It’s been some time since I blogged. I have had to deal with a series of health issues …
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!
Many Americans by now are protesting Trump presidency, complaining in social media and especially in the Calexit vote. Many people are figuring out ways to leave the country and it seems that Western Media forgot why Trump was elected in the first place.
The Democratic party was the party who represented the poor people. It wasn’t until President (Bill) Clinton who drafted NAFTA which allowed jobs to be shipped overseas and de-regulating wall Street. These policies are more Republican than democratic which would not be possible even under President Reagan. Now we have Obama did didn’t do a damn thing about it, in fact, want to enact the TPP which would further screw the poor people and Hillary Clinton would further continue Obama’s failed policies.
Trump’s message to the rustbelt is to convey those messages that Hillary would continue Obama and Bill Clinton failed domestic policies and decided to vote for him instead. What remains to be seen is that if Trump will actually promise to bring the jobs back. However within the DNC there is already a revolt that the corporate eliteists who colluded with the Media are already on its way out. If the democrats are smart, they should go back to the grass roots and appeal to the downtrodden instead of appealing to the corporate elites.
Many people believe that Republicans are bigger war hawks than the Democrats. This is entirely false. Since Obama became president, there has been many countries which has been destabilized including the Arab Spring uprising in many Middle Eastern countries. Many other countries has been thrown to disarray like Libya, Syria, Honduras, Venezuela, Brazil, Ukraine and etc… To maintain American Hegemony, Obama has been causing this problem to the rest of the world including the Asian Pivot as well as funding the NDI in the ‘localists’ movement. Many republicans want to maintain American hegemony by being dominant in business and making money. The problem with Democrats is that they are funded by the defense industries in selling Arms and using proxies instead of American troops to destabilize other countries, which would cause more of an blowback to America.
I would predict that in the next 4 years that many the South China Seas dispute would not be in the headlines and many Asian Countries would settle their disputes in a bilateral manner instead of dragging the UN into this. In the North Korea issue, I would predict that the 6 party talks would start and the US would have a less heavy handed response than Obama would. I would also predict that the ‘localists’ movement in Hong Kong would plateau and perhaps it will eventually die down.
Within the next 4 years in the US, I would predict that Trump is a Businessman who will probably ignore the rustbelt states, largely reneging its promise to bring jobs back to the US. The voters in those states are there to remind us that they are hurting and America should focus on domestic issues rather maintaining its global hegemony like what the Democrats are doing. Hopefully the Democrats will clean house and bring back candidates who can bring real change and not corporate elitists like Obama and the Clintons. I also expect the next 4 years would be chaotic, but I have a saying: “You can’t get rid of dead wood in the forest unless you have a forrest fire.” Maybe a forest fire is the exact thing we need.
Sometimes it is helpful for the Hidden Harmonies audience to remember that China is not alone in being demonized by the mainstream western (primarily US) media. Any country that doesn’t “fit” neatly into the US “liberal-democratic” ideological dogma will naturally be painted as some kind of morally degenerate rogue state out to undermine “good” and “normal” countries. In fact, recently, no country is more demonized than Russia (not even the PRC).
That said, one of the major problems I see is that while we may recognize that we’re not alone, due to potential language/cultural barriers, lack of awareness, our Sino-centric mindset/attention span, and a host of other possible reasons, we often do not truly understand the perspectives of others (e.g. Russians) who are demonized. This is especially the case if our primary source of information about these other countries is the western media. I hope the contributors at Hidden Harmonies can begin to fix this problem, and I’ve taken a small step to start.Continue reading Q&A with a Russian friend (see download links or attached PDF)→
Eric X. Li recently interviewed Francis Fukuyama on Political Systems, Political Legitimacy, Political Renewal and Decays for his Guancha views. The interview (about 53 minutes) is carried out in English with Chinese subtitles. A link to the video on youtube can be found here. A link to the video on tudou can be found here. A transcript of the interview on gunacha in Chinese can be found here.
The interview covers a lot and it is not my intention to discuss everything about it. However, one thing I do like is the tone it sets. For example, it doesn’t pose the questions such as whether electoral democracy or meritocratic democracy is superior. Instead, it poses question that ask what are the benefits and risks of each.
It is also witty. For example, there is a segment where Fukuyama exemplifies the respect for “rule of law” in terms of rulers not able to take things away from the citizens arbitrarily. Eric wittily retorted something to the effect: “or to get permission to get a divorce!” Laws are but a tool: it can “protect” while at the same time also invade. Ah … the double edge sword of law.
April 15 is tax day for most Americans. It is the deadline for Americans – rich or poor – to file and pay their taxes. But this year, it appears, it is also smear China day. You may think with so much things going on in the world, things to do, that perhaps for this one day, China might be spared unnecessary smearing. But it is not to be so.
Last week, on April 15, both New York Times and Wall Street Journal ran two underhanded articles on China, assigning the blem for the unfruitful search for missing Malaysian airline MH370 squarely on China. Both papers reported that China was in big on the search for MH370 not necessarily because a majority of the victims were Chinese citizens, but really because Chinese leaders wanted to show off their new technology wares – to grab the International spotlight to to show off. Unfortunately, the Chinese bumbling not only made China look bad, but may have actually stymied the search. Continue reading Malaysia Airline MH370 – American Media Fanning the Flame Wars→
It is often said Chinese government propaganda like Xinhua, People’s Daily, are highly agendaed and utterly unreliable. But how about America’s government propaganda? Here’s a recent example as illustration.
Recently, news of protesters killed in Maoming over a chemical plant made suspicious rounds – only in the usual propaganda outlets, Radio Free Asia, Voice of America, and ancillary outlets like Epoch Times, Boxun. These accusations of Chinese government killing protesters were accompanied with photos of citizen laying on the ground bleeding. However, a quick Google image-based search revealed these photos are not from the PX plant protest, but were victims of violent crime elsewhere in China:
Into every life a little rain must fall – even that of a behemoth superpower.
Picture the President of the United States and his masters of the universe – more formally known as the American Cabinet – with Ukraine-driven nuclear umbrellas unfurled against a downpour of unexpected setbacks in foreign policy lately.
In the winter of his discontent, Barack Obama must be yearning for the new hope of spring heralded by cherry blossoms of Washington’s Tidal Basin. But he should also heed the Japanese proverb: “ “Though on the sign it is written: ‘Don’t pluck these blossoms’ /it is useless against the wind, which cannot read.”
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.
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. Continue reading How CNN uses disaster to propagandize against a government→
Earlier Black Phoenix wrote about the problem with Mandiant attributing the Comment Crew hacking to the Chinese military. The recent media frenzy around yet another “China hacking” story focused on a supposedly shadowy PLA military unit in Shanghai, Unit 61398, as the “state actor” behind the cyber attacks. Their primary source, Mandiant APT1 report, even cited the address of Unit 61398 central office as 208 Datong Road in Gaochao, Pudong.
Only problem is 208 Datong Raod is the address of a kindergarden run by the not-so-secret military unit, and is open to the public:
– Here’s Star Baby, a preschool ratings site, giving Unit 61298 Preschool a favorable review:
Having never been to the place, I would conceed the nursery school COULD be a front for China’s premier cyber espionage center – saved the fact the school’s online registration information shows it is one of the schools in Pudong that accepts foreign families.
I hope cooler heads prevail. While it is reasonable to believe the Chinese probably is doing everything we’re doing, to pin this on the Chinese military requires more compelling evidence than bunch of toddlers running around.
An almost sad tribute to Boeing’s 787 above, attributes the recent Infernal Batteries problem of two 787 a week apart from each other, both while in normal operations, to the growing pain of “innovation”.
Except, this was not “innovation”. Using such batteries in airplanes perhaps, but the battery technology, Lithium Cobalt Oxide type, is not new. It was invented in the late 1970’s, and have been in prolific use in cell phones and laptops since 1990’s.
Julia Lovell, in her new book The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China, finds something funny in the tragedy
Great Britain has many reasons to feel great about itself. Its empire was the largest in history and covered over a fifth of the world’s population. It had more Asian and African colonies than any other European power. It came, it saw, it divided, and it conquered. It raped and it reaped, gleefully slaughtered millions of people, joyfully massacred entire populations, regularly caused civil wars, flattened countless cities and towns, and destroyed whole civilizations and dynasties with pleasure. It sucked the life out of its colonies and reduced them to what we now call third-world nations. It drew and redrew boundaries and created whole new countries randomly on a whim. Most of the conflicts in the world today can be traced back to British Imperialism – the Kashmir issue and India-Pakistan rivalry, the Sino-Indian border dispute and India-China rivalry, the Tibet issue, the Israel-Palestine conflict, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Sudan – the list goes on.
Yes – Great Britain had reason to feel greatly proud about itself. It had the largest empire in the world. It had managed to keep it’s European competitors in check. There was no known threat to its global dominion. It seemed that Great Britain was destined to rule the world.
And then it all came tumbling down. Sometime in the past century, the great Island Story crumbled to pieces, and the empire followed. Slowly but surely, the empire on which “the sun never sets” went out like a cigar puff. Today it finds itself with as much geopolitical influence as an American missile base. Once great, Great Britain is now America’s top bitch – a tart of a nation that can be ordered to suck America’s coattails whenever required. The relationship between the two countries is much like that between a dog and its master, or as they call it in public, a “special relationship“. Continue reading The Tragicomedy of Errors: China, British Imperialism, and the Opium Wars→
[Editor: this piece was co-written by Charles Liu and Allen]
To the credit of “This American Life” – a popular program on Public Radio International – its producers over the weekend officially retracted its January airing of a version of Mike Daisy’s popular monologue titled “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” in which Daisy described first-hand terrible work conditions at Foxconn, a key supplier to Apple’s iPad and iPhones. There were simply too much distortion and fabrications of facts to ignore.
The Economist is often held prisoner by its own prejudice arising from its whatever-China-does-internationally-is-wrong stance, and a recent article on the South China Sea disputes proves it. Behold the latest offering from intellectual dungeons of the The Economist: “The devil in the deep blue detail”.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, the newspaper warns against the dangers of viewing the dispute through cold war lenses, and then proceeds to do exactly that. In a nutshell, the article can be summed up as follows: China is the bad guy. (Of course, that applies to mostarticlesabout China that it publishes).
‘So solidly built into our consciousness is the concept that China is conducting a rapacious and belligerent foreign policy, that whenever a dispute arises in which China is involved, she is instantly assumed to have provoked it.’
— Felix Greene, 1965.
When a superpower is engaging in full hegemonic and supercilious display, another country with slowly increasing economic clout and rising international status can raise apprehension. When countries are used to a bigger country that is settled for some years in a bullying position, someone starting to come close to that bully’s level of power, however remotely, has the potential to raise various concerns.
This rise is often wrongly construed as a zero-sum game – the newcomer challenging the bully’s position. In such a case, the existing bully, in its efforts to manipulate popular conceptions about the comparatively-unknown newcomer, will (hypocritically) spread the myth that the newcomer is, and always has been, overtly aggressive. If this myth-making and spreading is successful, even to a small extent, it can negate the effect that the newcomer might have in compensating for or balancing the bully’s hegemony and its hubris. The newcomer’s assurances about its peaceful rise will then be dismissed as deception. The focal point of the bully’s containment policy will be to encourage and manipulate various types of pawns against the newcomer. If such pawns already exist, then they will be fostered and strengthened, and in case they don’t, new ones will be created (Or as Stephen Walt terms it, “a competition for allies”).
Lecturing others amounts to schadenfreude. Wait. What?
An interesting phenomenon seems to be in the air. With the current financial crisis in America and unrest in Britain, it appears that multiple western media outlets cannot resist the temptation to interpret China’s and other countries’ responses in terms of “schadenfreude“. Although not as amusing as accusing the politburo of smoking weed, it certainly has all the qualities that characterize the distinct flavours of garrulous western reporting about China and Asia in general.
In response to the crises in Washington, Xinhua, in a much cited phrase (One that the international media has gone completely gaga over), called upon the US to “cure its addiction to debt” . This was interpreted by The Economist as schadenfreude, claiming that “regional celebrations” have erupted in Asia over the debt crisis. Continue reading All your Schadenfreude are belong to us?→
There is a lot going on in the world. A natural disaster in Japan. Ravages of war from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestinian territories, to now Libya. The world is still in a recession. There is global warming. And population is still set to reach 9 billion by 2045.
Still I think there is still time for some comic relief. Obama made his NCAA picks last week. And the Dalai Lama recently announced (as brought up recently in the Open Thread) that he is retiring from politics.
After contemplating a while what to write for Day one of 2011, I thought it worthwhile to simply remind everyone what the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence are. They form the bedrock of Chinese foreign policy. Chinese President Hu Jintao’s 2011 New Year’s address reaffirmed China’s adherence to them:
China will develop friendly cooperation with all other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and continue to actively participate in international cooperation on global issues, Hu said.
The Western public are likely unfamiliar with what they are or their significance. These principles were formulated in June of 1954 between former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and his counterparts, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, and U Nu of Myanmar. The countries had just re-emerged from the end of WW2. The colonial powers had finally (by in large) left their occupied territories. The victims wanted a fairer world.
The EU begins officially to investigate Google for alleged anti-competitive practices. According to this aljazeera report,
European Union regulators are to investigate whether Google has abused its dominant position in the online search market in what will be the first major inquiry into the internet giant’s business practices.
The competition watchdogs formally announced their investigation on Tuesday after complaints by rivals that Google gave their services “unfavourable treatment” in unpaid and sponsored search results.
Authorities will investigate whether Google’s services are being given preferential placement in search engine results, some of which may lead to consumer spending.
One of the complainants, British search site Foundem, said in a that its revenue “pales next to the hundreds of billions of dollars of other companies’ revenues that Google controls indirectly through its search results and sponsored links”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has just jointly announced in St. Petersburg to no longer use the U.S. dollar in their two country’s bilateral trade. China Daily reported the news, headlining, “China, Russia quit dollar.” This is a reaction to the yet another round of printing by the Fed ($600 billion in fact).
“Quantitative easing” are new fancy words the U.S. government use to describe printing money out of thin air. (Would you be surprised if the U.S. media do not refer to this as “currency manipulation”?) At the recent G20 Summit, world leaders were upset at the U.S. for being so irresponsible as the USD is the reserve currency for the world. If Russia and China successfully execute on this arrangement in the coming years, I think other countries could follow suit.
Many Americans think the politics of East Asia is dominated by China on one side and U.S.-Japan on the other. While that may be true on the surface, the dynamics are actually very complicated, and in fact makes that dichotomy false. The pillar of the Japan-U.S. alliance was born out of the Cold War in fear of the former Soviet Union, which no longer exists today in case you haven’t noticed. In contrast, the threat today is a loose combination of whatever is posed by North Korea, China, and Russia. For the on-going of American occupation of Japan, I think it is a much harder sell today.
We see cracks in the pillar recently – former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama made the policy pronouncement when taking office to focus on this idea of an East Asian Community. He won partly on the issue of wanting the U.S. to relocate the military base in Okinawa. Japan is now occupied for over 60 years. This situation is unprecedented in history. How long should the U.S. be occupying Japan? Another 10, 100, or 1000 years? Japan is already paying for the U.S. military presence, so it is only a matter of time before the Japanese wanting to spend that money too on her own military. Continue reading China, Japan, and U.S., a case of “paper, rock, and scissors”→
On 3rd July 1914, as Ivan Chen made his way down the steps of the Summit Hall building in Simla, he must have been aware of mixed feelings rising up inside him. He had done something which would have far reaching repercussions; and which would for years be remembered by many people on both sides of the Sino-Indian border, albeit in very different ways – He had just left the Simla conference.
After refusing to sign the agreement himself, he was made to sit in a separate room, and behind his back, was signed one of the most controversial and bizarre treaties in human history – The Simla accord.
For over a century, the intricacies of the border between India and China/Tibet have baffled scholars. In fact, the plot leading to the Simla conference and beyond actually plays just like a thriller movie or book. The sheer complexity of this problem can be judged by the fact that 36 rounds of negotiations have taken place between India and China at different levels since 1981; but they have yet to reach a settlement.
The two Asian Giants are still not able to figure out the line which divides them – in the longest running border dispute in modern history. This dispute offers interesting lessons on how to, and how not to, handle boundary issues. The analysis of Chinese behavior in the negotiations is doubly important given China’s perception in the west of it ‘flexing its muscles’, and China’s theory of ‘Peaceful Rise’.
About a century ago, Sir Henry McMahon, the then British Foreign Secretary, took a think red pencil and sketched a line between India and Tibet on a map – a line which has resulted in the two most populous nations in the world going to war, costing more than 2000 lives; and which has created enormous mistrust on both sides, especially in India.
About 5 months ago, Jon huntsman was interviewed by Wall Street Journal and seems positive to bring China-US relations to the ‘next level’ as mentioned in my piece here.
January was a bad month between China-US relations. First there was the google incident. Then the US announced the $6.4 billion in arms to Taiwan. Now China wants the beloved panda Tai-Shan back (I’m kidding about the Tai-Shan part.) Though the arms sales seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. If you go to Chinadaily’s website, there is no less than 10 articles and opinions about this spat. Continue reading (Letter from pug_ster) China-US relations at all time low?→