Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chinese airlines, China’s market, and Boeing 787 cancellations

by M. Ulric Killion


The following photo, which was taken on October 17, 2011, shows the cabin of a China Southern Airbus 319/320 aircraft at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, People’s Republic of China (PRC); Photo by M. Ulric Killion.

According to Wang Wen (China Eastern cancels order for Boeing 787s|Companies|, October 19, 2011), Chinese airlines are electing to focus on the acquisition of smaller commercial aircraft rather the Boeing 787s to serve China’s market. 

According to Wang, “China Eastern Airlines Corp, the country's second-largest carrier by aircraft numbers, announced on Monday night it was canceling its order for 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in favor of 45 smaller 737s, which will be delivered between 2014 and 2016.” 


Boeing Co delivered its first 787 Dreamliners on Sept 25, three years after the original delivery date. China Southern Airlines Co Ltd, Air China Ltd and Hainan Airlines Co Ltd have confirmed orders for 35 Dreamliners. SeongJoon Cho / Bloomberg.

Further Wang wrote:

“China Eastern will also return five A340-300s to Airbus SAS in exchange for 15 smaller wide-body A330s, which could be operated on domestic routes, Bloomberg reported. The total value of the A330s is $2.53 billion, the carrier said.

China Southern Airlines Co Ltd, Air China Ltd and Hainan Airlines Co Ltd also have confirmed orders for 35 Dreamliners. China Southern may scrap its 10 orders for the 787 after delivery of the first plane was pushed back to July 2012.”

However, Wang failed to mention that prior to Chinese airlines electing to acquire the smaller Boeing 737s  (i.e., Boeing 737-700/800 aircraft ) rather the “Boeing 787 – Dreamliners”, many Chinese airlines were arguably earlier pursuing this market strategy. 

For instance, airlines such as China Southern are presently using a smaller variety of Airbus aircraft. An example of the smaller variety of commercial aircraft that some Chinese airlines are currently using is the Airbus 319/320.

Copyright © Protected – All Rights Reserved M. Ulric Killion, 2011.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Will China’s State Secrets Law again rear its ugly head – Cheating and the credibility of exams for professionals

by M. Ulric Killion


Song Fulai, who composed questions for the certified architect exam, was sentenced in Beijing in 2008 to 18 months in prison for leaking state secrets. The court found that he gave exam questions to his students during tutorials; Photo/provided to China Daily]; Cui Jia, Li Jing, and Duan Yan, Professional exams face credibility test, China Daily, September 30, 2011.

On September 30, 2011, the China Daily’s cover page reported a new level of unprecedented cheating via the internet for professional examinations. These are the professional examinations for certified public accountants (CPAs), doctors, lawyers, judges, and architects.

One suspects that level and intensity of the cheating on professionals exam is at least partially owing to the speed, depth, and perhaps even a certain degree of secrecy that associate with the mass communication naturally inherent in Internet communications.

Additionally, and presenting yet another force of influence, the seemingly growing level of cheating via the internet may also be attributable to low pass rates on professional exams.  For instance, in China “the average pass rate for the full CPA exam is 10 to 15 percent” (Cui, Li, and Duan, 2011).

As for the National Judicial Examination for lawyers or judicial officers, during the past ten years, although “the passing rate has risen from 6.7 percent in 2002 to 20 percent last year” (Cui, Li, and Duan, 2011), the average pass rate of 20 percent is still a low rate.

The cover story also describes the various methods that employ in enabling cheating on these professional exams, while also noting the various costs, including the illegal profits.

Experts say there's an intricate chain of commercial interests behind professional qualification tests, and regulation is scattered among the ministries that oversee the different professions. The experts also say some individuals or companies are using those commercial interests to make illegal profits, in the process damaging the credibility of the exams (Cui, Li, and Duan, 2011).

It is even more noteworthy that despite the unprecedented level of cheating on professional exam, they have not been any recent arrest made in connection with cheating on professional exams. The latter admittedly may owe to the speed, convenient and secrecy of the Internet. For instance, as the China Daily reported,

But during the medical licensing examination, also on Sept 17 and 18, China Youth Daily reported that one Internet user received 20 questions from a source 90 minutes before a test on the second day and found them to be identical to questions in the test. Similar leaks had been reported in 2007 and 2009, the report said (Cui, Li, and Duan, 2011).

The cover page, although unintentionally, also provides a measure of Chinese law, in particular, China’s “Law on Guarding State Secrets” (i.e., State Secrets Law). This is due to professional qualification tests being governed by state regulations or laws, and administered by various state ministries in each profession such as the Ministry of Justice for lawyers, and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development for architects.

The earlier mentioned conviction of Song Fulai provide a precedent for what will happen to those that persist in the illegal enterprise of cheating on professional exams. For Song, in 2008, the penalty was an eighteen (18) month prison sentence for leaking what the court in Chongqing characterizes as leaking state secrets.


Photo; Beijing Times via Leaked questions land exam writer in jail, December 18, 2008,

According to the Beijing Times, on December 18, 2008, the designer of a certification exam was sentenced for a year and half for "deliberately leaking state secrets" (Beijing Times via Leaked questions land exam writer in jail, December 18, 2008,

Song Fulai, a 55-year-old chief engineer at Beijing's Yicheng Municipal Engineering Company, took part in the design of the 2005 and 2006 National Construction Engineer Qualification Exam.

The court found that Song released exam questions to students in a study session he conducted in 2006 and was paid a total of 63,000 yuan. A fellow teacher received a year-long sentence that was suspended for one year (, 2008).

All of this actually presents the measure of Beijing’s enforcement of its infamous “Law on Guarding State Secrets” (i.e., State Secrets Law). Despite the 2010 amendment of the State Secrets Law, it continues to serve as a source of frustration for many. As earlier announced, the revised “Law on Guarding State Secrets” (i.e., State Secrets Law) went into effect on October 1, 2010. The National People’s Congress (NPC), on April 29, 2010, had earlier enacted the revised law.

The passing of the amended State Secrets Law, however, corresponded with a policy report on the Internet, which results in the amended State Secrets Law designedly intending to put in place broader and tighter controls over information stemming from the Internet and any other public information networks, notwithstanding other traditional forms of communication (HRIC | 中国人权 – 新《保密法》在当局发动全国性保密教育宣传运动中生效 / Nationwide State Secrets Education Campaign Launched as New Law Goes into Effect, October 1, 2010; M. Ulric Killion, China seeks public opinion on draft of new State Secrets Law, July 6, 2010).

The trials and tribulations of China’s “Law on Guarding State Secrets” have been many. For instance, the enforcement of the State Secrets Law associates with the Rio Tinto case (Qian Yanfeng, Employees in Rio Tinto case appeal terms, China Daily, April 8, 2010); the conviction and sentencing of Xue Feng, a U.S. geologist, to eight years in prison for buying confidential information about China’s oil industry (Theunis Bates, China Sentences US Geologist Xue Feng to 8 Years in Prison, July 5, 2010); and generally other bribery scandals in China (EO Editorial Board, EDITORIAL – The Nature of Bribery Scandals in China / 谁在播种商业贿赂恶之花, Economic Observer News, June 29, 2010).

From Song Fulai’s case, the Rio Tinto case, the trial of Liu Xiaobo, and now, again, the potential for new convictions for cheating on state exams via the State Secrets Law, we are witnessing the same problems with laws that suffer from overgeneralizations and over-broadness (i.e., the over-broadness of law) (M. Ulric Killion, China’s new censorship rules: text messaging and freedom of speech, January 18, 2010).

All of which is understandable, because laws designedly intending to extend broader and greater controls over information from the Internet and other forms of communication must necessarily compromise on issues of constitutionality, social and political legitimacy, and enforceability and  efficiency in the administration of justice. For these reasons, the newly revealed instances of cheating on state exams and potential new convictions via the revised State Secrets Law may eventually serve as a certain measure of the revised State Secrets Law, especially concerning the issues of constitutionality, legitimacy, enforceability, and efficiency in the administration of justice.

This is because a recurrent theme or problem of an overgeneralized or over-broad law is that it, ultimately, never says what the “law is,”, notwithstanding legal issues such as fundamental fairness or due process of law.

Copyright © Protected - All Rights Reserved M. Ulric Killion, 2011.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

China’s struggle with political freedoms and Internet freedom

by M. Ulric Killion


On February 20, 2011, during “the anonymous call for a ‘jasmine revolution’ in China's major cities”,  a man is arrested by police in front of Shanghai's Peace Cinema. Carlos Barria / Reuters; (Austin Ramzy, State Stamps Out Small ‘Jasmine’ Protests in China, Time Magazine, February 21, 2011).

A recent China Daily news article reported the keynote address of Wang Chen, Minister of the State Internet Information Office, at the opening of the 4th UK-China Internet Roundtable in Beijing on Sept 29, 2011. (Cao Yin and Zheng Jinran, Social network websites ‘pose a challenge’, China Daily, September 30, 2011).

The focus of Wang’s speech was the danger and/or new problems posed by social networking Internet sites such as Facebook and Twitter. According to Wang, the challenge of social networking via the Internet is that, “Many people are considering how to prevent the abuse of these networks following violent crimes that took place in some parts of the world this year” (Cao and Zheng, 2011).

A potential problem for China is that the Chinese-version of Twitter is the social networking site of Weibo, which presently enjoys a membership or enrollment of 300 million members or netizens. China’s total Internet users number more than 500 million, which, although only by innuendo, makes Weibo and its growing number of netizens a potential problem.

Further elaborating on the dangers of social networks, according to Wang, “Everyone involved should observe the law and safeguard the norms of social morality. The Internet should not be used to jeopardize the national or public interest, or the legitimate rights and interests of other citizens.”

Joining the chorus on the dangers of social networking was reportedly Xie Yungeng, a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, whom also essentially agrees with Wang. Xie reportedly focused on the growing number of Internet users, especially teenagers or those young of age, turning to online and virtual worlds, thereby increasing the potential for them and/or the Internet to have a negative impact on real life (Cao and Zheng, 2011).

In all of this ceremony regarding the problems and dangers of the Internet, these spoke persons ignored the issues of freedom of choice and/or Internet freedom. Additionally, the association of the Internet with violent crimes that took place in other parts of the world (i.e., North Africa, Libya, Egypt, etc.) ignores the reality of the potential of the Internet or Internet freedom to promote democracy in action. 

All of this leaves us with a reminder that what hails as the Tunisian revolution (a.k.a. “Jasmine Revolution”), which took place from December 2010 to January 2011, and ends with the ouster of longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is subject to different perspectives via different political preferences. From a Western perspective, especially Western media, the Tunisian revolution represented the struggle for better living conditions, and political freedoms such as  freedom of speech, and impliedly Internet freedom.

Moreover, this is the gist of Wang’s concern with Internet freedom, especially a social network such as Weibo, which is the Internet home to about 300 million Chinese netizens. In February 2011, there were admittedly calls by activists to attempt to initiate a Chinese-version of a “Jasmine Revolution.”  It was an unsuccessful call from activists, however.

As reported by the New York Times, the calls by activists did not hardly measure up to what earlier occurred in North African countries such as Tunisia and Egypt. First, the initial call by activists was for Chinese citizens to show or express their displeasure at the lack of reforms by silently meeting in front of department stores or other publics places (Ian Johnson, Calls for a ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in China Persist, The New York Times, February 23, 2011).

Secondly, and more importantly, unlike what happened in Tunisia and Egypt, during the weekend of silent meetings, China’s government “rounded up lawyers, activists and dissidents, increased online censorship and deployed massive numbers of police to quash any demonstrations” (Ramzy, 2011). Thus, putting an end to an intended “Jasmine Revolution” in China.

All of this ultimately leaves issues of greater political freedoms, democracy reforms, and Internet freedom on the back burner. In other words, earlier promises of greater democracy by many leaders remain pending, and in the far distant future.

Copyright © Protected – All Rights Reserved M. Ulric Killion, 2011.


See also