China media: Russia's rouble crisis

People walk past boards showing currency exchange rates in Moscow, December 17, 2014. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Chinese papers are concerned over the dramatic fall in Russia's rouble

Papers discuss China's economic ties with Russia in the wake of a sharp decline in the rouble's value against the dollar.

Russia has been hit hard by the fall in oil prices and the crumble in the value of the rouble, triggering panic that the country may face an economic collapse.

The Global Times' Chinese edition observes two opposing views in China on Russia, pointing out that there are those who "look down on Russia" as they are influenced by the West and there are others who are hoping for the collapse of President Vladimir Putin's administration.

"However, it is foolish to brush off Beijing-Moscow relations. China and Russia have precious strategic resources for each other… If Moscow-Beijing ties break down, Washington will be more ruthless to Beijing," notes the daily.

The editorial adds that the fall in the rouble's value may hurt bilateral trade in the short term, but China should "respect Russia" and not "take advantage" during a difficult economic crisis.

Dismissing fears that Russia is on the brink of a collapse, an article in the state-run Haiwai Net recalls that Mr Putin brought Russia out of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998 and notes that "the supermarkets there are still fully stocked with necessities".

Some papers, however, urge China to learn a lesson from Russia and not rely too much on export of natural resources.

An article in the Beijing Youth Daily notes that Russia has solely relied on its oil export to grow the economy but has not developed other sectors such as manufacturing and service industries.

Mei Xinyu, a researcher with China's Ministry of Commerce, highlights the fact that countries that export natural resources often have to face huge market volatility, and urges China to "strengthen its manufacturing foundation".

The pundit further points out that the rouble is facing speculative attacks, adding that the countries where currencies are not "hegemonic" are prone to such attacks.

The article subtly criticises the US for being unwilling to co-operate, with the Fed saying it will not slow down the increase of interest rates because of the rouble crisis.

"The policy-makers of the monetary hegemony have often said such things in the past, so this should serve as a reminder to us to keep a clear mind," he writes in the overseas edition of the People's Daily.

Military corruption

Meanwhile, papers continue to back anti-corruption effort in the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Several top military officials, including Gu Junshan, former deputy head of the logistics department, and Xu Caihou, former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, have been investigated for abuse of power.

Commenting on the anti-graft campaign in the military, a commentary in the China Daily says that the PLA must "strengthen supervision of power".

The article, written by Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, expects the authorities to focus on areas, including construction and daily supply funds, that "most easily breed corruption".

"This will win back public trust for the military, whose reputation has suffered a blow because of cases of corruption," notes the article.

However, it urges citizens to not be pessimistic about the PLA.

"The fact that tigers and flies are being hunted down shows the PLA is cleansing itself, and that corrupt officers cannot curb the healthy development of the military," it says.

And finally, major news outlets have censored a young boy's suggestion to Chinese President Xi Jinping about shedding some weight.

Addressing Mr Xi as "dearest Grandpa Xi", the nine-year old boy from Zhengzhou, Henan province in north-central China, suggested that Mr Xi should lose some weight.

"You don't have to be as thin as (President Barack) Obama. It is okay to be like (Russia's President) Mr Putin," he writes.

The letter went viral on the internet after the Zhengzhou Evening News first reported its content. However, it has been removed or deleted from most websites.

Quoting unnamed sources, Hong Kong's Ming Pao says the censor order seems to have come from China's internet watchdog.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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