Killing Wang Qishan with praise — views from the Bloomberg pow wow

Credit: BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 03: Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Wang Qishan attends the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at the Great Hall of the People on March 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. Over 2,000 members of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative, a political advisory body, are attending the annual session, during which they will discuss the development of China. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

The Bloomberg New Economy Forum, Michael Bloomberg’s own private mini-Davos, was supposed to be held in Beijing, and the U.S.-China relationship set to be a key theme. But in September, the venue was changed to Singapore “because of fallout from the trade war,” reported the New York Times (porous paywall).

The forum runs today and tomorrow, and you can find Bloomberg’s own coverage here. Despite the change of venue, China remains a focus. Vice President Wáng Qíshān 王岐山 gave a speech. Here are a few reports on the thinking of the assembled worthies:

  • “Speak openly to each other about your red lines and the concessions you are willing to make to avoid conflict.” According to the South China Morning Post, that was “Henry Kissinger’s advice to feuding world powers on Tuesday, as he warned Washington and Beijing an all-out conflict between them would destroy the current world order.”
  • “The Chinese side is ready to have discussions with the U.S. on issues of mutual concern and work for a solution on trade acceptable to both sides,” said the Chinese vice president and Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 sidekick in his address at the forum, per CNBC. Wang also “echoed comments by Xi on Monday at a major trade expo that Beijing will embrace greater openness, amid mounting frictions with the United States.”
  • Wang Qishan “delivered unusually personal, off-the-cuff remarks in Singapore before his keynote address at a new economic forum after US tycoon Michael Bloomberg introduced him as ‘the most influential political figure’ in China and the world,” reports the South China Morning Post. “When I hear words of praise, I fear that it is pěng shā 捧杀,” said Wang. “When I hear words of criticism, I don’t worry so much because these are bàng shā 棒杀.” (Literally, “praise kill,” peng sha means an attempt to cause someone to fail by excessive praise. Bang sha, literally “to bludgeon to death,” is a metaphor for trying defeat someone through direct criticism.)

You can watch Wang’s entire speech here. If you enjoyed our recent Sinica Podcast with former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, you may enjoy this 10-minute interview with him on the sidelines of the Bloomberg forum.