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Oct. 14 Chat: China - sweatshops, the Nobel Peace Prize and the currency war

Date and Time: 
Thursday, October 14, 2010 - 10:00 - 10:30

On Thursday at 10:00 a.m.,  senior correspondent Kathleen McLaughlin will join members for a web chat on the latest news out of China -- including imprisoned activist Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize, the latest from embattled iPad manufacturer Foxconn, and the battle to convince China to let its currency appreciate.   

To join us, check back here at 10:oo a.m. Eastern time on Oct. 14.

10:01 GlobalPost Greetings all
10:02 GlobalPost Welcome to GlobalPost's Membership Chat with the one and only Kathleen McLaughlin
10:02 GlobalPost Katheen, our senior correspondent in Beijing, has been living in China for a decade
10:02 GlobalPost Today, we have asked her to join us
10:02 GlobalPost to discuss the news of the day in China
10:03 GlobalPost I thought we'd start with Liu Xiaobo
10:03 GlobalPost and all the controversy surrounding his Nobel
10:04 GlobalPost Kathleen, how has China reacted to the announcement?
10:04 GP-ChatHost Just a note to the audience, if you have a question that you would like to ask Kathleen, simply enter: "/MSG GP-ChatHost..
10:04 GP-ChatHost Followed by your message
10:04 Kathleen-McLaughlin Officially, China has reacted angrily -- calling in an interference in their internal affairs and saying the Nobel committee gave the award to a convict.
10:05 Kathleen-McLaughlin Unofficially, it's tough to tell because the news and any citizen reaction has been heavily censored.
10:05 GlobalPost has the reaction of the citizenry been different?
10:06 Kathleen-McLaughlin Well, it's difficult to know for sure because online mentions are censored pretty quickly. But one of the interesting things to follow was an open letter this week from several former Party officials calling for freedom of the press.
10:07 Kathleen-McLaughlin And on platforms like Twitter, there's certainly been ongoing discussion of an support for Liu.
10:07 Kathleen-McLaughlin Still, that's a pretty limited section of the population.
10:08 GlobalPost is it a matter of not a lot of people knowing about it?
10:08 Kathleen-McLaughlin Definitely. The news has been completely censored in China, so those who know about it tend to be intellectuals or younger people who know how to jump the Great Firewall.
10:09 GlobalPost have there been any unexpected reactions?
10:10 Kathleen-McLaughlin I'd say China's official reaction was fairly predictable, but the fact that they have placed Liu's wife under house arrest, along with several other writers and dissidents, was jarring.
10:11 GlobalPost will china let liu or his wife travel to Norway to accept the prize? i'm thinking not.
10:11 Kathleen-McLaughlin Also, this open letter from the Party officials was completely unexpected, but it's not clear how much of that is related directly to Liu and how much is internal politics.
10:12 Kathleen-McLaughlin China hasn't said if he or his wife will be able to go to Norway -- given that today they said the award interfered in their judicial affairs, I can't imagine they'll let him go anywhere.
10:12 Kathleen-McLaughlin She's another matter.
10:12 GlobalPost we have a question from our readers/viewers/audience/friends
10:12 GP-ChatHost milesahead: How much sway do former Party officials have in China? I'm wondering how significant this open letter was this week, and what it might say about the debates about openness that must be happening at the highest levels.
10:13 GP-ChatHost Again, if you would like to ask Kathleen a question, simply enter: "/MSG GP-ChatHost FOLLOWED BY YOUR MESSAGE" without the quotes
10:14 Kathleen-McLaughlin It's really hard to say, I think given the total lack of transparency about what's happening in the government right now. There's widespread speculation of an internal struggle between reformers and hardliners ahead of 2012. The letter's real impact could be if Chinese media decided to take it as a cue and push the limits of censorship.
10:14 Kathleen-McLaughlin They've tested the waters before but are under fairly strong pressure now.
10:15 GlobalPost does china see the peace prize as backlash against its economic and political rise?
10:15 Kathleen-McLaughlin Definitely. There have been some commentaries in state-run media saying it bolstered the idea that the West fears China's rise.
10:16 Kathleen-McLaughlin It's a pretty standard thing for them to say, but doesn't indicate their diplomatic skills are improving with their growing clout.
10:17 GlobalPost just a note to say that this chat is now open to all
10:17 GlobalPost i thought some of the others logged in might have questions about liu
10:17 GlobalPost feel free to ask them if you do!
10:17 GlobalPost otherwise, maybe we can move on to another hot news item
10:18 GlobalPost Kathleen, you've done some great reporting concerning Foxconn, iPad manufacturer based in Taiwan
10:19 GlobalPost a new report out this week that we got an early peak at challenged them over labor rights issues
10:19 GlobalPost how has China reacted to news of that report?
10:19 Gligorea Is that he can not get to award mean he can not accept? will be taken back? forgive english
10:20 Kathleen-McLaughlin Hi Gligorea -- nobody really knows at this point. I think the hope is that his wife can go and accept the award, but she remains under house arrest and he is still in prison. We're all waiting to hear what will happen next.
10:21 GlobalPost keep us posted on that front kathleen
10:21 NYCreader have it be taken back before?
10:21 Kathleen-McLaughlin @NYCreader I don't think so -- haven't heard of that before.
10:22 Kathleen-McLaughlin The Foxconn issue is also now connected with censorship and freedom of expression in China, interestingly enough.
10:23 Kathleen-McLaughlin Initially, Chinese media wrote extensively about the report and new charges. Now we're hearing that local media in Guangdong province has been ordered not to write about it.
10:23 Kathleen-McLaughlin Guangdong is home to the country's most aggressive newspapers, so we'll see what they do.
10:24 GlobalPost i suppose that means there is no evidence of a push toward labor reform?
10:24 Kathleen-McLaughlin It's a little more complicated. They've allowed extensive reporting on Foxconn this year, plus a lot of other labor violations and strikes. Perhaps now they think it's reached a boiling point and they don't want to stir the pot further.
10:25 Kathleen-McLaughlin The government is interested in increasing pay scales and the caliber of manufacturing it has, but it was a pretty crazy summer with strikes and the like.
10:26 GlobalPost the government is earnestly interested in that?
10:27 Kathleen-McLaughlin They're definitely interested in raising the quality of manufacturing, wages, etc., and want China to be an innovator. Of course it's a process, though. A lot of people were surprised at the open reporting this summer on the strikes and unrest.
10:27 Kathleen-McLaughlin The censorship now is only in Guangdong province -- where Foxconn's biggest factory is located.
10:28 Kathleen-McLaughlin Media in Beijing, etc., is writing about the report. But the government may have been employing of their "release valves" this summer when they let the strikes and anger well up publicly.
10:28 GlobalPost interesting
10:28 GlobalPost what are foxconn's customers saying?
10:28 GlobalPost Apple, Dell, HP
10:28 GlobalPost and other tech giants?
10:28 Kathleen-McLaughlin Not a thing.
10:29 GlobalPost really?
10:29 GlobalPost what do you make of that?
10:29 Kathleen-McLaughlin Yes. But Foxconn put out a huge statement denying the report's allegations, which they haven't done before (statements)
10:29 Kathleen-McLaughlin That might indicate they're getting more pressure from customers.
10:30 GlobalPost what do you think the fallout from the report will be?
10:31 Kathleen-McLaughlin It depends on how seriously Foxconn's customers and the government take the allegations. The report is calling on Foxconn's customers to ease up on the bottom line -- since of course that's where all the pressure on workers comes from.
10:31 Kathleen-McLaughlin They're also asking the government to allow real collective bargaining and enforce labor laws.
10:31 Kathleen-McLaughlin I guess it's important that these issues haven't gone away, so it'll be tougher to ignore the report.
10:32 GlobalPost since we're actually nearing the end of our chat
10:32 GlobalPost i wanted to just ask, lastly, whether you had anything you wanted to say about Chinese currency hitting a new high?
10:33 Rumsfeld Its about time
10:33 Kathleen-McLaughlin Just quickly -- I don't think it's anything big, yet. China won't make a big move on currency until its good and ready and only they know when that will be.
10:33 GlobalPost so, no movement in the near future you don't think?
10:34 Kathleen-McLaughlin It may continue to rise gradually, but they've been pretty clear they're sticking to their own timetable -- and only they know what that is.
10:34 GlobalPost indeed
10:34 GlobalPost that seems to be theme throughout the chat
10:35 GlobalPost the Chinese government keeping the information to itself
10:35 Kathleen-McLaughlin That's how they operate -- most of the time. Makes for interesting reporting, but lots of guessing and lots of wrong guesses.
10:36 GlobalPost well, we thank you for keeping us all up to speed, kathleen
10:36 Kathleen-McLaughlin Thanks very much!
10:36 GlobalPost it's always great to hear what's going on from the field
10:36 NYCreader Thanks
10:36 GlobalPost thank you for joining us today
10:36 GlobalPost and thank you to everyone who joined us
10:36 GlobalPost stay tuned for the next chat
10:36 Rumsfeld Indeed
10:36 GlobalPost information on GP Membership site
10:37 GlobalPost until next time
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