“The New Big Three” – Europe, America and China

An intriguing article appears in this week’s NY Times Magazine that I recommend you check out. No matter which way you lean, I suspect it will ruffle feathers. Written by thinktanker Parag Khanna, its main theme is the shift in the balance of power, which is more dramatic than a lot of us want to admit.

I began to recognize Hu Jintao’s foreign policy prowess back when I was living in Taiwan, long before I became a paid shill for the CCP. It became clear to me then, as I wrote at the time, that Hu was successfully scooping up allies alienated by Bush, and building alliances that shrewdly guaranteed China’s continued growth, opening up both new markets for exports and new pipelines for badly needed resources such as oil, iron, nickel, etc. (In that same post, I also noted the paradox of Hu’s utter impotency when it comes to controlling the thugs in his own party, in his own country.)

Anyway, pardon the long clip, but it’s thought-provoking stuff.

At best, America’s unipolar moment lasted through the 1990s, but that was also a decade adrift. The post-cold-war “peace dividend” was never converted into a global liberal order under American leadership. So now, rather than bestriding the globe, we are competing — and losing — in a geopolitical marketplace alongside the world’s other superpowers: the European Union and China. This is geopolitics in the 21st century: the new Big Three. Not Russia, an increasingly depopulated expanse run by Gazprom.gov; not an incoherent Islam embroiled in internal wars; and not India, lagging decades behind China in both development and strategic appetite. The Big Three make the rules — their own rules — without any one of them dominating. And the others are left to choose their suitors in this post-American world.

The more we appreciate the differences among the American, European and Chinese worldviews, the more we will see the planetary stakes of the new global game. Previous eras of balance of power have been among European powers sharing a common culture. The cold war, too, was not truly an “East-West” struggle; it remained essentially a contest over Europe. What we have today, for the first time in history, is a global, multicivilizational, multipolar battle….

Without firing a shot, China is doing on its southern and western peripheries what Europe is achieving to its east and south. Aided by a 35 million-strong ethnic Chinese diaspora well placed around East Asia’s rising economies, a Greater Chinese Co-Prosperity Sphere has emerged. Like Europeans, Asians are insulating themselves from America’s economic uncertainties. Under Japanese sponsorship, they plan to launch their own regional monetary fund, while China has slashed tariffs and increased loans to its Southeast Asian neighbors. Trade within the India-Japan-Australia triangle — of which China sits at the center — has surpassed trade across the Pacific.

I thinki Khanna’s onto something, even if he is a little too admiring of China while too easily dismissing India and Russia. I know, we can also find quotes that describe China teetering on collapse. Personally, I don’t think there will be any collapse any time soon – certainly some pain as the country feels the sting of decreased US imports, but China has stacked the deck too craftily while Bush played his cards like..well, he basically threw his cards on the floor.With zero moral compunction or conscience, Hu has befriended the scum of the earth, coddled them and established close relations with them. Totally vile, but also shrewd in the classic Macchiaivellian sense of the ends justifying the means. To Hu, all that matters is feeding the beast of China’s economic engine and he’s not going to let small things like human rights or genocide get in his way. It’s a cruel and heartless world and China has 1.3 billion mouths to feed and Hu and his Gang are going to do what they perceive is in the country’s best interests and anyone who dares get in their way will be crushed like a gnat. Whatever you have to say about them, one can’t deny that their Tsinghua University engineer’s approach to foreign policy has achieved many of the desired results, odious as they may be. The deals have been made; much of Africa is in Hu’s pocket.

As a disclaimer, I know nothing more than any average layman about China. I blog for fun, and my Chinese is only at an upper-elementary level (getting better, though).


This is what we fought and died for?

Welcome to the new age of liberty and tolerance and women’s rights. Too, too terrible.


China’s new & improved open media

This just out from the Foreign Correspondents Club of China:

Dear Colleagues,

We’ve received the following report of an incident in which plainclothes thugs tussled with a German TV crew to prevent their interview with Yuan Weijing, wife of imprisoned activist Chen Guangcheng, in Shandong. Although there were no injuries, this was apparently quite a worrisome situation. We thought you’d be interested to know about it.



JAN. 24, 2008 — Six to seven plainclothes thugs prevented a four-person ARD TV team from approaching the home of Yuan Weijing in a Shandong province village. It was the second attempt in two weeks by Germany’s ARD to talk with Yuan, wife of imprisoned blind human-rights activist Chen Guangcheng.

During the first attempt, police had arrested Yuan’s brother shortly before the team arrived. In the more recent incident, two of the thugs had stones in their hands and threatened the journalists. During the brawl that ensued, the cameraman fell to the ground. One of the thugs hit the camera with a stone, but didn`t destroy it. The team was not beaten but the journalists were threatened, insists ARD correspondent Jochen Graebert.

Although nobody was injured, he says, “these guys were like fighting robots. It was a dangerous situation.” After the team retreated to the outskirts of the village, Yuan came out of her house but was prevented from speaking to the media.

“Fighting robots.” Exactly. No thought or conscience, just doing as told, the banality of evil.

From now through August, each of these stories will be framed around the Olympics, like the Hu Jia article I posted yesterday. I wonder if they had any idea what they were getting themselves into when they signed on the IOC’s dotted line. Based on stories I’ve heard, I would conclude no – they had no idea, and they are totally paralyzed now that they realize the international media cannot be controlled by an edict from on high.


The Fates smile on McCain, laugh at Giuliani

As I suggested earlier this month, Giuliani effectively left his campaign in the hands of the Fates by waiting until Florida to really campaign. McCain’s victory in that state demonstrates that his choice was a poor one – the hare spent so long sleeping under the tree that the tortoise was already approaching the finishing line by the time he got up.

Clearly McCain is the Republican front-runner – Giuliani’s has endorsement will help him in large states such as New York, New Jersey and California. Not all votes will go McCain’s way, but Romney is kidding himself if he thinks he can win a majority of Rudy’s backers. Although Super Tuesday may not give McCain an automatic victory in getting the magic number of delegates, I believe he will get enough to ensure the following states fall into line.

So, after McCain was written off a few months ago, how did it all turn around? I’m not sure anyone can easily put their finger on it. It’s many things, such as Huckabee stopping Romney gaining momentum in Iowa so New Hampshire could go to the senator from Arizona. News reports from Iraq improved and the immigration debate disappeared from many people’s minds when the legislation in question was killed off.

But at the end of the day I think his one strong point has been his image (I make no comment on whether that is true or not) as the “Straight Talker”, the guy who does actually believe in something and will stick with that even if people don’t like it. Romney, who was happy to tell people what they wanted to hear, was unable to come across as a reliable, honest candidate despite spending millions of dollars in every state to get his message across. This should please even Democrats, as it shows Americans can’t be fooled by someone just throwing money at the TV and radio stations.



The Persecution of Hu Jia

China’s shame. They are calling it “cleansing” – the same terror they impose during the “People’s” Congress, getting the “undesirables” off the streets; we all know the script. The undesirable in this instance is one of China’s most noble activists for human rights and AIDS, exactly the kind of person they should be calling a national hero.

Mr. Hu, 34, and his wife, Zeng Jinyan, are human rights advocates who spent much of 2006 restricted to their apartment in a complex with the unlikely name of Bo Bo Freedom City. She blogged about life under detention, while he videotaped a documentary titled ‘Prisoner in Freedom City.’ Their surreal existence seemed to reflect an official uncertainty about how, and whether, to shut them up.

That ended on Dec. 27. Mr. Hu was dragged away on charges of subverting state power while Ms. Zeng was bathing their newborn daughter, Qianci. Telephone and Internet connections to the apartment were severed. Mother and daughter are now under house arrest. Qianci, barely 2 months old, is probably the youngest political prisoner in China.

For human rights advocates and Chinese dissidents, Mr. Hu’s detention is the most telling example of what they describe as a broadening crackdown on dissent as Beijing prepares to play host to the Olympic Games in August. In recent months, several dissidents have been jailed, including a former factory worker in northeastern China who collected 10,000 signatures after posting an online petition titled ‘We Want Human Rights, Not the Olympics.’

I’ve written about Hu Jia many times before. All I have to add tonight (when I’m working) is that this is an act of evil, as sickening as their detention of Hao Wu or the imprisonment of Zhao Yan and Shi Tao and some whose stories are even more heartbreaking.

There have been times when I regretted calling the CCP “the evil empire,” because things are never so black and white, not even in the current US administration. Governments are, after all, a multi-headed beast. But when I read this story and so many others like it I fervently believe they deserve the epithet. The supreme irony is they do this because they fear these “dissidents” will make them look bad. Do they honestly believe in the eyes of the world these arrests make them look good?

Obtuse, ham-fisted automatons who go into automatic pilot as soon as they perceive a threat. The formula is familiar: Lie, cover-up, arrest. One can only wonder, how can they possibly be so stupid? It’s the equivalent of shooting oneself in the head.

As I’ve learned, there are many delightful, humane and totally decent party members. They must be as sickened by this as the rest of us. Why aren’t they the ones who decide who should and should not be arrested? (A rhetorical question; I already know the answer.)



Total comments, that is. Sonagi had the honor of posting the 60,000th comment about two minutes ago in the post below this one. Not that it means anything (and thousands of comments were lost when I switched from blogspot), but it’s still a landmark, I guess.


Sign of the times?

Chinese quitters.jpg

Ripped off from here.



One of the most delightful examples ever of the how the CCP does propaganda – badly. If you’re going to deceive and create BS scenarios, can’t you at least do it with some finesse? Does it have to be so ham-fisted and so un-thought-through that anyone using a search engine can see through it?

Via eswn. And while you’re at that wonderful site (which I’ve got to blogroll), check out the other post eswn recommends. Could it be that not so long from now, CCP meetings will be as testy and out-of-control as those in Taiwan?


F*cking animals

That’s the only way I can describe the beasts who ordered and committed this atrocity (with all due respect to animals).

Once you get outside the bustling city, it’s still a jungle out there where might makes right and the poor migrant worker is wholly expendable. May the bosses burn in hell, along with the deranged system that lets so many of them get away with it.

At least in this case the bad guys got fired, the authorities vow to put them in jail, the migrant workers got their back-pay and the company paid a hefty fine and got driven out of town. And we’re reading about it in the Chinese media. But it’s only because in this case the story got out. We all know there are a lot more similar stories we never hear about.


Pleco Dictionary or iPhone or HTC Touch?

My Dopod smart phone, which I love, is ready for the junk heap, and I’m looking for a substitute. The feature I use by far the most, after SMS and the phone itself, is the acclaimed Pleco dictionary, which along with standard E-to-C/C-to-E dictionary functions lets me quickly draw and recognize any Chinese characters I see. Once you have it you never want to be without it.

Like everybody else, I also want Apple’s iPhone. I always carry the Dopod and my iPod, and if I got an iPhone I’d have less to lug around. Just to complicate things, my company will soon be getting me a Blackberry (without a phone), so that means I’ll have three appliances to carry – unless I get an iPhone, which I can use as both phone and iPod.

But what about my Pleco dictionary? If I don’t have a smartphone or a PDA, I lose my dictionary. Impossible dilemma, I suppose. I’m thinking my best choice is to get the slick new HTC Touch phone (also made by Dopod), which will give me an iPhone-like experience along with the smart functions I need. Yes, I’ll have to lug around three devices, but I can’t think of a better solution.

The problem is, I can’t find the HTC Touch in China with an English-language interface so right now I’m in a holding pattern, hoping that any moment now I’ll be able to track one down. I saw this phone in Taipei and it is truly sensational, not to mention sleek, lightweight and beautiful. Does anyone know where I can get it in Beijing? Any other suggestions? I have to make a decision this week.