3 min read

China This Week 01.11.2023

Chinese politics used to be opaque already in the past. However, recently it has become even harder to know what it going on behind the gates of the Zhongnanhai area and in the corridors and backrooms of power. Last week China’s Defence Minister Li Shangfu was officially declared to have been removed from his positions as a member of the Central Military Commission and as one of China’s five state councillors, two months after he disappeared from public view. No explanation was offered. He had been appointed as defence minister only half a year ago.

His downfall is the last in a series of unexplained shakeups among the top officials in Beijing, including the dismissal of the former Foreign Minister Qin Gang in the summer. He was another one of the five state councillors. Among other high-level officials were also the two top generals of the Rocket Force of the People’s Liberation Army, responsible for the nuclear missiles of China. All of them were considered to be closely connected to Chairman Xi Jinping, who appointed all of them.

Until now, some observers have been pointing out that, compared to the dozen or so sudden deaths of Russian oligarchs and top managers in Russia, in China officials as demoted but not killed. With the sudden death of former Premier Li Keqiang at the age of 68 years conspiracy theories sprung up even on this level in China as well. There is no real indication that there was any foul play involved, however, it has been noted in many comments that the mourning for Li has been kept at a minimum by the government, with many online comments and hashtags censored and deleted and a relatively small amount of coverage in the official media. Historically, deaths of prominent political figures, such as those of Zhou Enlai (1976) and Hu Yaobang (1989), have led to public rallies and protests against the government several times in the past.

Evan Osnos, one of the best experts on China’s society, wrote in a long article in The New Yorker, “miming” is one of two words Chinese citizens use to describe their mood – “bewildered”. The other one by the way is “jusang”, meaning “frustrated.” Fittingly, Li Keqiang has been described by several commentators outside of China as the “frustrated reformer”.

There are of course many Chinese pointing out that China always found a way back to growth and prosperity after the many crises during the last 200 years, while the less optimistic ones whisper “Xi is Mao with money.” Other again are patiently waiting for the situation to get worse before it’s get better again.

For escaping or for promoting China, outbound travel is a choice by a growing percentage of those who can afford it, permanently like the 300,000 Chinese including more than 10,000 multimillionaires who managed to leave China last year, or temporarily for a business, leisure or health trip.  

As usual, the COTRI weekly Editorial is included in the free part of the new content of this edition, together with this text “China this week”, the News and the COTRI News. For the Topic of the Week, the Deep Dive consulting and the Facts and Views we invite you to consider a Premium or Premium Plus subscription and offer a special welcoming subscription for one month with a 59% discount here: https://cotri-intelligence.ghost.io/welcoming-offer.

In this week’s Topic of the Week we continue the analysis started in the last edition of the qualitative changes which became apparent during the Golden Week travel for the marketing.

The Deep dive consulting text concentrates this week on education as one of the main motivations for travel abroad besides leisure and business trips. Education will also be the topic of one of the four “villages” COTRI is organising for the GITF 2024, to provide an opportunity for smaller Higher Education institutions, providers of summer camps, specialised tour operators and destinations to enter the market with low cost but high visibility.

Facts and Views provides an overview about the latest arrival numbers for selected countries, comparing the 3rd quarter of 2019 and 2023. Additionally, the COTRI weekly Editorial takes a closer look at the development of tourism to Hong Kong SAR.

In the News you will find as always selected news items about different aspects of the Chinese outbound market.

Enjoy this week’s new content and the growing library of previous articles!