There is a Chinese idiom about a man who buried a sum of silver underground and, worried that passersby would find it, placed a sign next to the plot that read “ci di wu yin san bai liang,” or “There is not 300 liang of silver here.” Needless to say, the next day his silver was gone.
I wonder if the censorship bureau understands this parable because one thing everyone in China should know by now is that if you ever come across a website that terminates your Internet connection, start digging.
I popped out just a few minutes ago to the convenience store to get a bottle of water, and saw a convoy of tanks roll by right beside the second ring road.
Last week, in response to aspersions cast on Zhao Genda, many mainland travelers have banded together and defended their actions while on Taiwanese soil.
About 5 months ago, I posted an article, The Loss of Soft Power, about how China’s rise in soft power would eventually meet the same problems that the United States had to deal with decades ago. Namely, that in times of duress, China would come first, and that Chinese companies would either have to back out of their riskier investments, or China would have to send in military forces.
Well, a recent Department of Defense study entitled “Military Power of the People’s Republic of China 2009” says that China does not have the capacity to send troops abroad anytime within the next decade, so China won’t be sending soldiers in to protect their investments anytime soon. Because of that, Chinese companies are starting to back out. Here are some key sentences:
China has backed away from some of its riskiest and most aggressive plans, looking for the same guarantees that Western companies have long sought for their investments: economic and political stability.
The most recent cover of The Economist was quite an interesting one: an homage to Saul Steinberg’s iconic New Yorker cover in which a distorted map of the world showed the streets of New York dominating the environment, with the rest of the United States an afterthought and China (along with Russia and Japan) mere blips on the horizon.
The Economist‘s cover does not have the United States as a corresponding blip—instead it’s depicted as a ruined land, with Wall Street a sinkhole, the Statue of Liberty a beggar, and swaths of homes foreclosed. The blips for China are Africa (land of natural resources) and Europe (land of designer handbags).
The weakness that the global supply change has displayed will surely mean changes for the world. As Thomas Friedman has argued, the world has become much flatter in the past few decades. The growing trend of pursuing a first-world living, the globalization of commerce, and the export of certain cultural icons worldwide has had startling implications. But as the global economy, for the first time in decades, begins to shrink, one wonders if this means the end of other trends as well.
I had a very frustrating conversation with a Chinese woman once. She was a bright, intelligent person, web-savvy (she was a computer programmer), and on her way to Redmond to work at Microsoft. We began talking about the news, and I may have said some disparaging things about the reliability of the Chinese media. What surprised me was the sudden vehemence of her reaction. She was quite offended by the insinuation that the Chinese media was not trustworthy, and countered by telling me that the Western media was just as biased and unreliable. “How do you know that what they say is true? So how can you say that what the Chinese media says is not true? Maybe it’s not always completely true, but the West is just as bad.”
I hate Fat Kids. I simply do. Fat kids and their parents. Normally, I’m not this vitriolic. In fact, I pride myself on being an even-tempered and well-centered individual with no strong likes or dislikes. But I absolutely despise fat kids and their parents. I used to be one. I was chubby as a child, and obese as a teenager. Even now, after years of dieting and exercise, I still have a gut that troubles me. I look better now, but that doesn’t lessen my ire. I could be a little more specific: I hate spoiled fat kids. I hate spoiled fat kids whose parents indulge their every whim. I hate spoiled fat kids whose parents indulge their every whim and are proud of it. Unfortunately, despite the specific nature of my hatred, I’m in a country that is chock full of them.
December 8, 2008 was the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was also the date on which Charter 08, a 3,200 word manifesto calling for the creation of a government based on human rights and democracy in China, was signed by 303 individuals. Charter 08 is modeled on Charter 77, a document similar in breadth and scope that was signed by 243 Czech and Slovak intellectuals including Václav Havel and many others who would go on to play a prominent role in the country’s post-Communist era.
A few things recently have coalesced in my mind. Thoughts on democracy, liberalism, and the future of China in both respects.