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- Dragon Fighter
The People’s Republic of China has 56 recognized ethnicities; still, the Han majority makes up 92 percent of the population. Most of the remaining 55 groups are relatively unknown to the West. Some are even little known in China, as they are small and live on the margins of China-proper. Groups such as the ethnic Koreans and Manchu are highly integrated into the Chinese mainstream; however, the best known internationally, the Tibetans, are recognized mainly due to their protracted struggle for greater autonomy from the oppressive Han dominated national government.
In fact, the level of international awareness Tibetans receive is astonishing, considering Tibetans make up less than half of one percent of China’s population. This makes them only the ninth largest minority group. The “Tibetan Issue” is well known due to a superior global marketing campaign, which includes the venerable Dalai Lama and a host of celebrity Western activists. However, the 10 million Uighurs (also Uyghur) in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are more numerous, have struggled just as long against the Han Chinese, and their homeland is larger. Still, they have never enjoyed the same international regard. Perhaps, Turkic Muslims are not as appealing to the hearts and minds of the West as bald monks in flowing robes. Cultural biases aside, the Uighurs have failed at marketing, largely because they have no central leadership, no figurehead – until now.
Enter the Dragon Fighter: Rebiya Kadeer, the self declared “Mother Of All Uighurs”. Once, one of the wealthiest women in China, this slight mother of 11 children, divorcee, non-secondary school graduate, is one of China’s most wanted fugitives. The government has accused her of working with foreign interests to mastermind the July 5th Uighur protest that turned into a violent race riot. Over 200 people are believed to have died, most of whom were ethnic Han, who many Uighurs view as colonists.
The latest article is now up at Brooks Foreign Policy Review, here.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), founded 42 years ago, was created to provide a framework to advance regional stability in Southeast Asia at a time when the withdrawal of colonial powers had created a vacuum. This placed the newly independent states of the region in danger of succumbing to ethnic strife and communist insurgencies. Since the conclusion of the Cold War, ASEAN has embarked on a series of free trade initiatives, linking it to some of the Asian-Pacific regions most dynamic economies.
Article is also up at Brooks Foreign Policy Review, here.
In 2001, Former Singaporean Ambassador to the United Nations, Kishore Mahbubani asked a simple question, which was also the title of his book, “Can Asians Think?” Mr. Mahbubani sought to challenge, what he perceived as, Western paternalism. He believes that Asians do not need indefinite guidance by the Western world, because Asians are capable of independent thought, and just because these thoughts may differ from the West does not mean they are the result of defective thinking. A befitting question for the coming decade is, “Can Sub-Saharan Africans think?” For many Westerners it would seem the answer is, “No”, at least as far as Africa’s relationship with China.
In 2005, the Western media began to express “concern” with the increasing Chinese presence in Sub-Sahara Africa (Africa). During this period, many foreign policy observers began to promote the idea that China is plotting to take over Africa in some neo-colonialist attempt to gain unlimited access to natural resources. For example, Karin Kortmann, a German parliamentary state secretary stated in November of 2006, “our African partners really have to watch out that they will not be facing a new process of colonization” (Cheng 2007). The same year, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, Jack Straw, made similar allegations “Most of what China has been doing in Africa today is what we did in Africa 150 years ago” (Stevenson 2006). This Sinophobic boilerplate is hyperbole, but the narrative suggests that the average African is impotent and their leaders are all iniquitous or ineffectual.
It has been a long time since I’ve blogged about Sudan. Most folks who read this blog probably know, China (and Russia) are often blamed by the West for much of what has happened in Darfur. People say that the government of Sudan could not arm the Janjaweed (government covert-sponsored militias), if they were not getting weapons and revenues from oil sales. Much of the West believes that China and Russia should use their clout to pressure Sudan into stopping the violence in Darfur. I’m not sure about Russia, but I know that China has cooled to Sudan’s government somewhat. They have even sent peacekeepers. This is interesting because both China and Russia have long held a policy of non-interference. The reason being that both nations do questionable things in their nations, especially in regard to minority groups. They do not want to set a international precedent of interference in domestic issues by international bodies due to humanitarian concerns. Its seems that China has softened its stance somewhat.
Sudan welcomes Chinese peacekeepers
Their clocks are set on Beijing time, they use state-of-the-art equipment and — most of all — they are welcome by the Sudanese government. In just about everything, the Chinese peacekeeping contingent in Darfur is strikingly different from the rest of the U.N. mission here.
The 140 Chinese engineers and troops deployed in Darfur were among the first reinforcements sent by the United Nations, which took over peacekeeping in the western Sudanese region in January. The Sudanese government quickly approved the Chinese contingent, even as it vetoed contributions from other countries because they were not African — including a Scandinavian engineering corps.
–Ordinary citizens seeking a place at the decision-making table in China – This is a very interesting article about a grassroots political movement. The Chinese government response was interesting. It usually happens this way, if they can’t suppress the movement they negotiate. The problem is every time this happens they attempt to clamp down more to prevent this type of movement from every getting off the ground. The article seems to suggest it is a “democratic movement”, but I do not think so. These people were just trying to protect their capital investment.
–Ethnic violence spreads in Kenya, with no sign of respite – I’m not sure what to say about this now. The two opposing sides met and came to no conclusion. The solution is obvious. Have a new election with serious international monitoring, but Kibaki likely thinks he will lose so will not go that route. He figured possession is 9/10 of the law and he just needs to wait it out…while his countrymen continue to kill each other.
–Stock markets see another ‘black Monday’ – I wonder how many Chinese Billionaires are there now? From what I know most of them are rich off the stock market and for some reason centered around Wenzhou.
–Japanese sushi lovers shrug despite high tuna mercury levels – This is quite odd to me. Japanese people, IMO, are quite anal about freshness and purity of food. Tuna is a key stable of the Japanese diet and the dismissive response to mercury levels is quite odd. I am going to consult with my wife over this later.
–Military balance tilting toward China – An interesting article on the military balance between China and Taiwan.
This is not shocking, I’ve seen many test results that show Northern Chinese tend to group with North East Asians (Japanese and Koreans) and Southern Chinese tend to group more with Southeast Asians. The populations also have distinct (but often overlapping) appearances. Many of my Chinese friends have told me it is due to diet and climate. I do not think so.
The early genetic research (The History and Geography of Human Genes, 1996) of Dr. Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza showed that Northern Chinese could be grouped with other Northeast Asians (Koreans, Tungusic groups, Japanese) and that Southern Chinese grouped more with Southeast Asians, making the Han Chinese aggregate an intermediate population between the two, which matches their location geographic location. This new report gives us some detail as to the way this population cline occurred.
Based on what I know of Chinese history, Southern China was settled by the Han much later than the North and the people in the South were considered “barbarian” referred to as the various types of “Yue” (known as the 100 Yue) in later times. Eventually the people region that became Guangdong and North Vietnam were referred to as (Nan Yue, or South Viet). Most of these people were likely Austroasiatic speakers in origin (like present day Vietnamese and Cambodians). Since Northern Vietnam (Annam) was part of China on and off for over 1,000 years; and the south, by the end of Chinese colonization was controlled by Champa, a Malay people (Austronesian).
As far as I know there was a massive influx of Han Chinese into the region during the Song Dynasty due to Barbarian pressure in the north. I know assimilation was fairly complete by the Tang Dynasty as Cantonese speakers often call themselves “Tong (Tang in Mandarin) People” and talk of giving their children “Tong names”. They also still refer to their province and themselves as “Yue” to this day. I’m guessing by the Late Tang, the Sinization of the area was complete, but for Annam. Vietnam became independent from China after the disintegration of the Tang, since the “Viet or Yue” people lived in what is now Guangdong as well, I’m guessing by that time the people in Guangdong were mostly Sinized, and considered themselves Han Chinese, but most of the people further South did not.
Also, “South,” in China is the area from Shanghai down to the border of the Southeast Asian nations of Laos and Vietnam.
–Rice Rebukes Bush Envoy Who Criticized Policy on North Korea – Jay Lefkowitz, President Bush’s special envoy on North Korean human rights said the current Bush Admin policy will not solve the nuclear issue in North Korea before Bush leaves office. Well, he is right, that is obvious to someone of the meanest intelligences.
–Roadblocks on the Great Asian Highway – Interesting article about overcoming infrastructural barriers between Thailand, Laos, and China to create more efficient trade; and some immediate negative externalities for the local Laotian people.
–Corruption-fighting Vietnamese granny gets award – Transparency International awards Vietnamese grandma for fighting the good fight for 25 years against death threats from local government officials. This woman is 150 cm (4’11” inch) tall and 40 kilograms (88 lbs) and has more “balls” than 99% of the politicians in Washington D.C., unfortunately for us Americans.
– China closes 44,000 pornographic websites in 2007 – The Chinese government is not fond of “adult entertainment”. This is part of the increasingly common crackdown on various facets of the sex industry in China. I’m sure shutting down 44,000 websites has kept the thought police quite busy.
–Science with Africa: Accelerating Science and Technology in Africa – Information on a conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 3 to 7 March. The themes of the conference will be science and innovation policy, science themes and innovation and will consist of plenary sessions and workshops.
–Africa: ‘U.S. Recession a Threat to Third World Exports’ – There has been a recession fear going through North America, Europe, and East Asia lately but any economic downturn for the United States will also significantly effect some of the world’s poorest nations, which are already on the margin. This will not just hurt trade but also aid revenues.
–Desperately seeking students (Japan) – What is interesting about this is that Japan’s government is fully aware of the increasing student shortage and will allow the market to decide which schools stay open. This is something Americans should let happen with .
– – What is most interesting about this is that the Internet was instrumental in pressuring the government to adhere to the rule of law. This is a powerful tool for public outcry, that despite government efforts; they really can not effectively control. push China to prosecute beating death
–Asia: ‘Internet forces’ in China and Taiwan step up – Last time it was attacksChinese hackers attacking South Korea, now it is Taiwan v China. This article is a little different from the one I read on the South Korean attack. It goes into a lot more detail about the nature of the attacks. The United States and German governments also appear concerned as well. The article also mentions that due to security measures Taiwan is less vulnerable to attacks than Japan, the U.S., and EU.
–Japan asked China to tone down Nanjing Incident exhibits – This is somewhat shocking to be honest. I have said all I have to say on Japan’s WWII issues here, but I do not think it is wise for Japan to make statements like this. Instead they should demand for a international panel of historians from China, Taiwan, South Korea, and the United States to decides what occurred during WWII and in its aftermath once and for all and have high ranking government representatives sign it and agree to abide by the findings. As I said before I do not think China would ever agree to that, for reasons obvious to me.
–West Africa: Food Prices Still Climbing, Crisis Feared – This is not good at all.