It is refreshing to see public intellectuals other than Eric X Li speak openly against the blind faith that most westerners place in their own brand of democratic governance and market capitalism (a faith that they attempt to impose on the rest of the world). However, I wanted to voice my skepticism on two of Moyo’s assumptions that I noticed in this linked video.
Wow, here is an update on the China ADIZ and the recent aftermath. While I did expect U.S. and Japan to express some kind of reservation over China’s recent establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Seas, I had not anticipated the full sound and fury of the storm!
Within hours after China’s public announcement of the ADIZ, the U.S. decided to send two B-52s (unarmed) to the edge of China’s ADIZ on a putative long-planned, routine “training mission.” When China did not scramble jets, the U.S. celebrated and congratulated themselves on a job well done! Not to be outdone, Japan and S. Korea then publicly announced that they have also sent military (purportedly surveillance) planes into the area without properly alerting the Chinese side without incurring Chinese interception. The Japanese also went to the extent of ordering its airlines (its two main airlines and all members of the Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan) not to comply with China’s ADIZ (although Japan seems to have done a “U-Turn” for now).
One can find much written about China’s ADIZ. In this post, I want to focus my commentaries on the indignation and concerns that many in the U.S., Japan – even S. Korea – have expressed toward China’s establishment of an ADIZ.
Before all that, I think it’s useful to provide some further clarification on China’s ADIZ. First a better map than what one might find typically online. Continue reading
Recently, one sees again a torrent of articles in the Western press about how China is escalating tensions in the the East China Seas By Creating an Air Defense Identification Zone. The response from the U.S. and its lackey Japan has been swift. NYT reports:
China’s announcement appeared to be the latest step in what analysts have called a strategy to chip away at Japan’s claims of control of the islands. Japan has long maintained a similar air defense zone over them.
The Japanese foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, called the Chinese declaration a dangerous escalation that could lead to what many military analysts most fear in the tense standoff: a miscalculation or accident that could set off an armed confrontation and drag the United States into the conflict.
“It was a one-sided action and cannot be allowed,” Mr. Kishida told reporters, according to Japan’s Kyodo News. It could also “trigger unpredictable events,” he warned.
In a statement on Saturday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that the American government viewed the Chinese move “as a destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region.” He also reaffirmed that the United States would stand by its security treaty obligations to aid Japan if it were attacked.
By setting up a competing air defense zone, China may be trying to show that its claim to the islands is as convincing as Japan’s, Japanese officials said. They said China appeared to have a similar objective last Thursday, when Chinese coast guard officers boarded a Chinese fishing boat near the islands.
Ahh … how one-sided and myopic is the NYT report (surprise!).
Apparently, the lure of money makes people forget lessons of the past.
So when recently the housing prices started to rise again in the Western regions of US, People are starting to dump houses, hoping to cash in on the higher prices. (either that, or just trying to get themselves out of the market with little loss as possible).
That’s what I said to my parents-in-law who asked me to explain the “market” behavior that turns on every bit of news.
To the ordinary people, American or Chinese or anyone else, the “market” is hard to explain/understand. That’s because it really is nuts/bonkers/crazy/insane/irrational. This is NOT some “rational market”, because this “market” of today responds to opinions of those who claim to know. But do they really know? Or are they merely seeking to influence the outcome with their opinion?
The on-going Third Plenary Session of 18th CPC Central Committee has handed down several important decisions recently. One of them involves the relaxation of the one-child policy to spur China’s population growth.
Xinhua has a good report. An excerpt is provided below:
BEIJING, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) — China will loosen its decades-long one-child population policy, allowing couples to have two children if one of them is an only child, according to a key decision issued on Friday by the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The [change in policy is part of China's continual adjustments in policies] step by step to promote “long-term balanced development of the population in China,” ….
To ensure coordinated economic and social development, the population size for China should be kept at about 1.5 billion, said Guo, citing the results of a study sponsored by the State Council, China’s cabinet.
China should keep its total fertility rate at around 1.8, and the current rate is between 1.5 to 1.6, allowing the country to maneuver its population policy, according to Guo. Continue reading
The news is still enfolding on the destruction Typhoon Haiyan – now barreling its towards Vietnam and on into southern China – left in the Philippines. For those with the means, it appears the best way to help for the public now is to donate money. Two organizations with the capacity to help on the ground are:
I have long maintained that boycotts rarely work well as a tool of political protest. Even when mobilized as a collective national action like a trade embargo, history has not shown much effectiveness in causing political change, other than merely increasing bitterness (like the Embargo against Cuba).
Against a much larger target, with even broader scope, such as “boycott China”, the sheer size of lunacy of such a proposition is immediately apparent. Chinese economy is not pinned down in a few special economic sectors, it’s large and diverse, and most importantly international. It produces final products and components and material. It’s not merely economical for businesses, it’s necessity of businesses to buy Chinese products.
But even more interestingly, the increase in the internet economy has shown that it’s not just companies like Walmart that dictates the improbability of “boycott China”, it’s increasingly the end user purchasers who are making it impossible to “boycott China”.
Still recall former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech on “Internet Freedom?” Our first reaction on this blog was that America wanted unfettered access to citizens around the world. From a propaganda perspective, that idea enables the U.S. State Department to bypass foreign governments in reaching their citizens directly. Clinton herself has said the Internet would be a more viable means to reach into certain countries than, say, Voice of America (VOA), which often gets its signals jammed. This is also good business for the likes of Google and other American Internet services companies. The more users on Google, the more advertising dollars. And, it was no surprise at the beginning of that speech, Clinton pointedly acknowledged contributions from Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt. She affectionately described Schmidt, “co-conspirator from time to time” for that policy formulation.
Today, I came across an article in Asia Times titled “Tiananmen Crash Linked to Xinjiang Mosque Raid” by Shohret Hoshur, originally published via Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service. In the article Hoshur appears to justify violence and terrorism committed last week by presenting what must appear to him to be legitimate motivations for plowing a car into the guardrails in Tiananmen Square (which resulted in an explosion) last week .
For Hoshur, this event was less about terrorism – as the Chinese government asserts – and more about the desperate acts of another politically disenchanted Uighur. While Hoshur is careful to say this is not organized violence (this would hurt the cause for Uighur independence), he also elevated it from mere spiteful acts of pitiful personal grievance (this would be uninteresting) to a symbolic peoples’ revolt (this is the happy, sweet medium).
Hoshur’s article is copied below: Continue reading
Time recently published an article titled “How a Starbucks Latte Shows China Doesn’t Understand Capitalism” on the attention the Chinese government appears to be bringing to the practice of foreign companies overcharging Chinese consumers. According to Time, the government in doing this shows it doesn’t understand capitalism, ought to back off, and let the market reach a proper price.
The article asserts:
The bottom line is this: Companies will price their products based on what the consumer is willing to pay. That’s nothing illicit. It’s simple supply and demand. If Starbucks lattes were truly overpriced in China, the Chinese wouldn’t be buying as many of them, and the American firm would not have been able to build a successful network of over 1,000 shops in the country.
If foreign companies are engaged in illegal practices, then they should be stopped. But meddling in the pricing decisions of independent private companies is another thing altogether. China’s leaders persistently promise to make the Chinese economy more market-oriented, liberalized and fair. Premier Li Keqiang recently committed the government to “steadfastly pursuing reform and opening-up with priority given to the stimulation of the market.” Interfering with the prices private firms charge Chinese consumers suggests that China’s officials believe that they should make economic decisions, not free markets. Continue reading
This past weekend, the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court found Bo Xilai guilty bribetaking, embezzlement and abuse of power. The trial has been widely publicized and discussed in China, with netizens on the blogsphere commenting from almost every angle, some in support of Bo, some in disgust of his alleged actions, and others neutral and looking at the bigger picture (see e.g. also this report). South China Morning Post has this short summary of the court’s point-by-point verdict against Bo.
The Jinan Intermediate People’s Court accepted just two of the points former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai made in his defence as it jailed him for life yesterday. The court, in a transcript released on its official weibo account, set out its point-by-point rebuttal of Bo’s defence. It also detailed ways in which he abused his power after the crimes of his wife, Gu Kailai, and the attempted defection to the US by his key lieutenant, Wang Lijun.
Bo’s claim: I confessed under duress.
The court said: Under Chinese law, the use of corporal punishment, corporal punishment in disguised form, or spiritual torture to interrogate and extort confessions is illegal. The “pressure” Bo faced did not involve any such act.
Bo’s claim: I did not know that [Dalian -based billionaire] Xu Ming was paying the expenses for my wife and son [Bo Guagua].
The court said: Bo’s denial in court is invalid as his written statements before the trial matched the testimony of Xu Ming and others, showing he not only knew that Xu Ming was financing Bo Guagua’s study abroad but also understood well their deal – exchanging power for money. Whether Bo knows the exact amount or not makes no difference.
Bo’s claim: I had no knowledge of the villa in France [bought on behalf of Bo's family with cash from Xu Ming].
The court said: Bo mentioned the villa in his statements before the court heard evidence and testimony from others, ruling out the possibility that he was forced to confess on the point. Continue reading
Sun Tzu definitely wrote not so much about “just war”, as he admonished rulers against War, using costs of war as arguments.
Sun Tzu was not concerned with what would justify war. His solution was to end wars as expeditiously and with minimum cost as possible.
He was in a time, about 550 years of continuous warfare in China. There was serious debate in that time about what would be considered “just war”, but there were no good conclusions.
In the end, the only solution was “unification”, as the ultimate solution to end all wars.
Thus, I would argue that from China’s unification, the ONLY valid justification for war were to repel invasion or for unification (both are to protect China’s sovereignty).
Other moral justifications are simply excuses.
This is an insightful comment when viewed in context of how so many Westerners today mock China’s stance on unity and sovereignty. Sovereignty and unity is deemed an excuse to skirt its moral obligations to (Western created and controlled) ideals such as human rights. Both are deemed as pretexts for the government to do things that are substandard by the West’s reckoning. Continue reading
If there is a religion in the modern world, it is the fanatic belief in democratic self-governance. From a philosophical perspective, the legitimacy of democratic self-government requires the notion of a public forum – a democratic corpus, a public sphere formed by citizens, if you will – to frame, debate and discuss political issues and events, free from “government interference.” This might be called a public sphere of privacy (privacy from government), rather than a private sphere of privacy (privacy from other citizens), and is essential to the working of a democratic government. It is of utmost importance to keep this public sphere vibrant and pure because in today’s paradigm, all governments have a tendency to to intrude, dominate, and control for its benefit at the expense of that of the people. And a democratic government means little if people’s thoughts and voices can be manipulated, coerced, manufactured, or censored. A belief in the vibrancy of the democratic corpus to deliver good governance (with that, justice, prosperity, “freedom,” and peace) represents the very soul of the modern democracy religion.
Yet, when you look around you and think for a minute – things just don’t add up. The latest NSA revelations provides a useful case study. Continue reading
Is it possible to stop people from discussing news or current affairs on the Internet? The answer is easy: obviously not. I can’t see how that is possible without shutting the Internet down completely. And, what does it mean to be an “enemy of the internet” anyway? To qualify for that, wouldn’t a nation state be engaging in destroying Internet infrastructure globally or doing everything possible to shunt the productive potential of the Internet for humankind? Continue reading
Yesterday, the U.S. marked the 50th anniversary of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” It was in that event 50 years ago that King gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech. By most accounts, Obama’s speech is well-delivered and well-received – albeit “not as good.” It could not be, Obama would explain, “[b]ecause when you are talking about Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington, you’re talking about one of the maybe five greatest speeches in American history. And the words that he spoke at that particular moment, with so much at stake, and the way in which he captured the hopes and dreams of an entire generation I think is unmatched.”
If King’s speech 50 years ago was among the “five greatest speeches” in American history, the Obama’s speech today is a present-day synthesis of all that Americans hold most dear. If you listen, you will glimpse the American Dreams and feel America’s soul. Here is an excerpt of the speech 1. Continue reading
Slideshow below are random shots I took while at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park today. I admire the efforts at this facility in educating the public about endangered animals as well as their active role in helping to stop some species from becoming extinct.
On the topic of poaching, I think there is something to be said about the rich countries versus the poor.
On 13th Aug, 2013 I clicked on articles with China as a tag, http://www.businessinsider.com/category/china
This is what appeared as it was (no selection was done by me):
Rare Video Appears To Show A Public Execution In China
How The Emerging Markets Will Unravel As China Unwinds Its Debt
The Sex Lives Of Top Chinese Officials
How China’s Tax Structure Crushes The Poor
STUDY: There’s A Huge, $1 Trillion Hole In Chinese GDP
Expert: Dalai Lama’s Website Has Been Hacked And It’s Infecting People’s Computers Continue reading
For those of you who pay attention to the news, the United States have stepped up drone strikes recently, including many in Yemen. It is interesting to observe how the U.S. and British media report on such strikes and their damages. CNN headlined those killed as, “militants.” Reuters, “suspected militants.” Bloomberg, “Al-Qaeda Suspects.” U.K’s BBC, “militants.”
Except, according to Press TV, an Iranian-based station, “US drones kill mostly civilians in Yemen.”
So, what is the real truth? Difficult to know isn’t it? However, as FAIR.org recently argued, the U.S. mainstream media are basically letting U.S. government officials decide who the casualties are and never bother to find out: Continue reading
We are accustomed to hearing joint navy exercises between the U.S. and Japan in the region on a regular basis. However, in recent years, China and Russia are conducting exercises of their own. Given Obama’s Asia Pivot, where the U.S. officially divert more naval power to the region, China sees urgency in beefing up her presence too. Continue reading
I wish to make a few observations about Edward Snowden from a slightly different angle.
Initially, there were legitimate queries concerning the apparent ease with which he copied highly confidential information, his background, and the escape. They seemed sensible questions, without the fingerprints of Disinformation Agents. But by now, it must be quite clear that Snowden is genuine.
Most of the operational puzzles can be answered if we let go of one assumption: That the US secret machinery, powerful as it is, must be competent like what we see in movies. People who have worked for major multinationals might agree that the functioning of huge organisations is appallingly less coherent and rational than what outsiders might perceive. A simple example: The computer servers of most companies, big or small, are maintained by an outside contractor or a relatively junior staff member. No highly paid senior person is willing — or capable of — maintaining the system. Now, unless top executives exchange confidential correspondence by hand-written notes, relatively junior technicians could access them if they want to, including an audit trail of the Chairman’s internet activities during office hours. Continue reading
China is often regarded as a nation without Freedom of Speech – or at least a nation that disrespects Freedom of Speech, or a nation with serious infractions of Freedom of Speech. I have often argued that such disparaging conclusions rarely turn out to based on Freedom itself, but a disrespect of China’s social, historical, and political contexts and current interests. I will use recent events to further demonstrate my thinking.
For those of you paying attention on issues surrounding “Freedom of Speech” on the international stage, you might have noticed that France caused quite a stir last week by finally abolishing a law against insulting its president.
The law in question was thrown into the international spotlight when President Sarkozy charged fellow Frenchman Hervé Eon for holding up a cardboard sign at a 2008 rally telling Sarkozy “Casse-toi pov’con,” a profanity in French that directly translates mildly to “break yourself off, poor jerk.” Here is an excerpt of the article “Yes, it really was a crime in France to insult the president until this week. Here’s why” from the Washington Post: Continue reading
If a survey is conducted in the West about the Opium Wars, very few would know about them today. Even the few who actually know about them will likely not hold the Brits and other Western powers responsible. The reason is because the West has been whitewashing this history.
Case in point was the 1997 Hong Kong hand-over. The Western media spent virtually no time educating their audience how Hong Kong was forcibly taken by the Brits (and hence the hand-over). They instead focused majority of their effort vilifying the Chinese political system and sensationalizing an imminent destruction of Hong Kong’s way of life. This clever tactic is willful omission – by not talking about the miseries of the Chinese at the hands of the drug-pushers and Western invaders, the perpetrators were absolved of their sins. Continue reading
It might come as a surprise to casual observers that the city of Detroit is filing for bankruptcy. To those seasoned industry watchers, it is an event waiting to happen. Detroit has a prominent place in US history because it is considered “a metonym for the American automobile industry and an important source of popular music legacies celebrated by the city’s two familiar nicknames, the Motor City and Motown.” Continue reading
Western propaganda has become an art-form, and for the unsuspecting audience, it is invisible. If you decide to be critical though, you will immediately see how thinly-veiled the propaganda is. Some of you might have heard about the recent high-speed rail crash in Spain, killing 69 people according to the latest count. The weird coincidence is that China’s Wenzhou crash was exactly 2 years ago. Below are two articles from CNN reporting on the crashes. On the right column is of China’s crash two years ago and on the left column is a recent coverage for Spain’s. Notice how the Spain article is about the accident while the article on China is a condemnation of China’s HRS and governance. CNN can find tons of criticism and dissatisfaction on Spain’s Internet too if it wants. Yes, right now. CNN can find critical things to write about the Spanish government: for example, Spain woefully under-funds its infrastructure. These are CNN’s explicit choices to make. See the glaring difference in the articles as a result of the choices CNN made. Welcome to “free” press.
On Sunday, Abe and his party secured a victory to win landslide victories. According to Foreign Policy,
Riding a wave of stimulus money to the voting urns, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party secured a majority in both of the country’s legislative houses, delivering a stamp of approval for his economic policies and possibly setting up Japan for its most significant constitutional revision since World War II.
A man with deeply nationalist roots, Abe has embarked on a twin project of national renewal, launching an aggressive stimulus program – better known as “Abenomics” and which has injected a measure of dynamism to the sluggish Japanese economy – while also floating the idea of revising the country’s pacifist constitution. Abe’s military initiative comes in response to what many in Japan see as the danger of a rising China to the country’s west and the need for Japan not just to have a self defense force but a bona fide military to counter that threat. On Monday, Abe linked those two projects. “Economics is the source of national power. Without a strong economy, we cannot have diplomatic influence or dependable social security,” he said. “I want to make Japan’s presence felt in the world.” Continue reading
I’m getting sick of this “debate” on the rule of law (or laws in general). It’s a recurring theme marred in confusion. So I will try to make this as simple as possible. Just let this “debate” die in this thread because it is distracting, boring and I’m just goddamn sick of it.
In the field of media criticism, it pays to be picky about language. Around touchy issues of sovereignty and legitimacy, journalists frequently navigate intractable disputes where no term is truly “objective”. A wise man once said, if you want to create social change, then it is of paramount importance to identify “who are [your] enemies [and] who are [your] friends?” But there’s the risk of being so hypercritical and without humility as to impart devious significance to routine, apolitical phrases. In the English-language Tibetan studies circuit, which leans almost entirely pro-separatist, one phrase regularly trotted out for criticism is “China’s Tibet”. This blogpost at High Peaks Pure Earth is representative in its mocking tone, if not for the most academic exposition of the idea. “There must be a psychological condition that describes an anxiety so acute that there is an overwhelming need to constantly state and re-state that something belongs to you… China’s rather childish and possessive nature!”
As Snowden considers asylum offers from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, and perhaps mulls a second application to Russia (Putin had earlier said if Snowden wanted to apply asylum there, he’d have to stop releasing NSA leaks), should China Consider Giving Snowden Asylum?
By the answers, I am hoping to gauge people’s attitude toward Snowden. For me, I am neutral. I personally have nothing against government “snooping.” I have nothing to hide in general. As long as they don’t pick on me for little trivial things (I trust governments generally enough that they wouldn’t), I have nothing against government tapping, government cameras, government sucking of emails, etc. So what Snowden has revealed does not hit me in the stomach on that level.
However, I believe what Snowden has revealed is important in a geopolitical context. Previously, we thought of the Internet as “free” – run by innovative Stalwart companies devoted to freedom, free from government interference. Now we know the vastness of what we consider to be “free internet” is merely a very nationalized network space that is compatible with one specific set of values and that is at the core of 21st century geopolitical competition.
That’s an important insight for humanity to know.
So – should China…?
[Editor's Note: clarification added 2013-07-09]: From the above write-up about “geopolitical context,” one might misunderstand me as saying that what Snowden has to say has no relevance to Americans and relevance only to the rest of the world. That’s not what I meant. To the extent Americans are world citizens, they should care. They should understand so they understand why the information they get online in the so-called free internet (and also why the information they get in the so-called free media, why their very perspective about the world, about history) may be so biased and American (or Western)-centric. And then perhaps they may understand why so many things they had taken to be Universal may just be American (or Western)-centric. What Snowden revealed, and he may not even understand it, is to change the paradigm by which we view the world by revealing a blindspot we had universally taken for granted. Others have noted the dangers of relying on “google” for all information on the net – because that essentially allows one entity – which is not beholden to the “people” per se – to define our knowledge, our worldview, our identity… It is equally dangerous to rely on the falsehood of a universal, free internet for our information because there is no such thing as a universal internet. Language and cultural barriers would have fragmented it fr0m the start – though now we see politics from the U.S. already set it up to fragment from the very beginning, too.
Have you ever wondered how a map would look like if it showed Internet freedom versus the NSA dragnet recently revealed by Edward Snowden? Well, it would look like the following map. Click to have a look first and then come back to this post.