A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘china

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • Centauri Dreams explores Pluto and its worlds.
  • Crooked Timber considers the question of how to organize vast quantities of data.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to two papers on exoplanet habitability, noting that the composition of exoplanets influences their habitability and suggests exomoons need to be relatively massive to be habitable.
  • Geocurrents notes the inequalities of Chile.
  • Joe. My. God. notes an article about New York City gay nightclub The Saint.
  • Language Hat links to a site on American English.
  • Language Log suggests that the Cantonese language is being squeezed out of education in Hong Kong.
  • Languages of the World notes a free online course on language revival.
  • Peter Watts of No Moods, Ads, or Cutesy Fucking Icons examines the flaws of a paper on a proto-Borg collective of rats.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at the Toronto connection to a notorious late 19th century American serial killer.
  • Towleroad notes a study suggesting that people with undetectable levels of HIV can’t transmit the virus.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the issues of compliance with lawful orders.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi likes the ASIS Chromebook flip.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the connection between the wars of Yugoslavia and eastern Ukraine, looks at Buryat-Cossack conflict, and notes disabled Russian veterans of the Ukrainian war.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • The Big Picture shares photos relating to the restoration of Cuban-American relations.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about why she uses Twitter.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study noting the sulfur-rich environment of protostar HH 212.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports a Chinese plan to develop a mixed fission/fusion reactor.
  • Language Log notes an example of Chinese writing in pinyin without accompanying script.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen notes the importance of Kevin Kwan’s novels about Chinese socialites.
  • Language Hat reports on an effort to save the Nuu language of South Africa.
  • Languages of the World reports on Urum, the Turkic language of Pontic Greeks.
  • Discover‘s Out There reports on the oddities of Pluto.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla explains why the New Horizons data from Pluto is still being processed.
  • Spacing Toronto reports from a Vancouver porch competition.
  • Towelroad notes a married gay man with a child denied Communion at his mother’s funeral.
  • Window on Eurasia notes racism in Russia, looks at Tajikistan’s interest in the killing of its citizens in Russia, suggests Belarus is on the verge of an explosion, and examines Mongolian influence in Buryatia.

[LINK] Slavoj Žižek in the LRB on the Chinese model

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Writing in the London Review of Books, Slavoj Žižek writes about the extent to which politics has been depoliticized. He turns to China, ostensibly the last major Communist power, as proof.

An exemplary case of today’s ‘socialism’ is China, where the Communist Party is engaged in a campaign of self-legitimisation which promotes three theses: 1) Communist Party rule alone can guarantee successful capitalism; 2) the rule of the atheist Communist Party alone can guarantee authentic religious freedom; and 3) continuing Communist Party rule alone can guarantee that China will be a society of Confucian conservative values (social harmony, patriotism, moral order). These aren’t simply nonsensical paradoxes. The reasoning might go as follows: 1) without the party’s stabilising power, capitalist development would explode into a chaos of riots and protests; 2) religious factional struggles would disturb social stability; and 3) unbridled hedonist individualism would corrode social harmony. The third point is crucial, since what lies in the background is a fear of the corrosive influence of Western ‘universal values’: freedom, democracy, human rights and hedonist individualism. The ultimate enemy is not capitalism as such but the rootless Western culture threatening China through the free flow of the internet. It must be fought with Chinese patriotism; even religion should be ‘sinicised’ to ensure social stability. A Communist Party official in Xinjiang, Zhang Chunxian, said recently that while ‘hostile forces’ are stepping up their infiltration, religions must work under socialism to serve economic development, social harmony, ethnic unity and the unification of the country: ‘Only when one is a good citizen can one be a good believer.’

But this ‘sinicisation’ of religion isn’t enough: any religion, no matter how ‘sinicised’, is incompatible with membership of the Communist Party. An article in the newsletter of the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection claims that since it is a ‘founding ideological principle that Communist Party members cannot be religious’, party members don’t enjoy the right to religious freedom: ‘Chinese citizens have the freedom of religious belief, but Communist Party members are not the same as regular citizens; they are fighters in the vanguard for a communist consciousness.’ How does this exclusion of believers from the party aid religious freedom? Marx’s analysis of the political imbroglio of the French Revolution of 1848 comes to mind. The ruling Party of Order was the coalition of the two royalist wings, the Bourbons and the Orleanists. The two parties were, by definition, unable to find a common denominator in their royalism, since one cannot be a royalist in general, only a supporter of a particular royal house, so the only way for the two to unite was under the banner of the ‘anonymous kingdom of the Republic’. In other words, the only way to be a royalist in general is to be a republican. The same is true of religion. One cannot be religious in general: one can only believe in a particular god, or gods, to the detriment of others. The failure of all attempts to unite religions shows that the only way to be religious in general is under the banner of the ‘anonymous religion of atheism’. Effectively, only an atheist regime can guarantee religious tolerance: the moment this atheist frame disappears, factional struggle among different religions will explode. Although fundamentalist Islamists all attack the godless West, the worst struggles go on between them (IS focuses on killing Shia Muslims).

There is, however, a deeper fear at work in the prohibition of religious belief for members of the Communist Party. ‘It would have been best for the Chinese Communist Party if its members were not to believe in anything, not even in communism,’ Zorana Baković, the China correspondent for the Slovenian newspaper Delo, wrote recently, ‘since numerous party members joined churches (most of them Protestant churches) precisely because of their disappointment at how even the smallest trace of their communist ideals had disappeared from today’s Chinese politics.’

Written by Randy McDonald

July 15, 2015 at 7:03 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about breaking habits.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the detection of geological features on Pluto, shares the flyby schedule, and examines Charon.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on a brown dwarf found to have a Venus-sized world in orbit.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the atmospheric polymers of Titan, argues that worlds like Titan and Europa and Enceladus with shells of ice covering water are their own class of worlds, and wonders if Enceladus has a fluffy core.
  • Geocurrents compares Oman with adjacent Yemen, and looks at the Yemeni island of Socotra.
  • Languages of the World shares an atlas of the Dutch provinces in porcelain.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that bankers from Iceland and China seem to have been using shares as collateral, and argues aging in China is overrated.
  • The Planetary Society Blog focuses on Pluto and Charon.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that Michoacán in Mexico fails to become a criminalized Sicily because the Mexican criminals were too violent.
  • Progressive Download’s John Farrell looks at the new papal encyclical on the environment.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes the Russian baby bust.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that contrary the internet meme the Oregon bakers were not fined for doxxing the complainants.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russian military desertion, the mistreatment of Ukrainians in Russian prisoners, and fears for the prospect of peaceful change in Russia.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes the roles of whips in the British political scene.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Centauri Dreams argues that humans have a deep-seated instinct to explore.
  • Crooked Timber looks at how Greek debt is a political problem.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes an unsuccessful search for gas giant exoplanets around a white dwarf and looks at a new system for classifying exoplanets by mass.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at a report that a Patriot missile battery in Turkey got hacked.
  • Geocurrents notes how the eastern Yemeni region of Al Mahrah is seeking autonomy.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the failure of the United States’ Cuban embargo.
  • Marginal Revolution speculates as to the peculiar dynamics of political leadership in China.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on Greece.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes that Pluto can now be explored via Google Earth.
  • Registan looks at the decline of Tajikistan’s Islamic Renaissance Party.
  • Strange Maps shares a map that charts out the City of London and its threats.
  • Towleroad notes an upcoming vote over a civil partnership bill in Cyprus.
  • Window on Eurasia reports that most books published in Russia have small print runs.

[LINK] “Teens’ attack on Chinese girl draws comparison to ‘Lord of the Flies’ from judge”

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At the Los Angeles Times, Cindy Chang and Frank Shyong use a recent attack on a Chinese student in Los Angeles by her peers to look at the phenomenon of the “parachute kids”.

The March 30 attack has prompted soul-searching not just in Rowland Heights but also in China — the victim and her alleged attackers were “parachute kids,” part of a new wave of Chinese youngsters who live in Southern California and attend local schools while their parents remain back home.

Parachute kids typically stay in private homes in the San Gabriel Valley, paying for room, board, transportation and substitute parenting from their hosts. Most are in high school, though some are younger, studying here to get a jump start on admission to an American college.

In the attack on [Yiran “Camellia” Liu], who is 18, three teenagers have been charged as adults and pleaded not guilty to torture, kidnapping and assault. Attorneys for Yunyao “Helen” Zhai, 19, and Yuhan “Coco” Yang, 18, acknowledge that their clients participated in the attack and said they hope to reach plea agreements that dismiss the most serious charges. Torture carries a life prison sentence with the possibility of parole. A lawyer for the third defendant, Xinlei “John” Zhang, 18, argued in court that his client was only a bystander.

[. . .]

For parachute kids, living in the U.S. is a chance to learn a new language and culture and to escape China’s ultra-competitive college entrance exams. Some thrive in their new environment and go on to colleges such as UC Berkeley and UC San Diego. For others, struggles with dating, friendships or school can spiral out of control without the steadying influence of parents and other family members.

The court testimony of Liu and the second victim offers a glimpse into a world devoid of adults, centered on the Chinese teahouses and karaoke parlors of the east San Gabriel Valley, where some of these teenagers drive Mercedes cars and stay out past 2 a.m. on school nights.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 7, 2015 at 6:22 pm

[LINK] “Military parade with foreign troops an attempt to redraw China’s wartime past”

The Globe and Mail‘s Nathan Vanderklippe reports on China’s new effort to integrate its memory of the Second World War, as a specifically anti-Japanese war in China, with global historical memory. This could lead to any number of interesting things. Thoughts?

On Sept. 3, Beijing will mount the 14th military parade in the history of modern China, as President Xi Jinping seeks to further cement the country’s major-power status by marking the 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s end in Asia. It will be a public display of military might that promises to show off never-before-seen weapons and, for the first time, include troops from other countries.

Plans for the parade have been made in secret. But on Tuesday, propaganda and military officials partially parted the curtains on an event they hope will bolster their argument that Beijing should be taken seriously as a long-time contributor to global security while also helping Mr. Xi secure even more power at home and shape a new identity for his country.

In a novel step, China is asking other countries to support its argument that it has played a historically important global role in fighting aggression, calling out Canada among a list of more than two dozen other nations whose “anti-fascist soldiers directly participated” in China’s efforts to fight Japanese aggression in the 1930s and 1940s.

Wang Shiming, vice-minister of publicity with the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee, specifically mentioned Canada’s Norman Bethune as he spoke about China’s desire to include foreign troops in the parade. Dr. Bethune was a physician who helped Mao Zedong’s Communists during the war; Mr. Wang mentioned him to buttress his argument that fighting in Asia is a shared memory.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 24, 2015 at 9:49 pm

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