3 July, 2005

late sunday links

Brad DeLong points to an item on China’s rise and potential for a new fascism. On the diverging views of Wall Street and the Pentagon, :

The widely differing views of China were vividly evident in 2001 when military and Wall Street officials came together at the World Trade Center in New York to share thoughts on the impact of China’s economic and military rise. The organizer, Thomas Barnett, then a teacher at the U.S. Naval War College, hoped to bring the two constituencies closer together. Instead, their opposing views were reinforced. Mr. Barnett, now a writer and consultant, says the Wall Street participants concluded, "’When I think of the security issues I realize how a strategic partnership with China is all the more imperative,’ and the military guys would say, ‘Wow, realizing all the economic competition, war with China is that much more inevitable.’"

Howard French also republishes a similarly themed item, the conclusion:

Washington and Beijing face a series of difficult tradeoffs. Just because accepting these tradeoffs is in the long-term interests of both nations does not guarantee either side can summon the political will to follow through. China’s energy demand will continue to grow. Spare capacity is likely to come from volatile areas where Washington has clear political interests. Both sides gain short-term domestic political advantage by denouncing the actions of the other. Can the growing U.S.-China rivalry be transformed into a viable and sustainable political and economic partnership? The signs are not encouraging.

Chongqing Normal University has threatened expulsion for any students caught with escort girls, mistresses, gigolos or anyone caught having a one-night stand.

Hong Kong Digital has photos of Friday’s Hong Kong democracy march.

In Taipei, plastic surgery can help you look more Korean.

At NK Zone, a look at how North Koreans earn hard currency (besides the missile and drug sales).

Ahh, so the nude pictures were a way to get thousands of freshmen at your party? Smart.

by @ 10:34 pm. Filed under South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, North Korea

brad pitt too good looking

Malaysian authorities pulled Toyota ads featuring Brad Pitt because… he’s too good looking for Asians.

The country’s national news agency, Bernama, quoted the Deputy Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin as saying, “We canceled the ads because they were considered an insult to Asians.” Maidin also said ads featuring American celebrities “plant a sense of inferiority among Asians” and wondered why “we must use their faces in our advertisements? Aren’t our own people handsome enough?” There was no comment available from Pitt’s camp.

by @ 9:00 pm. Filed under Malaysia

crisis time in manila again

Foreign observers may be puzzled by the political crisis that’s engulfed the Arroyo presidency merely a year after being inaugurated into a 6 year-term.

The issue can be summarized thus: after President Joseph Estrada left office after an impeachment trial collapsed in the face of a tactic by his allies in the Philippine senate to block the opening of an envelope of evidence on procedural grounds, Cardinal Jaime Sin, who had helped provoke People Power against Ferdinand Marcos, Vice-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took over the presidency. Her serving our Estrada’s four remaining years in office were marred by legal questions. In 2004, she ran for a full six year term, and won. The problem was allegations of fraud (normal in the Philippines), which a Congressional canvass (official counting of returns) did nothing to dispel. The proclamation of Arroyo as president-elect mere days before her inauguration thus left her mandate under a cloud. It didn’t help there were credible accusations of massive disenfranchisement.

However, the most serious crisis confronting her has come from the surfacing of tape recordings of a Commissioner of the Philippine elections authority, a controversial appointment in the first place (the man, nicknamed "Garci," is Commissioner Virgilio Garcellano, notorious since the Marcos era for being an expert in fixing voting results in favor of the highest bidder). The tapes indicate the President of the Philippines talked to Garcellano on several occasions, as did many other politicians. However, in light of earlier doubts about the conduct of the election, the question of the president’s mandate thus resurfaced.

Hearing the tape would be revealed by the opposition in a press conference, the President’s press secretary preempted it, distributing copies of the tape to the press, with another recording he claimed was authentic. Furthermore, an aide of the President’s brother-in-law came forward and said he was the one the President talked to. The public was skeptical of the explanation. It didn’t help that the government then claimed that being wiretapped conversations, the tapes were beyond the purview of Manila’s rambunctious media. Having brought forward the tape, government was seen as having no right to prevent its distribution. A rebellion, of sorts, among media people took place primarily by means of the Internet; cellphone-obsessed Filipinos avidly downloaded ringtones of what seemed to be the President saying, "Hello, Garci.. Will I win by one million votes?"

The President at first kept silent, then after mounting public pressure, reversed herself after three weeks to apologize to the nation for "a lapse in judgment," which resulted in more questions being raised. Chief among them, if it was her, talking to a person she admitted was with the elections authority, then wasn’t her press secretary’s and other allies’s comments a cover up? The House of Representatives began hearings, complementing hearings being conducted by the Senate (the Senate’s been looking into accusations the President’s family took money from illegal gambling).

The President further tried to mollify critics by sending members of her family into exile; this effort was overtaken by the widow of her leading opponent in the elections calling for her resignation in a very emotional speech. Pressure has mounted on other leading Filipinos, such as Cory Aquino, to speak up (she’s counseled prudence and prayer), while Philippine Catholic bishops, politically influential, have lost Cardinal Sin as a spokesman and so now have to come up with a consensus.

Civil Society, that is, the middle class, business class, entrepreneurial and big business segments of the population, have thus far shown a disinclination to take the protest to the streets. Street protests at present are dominated by the Communists and the followers of Joseph Estrada. The President says that having said sorry, she should be allowed to concentrate on reform. The recent decision of the Supreme Court, however, to suspend the implementation of a centerpiece of the reform program, now adds pressure to the President. Meanwhile, the tapes were finally played in the House, and other tapes will be played in the coming days. Calls for the President to keep within the constitutional order, are mounting, chief among them, calls for her to resign. The central issue is: having at least shown improper conduct during the elections, and at the most having been shown to have presided over an effort to cheat, should the president remain in office? If not, can the constitutional order hold? That is the question.

A further dissection of the issues can be found in my blog. There’s also a  pseudo-Socialist roundup in HotManila. Useful reading at the PCIJ blog (they’re a group of highly-respected independent journalists), television reporter Jove Francisco, legal issues, including the transcripts of tapes at lawyer JJ Disin’s blog as well as other legal issues in Punzi, while a combined legal effort to provide materials is in Gloriagate (which is what media has decided to call the controversy); Sassy Lawyer has other views; the expat view in Torn And Frayed, Journalist Tony Abaya also has columns on line; the controversy has been a coming of age, of sorts, for the Philippine blogosphere.

by @ 3:29 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Manuel Quezon III, Philippines

short sunday links

Headlines you don’t often see "China Threatens Iceland." (via Iceland News blog).

The infamous revisionist Japanese history textbook is now online in Chinese and Korean.

China’s state security officials are always thinking two steps ahead.

More evidence of closer ties between the Holy See and the CPP?

It’s not just the nationalist protests that are causing Japanese companies to have second thoughts on China - nor is it just mounting evidence of a downturn - staffing issues and weak rule of law are also problems.

With all of the heavy (and deserved) CPP bashing on this site, for balance it’s fair to have a link to an ESWN translation of an item critical of Taiwan’s administration.

China’s biggest hacker group has announced in advance that they will be mounting an assault on sites in Japan. Giving advanced warning to the enemy? I recommend they brush up on Sun Tzu.

Deutsche Bank is the latest foreign bank in South Korea to be be accused of irregularities in its dealings with state-run companies.

Jodi looks at Korean Air’s new advertising campaign - suggestion, find different music.

Amit Varma has distressing news on Gujarat.

Fabian at Macam Macam has comments on the UN’s 2005 Global Drug Report. I’m familiar with last years - the comparative pricing tables should be a good resource for anyone interested in arbitrage opportunities.

Arms Control Wonk looks at probable expanded US controls on exports to China.

At Global Voices, reactions from Chinese bloggers on the website registration deadline.

Not a good sign, 31% of Malaysian students say they would accept bribes.

Finally, Happy Independence Day. remember, the British Crown at one point didn’t care for ’splittists’ either.


by @ 11:15 am. Filed under Culture, Japan, South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Asean, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Media, South Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship, North Korea

indian metros 2020

The Times of India tries to look into the future and comes up with this sneak-peek of the Indian urban infrastructure in the year 2020. Even though it seems that the person coming up the morphed pictures clearly doesn’t have 20/20 vision, but being too hopeful isn’t all that bad either. Poor infrastructure is one of the major hurdles in the path of Indian economic growth, yet improving it doesn’t seem to be a top priority i.e. the delayed highways project. I hope to see something like these pictures in my lifetime.

by @ 4:38 am. Filed under India, Asia, South Asia, Jatin Varma

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