China Week: Zhou charged, the AIIB and a lotus

Zhou Yongkang is seen in Biriatou on 20 July 2006, during a private visit in the French Basque region Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption China's fallen security chief Zhou has been charged with bribery, abuse of power and leaking state secrets

So we now know that China's former security chief Zhou Yongkang will go on trial in Tianjin and we now know the charges he will face.

The important thing to watch here is not so much the corruption counts, or "exchanging power and money for sex", (lurid though these allegations are), but the charge of "intentional disclosure of state secrets".

The Supreme People's Court annual work report said "Zhou undermined party solidarity and engaged in political activities not approved by the authorities". The People's Daily declared him a "traitor to the party".

State media have reported secret meetings between Zhou Yongkang and disgraced former Chongqing Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai, railing against the formation of factions and cliques.

It looks as if the case against Mr Zhou may centre on the torrid spring and summer of 2012 which saw many strange goings on before the triumphant coronation of Xi Jinping at the 18th Party Congress.

Richest woman

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rags to riches: Former factory worker Zhou Qunfei is now China's richest woman

What do you think of when you watch a raindrop roll off a lotus leaf? Whatever it is, next time think that little bit harder and you could become another Zhou Qunfei.

This week, the rags to riches story of the former Hunanese factory worker went viral when she became China's wealthiest woman. Her company, Lens Technology, produces touch-screen glass for tech giants like Apple and Samsung. And the breakthrough innovation was scratch resistant glass inspired by watching raindrops on lotus leaves in her home village.

A fortnight ago her company debuted on the Shenzhen stock exchange, and the share price has surged since. So at 45, the migrant worker whose mother died when she was little and whose father was blinded in an industrial accident, is worth nearly $8bn (£5.4bn).

If Ms Zhou has time to write the next self help book on thinking big, getting rich and changing your destiny, I'm sure she'll find a market.

Image caption The humble lotus was the source of inspiration - and wealth

'Appropriate name'

If one woman's China Dream has come true, the nation's top bankers are working hard on another. This week saw applications close for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Now don't roll your eyes and moan that you've already heard all that you can bear about this bank. It matters. And it's great theatre. Away from the chief protagonists in Beijing and chief antagonists in Washington, spare a thought for the fevered brinkmanship in other capitals.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Taiwan says it wants to join the AIIB - but what will it be called?

At the last minute, Taiwan suddenly announced that it was applying to join. Cue all the predictable contortions over names and protocol. Would it join as the Republic of China, Taiwan, or Taipei, China? And would the Ministry of Finance handle the application as for sovereign states or the Taiwan Affairs Office in a nod to the "one China" principle so jealously guarded by Beijing?

"The AIIB is open and inclusive," said a spokesman. "We welcome Taiwan to participate in the AIIB under an appropriate name." It remains to be seen what that name is and whether it will be acceptable to the Taiwanese public. There were no consultations before the announcement and critics accused the Taiwanese government of striking another "black box" agreement with China, a reference to the row over a cross-straits trade agreement which blew up into a major protest movement a year ago.

Can Beijing be flexible enough about its red lines to help Taiwan in? It's not just Taiwan. What about other applicants? Norway for example? Relations between Beijing and Oslo have been icy ever since the political dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize nearly five years ago. But this is supposed to be a multilateral institution and it's China's first attempt to run one. Will it set national political considerations aside when considering AIIB applications? Place your bets.

At the end of Act One of this drama, there are nearly 50 countries lined up behind China on the AIIB stage, with the US looking isolated in its opposition.

Cyber attack

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption China is accused of rigid control and suppression when it comes to its internet practices

Another story about national agenda in conflict with international image was this week's attack on GitHub, a San Francisco-based service used by programmers and tech firms to develop software.

The distributed denial of service attack directed a huge volume of traffic from China's search giant Baidu to GitHub in an apparent attempt to paralyse its website.

The anti-censorship organisation accused the Cyberspace Administration of China of involvement. "The Great Firewall has switched from being a passive, inbound filter to being an active and aggressive outbound one… enforcing Chinese censorship on internet users worldwide," it said.

The Chinese government dismissed such charges as speculation and said China was a major victim of cyber attacks.

'Great Wall'

Image copyright AP
Image caption "Great wall of sand" - China's land reclamation is a growing source of territorial tension

Now to the beach. US Pacific fleet Commander Admiral Harry Harris Jr has waded into the choppy waters of the South China Sea debate, accusing Beijing of building a "great wall of sand" over areas claimed by others.

"When one looks at China's pattern of provocative actions towards smaller claimant states - the lack of clarity on its sweeping nine-dash line claim that is inconsistent with international law, and the deep asymmetry between China's capabilities and those of its smaller neighbours - it's no surprise that the scope and pace of building man-made islands raises serious questions about Chinese intentions."

These are questions which the admiral himself will have to answer. And some kind of answer came in the warning that he was on track to have 60% of the US Navy based in the Pacific Fleet by 2020.

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