U.S. washes its hands of ‘poisonous’ China-Japan relationship

It’s clear that China-Japan relations are in a truly desperate state these days – and doesn’t look like improving anytime soon, if ever. China and South Korea have both taken a very hardline stance over, for example, the Yakasuni Shrine visits and it looks likely that Koizumi will be succeeded by an even more right-wing leader in the future.

It’s no surprise then, that Mr. Cui Tiankai, the head of the Chinese foreign ministry‚Äôs Asian affairs department, recently said that it was “impossible” for Premier Wen Jiabao to meet with Prime Minister Koizumi at the next ASEAN summit in December. Not only will a China-South Korea-Japan summit not take place for the first time in 6 years, but the rift is also making it almost impossible to set an agenda for the larger ASEAN meeting. The same goes for the ongoing territorial disputes involving oil and gas deposits in the East China Sea.

Despite the fact that relations between Asia’s 3 largest economies are clearly undermining broader regional co-operation, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Mr. Tom Schieffer, also said yesterday that the U.S. was intending to ‘wash its hands’ of the poisonous China-Japan relationship, telling the two countries to sort it out between themselves:

“We are not the last arbiter of every dispute. I don’t think we have a direct role to play but the U.S. hopes that Japan and China can work out their differences. It’s important to the whole region that people get along out here. One of the reasons (the U.S.-Japan relationship) is extraordinary is that we were able to put our differences in the past behind us. We were able look forward. Sixty years is a long time and history didn’t stop 60 years ago, history has continued. And in that 60 years Japan has been a model international citizen people should take that into account when they try to resolve this whole historical issue.”

Although many people might agree with ambassador Schieffer’s comments, the chances of China and Japan sorting out anything remains remote. It’s also arguable that the current China-Japan rift provides the U.S. with it’s very own ‘Great Britain in Asia’ by pushing Japan even more closely to the U.S.

This was almost certainly why the ambassador described U.S. foreign policy in Asia as “the untold success story of the Bush Administration”. Pointing to the growing strategic trilateral relationship between the U.S., Japan and Australia that will almost certainly become a ‘linchpin of regional security’. It will also be interesting to see just how closely Taiwan will fit into this relationship. While many might baulk at the above quote about U.S. foreign policy in Asia, it’s fair to say that the U.S. is enjoying considerably more diplomatic success in Asia than the rest of the world.

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Randy Rummel: “Mao murdered 77 million Chinese”

That’s a hefty claim, but Randy Rummel, author of China’s Bloody Century, says it’s a fact in a post all you Chang and Halliday readers will want to see. Rummel, who boasts some extraordinary credentials, had originally discounted the 40 million or so who died during the great famine, believing they were unintentionally killed and thus didn’t meet his criteria for “democide.” Now he’s had a change of heart, thanks to that book we all need to read.

From the biography of Mao, which I trust (for those who might question it, look at the hundreds of interviews Chang and Halliday conducted with communist cadre and former high officials, and the extensive bibliography) I can now say that yes, Mao’s policies caused the famine. He knew about it from the beginning. He didn’t care! Literally. And he tried to take more food from the people to pay for his lust for international power, but was overruled by a meeting of 7,000 top Communist Party members.

So, the famine was intentional. What was its human cost? I had estimated that 27,000,000 Chinese starved to death or died from associated diseases. Others estimated the toll to be as high as 40,000,000. Chang and Halliday put it at 38,000,000, and given their sources, I will accept that.

Now, I have to change all the world democide totals that populate my websites, blogs, and publications. The total for the communist democide before and after Mao took over the mainland is thus 3,446,000 + 35,226,000 + 38,000,000 = 76,692,000, or to round off, 77,000,000 murdered. This is now in line with the 65 million toll estimated for China in the Black Book of Communism, and Chang and Halliday’s estimate of “well over 70 million.”

This exceeds the 61,911,000 murdered by the Soviet Union 1917-1987, with Hitler far behind at 20,946,000 wiped out 1933-1945.

For perspective on Mao’s most bloody rule, all wars 1900-1987 cost in combat dead 34,021,000 — including WWI and II, Vietnam, Korea, and the Mexican and Russian Revolutions. Mao alone murdered over twice as many as were killed in combat in all these wars.

If true, that’s quite a bit of blood to have on one’s hands. Hitler comes across as a two-bit amateur. And still, Mao’s creepy portrait looms over us at Tiananmen Square, and his statues adorn every university campus. What an eerie anomaly. But let’s not forget, he was 70 percent good.

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Arthur Waldron responds to a China blogger

Waldron writes for the reactionary Commentary magazine and is infamously anti-CCP. (I don’t exactly love the Party much myself, but Waldron has been banging the “China Threat” drum for years.) He got annoyed at a fellow blogger’s post;his response, and the bloggers response to the response, are well worth reading.

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What a difference a letter can make

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Via Jo B., and sent to me by rabid Bush-hating defeatists Gordon.(!)

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China’s animal cruelty in the news…again

Again the words ‘Guangzhou’ and ‘animal cruelty’ are all over the international media. I must admit, I wasn’t aware that dogs and cats in China were killed for their fur. However, last night, (Monday) the BBC’s Six O’Clock News in Britain broadcast a secretly taped film of animals being abused and killed (for their fur) at Guangzhou’s Fur Market – supposedly the hub for China’s cat and dog fur exports. The hidden camera footage was filmed by the organisation People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA) and shows ‘extreme scenes on animal torture’:

Dogs and cats are shown being thrown from the top deck of a converted bus onto concrete pavements. In another piece of footage, cats are seen squirming inside a sack before being thrown into a vat of boiling water. Smiling, laughing workers are also filmed beating the animals to death.

One reason why the story made big news was because ex-Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney – well known for his strong stance against animal cruelty – was invited to a preview screening and was shocked by the footage, describing the Chinese industry as being ‘against every rule of humanity’:

“This is barbaric. Horrific. It’s like something out of the Dark Ages. They seem to get a kick out of it. They’re just sick, sick people. This is just disgusting. It’s just against every rule of humanity. I wouldn’t even dream of going over there to play, in the same way I wouldn’t go to a country that supported apartheid. I couldn’t go there. If they want to consider themselves a civilised nation they’re going to have to stop this.”

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More monkey business

The Bushies manipulated the US media with phoney video news releases prepared by PR agencies, and then with the paid-for articles on No Child Left Behind by Armstrong Williams. Now it seems we’re pulling the same sneaky tricks in the land we’ve liberated.

As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military “information operations” troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

Though the articles are basically factual, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles, with headlines such as “Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism,” since the effort began this year.

The operation is designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military. The Pentagon has a contract with a small Washington-based firm called Lincoln Group, which helps translate and place the stories. The Lincoln Group’s Iraqi staff, or its subcontractors, sometimes pose as freelance reporters or advertising executives when they deliver the stories to Baghdad media outlets.

It’s just more bullshit, the same tired shit of trying to spin as much as possible and at any cost. It’s always a big part of any president’s job to influence the media. But in the case of Commander Codpiece, it’s all about blatant deception, tomfoolery and dirty tricks. How can anyone not be cynical?

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Chinese media express unusual outrage at benzene spill

Very interesting, and very encouraging (if, of course, they don’t get into trouble for it).

A 50-mile stew of toxic benzene floated up the Songhua River for 10 days before Chinese authorities acknowledged the severity of what has been the most serious river pollution in recent memory here. Not until the dense mess hit the major city of Harbin last week was it no longer possible to cover up the catastrophe – highlighting a penchant for secrecy that has characterized political behavior here for decades.

Yet in a twist whose significance is still unclear, once the crisis was public, Chinese state media roundly and sharply attacked the fear, sloth, and mendacity that lay behind the coverup.

While no culprits were named in newspapers from Beijing to Shanghai and Hong Kong – pending an investigation by Chinese premier Wen Jiabao – the language was, in Chinese terms, severe. Lies, failure of public trust, unjustifiable – are words and phrases rarely used in state-run media here regarding business and leadership issues. One Shanghai paper even called for a “transparent public information system.” A Beijing journal declared, “Those who have lied irresponsibly will certainly be punished severely.”

Is it a turning point? Another pseudo-turning point, like SARS? Just a one-time fluke? Or maybe a prelude to scapegoating some lowly officials while the higher-ups walk away? As always, we’ll have to wait and see. But once more, it’s good to see the media expressing outrage over the incompetence of their boss, the government.

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I made the list!!

Wow, this is so cool. Finally, I feel like somebody.

Link is via LGF Watch, which is burning with jealousy because they didn’t make the list!

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Rule of law vs. the CCP: A judge makes history

A huge artice in today’s Times tells how a judge’s seemingly minor decision has rocked China’s judicial system, upsetting tradional norms (i.e., that the government has the final say in the courts) and becoming a lightning rod for judicial reform.

Judge Li Huijuan happened to be in the courthouse file room when clerks, acting on urgent orders, began searching for a ruling on a mundane case about seed prices. “I handled that case,” Judge Li told the clerks, surprised that anyone would be interested.

A dispute between two local companies over the price of seeds, like those sold at a seed store in Luoyang, turned into a conflict between the law of Henan Province and the national law of China.

Li Huijuan, then an idealistic student, received a master’s from the University of Politics and Law in Beijing in 2001.

But within days, the Luoyang Middle Court’s discipline committee contacted her. Provincial officials had angrily complained that the ruling contained a serious political error. Faced with a conflict between national and provincial law, Judge Li had declared the provincial law invalid. In doing so, she unwittingly made legal history, setting in motion a national debate about judicial independence in China’s closed political system.

In many countries, including the United States, a judge tossing out a lower-level law would scarcely merit attention. But in China, the government, not a court, is the final arbiter of law. What Judge Li had considered judicial common sense, provincial legislators considered a judicial revolt. Their initial response was to try to crush it. Judge Li, who had on the bench less than three years, feared her career might be finished.

“An order by those in power has forced local leaders, none of whom dared to stand on principle, to sacrifice me,” she wrote in rebuttal. “I’m just an ordinary person, a female judge who tried to protect the law. Who is going to protect my rights?”

Faced with the complex demands of governing a chaotic, modernizing country, China’s leaders have embraced the rule of law as the most efficient means of regulating society. But a central requirement in fulfilling that promise lies unresolved – whether the governing Communist Party intends to allow an independent judiciary.

There’s no fairy tale ending. The system remains intact and Judge Li was persected and nearly had her career destroyed. The positive side is that the story received so much attention from the Chinese media and legal scholars, who brought the issue into the forefront. It says there’s a lot of dissatisfaction with the Party’s version of rule of law. A lot of people are mad as hell and don’t want to take it anymore.

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Sleepy weekend thread

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Workers relax on a Kunming bench.

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