China is still on track to put a space station in orbit by 2020. Not bad.
18 Jun 2012 Leave a Comment
19 Nov 2011 Leave a Comment
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on Burma/Myanmar because it has been depressing how little has changed, but that might not be true anymore:
Burma seemed poised for a historic shift Friday as dissident leader Aung San Suu Kyi ended her long boycott of the country’s authoritarian political system and President Obama announced plans to send the U.S. secretary of state there for the first time in half a century.
The back-to-back announcements were the clearest sign yet of how seriously the Obama administration and Suu Kyi — the standard-bearer of Burma’s long-
persecuted democracy movement — are taking the political changes instituted by the country’s leaders.
It’s early yet and the changes haven’t been all that big yet:
When Burma declared last month it would release more than 6,000 prisoners, it was seen as a possible sign that a major shift could be underway there. President Obama, in announcing Friday that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would be traveling to the country, cited the prisoner release as an important step toward reform.
But the reality is that only an estimated 200 of those released turned out to be political prisoners. None of the most prominent opposition leaders were among them.
Also, Burma seems to be turning away, somewhat, from China:
Cracks have formed in recent months between Myanmar and China. In late September, Myanmar President Thein Sein ordered a suspension of construction of the $3.6 billion China-backed Myitsone dam project, which would have flooded an area roughly the size of Singapore. The move was widely seen as a snub to China and a conciliatory move by the country’s new government toward political dissidents who had long opposed the project.
Recent questions have also emerged over how China will balance a need to protect commercial interests across the region with respect for its neighbors’ sovereignty. After 13 Chinese sailors were murdered on two cargo ships traveling along the Mekong River in Thailand last month, China said it was considering sending armed patrols down the Mekong River outside its borders.
Chinese officials say they are negotiating joint security cooperation together with Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, but analysts say China’s neighbors are leery of a sustained armed presence inside their territories.
If Burma doesn’t want to work with China then it will have to work with the US and that should be a good thing–as long as the US pushes.
14 Oct 2011 Leave a Comment
Let’s end the week with some fun stuff.
First, here’s a picture of the Carina nebula which contains several massive stars have exploded (Credit: NASA/CXC/Penn State/L. Townsley et al.):
Wenzhou reportedly asked the central bank for a $9.3-billion loan, a request that has been met with criticism reminiscent of the U.S. financial bailout.
“Saving Wenzhou is like saving a gambler,” Han Zhiguo, an economist at a private securities firm, wrote on his blog. “Using the taxpayers’ money to save Wenzhou has a huge moral risk.”
Part of the backlash is fueled by a distaste for Wenzhou’s freewheeling ways. Many Chinese blame the city’s speculators for worsening the country’s property bubble, and despise their outlandish displays of conspicuous consumption. This year, a video of a Wenzhou wedding motorcade — a parade of Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Ferraris and Lamborghinis — went viral.
Guan, the importer of wine and scrape metal, said outsiders don’t understand.
“Those people against a bailout probably don’t work hard and just hate rich people,” said Guan, who said he owns property in every city in which he does business. “Wenzhou people take initiative. But sometimes, like in a family, children make mistakes. So the government should come in and help their kids to resolve this difficult situation.”
Gee, I don’t know why anyone would be upset with people like Guan–statements like his are what lead to things like Occupy Wall Street.
12 Nov 2010 Leave a Comment
China (and other countries) is upset at the Fed’s Quantitative easing:
At a press briefing in Seoul, Zheng Xiaosong, director general of the Chinese Ministry of Finance’s international department, indirectly accused the United States of ignoring its international responsibilities. “The major reserve-currency issuers, while implementing their monetary policies, should not only take into account their national circumstances but should also bear in mind the possible impacts on the global economy,” he said.
Which is pretty interesting given that China has been manipulating their currency without worrying about anyone else.
A father who organized a support group for other parents whose children were sickened in one of China’s worst food safety scandals was convicted and sentenced Wednesday to 2 1/2 years in prison for inciting social disorder, his lawyer said.Zhao Lianhai had pushed for greater official accountability and compensation for victims and their families after the 2008 scandal that shocked China. His sentence appeared particularly severe because the case related to a public safety incident that the embarrassed leadership had pledged to tackle in a bid to restore consumer confidence.
It seems giving them the Olympics didn’t help. Ah well, it was a nice circus. And you can tell it’s getting bad when Vietnam sides with the US (to be fair, China and Vietnam are traditional adversaries).
And since it’s Friday, here’s a poem:
Blood rains on the page
As my thoughts gather
And cover my rage
Drawing strength from me.
11 Mar 2009 Leave a Comment
One of the ways China convince the Olympic committee to hold the Olympics in China was by saying they would be more open and would allow protests. It now turns out that they allowed none:
In the end, official reports show, China never approved a single protest application — despite its repeated pledges to improve its human rights record when it won the bid to host the Games. Some would-be applicants were taken away by force by security officials and held in hotels to prevent them from filing the paperwork. Others were scared away by warnings that they could face “difficulties” if they went through with their applications.
To my mind, that should disqualify them from further consideration for quite awhile. If a country lies in their application, then they should be off the list until they have proven they can be trusted.
10 Mar 2009 1 Comment
On Sunday there was a confrontation between a US naval ship and Chinese vessels. I looked at articles in the NY Times and the Washington Post and neither really tried to explain the dispute. They just note that the US has protested harassment by the Chinese vessels in international waters and China says that the US ship was doing illegal things in its ‘exclusive economic zone’. Given the talk, you would think that the reporter would have done reporting: say what an ‘exclusive economic zone’ is and what international law says. The closest either come is this, in the Post:
Shen Dingli, director of the U.S. Studies Center at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the difference in the U.S. and Chinese perspectives turns on the intent behind the ship’s presence. He said that international vessels, including navy ships, are allowed in the area where the USNS Impeccable was as long as it is in a “non-harmful” or “innocent” manner.
In contrast, Shen said: “The U.S. Navy ship came to monitor Chinese submarines. This is not non-harmfully passing by. . . . This activity equals disrespect to Chinese sovereignty. Under such conditions, what the Chinese government is doing is to protect Chinese national interests and international law.”
The exclusive economic zone shall not extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.
the US ship was within this zone, but what does that mean?
1. In the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State has:
(a) sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds;
(b) jurisdiction as provided for in the relevant provisions of this Convention with regard to:
(i) the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures;
(ii) marine scientific research;
(iii) the protection and preservation of the marine environment;
(c) other rights and duties provided for in this Convention.
2. In exercising its rights and performing its duties under this Convention in the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State shall have due regard to the rights and duties of other States and shall act in a manner compatible with the provisions of this Convention.
ok I don’t know if this would allow spying or not, but if China has the right to control spying then:
1. The coastal State may, in the exercise of its sovereign rights to explore, exploit, conserve and manage the living resources in the exclusive economic zone, take such measures, including boarding, inspection, arrest and judicial proceedings, as may be necessary to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations adopted by it in conformity with this Convention.
A quick search finds that Shen Dingli
is professor of International Relations, Executive Dean of the Institute of International Studies, and Director of Center for American Studies at Fudan University. Prof. Shen specializes in regional and international security, arms control and nonproliferation, security and nuclear relations between China and the United States, as well as China’s foreign and defense policies.
which would seem to be relevant. Couldn’t they find someone from the US to talk about this?
3/11/09 Update: The BBChas an update with a few more details and a map showing some of the disputed territory (the economic exclusionary zone of China overlaps with those of other countries in the region, Vietnam, the Phillipines, Malaysia). Here’s their quick synopsis:
The boundaries of China’s EEZ remain disputed, while Beijing and Washington differ on which activities are permitted by law within a nation’s EEZ. China has a key submarine base on Hainan island.
What I find a little surprising is that there seems to be no mechanism to resolve disputes. Here’s the extent in the treaty:
In cases where this Convention does not attribute rights or jurisdiction to the coastal State or to other States within the exclusive economic zone, and a conflict arises between the interests of the coastal State and any other State or States, the conflict should be resolved on the basis of equity and in the light of all the relevant circumstances, taking into account the respective importance of the interests involved to the parties as well as to the international community as a whole.
Umm, yeah that’ll help.
3/13/2009 Update: The US has now sent a destroyer to protect the US ship. I’m hoping that there’s some diplomacy going on behind the scenes.
25 Sep 2008 Leave a Comment
China has now sent up another manned space mission. This one is supposed to involve a space walk, moving China one step further in the space race–the space walk is supposed to happen on Saturday.
In other tech news, it seems that the Large Hadron Collider will be out of commision until next April, so any question about the formation of a black hole that will eat the Earth is delayed (since this is about as probably as an artichoke eating the sun, I wasn’t worried anyway).
And for no particular reason, here’s a picture of Saturn’s rings taken in July (credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute):
Update: A Chinese astronaut has now been out in space, an 18 minute bit of floating.
Further Update: And the taikonauts are safely back on Earth. Their next step:
Wang Zhaoyao, deputy director of manned space flight, said the program is looking to launch a new orbiting vehicle and set up a simple space lab by 2011. There are also hopes of sending unmanned and manned space vehicles to perform docking activities with the target vehicle.
And then put a person on the moon by 2020. Now Japan, India, and the EU have to step up if they want to keep up in this new space race.
23 Sep 2008 Leave a Comment
Here is an example of what I was talking about yesterday:
A year ago, Li was in the middle of the toy recall and product safety scare, telling reporters that the blame for dangerous toys from China lay with U.S. designers and importers. His office was also at the center of an urgent effort last year to upgrade food standards, boosting safety checks and making sure that food that had passed inspection was properly labeled.
The dairy company at the heart of the scandal, Sanlu Group, is China’s biggest producer of powdered milk. Along with other major suppliers, it was exempt from inspections by the watchdog organization headed by Li. On Monday, state broadcaster China Central Television reported that Sanlu knew of complaints about its baby formula as early as December, citing a State Council investigation.
This is regulation like the US used to have, just for show. If major suppliers are exempt from inspections then it’s just for show (I wonder how companies become exempt?) and there will continue to be a series of scandals.
Of course, I should note that the US hasn’t completely solved the problem, just shipped it elsewhere:
Last week, the Government Accountability Office found virtually no enforcement by the Environmental Protection Agency on exports of used electronics to developing countries that often dismantle them in extremely unsafe operations. The GAO had agents pose as buyers of broken cathode-ray tube television and computer monitors. It found that dozens of electronics recyclers in the United States were willing to export “broken, untested or nonworking” CRTs to developing nations like China, India, and Indonesia and regions like Western Africa. CRTs have enough lead in them to be “especially harmful to humans and the environment” if handled improperly.
22 Sep 2008 Leave a Comment
I forgot where I first read this analogy, but it seems more and more apt: China now is similar to the US in the late 1890′s and early 1900′s with the UK in the place where the US is now. The US then and China now, have had a series of scandals in terms of food purity and, … well, pretty much every part of the economy. In the US this led to a series of high profile news reports and muckraking books (the Jungle, the Octopus, …) and finally to real regulation. One wonders how many more scandals of this type:
The head of China’s quality watchdog was forced to resign Monday in the wake of a growing scandal over the country’s tainted milk supply, which has already sickened more than 50,000 infants and killed at least three children, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
China will go through before they finally put in real regulation. I guess we’ll find out.
04 Aug 2008 1 Comment
What happened a few days ago was that someone in Beijing tried to change the first two characters of the agreed-upon name from “Zhonghua” to “Zhongguo.” The two terms both mean “China,” but Zhonghua is clearly a modifier, whereas Zhongguo can be either a modifier or a noun. That subtle ambiguity makes a difference–all the difference between “Chinese Taipei” and “China, Taipei.” And that matters because in Chinese, unlike English, addresses begin with larger units and work toward smaller ones. One says “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 22 Walnut St.”, not “22 Walnut St., Philadelphia PA.” Therefore “Zhongguo Taipei” can mean “Taipei [which is a subdivision of] China.” In Chinese politics that’s pretty far from “Chinese Taipei.”
It remains unclear exactly who in Beijing, at what level, and on whose authority, came up with the idea of this tiny time-bomb of a name switch. Whatever the case, it is hard to imagine that it was merely an accident. It calls to mind another maneuver, a few months ago, when Beijing proposed that the Olympic torch pass through Taiwan, but between its stops in Hong Kong and Macao, which are both now under Beijing’s sovereignty. This would suggest that Taiwan, too, is part of China. Taiwan said, “No, thanks.”
Let’s see if they continue these political games during the actual Olympics.
17 Jul 2008 Leave a Comment
The Olympic ideal is that people will get together openly to compete without regard to politics or conflict. This is why China says there should not be a boycott based on their actions in Tibet or Sudan or other places. Of course it’s all just a cover, China has no problem:
- keeping out entertainers it doesn’t like–they say entertainers who are a threat, but since the rules might have come about after Bjork yelled Tibet after singing her song ‘Declare Independence’ at a concert in Shanghai, it’s obvious that China will keep out entertainers for purely political reasons.
- keeping our anyone it doesn’t like and they’re not exactly open about it:
Chinese authorities acknowledged putting new visa restrictions in place in May — after foreign embassies reported fewer visas being granted and tighter, sometimes seemingly arbitrary, restrictions. The government did not release guidelines detailing the changes in policy; it often does not. But a foreign ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, said in May that they would be temporary.
- using the Olympics to force people out of their homes to build newer towers for the rich:
More than 1.25 million people in Beijing – at times as many as 13,000 people a week – have been evicted since the city won its Olympic bid in 2001, according to the Geneva-based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions.
“They know this will conflict with the principle of the law, but they’ll choose the less serious of the ‘two harms,’ and for the government, a smooth Olympics will be the top priority.”
Last month, police shut down the Yus’ store, and officials said the area would be turned into a park.
“Before the Olympics, we must tear it down, plant grass and paint the wall to make the street look great. The time is very tight,” said Lu Dahong, a district official. Lu said the nut shop was operating illegally.
and this last bit is typical–the store mentioned has been there since the 1950′s but now that China wants it gone, it’s illegal.
- using the Olympics as an excuse to repress the population. Of course, they don’t say it outright:
Responding to a fresh wave of unrest as China gears up to host the Olympics next month, the communist leadership has told local leaders to be on alert to public grievances and find ways to resolve them.
The order is the most recent in a series of calls reflecting the government’s apparent concern over rising social inequality, rampant corruption and the weak legal system.
but it’s what they mean:
Mostly, Beijing has relied on heavy-handed tactics to suppress unrest: Petitioners bringing grievances to Beijing have been rounded up and officials have been told to thwart attempts by thousands of laid-off teachers to publicly demand pensions and other benefits.
A repressive crackdown also followed deadly anti-government rioting in Tibet and the traditionally Turkic Muslim Xinjiang region in the west.
In other words, is keeping the Olympics from being free and open because of political considerations at the same time they argue that there should be no boycott for political reasons.
The Olympics should not be in China. I forget where I saw it, but I liked the suggestion that the Olympics be permanently based in one place (their suggestion was Greece).
31 May 2008 1 Comment
I was reading about Defense Secretary Gate’s criticism of Burma:
”We have reached out, frankly, to Myanmar multiple times during this crisis in very direct ways,” the Pentagon chief said. ”It’s not been us that have been deaf and dumb in response to the pleas of the international community, but the government of Myanmar. We have reached out, they have kept their hands in their pockets.”
which are certainly true. Burma’s government still seems to care much more about itself and its image than the people of Burma.
Then I came to this comment:
A long-sought direct telephone link between the U.S. and China has been established, and Gates said he used it recently to speak with the defense minister.
Yet Gates took unmistakable jabs without mentioning China by name. For example, he urged greater openness about military modernization in Asia.
In recent annual reports, the Pentagon has criticized China for its massive military buildup, saying its motives and spending are unclear.
”We desire to work with every country in Asia to deepen our understanding of their military and defense finances, and to do so on a reciprocal basis,” Gates said.
Lack of such clarity, Gates said, can lead to outright suspicion.
Pretty much all of these comments could also be directed at the US: the US is responsible for almost half of all defense spending in the world (and its budget has almost doubled from 2001 to 2008–look here among other places–with US defense spending somewhere in the $600 billion area); the US has a large ‘black box’ portion of the defense budget that is not publicly listed and up to half of the Pentagon’s contracts were not audited; the US also controls about half of the world’s arms market; the US under President Bush has asserted its right to attack countries with no input.
Of course, the military buildup in China does worry me (China is a dictatorship)and some of the numbers are a bit deceiving (for example US defense spending is about 10 times that of China, but China probably understates its budget and China can do many things cheaper–so the US defense budget is probably on 2-3 times that of China in real terms). Still, you might think these types of things would be pointed out.
13 May 2008 2 Comments
China has a history of being secretative secretive, but they seem to be doing better with the latest disaster:
The earthquake on Monday shook buildings as far south as Thailand and set off another, smaller quake in the outskirts of Beijing, 900 miles away. The central government, which said it was spending $120 million on rescue efforts, has sent 50,000 soldiers to the disaster zone. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao flew to Sichuan hours after the earthquake struck, and has been shown personally directing the emergency effort.
News of the quake has dominated Chinese television. The state-controlled media has been especially aggressive in its coverage, with reporters fanning out across the stricken region. Home video, cellphone images and commentary have been flowing uncensored onto Web sites.
This is good, especially when compared to Burma:
In clear frustration, Mr. Ban said he had been trying without success for four days to reach the country’s senior general, Than Swe, and that he had sent a second letter to him on Monday alerting him to the United Nations’ efforts to help and its need for “greater access and freedom of movement.” John Holmes, the under secretary general in charge of emergency, said that while there had been “slight progress” in granting visas to relief workers, only 34 of more than 100 applications had been approved.
And this isn’t even the worst part:
Even Myanmar citizens who want to donate rice or other items have in several cases been told that all assistance must be channeled through the military. That restriction has angered local government officials like Tin Win who are trying to help rebuild the lives of villagers. He twitched with rage as he described the rice the military gave him.
“They gave us four bags,” he said. “The rice is rotten — even the pigs and dogs wouldn’t eat it.”
He said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had delivered good rice to the local military leaders last week but they kept it for themselves and distributed the waterlogged, musty rice. “I’m very angry,” he said, adding an expletive to describe the military.
A lovely government.
Again, please give to help with these disasters.
06 May 2008 1 Comment
I wrote an article where I looked at one of the reasons Tibetans rebelled: they are forced to sign loyalty oaths and participate in forced denunciations of the Dalai Lama. I would like to think that such things wouldn’t happen in a free society such as the US anymore, but I would be wrong (via Pam at Pandagon):
When Wendy Gonaver was offered a job teaching American studies at Cal State Fullerton this academic year, she was pleased to be headed back to the classroom to talk about one of her favorite themes: protecting constitutional freedoms.
But the day before class was scheduled to begin, her appointment as a lecturer abruptly ended over just the kind of issue that might have figured in her course. She lost the job because she did not sign a loyalty oath swearing to “defend” the U.S. and California constitutions “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
The loyalty oath was added to the state Constitution by voters in 1952 to root out communists in public jobs. Now, 16 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its main effect is to weed out religious believers, particularly Quakers and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
As a Quaker from Pennsylvania and a lifelong pacifist, Gonaver objected to the California oath as an infringement of her rights of free speech and religious freedom. She offered to sign the pledge if she could attach a brief statement expressing her views, a practice allowed by other state institutions. But Cal State Fullerton rejected her statement and insisted that she sign the oath if she wanted the job.
I suppose I can at least feel a little better since they didn’t make her denounce the Quaker leadership–note the interesting bit here: both Quakers and the Dalai Lama are pacifists–Gonaver was rejected basically because of this, while China denounces the Dalai Lama because they claim he is for violence.
In other China news, it seems China still does not its duty to the world community seriously:
The death toll from the spread of an intestinal virus rose to 26, and all of the dead were children younger than 6, according to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency. The virus, known as hand, foot and mouth disease, has also infected nearly 12,000 others, more than triple the number reported Friday, the news agency said. Health officials have recorded cases far beyond the central province of Anhui, where the outbreak began, with infections as far south as Guangzhou and as far north as Beijing. The virus is not usually fatal, and health officials are at a loss to explain why so many children have died. The outbreak began in early April, but was not reported by health officials until last week, provoking accusations of a cover-up.
Update: Here’s some follow up to Gonover’s story above.
06 Apr 2008 2 Comments
Today seems to be a China/Tibet day at the Boston Globe.
- first there is a long article on the Olympics and China. It looks at how China was hoping the Olympics would be its introduction into the world. The problem is it seems they don’t always want to be there:
It’s hard to imagine another member of the United Nations Security Council, for instance, feeling threatened by Bjork. But when the big-voiced Icelandic pixie shouted “Tibet! Tibet!” from the concert stage in Shanghai – nearly two weeks before any hint of the violence that would roil Lhasa – the official Xinhua news agency reported that the Ministry of Culture would “investigate” her performance, which had “not only broken Chinese laws and regulations and hurt the feeling of Chinese people, but also went against the professional code of an artist.”
So when the Dalai Lama rejected the idea of independence and lamented the violence in Lhasa, China denounced him as the secret instigator of the trouble – thereby closing any available rift between Tibetan moderates and radicals. With that, any chance of making the Tibet issue fade away was lost.
With every show of control, China looks weaker and more fearful, if not ludicrous. The authorities are currently saying they will forbid live broadcasts from Tian’anmen Square, the city’s central landmark, during the Olympics. When the Los Angeles Dodgers played the San Diego Padres in an exhibition game here last month, the Public Security Bureau banned a pack of Cub Scouts from taking the field, out of concern that they might somehow stage a protest about Tibet.
The article notes that all of the reasons against having the Olympics in China were there in 2001 when the games were awarded (although most of those protesting now were protesting then) and China is, in many ways, a better country now than it was. Still, this is what you get when you go onto the world stage-people will point out your problems and wrongs (and China has plenty: no democracy, repression, some of the worst pollution, corruption, …). What did they expect?
- this article gives a good reason to protest against China:
“We should strengthen patriotic education so as to guide the masses of monks to continuously display the patriotic tradition and uphold the banner of patriotism,” the paper quoted Hao Peng, Tibet’s deputy Communist Party chief, as saying.
China has been using the much-reviled practice of enforcing patriotism education for more than a decade in an attempt to exert greater control over religion. The practice requires monks to do ritual denunciations of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and accept the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama, the second-highest ranking Buddhist leader.
Remember this is what China wants us to hear. And this is what happens:
The riot was sparked when a team of government officials attempted to enforce patriotic education at the Tongkor monastery in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, according to the London-based Free Tibet Campaign and the International Campaign for Tibet.
But the monks refused to criticize the Dalai Lama, and thousands of paramilitary troops searched the monastery for pictures of the exiled Tibetan leader. Two monks were detained after his pictures were found in their quarters.
Violence isn’t the answer, but what did the officials expect when they tried to force people to denounce their leaders. The officials are morally culpable for the reactions.
- this article gives a different type of reason the Olympics maybe shouldn’t have been held in China:
“The health of the athletes is absolutely not in any danger,” Rogge said yesterday. “It might be that some will have to have a slightly reduced performance, but nothing will harm the health of the athletes. The IOC will take care of that.”
Rogge was asked to comment on the decision by Haile Gebrselassie not to run the men’s marathon in Beijing because of worries over pollution.
“Haile Gebrselassie is arguably the best long-distance runner of the present generation,” Rogge said, adding however, the runner is “slightly asthmatic.”
Hmm, seems like a bit of a contradiction. The IOC will take take that athletes aren’t harmed but one of the best marathon runners might not compete since it might harm his health?
18 Mar 2008 Leave a Comment
The Dalai Lama is in a difficult position: he is hated by the Chinese because he is working to gain more autonomy for Tibet and doesn’t hesitate to speak out, on the other hand many Tibetans want independence and are starting to think that nonviolence will get them there. You can see the divide in this pair of articles in the NY Times:
The Chinese certainly don’t like him for statements like this:
The Dalai Lama accused China on Sunday of waging “cultural genocide” against his followers in Tibet and called for an international inquiry into the suppression of protests there, his strongest defense to date of Tibetan Buddhists who have staged an uprising against Chinese rule.
Speaking at the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile, the Dalai Lama endorsed the right of his people to press grievances peacefully against the Chinese authorities, and said he would not ask Tibetans to surrender to Chinese military police by midnight on Monday, as Beijing has demanded. He said that he had no moral authority to do so and that Tibetans had beseeched him not to capitulate to that demand.
“Whether the Chinese government admits it or not, a nation with an ancient cultural heritage is actually facing serious dangers,” the Dalai Lama told reporters during an emotionally charged news conference here. “Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place.”
The domonstrators ignore him at times:
“Last few days I had a sort of feeling, a tiger, of a young deer in a tiger’s hand,” he said, in the most intimate confession during the winding, two-hour long exchange. “Deer really can fight the tiger? Can express. But actual fight? Our only weapon, only strength is justice, truth. But effect of truth, justice sometimes takes longer time. Weapons power is immediately there.”
No sooner had he finished speaking that protesters outside the gate of his compound torched a Chinese flag, shouting “Hu Jintao Murdabad,” which in Hindi is literally “death to Hu Jintao,” the Chinese president. Two hours later, they burned more Chinese flags. Earlier, monks chanted prayers and walked in thick columns through the hills. Gory photographs were pasted across town, of Tibetans allegedly shot and killed by Chinese forces.
29 Dec 2007 Leave a Comment
It seems that Hong Kong’s road to democracy is going to be very slow:
The Chinese government’s timetable for democratic reform in Hong Kong follows a decision by the Standing Committee of China’s Parliament, the National People’s Congress, to reject universal suffrage there in 2012, a timetable that opinion polls suggested is favored by a majority of the people of Hong Kong.
The earliest voters would be entitled to elect the chief executive by popular vote is now 2017. They must wait until 2020 before possibly having the opportunity to vote for the entire 60-seat Legislative Council.
Currently, half of the council is elected by limited franchise from special interest groups; voters choose the other half from geographic constituencies.
The chief executive is chosen by an electoral college of 800 representatives, most of them loyal to Beijing.
Chinese officials also announced on Saturday that if universal suffrage is introduced in 2017, only candidates nominated by a committee that would probably resemble the current electoral college would be allowed on the ballot.
I’m sure that things will stay on track.
Kenya has been one of the more stable and prosperous countries in Africa, but lately it’s had some problems. The current election is one of them:
With the results from Kenya’s closely contested elections still up in the air and evidence growing of election mischief, riots erupted across the country on Saturday.
Columns of black smoke boiled up from the slums ringing Nairobi, the capital, as supporters of Raila Odinga, the leading presidential challenger, poured into the streets to protest what they said was a plot by the government to steal the vote.
Just 12 hours before, Mr. Odinga, a flamboyant politician and businessman, had been cruising to victory, according to preliminary results. He was leading Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, by about one million votes in an election that was predicted to be the most fiercely fought in Kenya’s history and perhaps the greatest test yet of this young, multiparty democracy.
But that lead nearly vanished overnight. On Saturday morning, the gap had been cut to about 100,000 votes, with Mr. Odinga still ahead, but barely, with 47 percent of the vote compared with 46 percent for Mr. Kibaki. By Saturday night, with about 90 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Odinga’s lead had shrunk to a mere 38,000 votes.
But those results may not be valid. According to Kenya’s election commission, which is considered somewhat independent from the government, at least three areas from Mr. Kibaki’s stronghold of central Kenya reported suspiciously high numbers. In one area, Mr. Kibaki received 105,000 votes, even though there were only 70,000 registered voters. In another, the vote tally was changed, at the last minute, to give the president an extra 60,000 votes. In a third area, the turnout was reported at 98 percent.
On Saturday, the first signs of a tribal war flared up in Nairobi, with Luo gangs sweeping into a shantytown called Mathare and stoning several Kikuyu residents. In Kibera, another huge slum, supporters of Mr. Odinga burnt down kiosks that they said belonged to Kikuyu businessmen.
“No Raila, no Kenya!” they screamed, with the fires crackling behind them.
The streets were a collage of destruction, strewn with burning tires, broken bottles, fist-size rocks and fresh shell casings from soldiers who fired in the air to scare the demonstrators off. Some men sharpened machetes on the asphalt, vowing to shed blood should Mr. Odinga lose.
Kikuyus responded by forming packs of vigilantes to patrol their neighborhoods. As night fell, the gangs waited on corners, armed with machetes and lengths of wood.
Hopefully, things won’t get more out of hand.
26 Dec 2007 Leave a Comment
It seems there is a technology competetion going on between Japan and China. Japan’s lunar probe is now in full operation, while China’s probe is also orbiting the moon (this is part of a bigger compettion that also includes India, the EU, England, and perhaps others).
Japan is now entering the maglev train competition. China has the fastest train, a maglev train in Shanghai that goes 430 kph, but Japan is planning a train from Tokyo that will go 500 kph (a trial version hit 581 kph). The train is not scheduled to be finished until 2025 though. They’re not alone here either as Germany is also planning a maglev train.