A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘china

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • Beyond the Beyond quotes a Vladimir Putin statement on geopolitics.
  • blogTO shares photos from Yorkdale’s expansion.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at more evidence for Planet Nine.
  • Dead Things notes evidence that right-handedness has been predominant among hominins for some time.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on the discovery of three hot Jupiters.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at the Philippines’ shift towards China.
  • The Planetary Society Weblog looks at ExoMars’ mission and the failure of the Schiaparelli lander.
  • Torontoist notes that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has bought Constellation Wineries, making some Canadian wineries Canadian-owned again.
  • Towleroad reports on a Europe-wide census of LGBT identities.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi notes that Hillary Clinton is winning because she puts work into it.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Putin’s changing style of governance.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Beyond the Beyond notes that electronic newspapers just don’t work.
  • blogTO notes that the Eaton Centre’s HMV is closing.
  • Crooked Timber notes that it will be shifting to moderated commenting.
  • D-Brief notes a new sharp image of Eta Carinae.
  • Dead Things notes that some monkeys are apparently making stone tools.
  • Joe. My. God. shares Le Tigre’s new pro-Clinton song, “I’m With Her”.
  • The LRB Blog is critical of Britain’s hostility towards refugee children.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a new historical atlas of Tibet.
  • The NYRB Daily examines Assange’s reasons for using Wikileaks to help Trump.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes that New Horizons target 2007 OR10 has a moon.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes the reasons for Ecuador’s clamping down on Assange.

[LINK] “China wants the Moon. But first, it has to spend a month in space”

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Emma Grey Ellis’ Wired article takes a look at how China’s space program is progressing.

On Monday, at a launch center in the middle of the Gobi desert, two taikonauts boarded a spacecraft and rocketed into space. Yesterday their ship, Shenzou-11, docked with China’s experimental space lab, Tiangong-2. For the next 30 days—China’s longest crewed space mission—they will conduct experiments, test equipment, practice repairs, try to grow plants, and keep track of how the space environment affects their bodies. Sound familiar, space fans?

It should. Tiangong-2 is like a baby International Space Station. Sure, it doesn’t have the ISS’s scale, technological sophistication, or multi-national backing. But it’s the technical testing ground for the grown up space station China plans to launch in the next couple of years. Which will more permanent, and about the size of Mir, the Soviet Union’s space station in the 80s and 90s. But mostly, Tiangong-2 an important part of China’s long term plan to build a Moon base. And from there, it’ll be hard to deny China a seat at the space superpower table.

Like everything China does, people consistently underestimate the nation’s space program. Common snubs include: It’s miles behind the curve; their gear is all Russian knockoffs; their launch schedules are hopelessly slapdash. Yeah, those have all been true at one point, but not an honest assessment of the program as it currently stand.

China did not launch its first satellite until the 1970s, and didn’t really invest heavily in their space program until the early ’90s (the Cultural Revolution was a bigger priority) but they’ve been gaining ground on the US and Europe ever since. Early on, the nation’s program relied on Russia, both for components and training for their would-be taikonauts.

And the Shenzhou spacecraft do resemble Soviet (now Russian) Soyuz. But don’t hate: “The Shenzhou is the same idea, but not a copy,” says Jonathan McDowel, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “In its present form, it’s very much a Chinese vehicle.” The Chinese spacecraft is bigger, more powerful, and its forward habitation module has solar panels that can provide power for a separate mission—even after the astronauts climb aboard Tiangong-2.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 19, 2016 at 9:45 pm

Posted in Politics, Science

Tagged with , , , ,

[LINK] “Iran Is Stuck With China to Finance Its Oil Dreams”

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Bloomberg’s Marc Champion describes how, even after sanctions, Iran remains dependent on China in the face of Western reluctance.

Amid the snake-infested marshlands on Iran’s border with Iraq, the control room monitoring North Azadegan oil field is manned entirely by Chinese technicians. In central Tehran, hundreds of Chinese pour out at noon from the telecommunications company Huawei to its canteen. There are now so many Chinese expatriates here, some say they outnumber all other nationalities combined.

A decade of international sanctions aimed at blocking Iran’s nuclear program has left China the country’s dominant investor and trade partner. Now, with those restrictions formally lifted, a more pragmatic Iranian government has been trying to ease dependence on China, only to find itself stymied by hard-line resistance and residual U.S. sanctions.

“China has done enough investment in Iran,” said Mansour Moazami, who was deputy oil minister until taking over as chairman of the massive Industrial Development & Renovation Organization this year. “We will provide opportunities and chances for others.”

The tension illustrates a more nuanced situation in post-sanctions Iran than is often presented. Many in the U.S., including Donald Trump, portray Iran as the big winner from last year’s nuclear sanctions deal as European companies rush into one of the world’s last big, untapped emerging markets. Yet in Tehran, the government is attacked for failing to deliver and pandering to a still hostile West.

Western investors have been slow to arrive, forcing Iran back into the arms of the Chinese. That’s especially true in the energy sector, where pressure to increase production is intense. Elsewhere, Western clearing banks still refuse to do business with Iran for fear of falling foul of non-nuclear U.S. sanctions that remain in effect, meaning Western companies can’t raise project finance.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 17, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Posted in Economics, Politics

Tagged with , , , ,

[URBAN NOTE] “First signs appear of a rising tide of young Hong Kong emigrants”

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Another South China Morning Postarticle by Peter Guy looks at the risk of large-scale emigration by young Hong Kongers.

According to a Chinese University of Hong Kong survey featured this month in the SCMP, about 40 per cent of Hongkongers want to move away from the city. One in 10 prospective emigrants is making actual plans to do so. Respondents cited dissatisfaction with the government, crowded living conditions and major and political and social disputes as the main reasons for their plan.

The survey showed that younger people had a stronger desire to move abroad than their older counterparts. About 57 per cent of those between 18 and 30 said they had emigration plans compared with just 26 per cent of those aged 51 and above. Taiwan was also the most preferred destination with 16.3 per cent of respondents picking the island. Australia and Canada came in second and third place.

SSNo foreigner would ever relocate here for a senior position unless they received a housing allowance. That’s why there are so many listings for flats renting for HK$70,000 and more

Many of those looking to leave Hong Kong said factors such as larger living areas, higher democracy and freedom levels influenced their choices.

The city’s affordability problem will persist because it is unlikely that real incomes will rise high and fast enough for average citizens to be able to afford liveable flats. It is even more ludicrous to expect prices to fall by half. It won’t be long before 188 square foot flats become 150 then 100- a twisted, dystopic scene that local developers cruelly photoshop into their luxury websites.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 17, 2016 at 2:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Death of Hong Kong tycoon ushers in difficult and uncertain future”

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The South China Morning Post‘s Peter Guy fears for the future of Hong Kong, dominated by an oligarchy of the rich.

As one power descends another ascends. The passing of Cheng Yu-tung (1925-2016), property tycoon and founder of New World Development, marks the closing of a Hong Kong era. It also ushers in a difficult and uncertain future.

Hong Kong’s business scene in the twentieth century was and still is dominated by five big tycoons: Cheng Yu-tung (aged 91) of New World, Li Ka-shing (88) of Cheung Kong and Hutchison Groups; Lee Shau-kee (88) of Henderson Land, Stanley Ho Hung-sun (94) of Shun Tak, and the Kwok family (32 to 67) of Sung Hung Kai.

All of them flourished in pre-1997 Hong Kong from the 70s to the 90s where minimum regulation, political ignorance and a rapidly growing economy allowed them to exploit every possible opportunity. Nothing wrong with being an opportunist, especially during a period of abundant opportunities in Hong Kong for everyone from voracious property developers to the growing middle class who could afford rising prices for their own flats. And in their era, making as much money as possible without having to account to the rest of society was a Hong Kong right that made the city special.

Their success is not unlike the pharaohs of Egypt – a vast accumulation of monarchy-like family wealth by forcing the rest of the population to toil and pay for flats that supported their pyramids. The only problem is that the entire Hong Kong economy and social progress will be entombed along with them in their sarcophagus.

Their families have become the largest holders of private wealth in Hong Kong. So it is no surprise that despite a slowing economy, the rents and prices of residential flats and office space remain high and unaffordable.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 16, 2016 at 5:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO shares photos of old Toronto department stores.
  • Discover‘s Citizen Science Salon reports on how people are facing California seals and sea lions faced with famine.
  • D-Brief warns people to be cautious about the newest claim of detections of extraterrestrial intelligence.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on the discovery through microlensing of a distant planet, KMT-2015-BLG-0048Lb.
  • Dangerous Minds reports on a line of collectible china plates with nuclear reactors on them.
  • Joe. My. God. notes Christianity Today‘s denunciation of Trump as a fool.
  • Language Log looks at the new Hong Kong legislators who insulted China when they were being sworn in.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the racism behind allegations of voter fraud.
  • The LRB Blog reports on the unrest in Kashmir.
  • The Map Room Blog looks at a new website devoted to the 1507 Waldseemüller world map.
  • Marginal Revolution notes how Brexit has hit food supplies.
  • Understanding Society presents a new study of assemblage social theory.
  • Window on Eurasia reports Russian allegations that outside forces are trying to break Russia down on regional lines, looks at how more prosperous Russian regions also send out more migrants, and reports on the linguistic Ukrainianization of Ukraine.