Two weeks ago, Henry Kissinger’s new book “On China” went on the shelf. I have the honor of being asked recently to review the book. Henry Kissinger – preeminent American political scientist, diplomat, National Security Advisor and later concurrently Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford – requires no introduction. So I’ll go straight to the book.
In my opinion, “On China” is destined to become a best seller and an important resource on China – on the level of Jonathan Spence’s “In Search of Modern China” – for English readers. The book provides fascinating angles to so many chapters of Sino-American diplomatic history and has the character of an elder statesman telling not only a good story, but of imparting wisdom on a next generation of political leaders.
While focusing on 20th century Chinese history, the book also gave sufficient background on Chinese history to give context to current events – as well as a vision of what can be possible. Kissinger masterfully (but coolly) tells the story of China’s struggles through its centuries of humiliation, starting with the Opium War and its attempts to resist colonialism and foreign invasions. The book traces the story of the Communist rise to power, and the immediate turmoils – both domestic and international – that put the nascent state and the Chinese people immediately to the test.
I am dismayed at the tone of the coverage from the West.
If a potentially socially explosive situation arises anywhere in the world – whether it is in L.A. between blacks and whites or between tribes in Somalia – I’d think the responsible thing is to urge restraint amongst the people and for the government to make a show of force. It may even be time to impose some restrictions on movements (as local conditions dictate) for heads to cool down. I’d not call sending in police and guards to keep the peace and urge cooler head “crack down” – or “clamping down.” Continue reading Mongolian Protests→
I was still saddened by the 2008 May 12th earthquake in Sichuan Province while watching the presently airing 10-part series documentary on CCTV. It has also given me a lot of hope and opened my eyes on what is possible. CCTV has every right to call the reconstruction a miracle. Despite the tragedy, in just three short years, whole cities have been built; it is mind boggling what the present day Chinese society is able to pull off. Click image below to the documentary site.
(Via The 4th Media, the following is an article on the popular Chinese web site, 环球网 (Huanqiu Web), by 溪兰城 (Xi Lan Cheng), self-described media person in Beijing, translated by Huifang Yu.)
During an interview with Atlantic Monthly, Hillary said, “They’re worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool’s errand. They cannot do it, but they’re going to hold it off as long as possible.” Almost the whole world read about China being on a “fool’s errand” after this quote was cited and reported by mainstream Western media outlets like Reuters, Agence France-Presse and so on. Over 20 famous Chinese international experts were interviewed by the media; 16 viewed Hillary’s words as diplomatic faux pas while 12 believed that Hillary should elaborate her position. “Fool’s errand” is obviously a derogatory term. It is no wonder that scholars said that this is the most severe official criticism since Clinton accused China of changing in the wrong direction in 1997. Continue reading “We Can Be More Calm in the Face of Hillary’s Accusations”→
Below is a footage by Stephen McDonell while on assignment for ABC TV’s Foreign Correspondent program in China. They were investigating some “underground Christian boom” for airing in Australia. Religion (actually, underground churches) is a sensitive topic, so I can imagine the Chinese government being careful as to not let foreign journalist stir up anything. Apparently, some Chinese security team has been following McDonell, and the reporter finally confronts them. A member of the team freaks out in reaction to being filmed. This whole affair is a bit comical; in tier 1 cities, I imagine these type of folks would be much more experienced. Ever call some customer service department where in the beginning you are reminded the conversation may be recorded for training purposes? That’s what comes to mind for me on this video. McDonell will get catapulted to stardom in the Western press for being part of this ‘news’ – for a while at least – like the guy who got dragged away from Wangfujing.
My 2008 public debate with a US trained Tibetan Lawyer (with some other folks interjecting), archived on ABA China Law Committee Listserver:
This began over the ABA China Law Committee’s email listserver in 2008 around the time of the Tibet riots. Several US attorneys started asking questions about Tibet and the riot. The Tibetan-American lawyer began with his definition of “sovereignty” as applied to Tibet, and I responded. And it sparked off a rather heated debate (I personally remained very civil, some of the middle parts were not my statements, but rather from a few other Chinese and American commentators/lawyers).
Ai Weiwei appeared in Western headlines again after Xinhua reported Beijing police saying he was under ‘house surveillance’ and under investigation for tax evasion. (I should mention that while searching for materials for this post, I was struck by the lack of search results on Google on ‘Ai Weiwei’ from China. Why? I would venture to say, therein lies the true essence of Google’s struggles in China in search; but we have already made this argument in the past.)
The top search on Baidu last Wednesday, May 18th, was 陈家 (Chen Jia), who was expecting a verdict from the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court; he rammed a stopped car at a traffic light last year while driving drunk at 110km/hour, killing a father, a six year-old girl, and severely injuring the mother. His fleeing the scene was a big mistake. After 10 hours he was caught. This drew a lot of anger on the Internet. Below is a local report in Chinese and contains the traffic footage:
While visiting Yangshuo in our China trip last month, we got to see the spectacularly produced Zhang Yimou show, “Impression Liu Sanjie.” (I shared some photos in an earlier post.) All the performers on that show were locals. Below is a documentary on the excellent “Story Board” program on CCTV entitled, “Fisherman’s theatre.” It showcases the performers, many of whom are still fishermen today, their lives, and their training for the show. Continue reading CCTV Story Board: “Fisherman’s theatre”→
Jim Hoge has been the editor of Foreign Affairs magazine since 1992. He holds the Peter G. Peterson Chair at the Council on Foreign Relations, and is a director of Human Rights Watch and the Foundation for a Civil Society. He is also the chairman of the International Center for Journalists.
“We Chinese – 我们中国人” by M. Scott Brauer is a glimpse into the minds of the ordinary Chinese. I personally like this form of street photography where the subjects are near where they live, work, or just happens to be. The image themselves give many clues to society. I enjoy this type of work too (see “Faces of Guilin“), and I know it takes genuine curiosity and friendship to win cooperation from the subjects. Brauer also asked what they thought about China and their future. Follow the link to see their responses. Continue reading “We Chinese – 我们中国人” by M. Scott Brauer→
The Atlantic has a nice collection of recent China photos compiled from various sources. A picture is really worth a thousand words often times. I only have minor issues with some of the captions, but in all, the 48 shots give a strong sense of realism in a changing China. Actually, if the Western press wants to resort to ridiculous reporting such as the recent New York Times ‘jasmine ban,’ I’d prefer they just shut up and show the photographs. These pictures are going to add much more nuance and texture to the West’s understanding of China.
Below is a two-part series made by Aaron Hawkins. I came across his channel on Youtube because he recently talked about the China, South Korea, and Japan efforts in looking into bypassing the USD in their trilateral trade. It appears he has built a small but steady following. Hawkins believes America will collapse economically when the dollar loses the “petrodollar” status and is a matter of when, not whether. He then imagines what happens next. Please watch the two videos in sequence and then cast your vote on this simple poll. (Click ‘Read more..” to expand the post and the videos will show.)
Xinhua (via China Daily) has just reported Chinese journalists blocked from covering the Endeavor launch due to the ‘Wolf Clause.’ The clause was introduced into the 2011 budget bill by congressman Frank Wolf and signed into law by President Obama just one month ago. It is unfortunate, because China’s scientists have designed some core parts of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) particle detector which was on board the shuttle. The detector is “mankind’s most ambitious effort to date to explore the universe’ origin.” This is a rare opportunity to collaborate in science and humanity; politics need not play a part. So, I must say, I share the articles indignation at what transpired, especially in the recent Strategic & Economic Dialog, the two countries leaders pledged expanding cooperation. Continue reading ‘Wolf Clause’ bars China-U.S. collaboration on space; China-Russia plans man on Mars by 2040→
By 2020, China’s FTA with ASEAN nations will get another big boost; a 3,900km high-speed railway system linking China’s Kunming through Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia down to Singapore becomes operational and construction has already started. See my hand-drawing in the regional map below to get a sense of scope of this project. China’s trade with the ASEAN countries has sky-rocked to $292.78 billion in 2010, the year the FTA went into effect. ASEAN countries exports to China at $154.56 billion already dwarfed the U.S.’. Continue reading Kunming-Singapore High Speed Railway construction starts→
Is it conceivable that the Chinese government ban the jasmine flower in China? That is exactly what a group of journalists at the New York Times argue in their recent article, “Catching Scent of Revolution, China Moves to Snip Jasmine.” I asked Andrew Jacobs, one of the authors if he believed what he wrote? In response, he said:
Yes, I do believe what I wrote because myself and two other reporters spoke to dozens of growers, wholesalers and retailers. Have you, by any chance, done the same? I welcome you to come to China and do some reporting and find out the truth.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan were on Charlie Rose May 9, 2011, and I highly recommend a viewing of their conversation (about 40 minutes). Vice Premier Wang (via interpreter) categorically said that the trade imbalance is not related to the currency issue. Geithner basically agreed, though noting currency valuation is “important.” Wang also said that the U.S. is politicizing economic issues with Geithner agreeing. Geithner said both leaders need to fight the urge to do that in their respective countries.
Americans typically think of the Chinese government as a monolithic entity, but they really should see Wang Qishan and listen to how he describes China’s challenge in building consensus in transforming the pattern of growth (towards more consumption based). The Chinese leadership is a collection of personalities with their views and convictions too.
I was encouraged by Geithner’s comment that in the future in order for the U.S. to continue to exert influence, Americans must have a stronger understanding of the rest of the world. Wang Qishan says that it is not “misperceptions” but “lack of understanding” of China that is the problem in the relationship.
Today, I am writing about an article at the San Francisco Chronicle by Andrew S. Ross on a supposed Chinese government denial of service attack on change.org. The article was dated April 28, 2011, entitled, “Change.org attacked after backing China dissident.” This date is important, so make a note of it.
Because Ai Weiwei is a headline in the Western media, anything related to him makes for ‘good’ news. This is a media trick. Bear in mind, banks or any other millions of web sites are being hacked everyday from everywhere, around the world. And, certainly, given the narrative of an always ‘bad’ China in the Western media makes an ‘attack’ from China a ‘good’ story. So, I understand this fetish.
The problem, though, I have with this Adrew Ross article is that it reported virtually no fact towards the narrative, and it relies entirely on hearsay and innuendo. Before I dive into the details, I would like to tell American journalists that they first need to have some decency and professionalism. Given America has so many chronic problems, I think they should channel their energy at solving America’s real ones; not to get Americans confused and distracted with arbitrary things of no consequence. Continue reading Ai Weiwei petition coverage says more about shoddy journalism→
Few weeks ago, a China Daily reporter contacted this blog for leads on foreigners working with China in Sichuan’s reconstruction. As you know, tomorrow is the three year anniversary of the May 12, 2008 earthquake; I have been looking for reports in the last few days on this topic.
The story that brought tears to my eyes was about a mother saving the life of her infant (“地震中的伟大母亲”). When rescuers arrived at a collapsed home, they found a woman in a kneeling position and slouching over. They found her posture curious and after examining her body, found in her lap a baby still alive. Wrapped with the baby is a phone, and on the screen is a typed message, “dear beloved baby, if you are able to survive, you must remember I love you.” In the video below, you will see the Chinese news anchor breaking down in reporting this story.
In the current Strategic and Economic Dialog between U.S. and China, Secretary Clinton reiterated the importance of the 100,000 Strong Initiative. According to the Institute of International Education, there are ten times more Chinese students studying in the U.S. than the other way around. The initiative is to raise the number of Americans studying in China to 100,000 in four years. Clinton said it is “an essential building block to a more solid foundation of a relationship going forward.” China believes in this initiative as well and has already committed 10,000 “Bridge Scholarships.” This initiative was announced last year, so how far has it come along? Continue reading 100,000 Strong Initiative taking baby steps→
Despite wrestling with tremendous environmental problems associated with developing its economy, China has nevertheless been recognized as one of the top clean technology producers by World Wildlife Fund. This is not a small accomplishment on China’s part and is a testament of the continuous effort and progress China is making in this important arena.
According to this Washington Post report, Denmark tops list of clean technology producers; China is No. 2; US at 17 is rapidly expanding.
Regardless of your personal views about Wikileaks exposing secret U.S. documents, you will find this exclusive interview by Russia Today of Juliane Assange fascinating. He also weighs in on Google, Facebook, the Guardian, the New York Times, and media in general.
Video below is of Kauai taken by Devin Graham, the same island where my family vacationed at last year. My prior post has many pictures taken from some of the same spots as in this video. China too is endowed with many incredibly beautiful landscapes.
Race is a hot issue anywhere on the planet and has been throughout human history. Waves of European immigrants (not to mention those from other continents) have been shunned upon in America’s past. After generations they became more accepted. But I am not trying to single out America. This phenomenon probably speaks about human nature more than anything else.
China Daily has just reported the Longyan Municipal Intermediate People’s Court upholding a prior Xinluo District Court ruling fining Zijin Mining for $4.6 million in damages and sentencing the company’s former vice president, Chen Jiahong, the company’s environmental protection officer, Huang Fucai, and three other company managers to three-year sentences. Zijin Mining was found guilty of leaking acid into the Tingjiang River in Fujian Province killing fish and contaminating water.