Tiananmen Square (again?)

I know, it’s been over-discussed and picked over. But China Daily actually has an op-ed piece today on the subject, and it begs for comment. It’s rare to see any mention of this topic at all in the Chinese media, but it’s depressing (though not surprising) to see a story that is totally one-sided.

The gist of it is that the massacre is all a big myth, concocted by a Western press that lies its head off. Everyone’s lying about it. Reporters who I know personally are lying about it. The only ones telling the truth is the government.

Tiananmen remains the classic example of the shallowness and bias in most Western media reporting, and of governmental black information operations seeking to control those media.

The usual Western media conspiracy, always out to harm China.

The editorial’s “argument” is that they found “some reporters in the square at the time” who said they saw no massacre, and that’s good enough for them, despite a mountain of evidence. Case closed.

This is weasly, because as everyone knows by now there was no massacre inside the square, as was first reported during “the fog of war.” Sometimes an uninformed journalist continues to refer to a massacre inside the square, and that is sloppiness. That there were shootings and deaths on side streets and other parts of town on June 4 — in other words, a massacre — is a matter of fact, just as it’s a matter of fact that an angry crowd killed a handful of soldiers. What is not known is how many were killed, but even if it was just a few it’s still a massacre. (My country had its own massacre, Kent State, in which four students were killed. A massacre is a massacre.)

I won’t labor the point with my own interpretation. Instead, let’s just go to some eyewitnesses.

First, Chinese author Ma Jian writes of his interview with a man who was in the crowd who had his arm crushed by a tank and is now an amputee.

“It happened right here,” he told me, “just by these white railings. A tank charged down Changan Avenue, and sprayed tear gas into the air. There was a big crowd of us. We were coughing and choking. We rushed on to the pavement, and I was squashed back against these railings. A girl dropped to her knees. I was grasping the railings with one hand to stop myself falling and with the other I offered her a handkerchief and told her to use it as a mask. Just as I was leaning over to hand it to her, another tank roared up and careered into us. Thirteen people were crushed to death but I only lost my arm. The tank commander knew exactly what he was doing.” He stared down at the patch of asphalt at his feet and then glanced nervously at the police vans parked on the other side of the road. It was rush hour; cars and taxis were streaming past us.

What a terrifying experience, I said, gripping the white railings.

“Yes, it was,” he replied quite calmly. “But I wasn’t truly afraid until I saw Deng Xiaoping on television, telling the martial law troops: ‘Foreigners say that we opened fire, and that I admit, but to claim that army tanks drove over unarmed citizens, that is a disgraceful slur.’ My scalp tightened. I was a living witness to the truth. What if one day they came to get me? … For two years I never dared go out at night, I never spoke about what happened. Policemen came to interrogate me almost every day, but none of us ever mentioned the tanks. Every anniversary of 4 June, the police would come to my house with pillows and mattresses and sleep on my bedroom floor. Just to stop me speaking to foreign journalists.”

Timothy Brook, who received a Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages at Harvard University and taught in Shanghai:

The first rounds of fire catch everybody by surprise. The people in the streets don’t expect this to happen. There are a couple of hospitals right near Muxidi, and the casualties start showing up within 10 or 15 minutes of the first round of gunfire. The casualties run very high because people didn’t expect to be shot at with live ammunition. When they start firing, people say, “Oh, it’s rubber bullets.” Even after it becomes clear, even after they realize that the army is going to go ahead at any cost, people still pour into the streets. This is the amazing thing: People were just so angry, so furious at what was happening in their city that they were not going to step back and let the army do what it was doing. This is why the casualties from Muxidi on east towards Tiananmen Square were so high. This is the major military confrontation of the evening.

Self-described former Maoist and reporter for the Globe and Mail Jan Wong (same link as above):

That Saturday night the army started coming in … the city, and so the people rushed out again. This was becoming a regular occurrence: Every time people said, “The army’s coming,” everybody would rush out and stop them. And they rushed out this time, except the army shot them, and so they started running down the alleyways.

People in [the Muxidi] apartment buildings could hear all this. It was summertime and the windows were open, so they heard the gunfire; they heard people screaming; and they saw the soldiers shooting at people. They would lean out their windows and scream at the soldiers and curse them and throw things. I had that feeling myself. I wanted to throw things out the window of the Beijing Hotel because you just felt anger: “Why are you doing this to the people?” …

What they did was they just raked the buildings with their gunfire, and they were shooting people. People were being killed in their own kitchens because these bullets were very lethal. … They just shot at them because they were trying to get into the city. They had been ordered to take Tiananmen, and they were going to get there no matter what it took.

From Dr. Jiang Yanyong, the whistleblower who blew the cover of the conspiracy to convince the world there was no SARS in Beijing, and who was later harassed for his efforts:

I was chief of the department of general surgery on June 4, 1989. On the night of June 3, I heard repeated broadcasts urging people to stay off the streets. At about 10 p.m., I was in my apartment when I heard the sound of continuous gunfire from the north. Several minutes later, my pager beeped. It was the emergency room calling me, and I rushed over. What I found was unimaginable–on the floor and the tables of the emergency room were seven young people, their faces and bodies covered with blood. Two of them were later confirmed dead by EKG. My head buzzed and I nearly passed out. I had been a surgeon for more than 30 years. I had treated wounded soldiers before, while on the medical team of the PLA railway corps that built the Chengdu-Kunming Railway. But their injuries resulted from unavoidable accidents during the construction process, while before my eyes, in Beijing, the magnificent capital of China, lying in front of me, were our own people, killed by our people’s army, with weapons supplied by the people.

Even eyewitness Philip Cunningham, who often supports the CCP, wrote of that day,

The Tiananmen demonstrations were crushed, cruelly, breaking the implicit pact that the People’s Liberation Army would never turn its guns on the people and burying student activism for many years to come, but not before inspiring millions in China and around the world to push for reform and change, heralding the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

The editorial repeats all the cliches of the deniers. Referring to a book by Philip Cunningham, it says:

It quotes one of the student leaders, Chai Ling, as having said that creating a “sea of blood” might be the only way to shake the government. If frustrated students leaving the square carried out those petrol bomb attacks on troops, then the anger of the government becomes a lot more understandable. But I doubt whether any of those responsible for the original phony story will get round to details like that.

There were some attacks on troops, and that hasn’t been denied. But most of the demonstrators leaving the square did so peacefully. Most of the shooting was not in response to petrol bomb attacks. And one foolish and out-of-context quote from Chai Ling does not make for an excuse for a massacre. Blogger Xu Eberlein, one of my favorites, adds some nuance:

Reading excerpts of the newly published Tiananmen Moon by Philip Cunningham, the very journalist who interviewed Chai Ling 20 years ago, made me feel that Chai Ling might have been more innocent than some have thought. Although her idea of using bloodshed to arouse people was hardly a moral one, she appeared to be sincere and serious about the student movement and was indignant toward some other selfish power-thirsty student leaders. As such, I’d like to believe the young Chai Ling twenty years ago was a humanly imperfect idealist, as young activists are. If she sometimes took herself too importantly, it was largely because of the situation: being young and the leader of a mass movement can carry anyone away.

I can go on and on with more testimony from reporters and Chinese citizens who were all there and whose stories are strikingly similar. I can cite the Tiananmen Mothers. There is no shortage of proof. And this isn’t about whether the students were right or wrong, or whether there was or wasn’t violence on both sides. There remain many unanswered questions about June 4, and there’s no doubt blame on all sides. And there’s no doubt that in the confusion and violence there were contradictory stories that got large public play (just as we saw after the killing of Bin Laden). Fog of war. There are myths, such as reports of a massacre inside the square. But the fact remains, many peaceful citizens who had left the square were fired upon in back alleys and many died. Hundreds? A thousand? We’ll never know, but the CCP, which keeps meticulous records, does know.

It’s good that China Daily is at least discussing the subject. A pity it’s the same old China-as-victim, Western-media-as-villain nonsense.

June 4th may not mean much to most Chinese today, and even those who were directly involved have moved on, and some would rather just forget about it. I understand that. But truth is truth, history is history, facts are facts. The CD editorial is another effort to bury the truth and cast all the blame on foreign media. This is an easy out, and is used whenever China has something to hide. Claiming all the media are lying seems kind of crazy. It’s a conspiracy theory, as nutty as claims by some that China is conspiring to take over the world. Do they really believe all the reporters and eyewitnesses colluded to mislead the world? Only China would make a claim like that.

Update: Gotta love this line from the comments:

The Chinese press is truely independent from the truth and our wise leaders make sure that there is no wrong or incorrect information in the news. This is the correct and scientific way with Chinese characteristics. And it makes me proud to be a Chinese.

I am assuming this is parody. At least I hope it is.

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“Fake ladies” dominate China’s “Happy Boy” show

A most interesting article that once again highlights China’s conservatism on the one hand and its tolerance on the other. While I can imagine this sort of thing being seen as cool among some segments of American society, it’s hard to picture weiniang (fake ladies) going mainstream anytime soon. (Then again, Liberace was popular all across America.)

The bottom line is that millions of Chinese youth are celebrating cross-dressing guys, at least some of whom seem to be true transgendereds. They are wildly popular. While there may be examples in the US of toleration for cross-dressers, we’ve never seen it go mainstream like this.

On a separate note, one quote from the article baffled me.

But noted sociologist Gu Xiaoming from Fudan University says weiniang shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

“It used to be a fad even in the Western countries,” Gu says. “In the movie ‘Titanic,’ Leonardo DiCaprio stunned many people with his feminine features.”

Were “many people” really “stunned” by DiCaprio’s “feminine features”? Did he seem at all transgendered or ladylike? I’m not convinced this was a widespread reaction.

Update: Then again, when it comes to other teen-oriented TV shows, the Chinese authorities can show a lots less tolerance.

happyboy

Cross-dresser Xu Long, who insists he only dresses like a man. You decide.

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Good riddance

Bush’s listless, grim and thoroughly unconvincing speech tonight  was the last he’ll give as president. The world just heaved a huge sigh of relief.  

It’s tempting to rant about the damage he’s done, the loss of prestige we’ve enjoyed under his watch, the wars he started and the opportunities he squandered, the tortured syntax, incongruities and unabashed stupidity of his press conferences, the placing of loyalty above competency and the bankruptcy of a nation that in 2000 stood so much taller than any other that its supremacy and infinite capacity for growth were simply taken for granted. But I think we all know this by now.

All I want to do now is see the stables cleaned and the patient’s body purged of the Bush poison – the war on science, the larding of public agencies with Heritage Foundation cronies, the no-bid contracts to companies owned by political friends and family, the willful ignorance of threats to the environment, not to mention torture, complete secrecy and unaccountability, and…. Well, let’s just say it’s a long list. Obama has his work cut out for him. The country was remade in BushCheney’s image, and now we have to reclaim it, reshape it.

I won’t fisk the speech; it’s not worth it. (For a good takedown of tonight’s last whimper I suggest you check over here. I especially enjoyed the list of topics Bush never mentioned.) He still believes all that we’ll remember was his brief moment in the sun when he picked up a bullhorn amid the rubble of the WTC. And he wasn’t all bad. His policies on Africa and AIDS were good, better than his predecessor’s. There were a few – precious few – moments when I respected him. But all in all, he leaves us with little more than a train wreck.

I read articles today about the possibility of a total collapse of Ireland, Mexico and Pakistan, and other countries may be faring little better. Obviously America can’t be blamed for everything. But we can be blamed as the hub of the financial crisis for jump-starting the mess. As America’s economy goes, so goes the world in this jolly age of Globalization, a term that will soon be ridiculed much as we now ridicule the fantasy of the “New Economy” during the dot-com era, when the wealth would just continue multiplying exponentially – which turned out to be just another version of Dutch tulips.

The Bush administration had all the evidence about the housing bubble and collateralized debt obligations right before its eyes and chose not to look at it. This was symptomatic of the Bush era, when regulation was the enemy, getting rich by any means no matter how questionable or corrupt was extolled, and gutting the government of the competence required to make things work was a celebrated policy. And here we are. Goodbye and good riddance to an incurious little man who no more belonged in the White House than Madoff belonged as the head of NASDAQ. A blight, a disaster and a tragedy, in every conceivable way. A tragedy.

On a more mundane note:

I’ve changed my email address (too much spam on yahoo), so if you write to me please use the new one linked in the sidebar (it’s capcha-equipped to stop the spam bots, so sorry for the extra step). Also, I’m going to be a lot nastier about comments following a spate of bad ones last night. So please be nice. Have a good weekend as we all go into Chinese New Year-mode.

Update: Nice to know that thanks to more interesting news, Bush’s swan song was largely ignored. Fitting.

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The Chinese Heart Bush (?)

Maybe I’m living in a parallel universe. Or maybe the reporter who wrote this article for the LA Times hasn’t lived in China and based her story on interviews within a too-specific demographic. Or perhaps she read too much into the fact that an exhibit displayed more photos of Bush than other US presidents, forgetting for a moment that Bush is our current president. Or maybe I somehow only interact with an anomalous minority. Either way, this story is baffling.

Bush might be leaving office with record-high disapproval ratings in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, but he has many fans in China. He is depicted in a dozen flattering photographs on display at an exhibit in Beijing marking the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

…”We will never forget that the leader of the most developed country in the world stood up to pressure to come to the Olympics,” Mao said.

In fact, China’s appreciation of Bush is part of an unlikely romance between the Republican Party and the Chinese Communist Party that dates to President Nixon’s historic visit in 1972. Nixon and Henry Kissinger, who as national security advisor set up the China trip the year before, also are lavishly celebrated in the photo exhibit, which opened Monday. Jimmy Carter, who was president when the treaty to normalize ties was signed in 1979, attended an opening ceremony, as did Kissinger.

Though both Carter and Bill Clinton have places of honor on the walls, the GOP reigns in the display of photographs. One particularly popular image, which frequently appears in the Chinese media, shows George H.W. Bush in 1974, when he was the top U.S. envoy to Beijing, posing casually with a bicycle in front of the Forbidden City.

…During the primaries, Obama was not popular in China, and people following the election campaign tended to favor Clinton, his then-rival. But his popularity soared after he won the election, and a Chinese translation of his book “The Audacity of Hope” soared to the top of the bestseller list here.

Let me just say this. In my entire stint in Asia, starting in 2001, I have never once heard a positive mention of Bush by any Chinese person, either in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan or the PRC. Not among teachers, mid-level government officials, co-workers, friends, business people or taxi drivers. Despite the bombing of the Belgrade embassy, I still hear Chinese people praise Clinton. I’m not sure why, but most seem to adore him. The mention of Bush’s name tends to prompt a reflexive reaction of scorn and disappointment. If people were glad he went to the Olympics, they didn’t make a big deal out if it, the way they did over Spielberg’s backing out. And I’m not sure how the reporter measured Obama’s “unpopularity” in China during the primaries. I’m not going to say Chinese people I knew were raving about Obama, and he probably was less popular than Clinton, but I never heard anything indicating he was unpopular. (The only memorable remark I heard about Obama that wasn’t gushing with praise came from a Chinese teacher who, the day after the election, asked me, “How is it possible that white people voted for a black man?”)

Bush may well be popular in government circles here, and with people in the American Chamber of Commerce. The problem is, the headline and much of the content leaves the reader with an impression that a significant number of Chinese people are “fans of Bush.” So again, unless I’m living in a parallel universe, I’d have to say the reporter is giving this article a heavy slant and has not explored all sides of the picture.

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2008′s Most Loathsome People

Let’s take a break from China for a minute and savor this list, which spans across ideologies and targets figures on all sides of the aisle, including our newly elected president. Of course, the Michelle Malkin blurb was especially enjoyable:

It’s a remarkable achievement in unconscious projection that the author of a book called Unhinged could lose her fucking marbles over a patterned scarf in a donut ad, but that’s what Michelle Malkin did when she sounded the nutbar clarion call and sicced her half-cocked league of masturbators on Rachel Ray and Dunkin Donuts for the flatly absurd notion that they were sending a message of solidarity with Palestinians. Right, Michelle—you just can’t sell donuts without joining the intifada these days. What did the nauseously spunky Ray do to incur the wrath of the Malkinoids? She wore a black and white scarf. A paisley scarf. A scarf that was clearly not a kaffiyeh, which, by the way, is just a hat that Arabs wear, not some universal symbol of jihad. In terms of completely false outrage, the only thing that rivaled this travesty of reason this year was the “lipstick on a pig” metaphor panic. But what puts this embarrassing sham over the top is that Dunkin Donuts actually apologized and pulled the ad, rather than try to explain to the fact-phobic horde that they were just blind, raging idiots with the collective brain-power of a lobotomized howler monkey.

49 other selections, each one devastating, even if I don’t think some of the choices deserve to be on the list. The Sarah Palin and Bernie Madoff selections are also wickedly funny. Their server has been off and on, but keep trying.

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Open thread, or whatever

[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.

Violence in Taiwan:

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.

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America’s first black president

Kristof, my least favorite Times columnist after all the other Times columnists aside from Paul Krugman, tells the story of his conversation this week with a Chinese woman in Beijing about the fact that America is about to elect Obama to be president.

She: Obama? But he’s the black man, isn’t he?

Me: Yes, exactly.

She: But surely a black man couldn’t become president of the United States?

Me: It looks as if he’ll be elected.

She: But president? That’s such an important job! In America, I thought blacks were janitors and laborers.

Me: No, blacks have all kinds of jobs.

She: What do white people think about that, about getting a black president? Are they upset? Are they angry?

Me: No, of course not! If Obama is elected, it’ll be because white people voted for him.

[Long pause.]

She: Really? Unbelievable! What an amazing country!

Kristof’s point in the column is that the entire world feels the same way, awed and amazed that America can do this, and that it could indicate a return to the kinder, gentler America envisioned by Bush I. The world is ready to breathe a collective sigh of relief. Kristof concludes,

Yet if this election goes as the polls suggest, we may find a path to restore America’s global influence — and thus to achieve some of our international objectives — in part because the world is concluding that Americans can, after all, see beyond a person’s epidermis.

On a related note: This is maybe the best Joe Klein article ever (and he used to be really good back in the 90s, started to suck in the Bush years and has slowly but steadily returned to his senses). It’s about why Obama is going to be America;s first back presidentRead that first page about Obama’s meeting with General Petraeus. I was definitely impressed. The most personal and most interesting piece I’ve read on Obama, and just about any politician.

One reader here said a couple of months ago, “You and I both know America isn’t ready to elect a black man president.” And even today he’s sticking to his guns on that. Sorry “my friends” (as McCain would say), but it’s going to happen and we’d better all get used to it. Read the article, and maybe you’ll feel a little better about him. I know, it’s hard not to be cynical about any politician, especially when we harbor strong feelings about them. All I can say is that’s when we should make an extra effort to see the other side of the story. Because things are never – pardon the expression – so black and white.

Contrary to my “America isn’t ready” friend, I believe the election of our first black president is not only a distinct possibility but an inevitability. (The just-like-us-plain-folks Joe-six-pack lovin’ soccer mom certainly didn’t give his opponent any advantages.)

Sorry if that post sprawled a bit. Long day.

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Colin Powell

I am lifting the photo and the quote from this site. Because Powell addressed an issue of tremendous importance, and he had the bravery to answer that vile question, “Isn’t Obama a Muslim”? with the noble words McCain himself should have uttered when confronted with similar allegations.

Here is what Colin Powell said yesterday when he announced his endorsement of Obama.

And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?

…I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards–Purple Heart, Bronze Star–showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life.

Powell, as I said before, screwed up terribly and can’t be entirely forgiven for his role in leading us into a stupid, pointless and horrific war. But he has proven what I always believed about him, namely that he is a decent person who never belonged in the toxic environment known as the Bush Administration. I feel a little prouder to be an American when I read the words above, as I also feel ashamed of those among us who have fomented racism and hatred, and cynically used it as a political tool. (I’m talking to you and you, among others.)

As the reporter said, turning on Powell now would be the costiest error for the GOP, keeping his endorsement of Obama on the front pages. Let’s hope Rush and Michelle and the like keep it up.

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George Soros: China Rising, US Declining

Funny, how what sounded like such a crazy notion to some just a year ago now seems to be pretty much accepted as a given the world over. Soros saying as much gives the point – obvious as it always was to the prescient – added weight.

China will be the biggest winner of the current financial crisis, US billionaire and philanthropist George Soros said. The financier gave an interview to Germany’s Die Welt, in which he told of the roots of the crisis and said that the mortgage bubble only triggered the process, which entailed the economic collapse. The businessman also explained the reason why the Bush’s administration proved to be unable to cope with the crisis.

The United States and a part of Europe will have nationalized banks and huge debts. China will become the new global financial empire….

“The USA’s influence has already begun to decline. For the past 25 years, we have been running a constant current account deficit. The Chinese and the oil-producing countries have been running a surplus. We have consumed more than we produced. While we have run up debt, they have acquired wealth with their savings. Increasingly, the Chinese will own a lot more of the world because they will be converting their dollar reserves and US government bonds into real assets. The power shift towards Asia will occur as a result of the sins which America committed during the recent 25 years,” Soros said.

You can ignore Soros at your own risk. His track record has been nothing short of astonishing. And for my right-wing friends who fell for the Fox News smears of Soros as a deranged leftist, all I can say is do your homework. Soros is a man of principle, a great philanthropist and a huge friend to liberal causes. Yes, he has a few – very few – skeletons in his closet (insider trading in 1988) like other billionaires do, but all in all he is a hero, and a role model for other billionaires.

We all know how much China sucks in so many ways. Most of us also know what an amazing country it is, how splendid many of its people are and what promise it holds for the future. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, we are in decline while Asia in general and China in particular are rising. That is not a judgment call on whether China should hold this honor. It’s just the way it is, like it or not. And in a lot of ways I don’t like it. It’s just what’s so. They were smarter than we were. I have to hand it to them.

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Isn’t it really time for a change?

The reasoning behind this is just so tortured:

The US government is cutting its funding for the supply of contraceptives to family planning clinics run by Marie Stopes International in Africa, alleging that it condones forced abortions in China.

MSI has categorically denied that it supports forced abortions or coercive sterilisation in China or anywhere else in the world, and says that the actions of the Bush government will result in more abortions in Africa, as women will be unable to get contraceptives and will end up with unwanted pregnancies.

One of George Bush’s first acts after becoming president was to stop all US funds to foreign organisations that helped women in any way to get an abortion, including providing advice. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) lost $34m that Congress had appropriated for it in 2002.

…”At a time when governments have pledged to increase their commitment to improving the health of women, only the Bush administration could find logic in the idea that they can reduce abortion and promote choice for women in China by causing more abortion,” said [MSI CEO] Hovig.

I think the nation will breathe a collective sigh of relief after we’ve sworn in Obama and Biden. A pity they’ll face the near-impossible task of cleaning up all the crap Bush & Co. will leave behind, like numerous wars, a battered global reputation, a broken economy and a whole lot more. But at least it will put an end to nonsense like this.

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