26 December, 2005

happy birthday you murderous bastard

While today is the anniversary of the tsunami it’s also the anniversary of another tragic event. Mao Zedong was born 112 years ago today:

MaoOutside the country, many Chinese around the world say Mao gave China back its dignity. Yun Shi, 31, who grew up in Shangdong province and now lives in California, recalls the poet, hero and liberator who rescued the Chinese from a "century of humiliation" - the 100 years of foreign domination following the Opium Wars. In founding the people’s republic in 1949, "[Mao] annoucned in Tiananmen Square that the Chinese have stood up," Shi said.

China did not ’stand up’ with Mao’s declaration. Mao kept China in a starved fetal state for decades. It did not begin to learn how to crawl until Deng Xiaoping took the reins :

Those who inhabited China’s vast countryside can truly appreciate Deng Xiaoping’s greatness. In countless villages lived four-fifths of the hundreds of millions of Chinese, most of them in abject poverty. An entire family might share a single pair of trousers. If lucky, they might live in a small thatched roof hut with a hole at the top to let out the smoke from the open hearth fire. Peasants transported their ducks and geese to markets along rivers and ancient canals; there were few roads. This was not the Middle Ages, but China, circa 1976, the year Mao Zedong died. The country was in the depths, its people depressed and devoid of hope for their lives.

By changing the way peasants live, Deng recast China, and in many ways altered the world we live in. He did this through the simple expedient of giving the land Mao had originally confiscated from the landlord class back to the peasants. Through the contract responsibility system, farmers were free to grow any crops they wished, so long as they delivered a specified amount of staple crops to the central government. Soon money was beginning to course through the system. Two-story brick houses rose where thatched huts used to be. Some 200 million Chinese - more people than all of Indonesia - escaped destitution.

AsiaPundit won’t write more, it would be redundant in light of an essay posted elsewhere. Visit Simon now.

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by @ 10:52 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

north korea makes money

Although its economy has collapsed, the North Korean state still makes money. Lots of it.. And South Korea’s government doesn’t care.

NorkwonThe National Intelligence Service, in a 1998 report … said North Korea forges and circulates US$100 bank notes worth $15 million a year, and that the counterfeiting is carried out by a firm called February Silver Trading in the suburbs of Pyongyang. The NIS said in reports … the same year and the next that the North operates three banknote forging agencies, and that more than $4.6 million in bogus dollar bills were uncovered in circulation on 13 occasions since 1994. “That North Korea is a dollar counterfeiting country was common knowledge among intelligence officials,” said a former senior NIS official.

Yet suddenly, when the U.S. brings up the question of North Korea’s counterfeiting activities, our government says there is insufficient evidence. That has prompted American officials to accuse our government of lying. The reason for the volte-face is that Seoul is afraid of antagonizing Pyongyang while six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing North Korea hang in the balance. But what if the shoe was on the other foot? If a country hostile to South Korea forged a huge number of our banknotes and circulated them around the world, what should our government do? And if an ostensible ally of ours defended that counterfeiting country, what would we think of that ally? …

And it’s not just the Supernotes, as Nomad points out the North Koreans have also been forging Thai baht, Chinese yuan and other regional currencies.:

One U.S. government official said in an interview, “I read an internal report produced by the U.S. intelligence agency. And you may want to think about why a Thailand diplomat was invited to the symposium on counterfeit currency hosted by the U.S. State Department on December 16.” The symposium on counterfeit currency hosted by the State department was attended by diplomats from countries participating in the six-party talks including South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, some EU member countries, Thailand and Singapore. He added, “If North Korea can forge U.S. dollars, which are known to be the most safeguarded from counterfeiting, perfectly, why wouldn’t it want to do the same for other currencies of neighboring countries.” He made clear that currencies of neighboring countries including Thailand have been counterfeited. To the question, “Does that mean that South Korean won have also been forged?” He answered, “Please, don’t ask more. You can just think about which countries North Korea might feel closer to, and which currencies it would think would be easier to circulate.”

As noted in the originally cited New Economist post, counterfeiting can be considered an act of war. AsiaPundit suggests all offended nations consider it such.

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by @ 10:19 pm. Filed under South Korea, China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand, North Korea

tsunami remembered

One year ago today roughly a quarter of a million lives were washed away:


Sculptures are displayed on Patong beach during a ceremony to mark the one year anniversary of the tsunami in Phuket southern of Thailand. (AFP/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

Photo and text via Thai Blogs:

DesiPundit notes the role blogs played in putting out information and aiding in fundraising and relief and requests that the effort be repeated:

The blogosphere played an important part in disseminating information, collating resources, and offering avenues for fund raising. The team that brought you the SEA-EAT blog has now joined forces and rebanded to form the World Wide Help blog [disclaimer: I am also one of the contributors]. On the dark anniversary of the tsunami tragedy, we refocus the need to keep the relief work going and keeping hope alive for those who are still waiting for our help.

The Worldwide Help Blog has sent out a call for observing the Tsunami Remembrance Week from December 26th-January 1st. Write about it on your blogs. List your favorite charities or better still, make that last year-end donation. Use the Technorati tag - Disaster Remembrance Week [HTML code:
rel=”tag” rel=”tag”>Disaster Remembrance Week

More at IndianWriting, Jakartass, Brand New Malaysian,

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by @ 10:04 pm. Filed under Blogs, Malaysia, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Thailand, Weblogs

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