[Bumped up to keep an open thread on top.]
Busy with some big events. But want to share some links and open a thread now that the ones below are running out of steam.
First, a superb book review on the life of China’s female migrant workers who leave the countryside for work in cities like Dongguan.
The women’s road from village to factory job is lined with manipulators and cheats, and the schools, which busily copy one another’s curriculums, in turn teach the virtues of lying as a means of getting ahead. “People who are too honest in this society will lose out,” one instructor told the author.
That’s true in a lot of places. Here especially, for lots of reasons.
Second, a surprisingly intelligent Dowd column of Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama and the knee-jerk revulsion so many Americans feel at the notion of a Muslim in their midst.
In a gratifying “have you no sense of decency, Sir and Madam?” moment, Colin Powell went on “Meet the Press” on Sunday and talked about Khan, and the unseemly ways John McCain and Palin have been polarizing the country to try to get elected. It was a tonic to hear someone push back so clearly on ugly innuendo.
Even the Obama campaign has shied away from Muslims. The candidate has gone to synagogues but no mosques, and the campaign was embarrassed when it turned out that two young women in headscarves had not been allowed to stand behind Obama during a speech in Detroit because aides did not want them in the TV shot.
Taiwanese television showed Zhang Mingqing, vice chairman of a mainland association handling cross-strait relations, lying on the ground beside his eyeglasses. Other footage showed an elderly woman hitting his car window with her cane and a pro-independence activist with a green headband stomping on the roof of the car.
That followed an incident Monday in which about 200 demonstrators yelled, cursed and heckled Zhang as he took the podium at Tainan National University of the Arts. Zhang was in Taiwan for an academic symposium, ostensibly in a nonofficial capacity. Taiwan and China often communicate through unofficial channels, given their strained relations.
Finally, Pomfret sounds gloomy about how the global financial crisis will affect China.
Any time the official New China News Agency files a piece with the headline: “Experts: China’s economy has ability to recover from slowdown,” it’s time to worry about China’s economy. You’ve already heard the news, no doubt.
Five straight quarters of slower growth. China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced this week that the nation’s economy grew at an annual rate of 9 percent in the quarter ending Sept. 30, the lowest since 2003 — when the SARS epidemic turned the economy upside down. Exports are shrinking so fast that some economists are predicting the sector will not grow at all next year.
More ominously for “social stability,” however, are the lay-offs. More than half of China’s 7,000 plus toy makers are out of business. More than 67,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises have gone belly up in the first nine months of this year, according to a report in the China Business News this week. There are an increasing number of reports about labor unrest among those turfed out of work.
For the record, I think Pomfret’s view is way too bleak. China has what it takes to deal with the situation: Money.
I think the only good news today is that Al Qaeda “endorsed” McCain. They endorsed Kerry the last time and look what happened.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.