Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Inspired by Mountainrunner's Europe v. Asia post, lessons in Chinese citizenship... with rodents!
The bottom-right hand "bad" white rabbit is decked out like a gangsta rapper but standing outside a "pub" -- making him, I presume, a delightful fusion of American and British hooliganism.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Macartney, J. (2007). The book they used to burn now fires new revolution of faith in China. Times Online. December 8, 2007. Available online: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3019026.ece.
Amity Printing, which has a monopoly on legal printing of the Bible in China, is expanding its facilities to keep up with increased purchases:
Demand for the Bible is soaring in China, at a time when meteoric economic growth is testing the country’s allegiance to Communist doctrine. Today the 50 millionth Bible will roll off the presses of China’s only authorised publisher, Amity Printing, amid public fanfare and celebration.
In the past, foreign visitors were discouraged from bringing Bibles into the country in case they received some heavy-handed treatment from zealous Customs officials.
Such is the demand in China for Bibles that Amity Printing can scarcely keep pace. Early next year it will move into a new, much larger factory on the edge of the eastern city of Nanjing to become the world’s single-biggest producer of Bibles.
Most Bibles are for the internal domestic marketing, and are printed both in Chinese characters and minority languages. The hottest selling bibles are small-print, and thus target young adults
New Zealander Peter Dean, of the United Bible Societies, bustles between the humming state-of-the-art presses. Mr Dean, who has been in China at Amity since 1991, said: “This platform has been built as a blessing to the nation. It will print Bibles for China for as long as it takes to do it.” Authorities at the officially approved Protestant and Catholic churches put the size of China’s Christian population at about 30 million. But that does not include the tens of millions more who worship in private at underground churches loyal to the Vatican or to various Protestant churches.
Of the 50 million Bibles Amity has printed, 41 million were for the faithful in Chinese and eight minority languages. The rest have been for export to Russia and Africa. Sales surged from 505,000 in 1988 to a high of 6.5 million in 2005. Output last year was 3.5 million and is expected to rise in 2007.
One of Mr Dean’s bestsellers is a pocket Bible, a version not suitable for the older generation to read and which may indicate a rapid expansion in the number of new, younger believers. He cited a surge in demand during the Sars crisis in 2003, but refrained from commenting. The enterprise has clearly flourished through its discretion and careful adherence to China’s laws that prohibit evangelizing.
Religious freedom is still lacking in China, and the rest of the article describes some of the obstacles Christians face in the country. Yet a paragrpah later in the article provides hope for the faith, too:
Then they are finding that they need to satisfy their spiritual needs, to look for happiness for the soul. In addition, they are seeing a breakdown in the moral order as money takes over. Thus, more and more people are turning to Christianity.”
Christianity is old in China -- one of the patriarchs of the Assyrian Church of the East (Mar Yaballaha III) was even a Beijinger. Yet for the first time, Chinese christians can easily communicate with the rest of the faith, and the Chinese people are no longer forced between emperor worship and local superstitions.
If the 21st century becomes a Christian Century, a big part of the reason why will be because of China.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
China's growing stake in Africa changes the calculation of our relationship with Taiwan, and our Big War force in general.
"Hedging" against Chinese aggression to Taiwan by maintaining, and publicly emphasizing, our naval deterrent is important. China invading Taiwan would be a disaster similar to Germany invading Belgium in 1914: whether there is a response or not, a stable world system ends.
That said, China's investment in Africa essentially means that Beijing is opening up a "second front" against the Gap: not only is globalization not Americanization, the globalization of the gap will not primarily be because of Americans: it will be because of new Core powers like China.
Clearly, the worst thing that could happen would be if Chinese and American influence in Africa turn against each other, and lead to the destruction of governments in the way that American influence took down the Soviet, British, French and French colonial and neocolonial regimes. Thus, we need to be careful that our "hedge" around Taiwan doesn't become a "wedge" in the shrinking of the Gap.
Diplomatically engaging China over absurd or wrong policies is good, but the military should not be part of the toolkit. Pressing Beijing over its persecution of political dissidents, religious minorities, and others is good: pushing China in a way that alters her posture in Africa is not.
All talk of a "hedge" against a rising China must be balanced against the concern of putting a "wedge" in our efforts to shrink the Gap.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
China today looks like the U.S. of the 1920s to Marc Faber, a well-known money manager based in Thailand. He notes that just as Chinese investors are confident about their economy, the U.S. economy was surging on hopes about technological changes like the radio and about the rise of a consumer class.
Of course, the 1929 crash set in motion a host of new rule sets in America, prompting “the creation of basic investor safeguards that strengthened the market and probably limited fallout from later tumbles.”
Not “probably,” I would say.
So like I say, China will learn from scandals and crashes. The key for us, is how we mentor them in this process, because we’ve been there and done all that before.
But you look at all that uncertainty and looming new rule sets that the Party knows full well it’ll have to adopt as the country matures and moves through all these inevitable crises, and it’s little surprise to me that China has no desire whatsoever to stick its neck out on the Burmas and Darfurs and Irans and North Koreas of the world. Why pick up the quagmire when you got this much going on at home?
The rest of the Core needs China to do three things:
- Do not attack attack Taiwan or otherwise threaten the security of another Core state
- Develop a civil society
- Bring security to Africa
The first goal is achieved through making it quietly but profoundly clear that the Communist Party could not survive a war with Taiwan. From encouraging the nuclearization of Japan and Taiwan to deepending military relationships with India, America has many tools to complement her navy and air force.
The second part is achieved through economic and cultural openness, both by encouraging civil society organizations to develop within China and convincing China to drop protectionism against civil society organizations without. From Soros' Open Society Institute" to Ratzinger's "Catholic Church," large scale institutions are able and eager to replicate themselves within China.
The last goal is harder. China's deepending engagement with Africa is fueld by her need for raw materials. As this rebel faction or that group of thugs kidnap Chinese workers to gain cash, China will be forced to export security to Africa. It combined with American logistics and UN bureaucratization, a substantial part of Africa's security oversight could be removed from locals and given to the Core.
China is sometimes referred to as the "future of profit" or "future of threat." She may also be the future of Africa.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
A number of unfortunate stories out of Beijing these days, two being China promotes Taiwan-focused military officers and China rejects use of sanctions to resolve Myanmar crisis. While neither are new developments (the Communist Party has protected the Burmese junta and opposed Taiwanese democracy for some time), the decision to look to the past says little about the strategic wisdom of the Hu Jintao Presidency.
President Hu has not lived up to the high expectations set for him. In spite of personal squabbles with former President Jiang Zemin that just don't end, the current generation of Chinese rulers are no more imaginative than the last. Things aren't getting better with respect to China's international behavior, but they aren't getting worse, either.
A sensible approach would be to assume that China's cautious glidepath toward development will remain unchanged. So we should keep growing trade links with China, and of course encourage helpful behavior from them. But we shouldn't have naive dreams, either. China is developing, but she is not a democracy. She has people, but does not have the security experience of India. She has wealth, but does not have an ocean of free capital like Japan. She has culture, but nothing like the vibrant democracy of Taiwan or the captive city of Hong Kong.
American policy in western and central asia should focus on the economic integration of China and the security integration of Japan, Taiwan, and India.
In both cases, the prime obstacle is the Democratic Party. But that is a post for another time...
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
It's rare that every post on a blog's front page is worth reading. But Eddie of Hidden Unities has done it!
- In The Streets Of Burma….
- Burma: Tear Gas & Violence… Now What?
- Hitting Back Against The Junta
- Foreign Affairs: How To Move Forward On Burma
- A Realistic Take On China & Burma, Wild Cards Included
The Burma of 2007 is something like the Central Asia of the 19th century: a mixture of direct and indirect colonization by an outside power. While Shan State, Burma, is under effective Chinese control, the rest of Myanmar is a client-state whose ticket to survival is the good wishes of Beijing.
China gains from having Burma as an ally -- especially when Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India are so suspicious of China's rise -- but would benefit more from a Burma that would economically reform. A backwater that is only good at ticking off the world is not in Beijing's interest.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Two of the best reasons not spoken for a war with Iran are that it would bring in China and push out Russia.
The latter first: Iran has been transforming into a Russian client state, and this relationship is enormously profitable to Russia. By supporting the Islamic Republic, Moscow is able to distract Washington from more important goals throughout eastern Europe. The fate of the soft revolutions against authoritarianism and the expansion of Europe as far east as possible simple matter to us far more than does the particular fate of Iran, or even the Shia generally. As long as Moscow is able and willing to provide Iran cover, our important work in Ukraine, and Georgia, and beyond that in Belarus and Kazakhstan, is set back. If Iran in chaos is the price that needs to be paid for expanding the European Care and crippling Russia's ability to cause mischief, then those benefits alone mean a positive ROI (return on investment).
The former last: One of the many reasons that America had trouble expanding the coalition of the willing to include Iran and China is that the Asian states are accustomed to free-riding of American efforts in the Gap (the Muslim world and Africa). Unfortunately, much of the hard work in shrinking the Gap relies less on stealth bombers and more on boots on the ground. American labor is simply too expensive to allow Washington to field a 200,000 man army a quick and successful Iraq stabilization may have required, and similarly too expensive to do much good throughout Africa. Critics of strikes on Iran often say that such a war would invite increased attention to the third world from China and India. I say good. We need the powers of the New Core as partners. If the Iran War enables that, then the struggle is worth it.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
You read the headline right.
In an effort to promote economic growth, Beijing has made it hard for Chinese to invest money oversees. (This policy also artificially strengthens the Chinese Yuan against other currencies, but that's a post for another time.) However, as the urban component of China's economy grows at about 10% a year, and bubbles pop up everywhere from the Shanghai stock market to the coastal realty market, something had to give.
As so often in China, what "gave" were government controls, and a number of stories (by Forbes, The Standard, and Simon World) discuss new rules that will allow Chinese to invest in the Hong Kong stock market. As Hong Kong is a global financial city, this means that Chinese dollars will be more open to investment around the world than ever before. While this is only on a trial basis, it's enough to help the Hong Kong exchange rise 12.4% It's also another step to China emerging as a "normal economy" whose currency floats freely.