%. A figure that almost dictates the answer to "is there one China". 
Two problems: 
a) The word "approximate" which is mandatory when considering all statistics in and about China unless you have full faith in the source.
b) The reality of the answer to the question of "how many Provinces are there in China?"
23 Provinces, but 34 in total. 
4 Municipalities, 5 Autonomous regions (Provinces with large [usually majority like Tibet] minority populations, 2 Special Administrative Regions (Hong Kong and Macau).
The Central Government of China would be quick to add a 24th "entity": Taiwan.
Think of the "is there a China" question in the context of these divisions. 
One suggested uniting factor is Mandarin, the language taught in all Chinese schools. This permits a universal language. Chinese in all parts of the country can speak with each other. 
But does that make a nation? 
More than India certainly where there is no common language and where 447 languages separate Indians. (14 additional former languages are now extinct.)
But beneath the Mandarin umbrella in China there are many Chinas:
Traditional Chinese classification lists seven groups, comprising:
• Gan
• Guan
(Mandarin or Beifanghua)
• Kejia
• Min
(including the Hokkien and Taiwanese variants)
• Wu
(including the Shanghainese variant)
• Xiang
• Yue
(including the Cantonese and Taishanese variants)

OK, 7 groups, but then take just one small part of China, called Gan (in green). There are 9 dialects:

  • Leiyang dialect
  • Yichun dialect
  • Yingtan dialect

Depending on who is counting (we're back to "approximate") there are 200 dialects in China. These are not dying dialects; they are active, alive and well.
My decade of teaching in China began with the first of a series of festivals when I was introduced to the way many freshmen in college congregate and get to know each other: By Province. 
During the annual Lantern Festival when candles are strung under balloons and sent aloft and candles inside paper containers are floated on water, I wandered among the groups of students gathered in their Provincial circles large and small. 
Their common language was their Provincial dialect not the Mandarin they all knew. 
Their food preferences were their Provincial cuisine.
Their mantra was: "My province has the most beautiful women in China" (said with a smile.) 
The men may have been the handsomest but that was an afterthought.
These were not competitive circles. The most beautiful or handsomest or finest food were not aggressive assertions, they were rather the definitions of who they were and where they came from. But beneath that surface there were the cultural differences.
I had Haka students in my classes. They are a niche minority with a strong culture. An educated eye can spot someone who is Haka, a trained ear hears Haka when it is spoken distinct from other Provincial dialects that may be modifications of Mandarin.
In the area where I lived (Shantou about 300 kilometers up the South China Coast from Hong Kong) Chauzhou is the local language. It is an ancient Chinese language that has legitimate claim to being a "foreign" language. 
The first time I went downtown with a group of Mandarin speaking students, we went into a local shop where the shopkeepers and their customers were speaking Chauzhou. My students who were my living dictionaries prepared to translate for me. They looked at me with somewhat pained expressions: "We have no idea what they are saying". So Chauzhou is more than a dialect. Linguists have categories to separate these arcane differences. What it means on the ground is that Chauzhou people have a private language that permits them to escape the earshot of other Chinese and maintain their differences.
It also explains the strength of the local culture that has often been at odds with the parade of authorities from ancient China to modern China.
It also explains why you will find Chauzhou people all over the world. They live by the sea, they live from the sea, their pirates benefitted from the sea, and the world has been their oyster for centuries, nay millennia.
The Chauzhou are Chinese. But while the challenge was never put to Chauzhou in recent times I often wondered which of their "nationalities" would take precedence if they had to choose been China and Chauzhou.
In the China of 2014 much is made of the universal problem of the wealth gap between rich and poor, the growth of the Middle Class in China, and the impact of the new Chinese dollar billionaire class. 
Less is written and spoken of the rural-urban differences in China. This is where culture comes in.
I asked my Chinese girlfriend once whether I would ever meet her father and mother. She comes from a lower middle class small town family. Her father is a migrant worker. Her brother being the male child was the first to get a University education. He became a schoolteacher, married and has the classic one-child (male) family. 
My girlfriend went through mandatory Middle School education and was then on her own. No money for high school and beyond, neglecting the fact that she is her brother's equal, if not superior, in intellectual potential.
"Will I ever meet your father”?
"If you ever met my father he would kill me."
That is traditional China speaking. 
(Disclosure: We are decades apart in age and that barrier alone would have challenged many cultures.)
Outside China you may say the same general spirit can apply. A traditional Jewish family is not overjoyed when a child marries into a Roman Catholic family, much less a Muslim family. Mormons take on risk marrying outside their faith and on and on.
But the "kill" part of my girlfriend's reaction was not entirely in jest. Foreigners; i.e. non-Chinese, are not on in most traditional Chinese families. Sure it is changing among some of the Middle Class and the rich.
One of my students married a U.S. Marine Corps pilot she met in grad school, "coup de foudre" (love at first sight as the French say). Their US civil wedding preceded a traditional Chinese wedding with both families sharing the joy.
Yes there are changes, but they are still the exceptions, far behind the cross-cultural unions of North America and the European Union, where traditional national walls have crumbled to create the opportunity for individuals to transcend their restrictive cultures.
That restive culture is still a part of the many Chinas. And it is not limited to the rural-urban split. I wrote previously of the male dominated culture of the Chinese Communist Party. The reverence for the male child in China transcends other considerations and still dominates the hopes of Chinese couples.
Surveys consistently show the same bias in many other countries too. But there is a growing body of childbearing age in the developed world that answer: "we I/we don't care", or "I'd prefer a daughter/daughters". (Disclosure: I did prefer girls and would again).
None of this begins to address the differences among the "other" Chinese, the minorities.
Back to "approximately".
Officially there are 55 different minorities in China. Their Chinese schooling may be in Mandarin, but their "native" language is much more than a dialect. Their cultures are decidedly different from "Chinese" culture (and Confucius has no role in most of their cultures, but then neither do any of China's ancient royalty.)
Significant minorities? 
8.5% of the Chinese population or about 280-million people, (more than 80% of the population of the USA). 
(The title and thesis of the book that is needed = SIZE MATTERS in China.)
The question of "Who should represent China" in Ms Brown's op ed in the South China Morning Post applies, as does my retort: "Should anyone represent China"? 
Look at the question another way, and Ms Brown implies as much but still believes there is a better representation than Confucius.
Today's China may be an accumulation of its 3-5000 years of history. How many countries and cultures can trace their origins that far back and show the significance that China represents today? Yes the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Persians and some of the tribes of Latin America have long histories, but the links today are more in museums than in daily life.
And China today too can be seen in the same light. Today's young Chinese have little if anything in common with their ancestors. The country has grown so rapidly in the last 50 years, a growth that continues to accelerate, that there are more than generational gaps between grandparents-parents and children.
The family in China remains what it has always been Tradition. Family is the core of Chinese culture. The world's largest annual migration of Chinese going home to celebrate the Chinese New Year with family is the physical manifestation of ancient tradition.
But once home the differences are evident. The love of family is a given, as if it were a law, but the underlying gaps have moved beyond the generational gaps that are worldwide. Grandparents and parents who experienced the Cultural Revolution and periods of famine that cost the lives of 40-million - "approximate" - Chinese. Grandparents and parents whose marriages were often selected by their families or the Maoist era of the The Party. Grandparents and parents who had no restrictions on the size of their families, but whose life expectancy may have been as little as 35-40 years. They are survivors of a time that anyone who has not lived it cannot understand beyond the facts in a book. Grandparents and parents whose education was limited, sometimes non-existent, whose illiteracy rates were 80% plus.
China's population today has universal education through Middle School and literacy stands at 95%. That is not an approximation. It is one of the few statistics that does not seem to be questioned.
(The equivalent US figure is debatable at best. At least 23% of the US population is not functionally literate. Absolute illiteracy adds another 15%. But if "approximate" characterizes Chinese statistics, "debatable" characterizes these US literacy statistics.)
Turn the page to the "new" Chinese, anyone born after 1979 when the current economic miracle was born. The new Chinese have known what every economist would have said was impossible: 35 years of economic growth between 7.5-10+%. Every year better than the year before. Enough food for China to become an exporter of food. 200-400 million people (there goes another "approximate" - a big one) people lifted out of poverty. The number may be approximate, but the fact is indisputable: the largest economic migration out of poverty in human history.
And yet these generations of Chinese are still clustered in the family as they always were. It is not even the analog to the digital generation analogy that works outside China in developed countries. It is the story of the disconnected and the totally connected. The no phone to the smartphone generation gap. Insular isolated China to globalized China. Below the Party political male dominated culture lays the increasingly female educated culture (where have the men gone despite the fact that there are still more men than women in China?) More professional and career women (as is true in other countries as well.) These are educational, and cultural realities that 60-80year olds who come from experiences that are akin to coming from another planet can navigate with difficulty or not at all. 
There is a new China almost every day, an innovative and growing China that strains the young generation to keep up, and keep abreast of wave after wave of change. The older Chinese were left behind some time ago and continue to recede. 
Remember the question?
Who should represent China?
No one is the answer I suggest. 
The old IBM motto might be worth considering Think Ahead. 
Confucius would be bewildered at best in today's China. As Ms Brown points out, much of what we wrote, obtuse as it was, is outdated; and worse: irrelevant. His view of women is abhorrent.
And why is a symbol or representative necessary? 
My argument comes full circle. 
Given the many Chinas I describe, which one is "the China" that will be represented? 

Who will represent the individual Chinese when there is not a collective Chinese?