Leaving for China in three days

And with a massive writing assignment to work on this weekend and a frantic effort to brush up on my Chinese I won’t be posting much. I may just close down comments altogether when I’m away so I don’t have to deal with spam. (The last thing I want to do is spend hours of time in a Lijiang Internet cafe deleting obscene comments.)

It’s a short trip, only 14 days, and I wish I had more time to spend there. Still, I’m incredibly excited, and won’t really believe I’m going until I get on the plane.

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Friday Cat Blogging

Very funny.

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Photos of a Chinese execution

These photos are quite graphic, so view at your own risk.

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Blind rage (yes, again)

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Another interesting article on rampant Japan-hatred on the part of many Chinese, young and old.

With his trim, camel-colored jacket and stylish haircut, Lu doesn’t look like a political zealot. But his cool demeanor belies the heat of his anti-Japanese views. Once a fan of Japanese movies and cartoons, Lu now says that by confronting China in recent incidents and refusing to apologize for its aggression in World War II, Tokyo is headed down “a fascist road.”

Lu’s uncompromising views are shared by many Chinese. They help explain why relations between China and Japan have plummeted to their lowest point in years.

“We should teach the Japanese a good lesson and let them know how tough the Chinese people are,” says Li Jin, 28, a freelance writer. “Maybe we should nuke them once and for all.”

[...]

“I think the Americans have the wrong friend. Japan is like a mad dog, and sooner or later, it’ll cause the U.S. great trouble,” says Zhang Yihua, 32, an advertising designer.

[...]

Even those too young to have experienced the war are bitter. “Japan brought a lot of harm and pain to the Chinese people. Millions of people died,” Lu says. “This is history that nobody can erase.”

Xu Yong, 55, a professor at Beijing University, spent a year as a visiting scholar in Japan and says he counts many Japanese as friends. But he castigates their “very dangerous and evil” government and worries about “the thirst for blood in the Japanese culture.”

I’ve heard all the arguments, and I can truly understand what’s at the root of the extreme animosity. (Which isn’t to say I approve of it or like it, just that I know where it’s coming from.) My one concern is that wearing this animosity so prominently on its sleeve does little to improve China’s image in the eyes of the world, and instead makes its people appear immature and barely in control of their emotions.

Thanks to Tian for the link.

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Tom Maguire for Dummies

I wasn’t happy with this post, which was a bit too personal and too vitriolic, so I’m taking it down, but leaving the comments.

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Inevitable calamity as China faces off against Japan, US and Taiwan?

A commenter directed me to Philip Bowring’s excellent article about China’s apoplexy over the Taiwan unification issue, and why, if China refuses to broaden its thinking, there will be an inevitable clash.

While Japan and the United States remain in principle committed to One China, emphasis on peaceful resolution inevitably means that unification can only come about when the people of Taiwan consider the price of de facto independence too high. That is clearly a long way off so long as either Japan or the United States is willing and able to prevent unification by force.

China has predictably reacted by denouncing the statement as interfering in China’s internal affairs – which, from Beijing’s perspective, it undoubtedly is. The question is how far China is now prepared to go in risking upsetting relations with the United States and Japan in pursuit of its nationalistic agenda.

The joint statement must be viewed against the background of increasing Japanese concerns at China’s strategic arms development and its military build-up opposite Taiwan. Indeed, as Japan emerges from hiding behind the skirts of U.S. power in the western Pacific, it may in time become the most important determining factor in the Taiwan strait equation. Japan already has a formidable navy and increasing military spending is clearly aimed at countering any attempt by China to control the vital sea lanes, the Luzon and Taiwan straits, into and through the South China Sea.

The Japanese are keenly aware that Taiwan lies as close to Japan’s southernmost Ryukyu Island as it does to mainland China, and is even closer to the northernmost Philippine islands. They also fret at China’s so-called “historic” claim to almost the whole South China Sea and its reefs and islands despite the size of the sea and the existence of other littoral states – Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Meanwhile, Japan and China are also at loggerheads over their seabed demarcation in the East China Sea, where there are also hopes for hydrocarbons.

Then the writer brings up a point raised in earlier posts by Jerome Keating, and one that always seems to elicit strong opinions.

As for mainland Chinese, they often prefer to forget that Taiwan was only settled by ethnic Chinese after the arrival of the Dutch in the 16th century, and that its current prosperity owes much to the education and infrastructure it received during 50 years of Japanese rule. China’s leaders in the past have not always given unification with Taiwan high priority. For Mao, it mattered because his enemies, the United States and Chiang Kai-shek, were there. For Deng Xiaoping, it was an issue to be resolved by history.

Unification should not be allowed to get in the way of China’s modernization and economic growth. But if now it is to be se seen as a symbol of that modernization, the fruit of economic and military power, a clash with the strategic interests of others is inevitable.

Reading the article, one walks away with the distinct impression that China is in the weakest position, still dependent on US and Japanese markets and in no position to discourage foreign investment. China’s also in a tougher spot, he says, because it’s been ineffectual in helping us negotiate with North Korea, making the US less dependent on the them.

Bowring warns that Europe should watch the unfolding situation carefully, as it indiates “the commercial benefits of advanced weapons sales to China carry long-term risks. For myopic Europe, Taiwan may be a small and distant place, but it has the potential to be the pivot of East Asian power relationships.”

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There’s still a war going on

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Children at play….

It’s awfully easy to forget that the bloody war in Iraq is continuing and getting worse. An election sure sounds nice, and I’m glad it happened. But one election does not a free and united country make. So head over to the newly updated Chaos in Iraq, where you’ll be reminded that we are engaged in a tragic and gruesome conflict with no end in sight. We wanted war….

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The creation of Gannon

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(Click to enlarge, and note those characters around Lord Bush. Via Billmon.)

I have a miserable cold and can’t blog, but I had to share that treasure.

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If you want something fun to read…

…you won’t find it here tonight, because I’m not in blogging mode. But do visit a most spirited thread on the fast-growing Jeff Gannon scandal. I’ve been arguing with the wingnuts over there all day, and I’m ready to give it a rest. Like banging your head against a wall.

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Support our troops

All those yellow ribbons and sentimental statements about how we love our soldiers count for nothing in the cold world of reality in the Age of Bush.

Hundreds of Army Reserve and National Guard troops returning home after being wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone months without pay or medical benefits they were entitled to receive, military officials and government auditors said Thursday.

“This is the equivalent of financial and medical ‘friendly fire,’ ” Rep. Thomas M. Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee (news – web sites), told military officials at a hearing.

The disclosures represent the latest in a list of problems confronting many returning war veterans, including shortages of physicians, a lack of mental healthcare and spotty medical treatment.

And it gets much, much more depressing.

“A lot of the guys can’t deal with the bureaucratic problems,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Allen of Blairstown, N.J., wearing an eye patch and leaning on a cane as he testified at the congressional hearing. “They give up somewhere in the process and just go home.”

Several wounded troops testified before the House panel Thursday. A Special Forces soldier who lost a leg to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan said he did not receive $5,000 in paychecks. Another veteran with knee and back injuries said he was forced to move in with his in-laws after missing paychecks totaling $3,886.

Allen, a 14-year Army veteran who serves with the National Guard’s 20th Special Forces Group, has a brain injury and other injuries to his legs, back, neck and eyes resulting from a helicopter accident and a grenade blast.

But Allen said it wasn’t until he returned home for extended treatment that his “real troubles began.”

He had to reapply for coverage every 90 days and was at times denied pay, medical coverage and access to his military base.

And the other side wonders why we complain when they throw a one-night party for $40 million. Let “our boys” eat cake.

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