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Japan Increasing Security March 16, 2007

Posted by David in China, Japan, North-East Asia.
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Although it constantly states that it poses no threat to the world, China must really wonder if the message is actually getting through… Especially after Japan and Australia recently agreed to, and signed, a Security Pact set to benefit both nations.

The Pact is the second arrangement on permanent security cooperation for Japan, the first being with the USA, and will undoubtedly serve to counter China’s growing military presence in the Region. Of course, both Japan and Australia “have expressly denied the pact is intended to contain Japan’s giant neighbour” (Japan Times 14-03-2007).

Qin Gang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, wants “assurances from Japan and Australia that their new bilateral security accord is not targeted at the country.” He goes on to say, “Beijing does not pose a military threat to others. We will not invade others, and not threaten others.”

At this point,  a country called Taiwan should immediately come to mind, and maybe places like the Tibet too.

In order to strengthen its security, and Japan is seeking closer ties and greater co-operation with other countries that “share common basic values of democracy, human rights and the market economy.” Australia more than fits that description, and is a very logical choice.

A BBC News article published 14-03-2007 mentions that this latest pact “reflects the fact that Japan is moving to develop a more assertive defence and foreign policy.”

“The bilateral arrangement is also a boost to Canberra’s long-term efforts to make more friends in Asia.”

“Australia wants to engage more with its neighbours in Asia for two main reasons: to pursue economic opportunity and to enhance security.”

According to the Japan Times article, “the United States will be a key component of the Tokyo-Canberra security setup.” The draft statement states, “the U.S., Japan and Australia will strengthen trilateral diplomatic and defence co-operation.”

In my opinion this latest Security Pact does indeed strengthen Japan, and will allow it to develop assertive foreign policies, and help protect its interests in the Region, more effectively.

I’ve always been in favour of these types of agreements between democratic states. Umm… Here’s a thought (not a new one though), get rid of the United Nations, and create the United Democratic Nations instead.

China Won’t Kill Lai March 15, 2007

Posted by David in China.
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In an earlier post I wrote that Canada is a favourite place for Chinese crooks to hide from China.

In a Xinhua (14-03-2007) report it was written that “China promised not to sentence accused smuggler Lai Changxing to death because this was essential to have him repatriated from Canada.”

Now the question is whether or not Canada will believe the Communist government of China, and return the fugitive.

“Lai, who fled with his wife and children, was accused of being the mastermind behind the country’s largest smuggling ring. He fled to Canada in 1999 and remains there. China wants to bring him back to face charges of smuggling, bribery and tax evasion.”

My guess is that as long as someone (a democratic state) is keeping an “eye on things” China will not execute Lai. However, if he’s handed over and forgotten he will most likely disappear.

Japan Ends War Time Compensation to China March 7, 2007

Posted by David in China, Japan.
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Okay, it was never really identified as such because “Beijing has refused outright war reparations”, but the flow of huge sums of money being given to China now and over the years, in the form of low-interest loans, is about to come to an end.

The Taipei Post (07-03-2007) reported today that “Japan has gradually been switching aid from China to other countries seen as emerging allies, such as India.” Japan “will end all loans to China by the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.”

I support this move, and wish all other countries, who still provide “aid” to China, would follow Japan’s example. After-all, if China is able to hold the Olympics it should not still be considered to be in need of financial assistance… The amount of money China spends on its military is another reason why we should not be giving it any money.

The Internet Makes Juvenile Delinquents March 6, 2007

Posted by David in China.
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A March 6, 2007 BBC News story reported that “China will not allow any more internet cafes to open this year.” This decision has been made in an effort to help “combat the rising problem of internet addiction.”

Fair enough! Internet addiction is a real problem, and I am sure China experiences its share. However, I believe the true reason, for not allowing any more internet cafes, is a little more obvious.

“The number of people using the internet in China has grown by 30% over the last year, to 132 million, the state Internet Network Information Centre announced in December.” To put things into perspective, China is “on track to surpass the US online population in the next two years”, and for a country who’s government is set on controlling what the population reads and accesses, this reality is quite alarming.

On the same day Xinhua ran a very similar story (March 6, 2007), but also included the mention of a report by the Beijing reformatory for juvenile delinquents which “claims that 33.5 percent of its delinquent detainees were goaded into committing crimes, mostly robbery and rape, by violent online games or erotic websites.” Really?

I tend to think the Beijing reformatory in question is a little more than a “re-education camp”, and their reports should be read with that in mind. It is more likely that these “delinquents” used the internet to access unauthorized material more related to democracy, and freedom than to porn.

Welcome Traditional China? February 27, 2007

Posted by koda7 in China.
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I realize that most posts on this site relate to Business and Politics but as I am a homegrown anthropologist I’ll be taking a differrent spin on the East. Please be patient with me as I’m an anecdotal poster.  Japan and its cultural innovation tomorrow!

Welcome traditional China

 

About two years ago I played badminton at a university. When waiting for a court I liked to discuss with my fellow players about culture, business and school. I always found a strange situation arising: whenever the conversation turn to spirituality and philosophy my Chinese friends had very little or nothing to say. I always assumed that they didn’t understand my English.

 

One day after one of my unsuccessful attempts to discussing religion and philosophy, a good friend of mine, Sharon (understand that’s her English name, I can’t properly pronounce her Chinese name), she turned to me and said, “Kids from China don’t understand that.” I probed further, and she explained that there was a spiritual vacuum in China. People cared about success and money to the point where spiritual culture was not really practiced or learnt.

 

I’ve often thought of China as a human machine that manufactures and reproduces worldly innovation. I haven’t seen anything original come from China in my lifetime. That is not to say that there has been none merely that it seemed not to be an important aspect to the Chinese social structure.

 

 

So when China began “opening up” to the western world I thought there would be a 2nd cultural revolution. Now I think I realize why there won’t be. Historically, China has been the tortoise not the hare, to borrow and western parable. China has slowly climbed to the front of the economic and political stage; where as the US has made a relatively quick jump to power. All this to say China is not a machine any more. The individual appears to be resurfacing.

I came across an article recently that brought me to think about this. In an article entitled “The return of Confucius” (Spectrum – Standard Weekend – China’s Business Newspaper, February 24, ), there appears to be a thirst; a very real and powerful thirst for identity in China; a spiritual identity which is truly Chinese. The world can not, in this modern age, survive with a China as it currently exists. The cultural vacuum that is China will never be satisfied with Western culture. A nation can not adopt a culture or a way of life from another and survive.

 

The article speaks of a strange phenomenon that occurred with the presentation of a female academic’s understanding of Confucius’ teaching. This academic/author Yu Dan is breaking records both in personal appearances at book signings and lectures, and in books sales. In fact her book What I Have Learnt From The Analects has sold over 3 million copies in China. She has become celebrity re-interpreting Confucius’ teachings in a modern tone and the thirst for it seems real, even fanatical.

 

During the Chinese cultural revolution much of the Confucian teachings were abandoned and disregarded; primarily being viewed as soft. Now that China is placed front and centre is it time for its rebirth?

 

Confucius’ teachings revolve around rules of behaviour and high ethics. While China excels in rules of behaviour, the nation on whole would benefit greatly from Confucius’ ethical teachings. Many western societies often mistaken one of Confucius’ teachings with their own “Golden Rule”. It was Confucius who said, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself”. If China feeds itself of its own rich tradition and heritage the world will benefit. Western culture may only create more consumers in China but Chinese culture has the potential to create more ethical humans.

 

Humiliation February 22, 2007

Posted by David in China.
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The ongoing love-fest with China’s economy and its potential has been getting on my nerves lately. Yes, it’s true that China will be a super-power one day, and it is also true that their economy is super-hot at the moment. It’s a capitalist’s wet dream.

However, I just thought I would take the time to remind people of the obvious, that China is still a very repressive, Communist (ish) state, unwilling to address its human-rights record, and in many ways absolutely backwards in the methods they use to run the country.

The latest example that comes to mind is (China Daily 16-02-2007) the public humiliation of two boys which recently took place in China. Municipal bylaw enforcement officers in Chongqing (South-western China) “stuck confiscated paper advertisements all over the bodies of two boys and paraded them after they were found dispensing the ads” throughout the city.

Now although there was public outrage, the fact remains that this type of punishment occurs frequently in China.

On December 8, 2006 The International Herald Tribune reported on “Shenzhen’s public humiliation of sex workers”. It was actually broadcasted on television, “a chilling flashback from 30 years ago.”

“In this case prostitutes and a few pimps, were paraded in front of a jeering crowd, their names revealed, and then taken to jail without trial.” Were these people “sent to work camps for re- education?”

That particular throw-back to the Cultural Revolution also met with opposition from the people who expressed “their outrage at the incident in one online forum after another.” Still I doubt the authorities pay much attention to online forums, or to what the people want in general.

My point?

All financial benefits aside (as great as they may be), the free-world should never forget exactly what type of people govern and impose rules, and regulations in China.

There is great potential in China, but they have a long way to go.

Second Largest Automobile Market February 20, 2007

Posted by David in China.
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According to a Xinhua report (19-02-2007) China’s automobile industry made a profit of approximately US$10 billion in 2006, “up 46 percent from the previous year”. These figures, and those following, are “from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).”

“In 2006 China’s auto industry sold 7.22 million auto vehicles, increasing 25 percent over 2005, and the country overtook Japan for the first time to become the world’s second largest auto market.” No doubt a huge population and an ever increasing number of Chinese people with higher (and disposable) incomes have been of great help to the industry.

The report goes on to state that “China’s auto industry has been developing rapidly in recent years, mainly driven by sharply increased individual buyers. In 2006 more than 100 new sedan models hit the country’s market, including 36 home-grown brands.”

However, it’s not all good news. “China has about 1,500 registered auto producers, of which fewer than 100 sold more than 10,000 vehicles last year. Many small manufacturers sold only 300 to 500 vehicles.” Still this entire market, and related sectors, has great potential. This is why so many foreign companies are quickly entering China.

For example, as mentioned in Taipei Times (20-02-2007) “Japanese transportation provider Nippon Express has linked up with a logistics subsidiary of Chinese automaker Dongfeng Motor”.

They are “targeting the growth in the Asian economic powerhouse,” and recently “started transporting auto parts for a venture firm jointly created by Dongfeng Motor Group Co and US engine manufacturer Dongfeng Cummins Engine Co. ” They will “initially offer shipping services for 13 autoparts suppliers in Hubei Province and expand the operation to other auto-related sectors in China.”

This is Nippon Express’ “first full-scale tie-up with a shipping company affiliate of a Chinese automaker,” and if all continues to go well with China’s economy (and the relationship between both states) not likely their last.