With all the talk about the emergence of Europe as an economic rival to the US, is there a more likely rival emerging? A real strategic partnership between Russia and China could be exactly the combination of nuclear power, boots on the ground, and economic momentum to truly create a new bipolarity. Apparently, there has been serious collaboration in military philosophy between the two powers at least since the USSR broke up, and flash gamers have known about it for at least a couple years, but now it is becoming very real. Conventional wisdom says that there are longstanding disputes over trade and territory, but things generally seem to be warming up. You want to know what the world will look like in 20 years? Look to Siberia.
"China's Records In the Eyes of Foreigners" Pick your favorite China statistic. Is it "GDP of the Shanghai region is equivalent to that of Brazil;" is it "Foreigners invest about $1 billion in China every week;" is it "China has the largest online gaming population in the world;" is it "China produces 2.3 billion condoms each year." NB article from the "People's Daily Online", although original source claimed to be the "French L'Express weekly".
Is the next war unavoidable? China is now building a large amphibious fleet, with the sole purpose of invading Taiwan. This joins its ever-growing and formidable surface and submarine fleets. Thousands of coastal surface-to-surface missiles, with dozens added each month, now face Taiwan. For its part, Taiwan is considering an $18 Billion arms purchase from the US. India is ramping up its military might, and even Japan is changing its neutral defense policies. Is a major Asian conflict coming soon?
Life In China: A Series of Photos Without Words, For The Mysterious Beauty and Contradictions of China. By EastSouthWestNorth, via Simon World, Asia by Blog.
End of an era IBM may sell its PC division to Lenovo, a Chinese company, due to its decade-long dwindling importance in comparison to powerhouses HP and Dell - in a market they helped invent in the first place. Seems like a good enough reason to reminisce about the old bastard.
First look look into the surgery of of Dr Huang Hongyun who cultivates the cells of aborted foetuses and injects them into the brains and spines of his patients. His method is controversial, but his results have led hundreds of westerners to his Beijing surgery. (MI)
From cells to bells, 10 things the Chinese do far better than we do Ah, those clever Chinese. First they invent gunpowder and a few other essentials of modern civilization. Now they're gunning their economic engines. Yet who would have thought that, after a millennium of poverty, they'd already do so many things better than we? In fact, compiling a Top 10 list of what China does better than Canada isn't easy. There are so many items. To whittle it down, let's assume it's unfair to count anything related to cheap labour. So we won't include the wonderfully thorough mop-ups of supermarket spills: The staff don't plunk down those yellow you-can't-sue-us caution signs. They actually fan the floor with a broken sheet of Styrofoam until it is dry. Nor will we mention the exquisite, free head-and-shoulder massages that come with every shampoo and haircut....
Cultural Revolution When Nike founder Phil Knight first traveled to China in 1980, before Beijing could even ship to U.S. ports, the country was just emerging from the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. By the mid-'80s, Knight had moved much of his production to China from South Korea and Taiwan. But he saw China as more than a workshop. "There are 2 billion feet out there," former Nike executives recall his saying. "Go get them!". The Chinese responded (the goal was "to hook kids into Nike early and hold them for life"): sales through the 1990s picked up 60% a year. Here's how Phil Knight did it. Print page for main link here
Wacky World Animal News Round-up: Fat males refuse to mate in China's crocodile farm, Stray dogs hunt and kill gazelles in Missouri, and Coyote, kangaroo, or Chihuahua, what is that thing in Texas?
Bin Laden is in China -- During the home stretch of the Northamerican elections, Osama bin Laden could prove to be the ace in the sleeve of president Bush. As we speak, Washington is negotiating a highly secretive agreement with Beijing, the Chinese capital, for the eviction of bin Laden from his sanctuary in the turbulent Muslim provinces of China, in the Northwest of the Great Wall nation.
Miss Plastic Surgery There is now a beauty contest in China where those who have had augmentation can compete for a prize. Will the losers end up on the Internet(s)? This is more main stream with TV shows around the profession (Nip / Tuck). PLay the Nip/Tuck game. No worries, reality TV is here for us so we can then we can compete to be cut up.
In China's newly wealthy cities, a research boom is starting. In parts of the countryside, the rivers are black and too toxic to touch.
Comparison of life in Piscataway, New Jersey; Kochi, Japan; and Zhuzhou, Hunan Province, China by Ernie French.
Bore Riders are a strange breed of inland surfers, catching periodic tidal surges (pic) that can carry them for miles upriver. Surf the English countryside, France's Bordeaux region, the freezing waters of Alaska's Cook Inlet, the Amazon jungles, or China's Silver Dragon, the largest tidal bore in the world.
Iron Women, Foxy Ladies- A collection of propaganda posters depicting the ideal, but contradictory, roles for Chinese women in the nation. Even if you're not interested in the politics, the evolution of style and form in the artwork is fascinating to examine.
China is positioning itself to profit from the response to global warming and the eventual shift away from fossil fuels. [Via WorldChanging.]
Kidnapper shot twice by a Chinese cop, falls down five stories, and then comes back to life in the morgue. [Warning: Potentially graphic images]
"All he has left now to remember the grandson he once carried on his back is a stack of workbooks -- trigonometry, politics, history. Mr. Zheng does not recognize enough Chinese characters to read them. But he keeps the books as memorials." The best human interest story of the year, and a look into the lives of China's rural poor.
Fantastical paintings from Chinese artist Fang He. I think I like Subway Underpass Bird best for its vague sense of creepiness, though Chinese Pavilion No. 1 appeals to my love of old time sci-fi illustrations. Check out similarly whimsical Zhang Gong's cute phallic creatures (NSFW), or peruse the large collection of artists at Courtyard-Gallery. (Related Chinese art posts here and here.)
34 Million Friends was founded by Lois Abraham and Jane Roberts to gather private contributions for the United Nations Population Fund, and had gathered $1,957,613.31 in gifts and pledges as of July 4. For the third year in a row, the Bush administration is withholding $34 million in aid because of accusations that UNFPA supports China's policy of coercive abortions, despite evidence to the contrary. UNFPA estimates the money could have helped prevent as many as 2 million unwanted pregnancies, 800,000 abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths, and over 77,000 infant deaths.
Regeneration: Contemporary Chinese Art From China and the US.
Chinese Pressure Dissident Physician. Jiang Yanyong, the doctor who blew the whistle on China's cover-up of SARS, is not as famous as the "Unknown Rebel," but perhaps he should be. Earlier this year he wrote a defiant letter to the Chinese government, urging them to admit the mistakes of Tiananmen Square. He was detained shortly before the anniversary, and is now and undergoing interrogation and "brainwashing sessions." HRW is calling for his release.
A Canadian Chinese Celebrity - (LA Times - reg required) Use this to get login. "The lanky Ottawa native, a virtual unknown in Canada, is most renowned for his Chinese TV appearances as the quick-witted foreigner who does amusing skits and the first Westerner to perform the ancient Chinese art of xiangsheng, or comedic dialogue."
Chinese blogs. "On the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, blogs are booming in China. But are they making any difference?"
Ling Chan gave up everything to come to America. "Chan arrived in the United States with no knowledge of English, no support network, and a dependent child...she was happy to land a janitorial job with AXT Inc., a Fremont, California semiconductor manufacturing firm...on a four-person cleaning crew, scrubbing the boxes used to ship semiconductor wafers around the factory...after a few weeks, her colleagues -- mostly Chinese immigrants, like herself -- whispered that this was no ordinary dust: It could give you cancer." [via Fark, of all places]
A sad story of self-interest and political naivete. A Washington Post feature about a small group of Chinese students and the government reaction to their political discussion group.
The year to fear for Taiwan: 2006. The Taiwan correspondent for Jane's Defence Weekly speculates on how China might go about the conquest of Taiwan.
The Harbin Snow and Ice Festival The temperature in Harbin, China reaches forty below zero, both Fahrenheit and centigrade, and stays below freezing nearly half the year. The city is actually further north than notoriously cold Vladivostok, Russia, just 300 miles away. Rather than suffer the cold, the residents of Harbin celebrate it, with an annual festival of snow and ice sculptures and competitions. The main link actually shows the 2003 sculptures; here are some from this year.
China's Building Blitz. In scale and pace, the building boom currently sweeping over China has no precedent in human history. China is spending about $375 billion each year on construction, nearly 16 percent its gross domestic product. In the process, it is using 54.7 percent of the world's production of concrete, 36.1 percent of the world's steel, and 30.4 percent of the world's coal.
Chinese Communism comes to a (seemingly) screeching halt. Lost in the brouha over Spain was the report that the Chinese National People's Congress voted yesterday to protect private property rights. Some regard this as more symbolic than actually guaranteeing any concrete rights while others believe it is indicative of the growing importance of private business currently fueling the Chinese economy. The words 'Human Rights' were also put into the constitution for the first time.
Punitive shoes - cruel shoes are nothing new. From 1000 years of lily-footed Chinese concubines to Renaissance Venetian courtesans, footwear has migrated from the sex trade to more popular and mainstream culture. Foot fetishists throughout the centuries have endured painful training and disfigurement for notions of eroticism and sexy feet. For those who want the sex without the pain, there's always some rather delightfully erotic socks.
Visible Traces: Rare Books and Special Collections from the National Library of China. Rare books, maps and other texts, viewable online in this exhibition at askasia.org.
Is It Politically Incorrect To Decry The Eating And Killing Of Civet Cats? Is Western consciousness of hypocrisy (due to the enormous number of animals we kill for food) preventing us from criticizing countries, like China, where practically all animals are eaten? Is sentimentality and the protection of animals we regard as cute better than having no qualms at all? I'm sure that the ratio of animals killed-per-capita is higher in the West than in China. Is there any moral difference? Probably not. Why, then, is it so shocking?
China Avant-Garde is a wonderful site for exploring Chinese post Cultural Revolution art, with excellent accompanying texts. Browse the featured artists and see an Exhibition from a Private Collection. Also, Inside Out: New Chinese Art is a beautiful site focusing on this recent "explosion of diverse work that is simultaneously exhilarating and bewildering", and you will find more great examples at Chinese Contemporary (click on the artist's name for information and all thumbnails for that artist), plus marvelous Chinese avant-garde posters at Rene Wanner's poster pages and Who's Who in Chinese Posters, and at the Hochschule der Kuenste, Berlin (view works here).
People in China are searching for justice on sites like Sina.com, as in this recent case of a poor woman who was run over by a BMW. At the same time, the authorities continue to try to tighten their grip on the web and on dissidents. Meanwhile, the official People's Daily temporarily admitted on its website the "violent crackdown" on pro-democracy students in Tiananmen Square 15 years ago, but this appears to have been a case of careless internet plagiarism.
The Ballad of Mulan in Chinese calligraphy by, er, Mi Fei; also translated into English. Via the Mulan FAQ.
China engraves capitalism onto its constitution. This is good development indeed. Although business investment and production has been flourishing in China, doing business there remained very risky because of the fact that private property rights have never been officially legalized. That has changed. The question now is: does economic freedom beget political freedom?
Yes, Virginia, there is a sweatshop in China! [Friday flash, holiday humbug]
Yin Yu Tang is a late Qing dynasty merchants' home that was transported from its original site in southeastern China and rebuilt at the Peabody Essex Museum It offers a glimpse into the daily life of the Huang family, residents for more than two centuries. The story of the dismantling, transport and reassembly is a fine example of an international preservation project. (flash alert)
After viewing this incredible video (.wmv) from China I am folding laundry like a pro (via Linkfilter)
We may have avoided a trade war, but it looks like a space race is on.
Chinese Philately: stamps and cancellations of Imperial China.
Chinese cricket culture encompasses a 2000 year history of both singing insects and fighting crickets. The tradition continues today, with some crickets selling at market for $1200. A visitor to Shanghai explains the allure of crickets as pets while others see their value as fearsome fighters. Cricket boxes and cages make interesting collectibles.
China's crackdown on online dissent continues. It's been a year since the arrest of Chinese internet dissident Liu Di. Many of her supporters have signed petitions calling for her release, but last week one of their organizers, essayist Du Daobin, was himself arrested.
China Launches Manned Space Mission
Godspeed, Yang Liwei.
Godspeed, Yang Liwei.