I am going to write an article or post on the myth of law… But this 9th circuit decision to not reinstate Trump’s order to temporarily stop immigration from 7 countries is really getting to me. Here is a letter I’d write Trump: Read more…
It is clear now that while the 2016 U.S. election may be over, much of the bitter rancor remains. The latest controversy now swirls over how long-time foe Russia may have hijacked America’s election to secure a Trump presidency.
Americans seem to be transfixed by this latest treachery, with President Obama promising retributions, but Trump warning against politicizing American Intelligence.
American penchant for partisan bickering and concerns about foreign interference, however, appear to be” much ado about nothing.” Read more…
In any case, I thought I’d share a few quick thoughts about Trump’s historic win.
The day before the election, the New York Times estimated Trump’s chance of winning at 16% – but compared to most other “pundits,” I think they were being kind. But history had a way of making history. People voted for Trump because despite Trump!
I recently published this opinion piece on the Saker website, & it was republished in Russia Insider. I also wanted to share it here as well (with a few minor grammatical corrections). Apologies in advance if the pictures turn out blurry, please refer to one of the links above.
Not All Silk Roads Are Created Equal
The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route is unlikely to see high-volume PRC adoption in the near term due to insufficient business and geopolitical value prop
Several months ago, there were quite a few news/analysis reports lauding the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) as a new path for trade along the Silk Road, which is being revitalized by China and its regional partners under the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project. The TITR is highly attractive to Russia’s geopolitical rivals, such as Georgia and post-Maidan Ukraine (& no doubt the US too), for it is a potential Sino-European trade route across the Eurasian continent that completely bypasses Russian territory. However, there is little/no incentive for China to actively promote or use TITR for large-scale trade in the near future. To expand on this conclusion, this article will cover the following: the basic business value proposition of the land-based Eurasian Silk Road, an outline of the TITR path, a side-by-side comparison of a comparable route (Chongqing-Duisburg, also known as ‘Yuxinou’), and the geopolitical factor.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about how Germany has cheapened its own history and disregarded its own humanity by turning a blind eye on Japan’s horrific crimes against humanity in China on the eve of the 77th anniversary of the Nanking massacre.
In that piece, I wrote how Germany may not be preaching “universal values” per se, but politically-expedient political myths. Well, interestingly today, the German parliament voted to recognize the so-called “Armenian genocide” as a true “genocide” and a crime against humanity. Turkey – which has been both fighting and growing its own brand of terrorism abroad – is none too thrilled.
I wonder if this is a case of external politics ripening for Germany – as a lapdog of America, which has increasingly seen Turkey drift away – to strike at Turkey? Or is it a case of Germany finally finding some guts to stand up for history, as this LA Times story seem to report? Read more…
Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are leading a new American awakening on global trade. According to the new emerging consensus, America has been the victim of bad trade deals – including the yet-to-be-ratified Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – for decades. These deals have shipped millions of good-paying American jobs abroad and in the process hollowed out the American middle class.
When Sanders and Trump recently began questioning the merits of trade with allies such as Japan as well, however, many believed them to have crossed a line. It is one thing to attack China for “stealing” jobs but quite another to sell short a close and faithful ally.
Americans have long harbored schizophrenic attitudes on trade, however. Read more…
I know there are few or no Trump supporters here … still whatever you think about Trump, I think if you see the injustice of U.S. meddling in Middle East, Africa, the Baltic, and Asia, you have to like and take notice what Trump recently said.
You don’t even have to support Trump. If you believe Trump is somehow mysteriously in tune with the bulk of the American people, then I think that with Trump articulated here finally there is hope for America … and the world. Here is an excerpt of a piece about his recent interview with the Washington Post. Read more…
I’m glad to see the Chinese media FINALLY starting to explicitly outline the hypocrisy of American human rights rhetoric, but I think it doesn’t go far enough to illustrate the sheer scale of US human rights violations & issues, such as:
- Little mention on the sheer degree of income & wealth inequality, which then translates into the lack of meaningful political power for most average citizens.
- The number of annual police killings & prison incarceration rates in the US.
- The lack of respect for equal rights not just by the US government, but BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, as demonstrated by the popularity of xenophobic, & particularly islamophobic rhetoric among presidential candidates.
I think CCTV’s exclusion important details such as the aforementioned may create the misconception that the US human rights problems they outlined are somehow “small & isolated”, and inadequately highlights the widespread nature of their lack of respect for human rights. But nevertheless, this is a good start.
Mr. Unknown and the blogger known as the Saker has collaborated to write an interesting, provocative, and insightful piece end of last year. I truly applaud the effort and feel honored that China does have true friends from Russia. And I am truly heartened to see that there are Russians who do see China as equals … and more importantly … as friends.
Overall I learned quite many things, all valuable to further shaping my worldview. But I also do disagree with some parts of it. I have no doubt that the great Russian-Chinese dialogue in bringing two great neighbors closer together … perhaps one day to become allies … will continue and will a force for global peace. But a solid house must be built on solid solutions. So here is my response, which includes some criticisms, which hopefully will go toward building a more solid foundation between the two great nations / civilizations. Read more…
There are so many things over which I disagree with Trump. When he talks about China, I literally disagree with him on everything he says – currency manipulation, unfair trade, aggressive trade policies, an all out assault to gut America of jobs…
Yet I see every attack on Trump in the media – and yes here on this blog – as the worst of Western media propaganda. I am writing here not to support Trump (although I would definitely support him over Clinton), but to show what I consider to be Western media’s hypocrisy … and the power of the hypocrisy to brainwash everyone here! 😉
According to the Economist, here are some of the worst of Trump’s offenses.
Because each additional Trumpism seems a bit less shocking than the one before, there is a danger of becoming desensitised to his outbursts. To recap, he has referred to Mexicans crossing the border as rapists; called enthusiastically for the use of torture; hinted that Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court justice, was murdered; proposed banning all Muslims from visiting America; advocated killing the families of terrorists; and repeated, approvingly, a damaging fiction that a century ago American soldiers in the Philippines dipped their ammunition in pigs’ blood before executing Muslim rebels. At a recent rally he said he would like to punch a protester in the face. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
[Editor’s Note: This piece was first published at the Huffington Post]
According to Chief Justice Roberts, judges are baseball umpires who apply rules impartially to disputes. As neutral actors, judges make everyone play by the rules but do not take sides themselves.
But with members of Senate locked in a heated debate whether Obama or the next president should name Scalia’s replacement, we are reminded yet again just how political Supreme Court Justices have become.
In decisions after decisions, the Court has waded into the most politically contested issues of the day, from abortion to gay rights to campaign contribution limits to national health insurance. Scholars now routinely predict how each Justice will vote based on his or her ideological persuasions alone, irrespective of the legal issues presented.
Justice Roberts would like us to reminisce wistfully about a day when judges were umpires of the law. But I don’t think that day ever existed. Read more…
Happy Year of the Monkey everyone. Sadly the first monkey related blogpost on HH is about Western media’s on going monkey business when it comes to China reporting.
For 2016, the first salvo is about the shameless nouveau riche of China illegally owning endangered “thumb monkey” of Amazon:
However quick Google fact check revealed this story is, again, monkey business. Here are some facts about “thumb monkey”, aka “pocket monkey”, aka “pygmy marmoset”:
1) Contrary to condemnation, pygmy marmoset is not endangered or threatened. IUCN conservation status for pygmy marmoset is it’s not threatened in any major way:
Least Concern – Lowest risk; does not qualify for a higher risk category. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category
Seems some just noticed IUCN had a Red List publication for pygmy marmoset and assumed it is endangered, without scrutinizing what the Red List publication actually said:
2) Pygmy marmoset is available for sale in US and UK as pet. Google “pet pygmy marmoset” showed some very ordinary stuff on permitting, sales, and care of this creature. This one I’m most incredulous about – would an endangered spices be so readily available for sale in enlightened first world nations?
In contrast, Google pygmy marmoset with keyword “China” revealed a multitude of vitriol against the evil Chinese, on behalf of this suddenly poor, endangered species. Even worse when adding the keyword “endangered” (note the article count actually goes up):
3) Another fallacy is that pygmy marmoset is illegal in China. Actually importation of exotic mammals are legal in China, subject to quarantine and permitting regulations. It is illegal to circumvent quarantine (which unscrupulous vendors in China, as well as US, UK, do.) Here’s what China’s regulation on Wildlife Domestication and Rearing Permit says:
Article 3 Qualification For Business Entity and Individual To Apply “Wild Life Domesticaiton and Rearing Permit”:
(1) Having permanent location, appropriate and necessary facility, equipment for domestication and rearing the wild animal;
(2) Possessing needed capital, expertise, for domestication and rearing the wild animal;
(3) Gauranteed food supply for domestication and rearing the wild animal.
Here’s a very recent coverage about a company in Hangzhou importing small monkeys, and monkeys passing their 30-day quarantine.
Monkey business, or business as usual? You decide.
One of the arguments many people in the West used to denigrate the HK and Mainland government in support of the Umbrella movement was that the rioters had a right to block streets and shut down districts to get their message out. When some Hong Kongers – siding with HK and Mainland government – pushed back that while freedom of speech grants them the right to protest but not a right to shut down entire districts, they were ridiculed and shamed by the Western press.
Of course, as we know, when the occupy movement flamed across the Western capitals of the world, those governments acted very differently. The police (even paramilitary forces) soon cracked down and order was soon restored. But in China, so-called rule of law quickly gets tossed aside in the name of mob rule (I mean “democracy”). All this reinforced in my mind how “political” “free” speech is. It is “free” when the politics is palatable. But when it’s not, the “costs” – be it national security, social peace, whatever – gets framed as the main (only) issues.
This reminds me of another story last year when the Pope visited the U.S. If people remember, the pope got a “rock star” reception from the media – with the press trumpeting how popular, socially and morally in tune the pope is, especially compared to China’s President Xi (also visiting the U.S. around the same time) who allegedly got a stiff and cool reception. Read more…
How would this story be reported if it were China asking Apple for a way to get into a Terrorist’s phone?
Interesting story from NYT today titled “Judge Tells Apple to Help Unlock San Bernardino Gunman’s iPhone.”
Here is an excerpt:
The ruling handed the F.B.I. a potentially important victory in its long-running battle with Apple and other Silicon Valley companies over the government’s ability to get access to encrypted data in investigations. Apple has maintained that requiring it to provide the “keys” to its technology would compromise the security of the information of hundreds of millions of users.
The writing has been on the wall for KMT’s chances in the election this time around for some time. As I had discussed earlier, the battle between DPP and KMT in the 2016 election is not about independence vs. status quo as it had been 8 years back when Taiwan elected Ma Ying-jeou, or 16 years ago when Taiwan elected Chen Shui-Bian. That battle had been won long ago, with this time everyone agreeing that the status quo is the way to go. The battle this time around is about economics, about what to do with Taiwan’s stagnant wages and rising home prices.
Of course, there are plenty of symbolism that DPP – and hence Tsai – still stands for independence. DPP’s charter, for example, still officially endorses independence. Tsai has also been purposely demure and vague about her stance toward the Mainland, including her public avoidance of acknowledging the 1992 Consensus on the one-China policy.
But I think it’s possible all that is just symbolism. Given that it’s election season, and that the 1992 Consensus include details that allowed both sides to interpret things slightly differently under the broad rubric of a one China policy, I think it’s perhaps understandable Tsai want to do everything to avoid the specter of getting pinned into one specific or another interpretation.
The real reason KMT lost is because it has not properly addressed the following political trends. Read more…
I saw this article earlier today in the NYT about actor Nicholas Cage agreeing to return to Mongolia a dinosaur fossil that he had legitimately bought (paying top dollars for) but that turned out to have been stolen earlier from Mongolia. Following is an excerpt of the story.
I wish people and governments around the world also think about returning back to China the thousands and thousands of stolen cultural relics that have been looted from China the last century or two. When one takes the politics out, one can see this as the only virtuous thing to do. But alas, when it comes to facing to history of the last few centuries, so many in the West become so self-righteous and indignant.
Still, we can hope and dream … one day … Read more…
With China’s stupendous achievements from the last 35 years it would seem petty to complain about problems accompanies the growth. Yet Xi and his leadership group face some structural problems in reforms necessarily to transform Capitalism to her eventual goal of Socialism. Last month Beijing University named a new building after Karl Marx, and hosted first of hopefully many more conferences of Marx scholars from around the world. Xi has revisited his old home in Yan’an when he was a teenager and invoked Mao’s speech in 1942 in Yan’an Forum on art and literature. There are palpable worries from liberals in the West that Xi might be another Mao in waiting.
Since Xi assumed power, his major focus is on fighting corruption at various levels of government, party, and military. Yet as major cases shown it is not easy as corruption has grown to be integral part of society, intertwined with roots stretching beyond easy reach and facing pushbacks that threaten his own hold on power. Various special interests under the slogan “To be rich is glorious” has married power to money with few immune to the lure of lucre. Xi’s fight against corruption is popular in China, yet it raises unrealistic expectation that threaten the mantra of social stability. An example was the collapse of school buildings during the Szechuan earthquake. It is easy to play the blame game after the fact. Grieving parents together with other public personalities were a powerful force, but can you dig deep enough to affect not only the contractors, but government official and everyone involved? Xi’s solution is trying to contain the investigation of corruption to major ones, a somewhat amnesty for minor past misdeeds and crack down on new or egregious cases. Events seem to expose the inadequacy of this strategy. Tianjin chemical explosions, red alert for smog in Beijing, and now the Shenzhen landslide show that laws is powerless against the collusion of power and money.
I applaud what Xi and his leadership group is attempting. Reducing inequality by health care for everyone, social security for rural farmers, continuing urbanization with household registration open to migrant workers, subsidized and reduced price to sell excess apartments to them, new changes in 1 child policy, reducing military by 300,000 and divorce military from profit and business. Reduce pollution and for a greener less CO2 future, the list is endless and daunting. Compare them with the coming GOP contenders in U.S., where evolution and climate warming are denied, it’s obvious future lies with China. Yet all these will not be possible without a socialist ethic, and Mao looms over it. China has to deal with the legacy of Mao and CR, avoiding or ignoring them will not do. Whatever the positives or negatives must be analyzed and examples learned.
The career of Yu Yonjun is instructive. He rose to became governor of Shanxi province from 2005-2007. He purposed zero growth for coal and steel production there, and closed thousands of small inefficient coal mines which exploited labor and were unsafe. He wanted to protect the environment and made powerful enemies in party bureaucracy and coal barons. He was a most popular governor there, yet he lost his job due to the scandal he exposed in coal mines. I think there are 3-4 more governors there since he left and none were successful. He’s now retired and hired as a professor in a southern university. He gave a series of lectures on CR recently and probably triggered sensitive nerves and called to Beijing for conference.
[editor’s note: this is a cross-post of an article I posted on the Huffington Post.]
When news arose that the killings in San Bernardino last Thursday was probably terrorist related – that the perpetrators Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik had praised “Allah” and pledged allegiance to ISIS moments before they started their rampage – attention quickly shifted to the Muslim communities for their reactions.
Soon enough, civic and religious leaders of the Muslim communities rolled forward to condemn the attack in no uncertain terms. They called the acts horrific and uncivilized and not in line with their religious or social values.
But talking to my Muslim friends privately, I also get a very real sense of fear. Read more…
[Editor’s Note: This is a cross-post of an article I submitted to the Diplomat a few weeks ago. I am wrapping up a more detailed legal analysis of the issues and aim to make it a law review article. I will cross-post here too that once that has been submitted and accepted.]
When the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague recently announced that it would take “jurisdiction” over Philippines’ arbitral claims against China, many reported the decision as a victory for the Philippines and as a triumph of the “rule of law.” I beg to differ. The Court, on the contrary, has muddled, not upheld, international law, and by trivializing the states’ duty to negotiate in good faith – as enshrined in the U.N. charter, stipulated in the UNCLOS, and specifically agreed to between the parties – has greatly damaged the prospect for peace, cooperation, and a final resolution of the disputes. Read more…
Ever since Obama has became president in 2009, Obama has taken a different stance towards maintaining its global hegemony. Bush II’s tactics is to take over countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and rebuilding the countries. Obama’s tactics is to fund or promote 3rd parties to do their work for them. Obama’s Asian Pivot policy is to promote other countries like Vietnam, Philippines and Japan as a bulwark towards China to maintain US’ influence in the Pacific. In the Middle east however, Obama’s policy is different than Bush’s policy to fund terrorist/extermists groups to do their dirty work.
Just like America funded the Mujahideen to fight the Soviets in the 1980’s, Obama’s tactics is to fund radical Islamists to overthrow or destabilize countries in the Middle East like in Libya and Syria but Obama is short sighted in its consequences. Unlike Bush, Obama wants to change unfavorable regimes on the cheap and has no desire to rebuild those countries. As the result, this created a flood of new refugees from these war torn regions coming to many Western countries. Many European were open to this option but increasing number of terrorist attacks in their cities like the recent one in Paris and now trying to stop this ISIS plague from spreading to its countries by stopping immigration to their countries.
America on the other hand has no problems letting ISIS operate because of all the oil revenue they generate from Syria, Libya and Iraq. America was ‘bombing’ ISIS for a whole year but ISIS operated openly in relative calm in Raqqa, Syria.
That is until Russia intervened (against US wishes) and bombed these very oil trucks.
Now these very same Western Politicans start waking to the notion of trying to stop terrorist attacks from coming to its shores and realized the blowback they have created. Many people in European and the US now start to rethink their strategy of fighting ISIS rather than trying to fund these very same terrorists to try to get rid of Assad.
Military Surveillance under “Freedom of Navigation”, China can outdo US too. (Be careful what you wish for).
In follow up to Allen’s question, http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2015/10/29/u-s-s-china-sea-provocation-what-next/, I thought it only appropriate to show what is already happening.
US, by claiming the right of conducting military surveillance under “freedom of navigation”, escalated the provocation by essentially the logic of “We are here with guns, what are you going to do about it?”
Yet, already after, US defense experts and policy makers are already answering their own question: China is arming fishing boats and turning them into Militia Navy, in a strategy US is calling the “Little Blue Men”. http://thediplomat.com/2015/11/little-blue-men-doing-chinas-dirty-work-in-the-south-china-sea/
This story has been brewing for a while. The U.S. has been saying for months that it is going to challenge China’s “increasingly assertive claims” in the S. China Sea … militarily – by sailing warships through some of the most sensitive parts of the S. China Sea. Many have bemoaned when the U.S. appeared to deliberate and delay and delay. But yesterday, the U.S. finally sailed a destroyer right through an especially “sensitive” area of the S. China Sea – the waters surrounding Zhubi Reef – a site where China has been dredging and building artificial islands over the last few years.
Here is how the NYT – in a article titled “Challenging Chinese Claims, U.S. Sends Warship Near Artificial Island Chain” – reported the story: Read more…
President Xi is visiting the U.K. this week. There are pageantry … and some $60 Billion US worth of deals. British Prime Minister has made a big commotion calling it as the “Partner of Choice” in the West for China.
I am sure the British Leadership, Cameron personally, believes that it is in the long-term interest of Britain to mend relationship with China. But I don’t believe Britain is really a “Partner of Choice.” It may be a “Partner of Convenience,” but I believe it still cares little for – has little respect for – China … except to make a buck. Read more…
I typically don’t comment that much on populist politics since they are fleeting, shallow, and often end up, when on look back, just dust in the wind.
Here are some of my takes: Read more…
New research, based on China’s aid track record from 2000-2013, shows that much of what the western media propagates about China’s intentions & practices, when it comes to providing official development aid (ODA) to Africa, is simply NOT true. “Coincidentally”, this latest research published by AidData has garnered little (if any) attention in US mainstream media outlets.
Here are a few of its findings. Those who are interested in the details should check out this new report in its entirety.
- African states that align with the PRC’s stances in the UN tend to receive more development assistance.
- Internal political system is not a factor for ODA allocation; the PRC does NOT favor either authoritarian or democratic governments.
- For China, humanitarian need is a stronger determinant of ODA destination than natural resource development opportunities, given that Chinese ODA is more focused on poorer African countries.
- Chinese ODA does NOT favor countries with higher levels of corruption.
A couple of weeks ago, Tu Youyou became the first Chinese national to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine “for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria.” (Tu had already won the Lasker Award a few years ago for the same work, and had described her work this way.) There were cheers and hopes that with the prize, more people would become aware of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and the tremendous amount of work being put in to update the ancient arts with modern science and technology.
But very soon in the West, I see popping up everywhere “straw man” arguments 1.
First, there is the line of attack that goes something like this: so what if Dr. Tu found one drug from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that turned out to work. That per se doesn’t validate the whole tradition. As this Daily Kos post noted: Read more…
… so said Woody Allen, in an eloquent expression of an exemplary post-modern human tendency of “glutton for punishment”, or even worse whining about lack of punishment.
If the food is indeed terrible, then any portion would be too much. Then why complain about the portion being “small”?
Yesterday, the U.S. and the eleven other nations announced that they had finally – after rounds and rounds of delays – an agreement. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have been controversial and widely criticized, with secret negotiations taking place behind closed doors.
Even the ultra liberal and Western brain-washed readers of the New York Times see little to like about the agreement. For example, within a day of the announcement of the agreement, the top 10 comments (as voted by the readers) in the piece in which the NYT reported read: Read more…
Recently, there has been no shortage of highly pessimistic commentaries published & republished, pointing out the supposed “follies” of Russia’s eastern pivot, by highlighting this year’s decline in Sino-Russian trade, China’s stock market volatility, and its supposed economic “weakness”. The conclusion implied by these articles is clear: “Russia’s economic pivot to China is failing, because increased economic cooperation has not mitigated Russia’s recent economic woes, or the effect of sanctions. China cannot save Russia, and the latter must continue depending on the West.”
This is essentially a straw-man conclusion. One thing should be plainly apparent through even a casual examination of Russia’s biggest recent commercial agreements with China: most of these arrangements with China were NEVER INTENDED to offset the impact of Russia’s current recession, but rather to position Russia’s economy for greater long-term diversification and upward mobility on the global economic value chain.