Get the Bikes Out Honey, Cuz There Won’t Be No Gas

Steve Clemons of The Washington Note and the New America Foundation tells us to look closely at this Op-Ed in the Washington Post. Nawaf Obaid, personal advisor to Saudi Ambassador to the US Turki Al-Faisal and all around wonk gives his “personal opinion”. Steve says this is the public version of what the Saudis told Cheney privately this week:

There is reason to believe that the Bush administration, despite domestic pressure, will heed Saudi Arabia’s advice [to stay in Iraq]. Vice President Cheney’s visit to Riyadh last week to discuss the situation (there were no other stops on his marathon journey) underlines the preeminence of Saudi Arabia in the region and its importance to U.S. strategy in Iraq. But if a phased troop withdrawal does begin, the violence will escalate dramatically.

In this case, remaining on the sidelines would be unacceptable to Saudi Arabia. To turn a blind eye to the massacre of Iraqi Sunnis would be to abandon the principles upon which the kingdom was founded. It would undermine Saudi Arabia’s credibility in the Sunni world and would be a capitulation to Iran’s militarist actions in the region.

To be sure, Saudi engagement in Iraq carries great risks — it could spark a regional war. So be it: The consequences of inaction are far worse.

Say what you will about the Saudi regime yanking Cheney’s leash, if it really does work that way. Fact is, this does seem pretty much fait accompli. If the US pulls out, and sectarian violence continues at these levels, the Sunni minority is going to be in trouble. And if Al Qaeda gets in there and saves them, the Saudis will lose a whole lot of street cred. Plus, Saudi Arabia’s Wahabi tough guys are gonna feel they should be in there.

And if Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a proxy war in Iraq, you might as well just leave your car in the garage. That or wrestle control of everybody elses oil, like the Russians. Or maybe Nigeria. I hear the Delta is nice this time of year. Get the rollerblades out of the closet and flip the wheels. I really wonder what oil prices will look like come 2008.


Send Howard French Back to Africa

I have found Howard W. French consistently disappointing when it comes to reporting China for the New York Times. In Wikipedia terms, he’s not very NPOV. He paints the Mao Zedong Wiki article as a reflection of government censorship, when really there’s alot more going on here he chooses to ignore. He says that on the Chinese version of Wikipedia, “Mao Zedong’s reputation is unsullied by any mention of a death toll in the great purges of the 1950s and 1960s, or for what many historians call the greatest famine in human history.” He goes on to describe how a debate on the Talk page includes Manchurian Tiger saying: “”If anyone can prove that Mao’s political movements didn’t kill so many people, I’m willing to delete the wording that ‘millions of people were killed.'” Rather than contribute to encyclopedias, those who wish to pay tribute to Mao, he added, should “go to his mausoleum.””

I’m sorry, is that or is that not a mention of a death toll?



Maotai – organic, green and good for health!

Just go there. I’ll never forget gagging after my first sip of what tasted like diesel fuel.

Update: And damn, those comments are funny.


Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Minds of Confucians?

A guy named Daniel Wang, apparently. Evil, sulkiness, whatever is going on in those inscrutable Chinese minds, Dan has your answers. In what is either some sort of fascinating example of Orientalist targeted marketing or an ironic twist, I found out about Dan’s book The Confucian Mind, through an ad on Foreign Policy’s article What Makes a Muslim Radical? – I’ll get back to them at the end of this.

Anyway, I have found no reviews, press releases, summaries, home pages, bios, academic articles or other material about either this book or its author anywhere except the Xlibris bookstore that sells it, an Amazon page with 2 reviews, and a comment left at Sinosplice (an interesting discussion there, btw). But based on the blurb for the book and quotes from the excerpt offered, I’d say this is book is best used as a doorstop. To wit, from the blurb:

Asian values grown out of that social structure (subservience) diametrically contradict core Western values of freedom and justice, resulting in grossly distorted interpretations of these imported concepts, as the Asian mind struggles to find common ground between East and West… The author takes a bold and honest approach, ignoring cultural taboos, to reveal the inner workings of the Asian mind. The entire history of China and Japan – two different forms of Confucian civilization – is methodically examined and explained in this volume, which goes much farther and deeper than Ruth Benedict in analyzing the Japanese character, and for the first time presents a realistic portrait of the Chinese character. Readers can also find answers to questions like why savings rates are so high in East Asia, why post-war Japan was stable but not Iraq, mentality of the Chinese regime, and in what direction China is moving.

And for no additional cost, he’ll also explain why they stuff seven identical menus in your mailbox and how, by placing two of them inside a steel cage with enough graph paper and dumplings, you can live without using MatLab ever again. Now, from the book itself, after the fold:



Irony, Chinese style

chinese pollution.jpg
Chinese translation: Protect the environment!

Commenter t_co posted this about two weeks ago in the forum, and looking at it again today I decided it’s good enough for the home page. It kind of says it all, don’t it?

Go to the original thread to see other examples of ironic signage in China.


“Can we have your liver, then?”

Here’s an intriguing update on what our friends over in the Falun Gong are up to, with special attention on its claims that the CCP is harvesting members’ organs and selling them as if they were toys for WalMart. The blogger comes to grim conclusions.

I would not be surprised if prisoners were being executed in greater numbers – and that Falun Gong practitioners were suffering disproportionately – in response to the perverse incentives created by the Chinese transplant market.

I would also not be surprised if the Chinese government was appalled at the MPS, not out of considerations of humanity, but because those brutal and greedy troglodytes were squandering two unique resources that China wants to exploit scientifically and efficiently – its growing stature in the field of transplant medicine and the biological assets of the thousands of prisoners it executes annually.

Sad world.

He also makes an important point – that just because we think the wheelers are icky doesn’t mean the CCP has carte blanche to slaughter them and sell their innards to the highest bidder.

A certain discomfort and unwillingness by outsiders to take this esoteric cult seriously has complicated responses to Falun Dafa’s most explosive allegation: that the Chinese government is slaughtering Falun Gung detainees and harvesting their organs while they are still alive.

I admit, it would be easier to go to bat for the FLG if they weren’t so fucked-up. But creep&icky or not, they are still human beings.

(Oh, and my headline will only make sense if you’re a Monty Python fan. If you’re not a MP fan, don’t invite me over for dinner.)


China and India poised to conquer the world

Or so claims a former head of the World Bank, whose credentials are rather impressive. It’s coming sooner than any of us imagine, and it will shake our world at its very foundations.

Western nations must prepare for a future dominated by China and India, whose rapid economic rise will soon fundamentally alter the balance of power, former World Bank chief James Wolfensohn has warned.

Wealthy countries were failing to understand the impact of the invevitable growth of the two Asian powerhouses, Wolfensohn said in the 2006 Wallace Wurth Memorial Lecture at the University of New South Wales at the weekend.

“It’s a world that is going to be in the hands of these countries which we now call developing,” said Australian-born Wolfensohn, who held the top job at the global development bank for a decade until last year.

Rich nations needed to try to capitalise on the inevitable emergence of what would become the engine of the world’s economic activity before it was too late, he said.

“Most people in the rich countries don’t really look at what’s happening in these large developing countries,” said Wolfensohn, who is now chairman of Citigroup International Advisory Board and his own investment and advisory firm.

Within 25 years, the combined gross domestic products of China and India would exceed those of the Group of Seven wealthy nations, he said.

“This is not a trivial advance, this is a monumental advance.”

So many conflicting opinions. Can countries of such immense poverty and seemingly insurmountable environmental woes really make it to the top in a mere 20 years or so? I’ve had my doubts, but recently I am more inclined to think that yes, they can, thanks to the savvy foreign policiy deals being brokered by their leaders, ensuring they’ll have the energy and resources required to keep the cylinders humming. Yes, a lot of people will be left behind and the inequalities will be unconscionable. But the New World Order (and not the one prophesied by Bush I) looms imminent, and those who aren’t taking steps now to prepare for it can’t say they weren’t warned.

And now, let me get back to studying my Chinese.

Update: I want to urge everyone to take a look at that old story I linked to in this post in light of Wolfensohn’s claims. It raises an extremely important question: How can two gentlemen with such rich experience come to such vastly different conclusions about China’s future? One of them actually lived and worked in China for decades and speaks fluent Mandarin. (Maybe Wolfensohn does too, I don’t know.) But the difference in the conclusions they reach is nothing short of astounding, and begs the question, will one of them be proven “right,” or will reality ultimately show that the situation wasn’t nearly as black and white as either suggested? (Whoever answers correctly gets a free Peking Duck tote bag as soon as we know the answer, probably in about a quarter of a century from now.)


Anatomy of a spin

Here’s what Charles Rangel said:

If a young fella has an option of having a decent career or joining the army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.

Here’s the headline at Michelle Malkin’s sister blog Hot Air:

Rangel says men join the army only if they can’t have “a decent career”

And there you go. A fair and accurate statement is ripped from context and made to sound like something terrible – as if only total losers join the army. Only that isn’t what Rangel actually said. But no matter: Malkin’s usual mob of sensationalist dunces are all over it, puffing up Rangel’s words just as they did a few weeks ago with John Kerry. All these links say Rangel is insulting everyone who would join the Army, saying they only do so because they can’t find good careers.

No. Wrong.

Rangel is saying, correctly, that those we send to fight and kill and die in Iraq wouldn’t be doing so if they had a better option. Is there anything there to argue against? Is that a crazed statement? So out of nothing, we now have “a big story,” and Rangel will be raked over the coals and maybe even crucified. Such is the juvenile state of the Bush bloggers, who are reduced to playing idiotic word games. Intellectually, emotionally and morally vacuous.

Update: One of the world’s best bloggers gets it right:

Charles Rangel essentially said what we all know to be true. Nobody really wants to go to Iraq to fight and most enter into the service to take advantage of the increased bonuses and educational opportunities. So while John Hinderaker calls it “foolishness“, perhaps he can explain why neither he, Paul Mirengoff, or Scott Johnson (all three of whom have children old enough to serve) have yet to have a child enlist to fight this Clash of Civilizations that threatens Apple Valley via Baghdad.

Read his whole amusing (as always) post.


Better than Tor?

One of the most common questions asked by commenters at China-related blogs is how to get around the Great Firewall. This solution sounds pretty promising.

Via the above referenced post, the Radish remarks:

Tired of hitting the Torbutton just for a quick view of a blocked site and then waiting five minutes for it to load? to the rescue! Although not a replacement for Tor, Proxzee is one fast proxy.

Good luck.


New search tool for China and Taiwan blogs

Another customized offering from the man who brought us Chinalyst.