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Posts Tagged ‘china

[LINK] “What Is China’s Navy Doing in Mediterranean?”

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Noah Feldman of Bloomberg View notes the geopolitical and economic rationale behind China’s naval exercises in the Mediterranean.

[T]he Chinese-Russian exercises also look like a symbolic response to U.S. efforts to strengthen security relationships with China’s Asian neighbors. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to Washington is a case in point. Abe has begun a genuine discussion within Japan about whether to amend the pacifist constitution, transforming the country’s self-defense force into something more like a standard military.

The impetus for this change is China’s increasing security threat to its Asian neighbors — and a nagging uncertainty on the part of Japanese about whether the U.S. would go to war to defend Japan in a pinch. Abe’s visit is part of an attempt by the Barack Obama administration to reassure the Japanese, but also to implicitly to lend credibility to Abe’s defense initiatives.

[. . .]

Yet this geopolitical angle doesn’t necessarily explain why the Mediterranean. Naval exercises almost anywhere could’ve expressed the same thing, perhaps even more strongly, because China’s naval assets in the Mediterranean aren’t particularly significant.

The better explanation for why the Mediterranean is much more local. China has twice in recent years had to send its ships to rescue and evacuate significant numbers of Chinese workers who fell into danger as a result of regional instability. The first time was in Libya, where 35,800 Chinese workers had to be evacuated after the 2011 uprising and subsequent bombing campaign to bring down Muammar Qaddafi. The second time was in late March and early April, when Chinese ships helped offload several hundred Chinese workers from Yemen as the situation there further deteriorated and Saudi airstrikes escalated.

These episodes brought home China’s evolving role in the Middle East and North Africa. So far, Chinese policy makers have shown no interest in inheriting the traditional U.S. role of maintaining hegemony in the Middle East to create stability and facilitate the flow of oil. However, China has to some degree included the Middle East in its strategy of building infrastructure projects in less-developed countries and establishing substantial settlements of Chinese workers there.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 20, 2015 at 10:49 pm

[LINK] “Chinese Diplomat: Hiroshima and Nagasaki Were Bombed for a Reason”

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If Shannon Tiezzi’s report in The Diplomat is correct, I’m not sure that I substantially disagree with the position of the Chinese government. At least insofar as the Japanese government seems to be minimizing the Second World War and Japanese atrocities committed therein, elevating Hiroshima and Nagasaki to such a position is–at least–questionable.

As Mina Pollmann noted earlier for The Diplomat’s Tokyo Report blog, Japan, as the only victim of atomic bombs, is playing a prominent role at the [Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)] review conference. Japanese politicians, including the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, urged NPT member states to take concrete action toward the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. Victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, known as hibakusha in Japanese, attended the conference to add weight to the discussion of the horrific consequences of nuclear weapons.

Kishida also touched on this theme in his statement at the NPT review conference. He argued that a “common recognition of humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons … serves as a driving force for nuclear disarmament.” As a corollary, he invited “political leaders and youth” to travel to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, particularly when leaders travel to Japan for the G7 meetings next year.

Japan was pushing for that language to be inserted into the final conference documents, but China (along with South Korea) has objected in no uncertain terms. Fu told Kyodo News that he had asked for the language to be removed from the draft document on Monday. He said that “this conference should keep clear of the history” because there is too much “historical baggage” tied to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

Fu argued that by emphasizing the suffering caused by the bombings, Japan’s government was “trying to portray Japan as a victim of the Second World War, rather than a victimizer.” He emphasized Japan’s own wartime atrocities in China, Korea, and Southeast Asia, which he accused Tokyo of denying or downplaying. “We don’t want any mention of Hiroshima [or] Nagasaki because there are reasons why those two [cities] were bombed,” Fu said. Referencing the two cities in the NPT document would be tantamount to “trying to impose a partial interpretation of the Second World War on the conference,” Fu said.

Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, responded similarly when asked about the NPT review conference on Tuesday. She said that all parties should “avoid introducing complicated and sensitive factors” into the review conference negotiations. When pressed on whether Chinese leaders had any plans to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Hua retorted: “Let me ask first: when will Japanese leaders come to China and visit the memorial hall of victims in the Nanjing massacre?”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 14, 2015 at 3:53 am

[LINK] “Cash-Strapped Latin American Countries Turn to China for Credit”

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The Inter Press Service’s Mario Osava notes how, following Angola, many Latin Americans needing credit have turned to China.

[S]everal Latin American countries in financial difficulties have recently turned to China as a sort of lender of last resort. Argentina and Venezuela, for example, lacking access to international credits, obtained large loans from Chinese banks.

For China, it makes no sense to refuse loans to countries with strong agricultural production or that possess plenty of commodities, especially oil and gas. There is no need to be concerned about their solvency if their products guarantee their loans, whatever the reasons for their difficulties.

Brazil’s state oil giant Petrobras announced on Apr. 1 an injection of 3.5 billion dollars from China to relieve its finances, which have suffered from the corruption scandal that has rocked the economy, the government, large companies and several political parties in the country since 2014.

The loan from China Development Bank is helping Petrobras weather a storm that also includes gross management and planning mistakes which raised the cost of constructing two refineries, of the purchase of another plant in the U.S. city of Pasadena, Texas, and of other projects by tens of billions of dollars.

The crises faced by potential Petrobras suppliers provide opportunities for China, but are not seen as indispensable. China Development Bank previously loaned Petrobras 10 billion dollars in 2009, when the oil company appeared prosperous and had recently discovered vast reserves in the pre-salt layer off the Brazilian coast.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 13, 2015 at 10:44 pm

[LINK] “For Chinese Tourists Behaving Badly, A Government Blacklist”

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At NPR’s Parallels, Anthony Kuhn notes how the Chinese government is clamping down on badly-behaving tourists. The worst may not be allowed to leave the country.

Not only are the Chinese bemoaning their rudeness at home and abroad, the government has responded with new rules that took effect this week, aimed at keeping loutish travelers in check.

And in a major innovation, the government has named four tourists to a new blacklist, which could affect their credit ratings and freedom to travel for years.

There was considerable competition in the airborne category.

Travelers Wang Sheng and Zhang Yan earned special recognition for their performance on a Bangkok-to-China flight last December. When they did not immediately get the seats they wanted, they threw hot instant noodles at a flight attendant and threatened to blow up the plane. The pilot then made a U-turn and headed back to Bangkok, where police detained the pair.

Another traveler was blacklisted for opening a door on his flight as it was about to take off. Another was photographed climbing on statues of Chinese civil war-era soldiers.

Last year, Chinese tourists took 109 million trips overseas, 20 percent more than in 2013. Many host nations may be inclined to overlook misbehaving Chinese tourists because China now contributes more money to the global tourism industry than any other nation.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 12, 2015 at 11:31 pm

[LINK] “China’s Meteoric Box-Office Rise”

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Bloomberg’s Malcolm Smith describes the growing economic–and, perhaps soon, cultural–impact of Chinese audiences on the movies. How long will it be before content starts to shift to accommodate the major market?

`Avengers: Age of Ultron’, debuting in China on May 12, is poised to overtake `Furious 7′ as the Asian nation’s top-grossing movie, based on pre-release bookings. That’s no small feat since the latest chapter in the car-themed series was almost 14 percent bigger at the Chinese box office than in the U.S. and Canada, with $385 million so far.

`Avengers’ reservations have been double those in the run-up to `Furious 7′, according to Shanghai-based ticketing agency Gewara.com. The superhero sequel would be the sixth film to exceed $200 million in China, data compiled by Bloomberg from EntGroup Inc. and Box Office Mojo show.

“American audiences have diversified tastes and a lot more choice,” said Peng Kan, an analyst in Beijing at Legend Media Co. “But Chinese favor Hollywood films because they deliver more action, surprises and better special effects.”

China’s potential has surged with a quadrupling of theater screens since 2010, to more than 24,300 at the end of 2014, versus 43,300 screens in the U.S., according to EntGroup and the Motion Picture Association of America’s website.

Expansion, growing incomes and urbanization helped boost China’s total box office by 34 percent last year to $4.8 billion. The U.S./Canada total fell 5 percent to $10.4 billion, according to MPAA.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 11, 2015 at 10:58 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Anthropology.net notes the discovery of some Neanderthal skeletons showing signs of having had the flesh carved off of them.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the messages carried by the New Horizon probe.
  • Crooked Timber makes the case for the continued relevance of Bob Marley.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at recurrent streams on Mars carved by perchlorate-laced water.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh argues that Spain is still digging out of the long crisis.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the story of a Louisiana trans man fired from his job for not detransitioning.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that China is not really a revisionist power.
  • Justin Petrone looks at ways in which young Estonian children are demonstrating and developing a fear of Russia.
  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the failure of the Dragon rocket.
  • Towleroad notes that the Russian-language version of Siri is quite homophobic.
  • Understanding Society looks at the criticial realist social theory of Frédéric Vandenberghe.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at trends in violence in the North Caucasus and warns of Central Asian alienation from Russia.

[LINK] “What Did China’s First Daughter Find in America?”

The New Yorker‘s Evan Osnos takes a look at the effects of foreign education on China’s elite, starting with Xi Mingze, daughter of the Chinese president.

On a sunny morning last May, a member of Harvard’s graduating class received her diploma and prepared to depart from campus as quietly as she had arrived. Xi Mingze—the only child of Xi Jinping, the President of China, and his wife, the celebrity soprano Peng Liyuan—crossed the podium at Adams House, the dorm that housed Franklin Roosevelt and Henry Kissinger. She had studied psychology and English and lived under an assumed name, her identity known only to a limited number of faculty and close friends—“less than ten,” according to Kenji Minemura, a correspondent for the Asahi Shimbun, who attended the commencement and wrote about Xi’s experience in America.

Xi Mingze was largely protected from press attention, much like the college-age children of other heads of state (legal proceedings excepted). Some offspring of other Chinese leaders have courted attention abroad, however. Before the former Politburo member Bo Xilai was imprisoned for corruption and his wife, Gu Kailai, jailed for murder, their son, Bo Guagua, invited Jackie Chan to Oxford, and sang with him onstage; he drove a Porsche during his time as a graduate student at Harvard. Xi, on the other hand, led a “frugal life” in Cambridge, according to Minemura. “She studied all the time,” he told me recently.

At twenty-two, Xi Mingze has now returned to China; though she makes few public appearances, she joined her parents on a recent trip to Yan’an, the rural region where her father was sent to work during the Cultural Revolution, when he was a teen-ager. In the magazine last week, I profiled Xi Jinping, and noted that he often says that his years in Yan’an, when he was the age that his daughter was at Harvard, made him into who he is as an adult: “Many of the fundamental ideas and qualities I have today were formed in Yan’an.”

Though Xi Jinping has travelled widely, he has never lived abroad; unlike his predecessors Jiang Zemin (who studied at the Stalin Automobile Works, in Moscow) and Deng Xiaoping (who lived in France for five years, and studied in the Soviet Union), Xi made a decision to not live outside China. His first wife wanted to settle in Britain, and Xi did not; they divorced. As he rose through the ranks, Xi had frequent dealings with Westerners, but his government has recently taken a harder line against ideas from abroad. His education minister, Yuan Guiren, said recently, “We must, by no means, allow into our classrooms material that propagates Western values.” Many of us who follow China wonder: What does Xi Mingze tell her father about her life in America? How did living on a campus that doesn’t restrict discussion of China’s painful chapters—the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution—affect her world view?

For Chinese citizens, the effects of studying in the United States are rarely as simple as the cliché of coming home with wildly different ideas. Analyses of foreign students have found that Chinese citizens are more likely than others to stay in America. Ninety-two per cent of Chinese graduates remain in America five years after receiving a Ph.D., compared to forty-one per cent of South Koreans, according to a study by the National Science Foundation; the researchers loosely attributed the disparity to differences in family pressure and job opportunities. Going home doesn’t always feel easy, either. A 2009 survey, sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, found that seventeen per cent of Chinese respondents considered it difficult to settle in the U.S.—but that twice as many, thirty-four per cent, reported difficulty going home, because of reverse culture shock, pollution, and other factors.

In the most thorough look at how studying abroad shapes the views of Chinese returnees, Donglin Han and David Zweig found that those who had lived overseas—in this case, those who had spent time in Canada and Japan—believed more strongly in “coöperative internationalism,” and were slightly less supportive of assertive nationalism, compared to members of the middle class who had never lived abroad. But the authors also noted a remarkable point: “A strikingly significant proportion of returnees support Chinese foreign policy, regardless of ‘whether it is right or wrong.’ ” This may be a result of self-selection (nationalistic students are more likely to return), but it also underscores the magnifying effect of living far away from home. Anyone who has lived overseas probably knows or can recall the temptation to hold fast to national characteristics, partly in contrast with an adopted land and partly out of resentment of foreigners’ criticisms. Cheng Li, of the Brookings Institution, has noted that, contrary to the myth of “democracy by osmosis”—the notion that simply living in the U.S. will make foreigners more congenial to democratic-liberal ideas—many of the most strident nationalist books in China are written by people who have returned from abroad.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 13, 2015 at 10:23 pm


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