15 July, 2005

china pla threatens nuclear strike

The Financial Times reported today that General Zhu Chenghu said "…I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons" - in regards to a U.S. military intervention in the conflict over Taiwan.   He was answering questions at a press conference for foreign journalists.

This statement was made a week before the Pentagon presents a report to Congress on the Chinese military.  It is also in the midst of a heated debate on whether the Chinese should be allowed buy the California based oil company Unocal. This has repeatedly brought up the question of whether China is a friend or foe - General Chenghu’s statement might help to clear up that issue.



by @ 8:49 am. Filed under China, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Current Affairs, Eli Alberts

11 July, 2005

china’s christian underground

A friend of mine, Thirdpartydreamer, who is also a specialist on the history of health and nutrition in China, pens an excellent review of the book, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power by David Aikman (2003):

I must confess that I picked up this book in an antagonistic spirit.
Aikman is a conservative evangelical who’s just been hired to teach at
Patrick Henry College (the new college designed to send home-schooled
Christian men into government service—women are admitted to the school,
but are not expected to pursue careers. Check out the school’s website, or see the recent New Yorker article
on PHC). Since he styles himself a China expert, and boasts an
impressive set of credentials (Ph.D. in History from the University of
Washington, former Time reporter in Moscow and Beijing), I thought his
take on Christianity in China might be worth checking out…even if his
oeuvre contains such dubious entries as the recent George Bush is the Messiah or whatever it’s called (okay, it’s Man of Faith: the Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush).

thesis here is that Christianity is spreading like a brush fire in the
People’s Republic today, especially in the form he considers the most
promising: the underground house church. House churches he contrasts
with the state-approved and state-controlled congregations affiliated
with the Three Self Patriotic Association (the government’s Protestant
outfit) and the Catholic Patriotic Association (the government’s
Catholic outfit). He relies for his information on the members of the
underground churches themselves, and participates uncritically in their
boosterism. One suspects that Aikman overestimates how pervasive
underground Christianity really is—not to mention how likely it is that
Chinese Christians will change the way the People’s Republic interacts
with the world (curbing its human rights abuses and bringing it in line
with American foreign policy, as Aikman assumes Christianity will
naturally do).

Read on….

by @ 7:02 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Religion, Eli Alberts

6 July, 2005

thanks to china, bipartisanship lives

Here is an excerpt from Billmon’s post today on the China syndrome:

But there really are some things that money can’t buy, and a group
of congressmen in the grips of a xenophobic frenzy is one of them. When
the House passed a nonbinding resolution last Thursday accusing Cnooc
of being a front for the evil Dr. Fu Manchu (well, not in so many
words, but that was the gist) it was by a vote of 398 to 15 — proving
that when it comes to pandering to fear and paranoia, bipartisanship
still lives.

Regular readers know I’m no fan of the state capitalists
in power in Beijing. But the anti-Chinese rhetoric now filling the
Capitol dome with hot air doesn’t have anything to do with anything
that matters — at least, not to anyone who isn’t a Chevron or Unocal

The number of American jobs conceivably at risk in the Unocal deal
is trivial. Blocking it wouldn’t stop the flood of sweatshop and/or
slaveshop goods entering the United States. It wouldn’t free Tibet, or
force Beijing to lift a finger to respect the U.N. Declaration of Human
Rights. And it wouldn’t do squat to resolve the huge and growing
financial imbalances created by China’s stubborn insistence on pegging
its currency to the dollar. It could even make them more dangerous — as we shall see.

It’s completely insane (or utterly craven, or both) to obsess over
the $18.5 billion purchase of a second-tier oil company, when China is
buying up roughly that same amount in U.S. Treasury and agency
securities every quarter. China’s stockpile
of Treasuries ($235 billion at the end of April) already equals almost
12% of all U.S. debt in foreign hands, and is growing nearly twice as
fast as the global total. And that’s using the Treasury’s own figures, which probably undercount.
Add in securities held through third parties, such as offshore banks,
and China could easily be holding close to $300 billion in America’s
national debt — second only to Japan. And unlike Japan, nearly all of
China’s Treasury holdings are in the hands of the Chinese government.

If the dipsticks in Congress really had national security
threats on their minds, they’d probably be worrying about that one –
not the risk that ownership of Unocal might allow China to tamper with
the U.S. oil supply in time of war. If that nightmarish scenario ever
were to unfold, the problem of seizing and securing Unocal’s
energy-producing assets would be trivial compared to the havoc that war
would create in the global financial markets and the U.S. economy.

Go read the whole thing.

by @ 4:45 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Eli Alberts

indigenous television in taiwan

A new indigenous television network is going live in Taiwan:

Aboriginal groups have often felt marginalised by mainstream society. But they hope the new 24-hour television channel - iTV or the Indigenous Television Network - will be a chance for others to hear their voice, both at home and overseas.
The station will collaborate with other indigenous television networks around the world, including those in the US and Canada.
The channel shows a mix of news, entertainment, and
documentaries, giving the island’s aboriginals their own access to the
mainstream media for the first time."There’s a diversity of cultures in Taiwan," said Walis
Peilin, who heads the Cabinet-level Council of Indigenous Peoples, and
is a member of the Tayal tribe.
"The indigenous people of Taiwan should also have the
right to access the power of the media and pass on our unique culture
and languages."
"But we hope all different groups in Taiwan can support this station, and respect different ideas and each other," he said.


by @ 2:12 am. Filed under Culture, China, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Eli Alberts

30 June, 2005

the korean wave

When I lived in Taiwan from 1996-98, it seemed as if Japanese popular culture was making the biggest impact on East Asia, but now South Korea looks to be stepping in as the driving force of the entertainment industries of not only Northeast Asian countries, but also in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mongolia, and Uzbekistan:

South Korea, historically more worried about fending off cultural
domination by China and Japan than spreading its own culture abroad, is
emerging as the pop culture leader of Asia.
From well-packaged television dramas to slick movies, from pop music to
online games, South Korean companies and stars are increasingly
defining what the disparate people in East Asia watch, listen to and

by @ 1:15 am. Filed under South Korea, China, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Southeast Asia, Media, Thailand, Mongolia, Television, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Eli Alberts

somewhere between china and rome

This AP story via The Taipei Times points to the complicated situation of being Catholic in contemporary China.  Whose authority does one recognize?

Hundreds of Catholics packed Shanghai’s cathedral yesterday for the
consecration of a new bishop who leaders of the official
government-backed church hope will help ease a rift with Rome. Joseph Xing Wenzhi (邢文之), 42, was made auxiliary bishop in a ceremony led by Shanghai Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian (金魯賢), the representative of the government church who at age 89 is giving up many of his administrative duties.
China’s government has no formal relations with Rome and rejects the pope’s authority to pick bishops.
However, Jin said in an interview earlier this month that both Rome and
Beijing authorities have tacitly agreed to Xing’s appointment as his
top aid and successor.
Many Chinese Catholics reject the authority of Jin and others in the
official Church, preferring to worship in underground congregations
with their own clergy. They regard another elderly priest, Joseph Fan
Zhongliang (范忠良), as Shanghai’s true bishop.
Fan, who reportedly suffers from Alzheimer’s
disease, has been under virtual house arrest for the past five years.

by @ 12:41 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Religion, Eli Alberts

29 June, 2005

canada and the ‘china syndrome’

The Toronto Star has a reasonably balanced article on the emerging trade war between the U.S. and China, and Canada’s place in averting it.

Call it the new China Syndrome. Canadian Finance Minister Ralph Goodale has been wrestling with it. So has U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. And if something isn’t done about it, some policy makers fear the resulting impact could destabilize the global economy. Their
dilemma is this: Many of China’s trade partners — and especially the
United States — are saying cheap Chinese goods are flowing into North
America, flooding their markets and destroying jobs.

by @ 3:35 am. Filed under China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Current Affairs, Eli Alberts

28 June, 2005

socio-political critique before blogging

Here is a fascinating story from The Boston Globe–a kind of story that I don’t see much of in contemporary newspapers. It tells of one Ma Zumei and the revival of the artform of which she is a master–storytelling:

Zumei, a traditional Chinese storyteller, performs in the pingshu style
common in China’s northern provinces, where the storyteller’s stylized,
high-pitched voice, accompanied by folk instruments, alternates between
passages of prose and rhymed metrical verse. As Zumei whispers her
first words, accompanied by a young man playing a three-stringed
instrument called the san xian, giggles burst from the younger people
and foreigners in the audience. Her shrill voice, cascading tones, and
exaggerated gestures are a far cry from the saccharine smoothness of
modern popular music. But before long, the audience is laughing and
applauding enthusiastically.

As the correspondent suggests, storytelling was a traditional and popular artform in China, and in other parts of the world–a world before the days of the internet, Hollywood, television, radio, etc.  It also served as a means of socio-political critique, among other things:


by @ 11:45 pm. Filed under Culture, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Eli Alberts

krugman on the chinese challenge

Paul Krugman has an interesting op-ed today on recent attempts by Chinese companies/the Chinese government to acquire American companies.  He calls it, "The Chinese Challenge."  He also compares recent Chinese actions with "Fifteen years ago, when Japanese companies were busily buying up chunks of corporate America."  Back then, Krugman was not concerned, but now he is.  Why?

…judging from early indications, the Chinese won’t squander their money as badly as the Japanese did.
The Japanese, back in the day, tended to go for prestige investments - Rockefeller Center, movie studios - that transferred lots of money to the American sellers, but never generated much return for the buyers. The result was, in effect, a subsidy to the United States.
The Chinese seem shrewder than that. Although Maytag is a piece of American business history, it isn’t a prestige buy for Haier, the Chinese appliance manufacturer. Instead, it’s a reasonable way to acquire a brand name and a distribution network to serve Haier’s growing manufacturing capability.

But the second reason is perhaps more the more crucial one for Krugman; it is moves by the Chinese government to be a major player in "the Great Game" over resources in Central Asia:


by @ 2:30 am. Filed under Japan, China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, Central Asia, Eli Alberts

microsoft and the year that never happened

The blogosphere has been somewhat abuzz as of late over Microsoft’s unilateral decision to ban words and phrases such as ‘freedom,’ ‘liberty,’ and ‘democracy’ from its China blog service as a way to kowtow to the Chinese government.

A conversation with a friend of mine from Shanghai who is studying in America, brought the silliness of these measures home.  She has an MSN blog that she registered while still in China.  She recently tried to add the year 1989 in her profile (I still haven’t figured out why), which she soon discovered was impossible.  So, even in Philadelphia, 1989 never happened?!

by @ 2:09 am. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship, Eli Alberts

27 June, 2005

mao’s new costume

MaovuittoncoverHere is an interesting analysis of the Time issue on China. What does the picture say to you?

by @ 6:39 am. Filed under Culture, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Eli Alberts

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