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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.
I wrote a few times about the changing family dynamic in Japan and the rise of the woman worker. Despite Japan’s shrinking and aging population the article makes clear the crime rate is low, unemployment is very low for a developed nation (less than 4%) and the country is still quite middle class. It does not sound like a crisis, it sounds like Japan is going the way of some less dynamic and mature European countries. It is becoming what I like to call a “museum country”, it is stagnating.
So what can Japan do? Further deregulate and import more foreigners? That might be a long term solution, but I’m not sure the social cost outweigh the benefits for most Japanese people.
I believe one of the key problems in Japan is how decisions are made. Japanese people, since the LatePeriod (and likely before) have be very high on consensus. They do not tend to like strong independent leaders making controversial and difficult decisions. They do not like this in and they especially do not tend to like this in Prime Ministers, therefore these positions are historically weak. Some of the issues that plague Japan need a strong leader, but due to the way the political and economic establishment has been historically structured this individual or “new generation” of leaders is unlikely to manifest.
For Japan, a Long, Slow Slide
Declines in Productivity, Population Combining to Stifle Economic Growth
By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, February 3, 2008; A17
TOKYO — As the United States frets noisily about a recession, Japan is quietly enduring a far more fundamental economic slide, one that seems irreversible.
This country, which got rich quick in a postwar miracle of manufacturing and alarmed Americans by buying up baubles such as Rockefeller Center, is steadily slipping backward as a major economic force.
Fifteen years ago, Japan ranked fourth among the world’s countries in gross domestic product per. It now ranks 20th. In 1994, its share of the world’s economy peaked at 18 percent; in 2006, the number was below 10 percent.
– ‘Iron Lady’ bids public farewell – Wu taitai gone already? I was looking forward to reading more about her after the last Sino-EU summit. Maybe she can consult for some African nations. This woman is a bulldog, and I mean that in a respectful way. Not just anyone could lead the negotiation for China ascension to the WTO.
–S Korean military on alert following attacks by hackers – I’m not really surprised Chinese hackers attacked South Korea as there have been some major “beefs” between the two nations over interpretation of overlapping ancient histories.
–Overseas Vietnamese eyed for hi-tech sector – Saigon Hi-tech Park is trying to recruit overseas Vietnamese tech workers to make up for the shortage of domestic talent. As one would expect there are growing pains.
–China to Switch to Lethal Injections – China said they will stop shooting people in the head and use lethal injection, which is funny due to the fact America is debating if “lethal injection” is cruel and unusual punishment. Cruel and unusual punishment is against the U.S. constitution.
–Li Yinhe on the recent porn crackdowns – An interesting post on porn crackdowns in China.
surprisingly a good article. So is China buying into the argument that greater appreciation of the Yuan is good for everyone, or is this a hollow show of good face to appease critics? The article is likely correct that the Chinese government will appreciate slowly if they do intend to do that so as to maintain greater control, but the point about speculation is ominous. What is more disturbing to the CCP is the thought of massive unemployment in export related industries leading to even greater social instability, as rural migrants have nowhere to go. They can not go to the city to work and the value of agricultural products at home could fall due to greater foreign competition. Remember that most Chinese still live in rural areas, not large cities.
By Keith Bradsher
Friday, December 28, 2007
The yuan has risen faster against the dollar this week than at any time since the end of the Chinese currency’s peg to the dollar in 2005, feeding speculation that the Chinese government has begun allowing a brisker pace of appreciation.
The currency, also known as the renminbi, rose 0.9 percent this week. That included an increase of 0.18 percent on Friday to close at 7.3041 to the dollar in Shanghai trading.
Keeping with the Confucianist trend, Vietnam has been declared the 6th most attractive country for FDI (foreign direct investment) by the UN. Seems like Vietnam finally “got its groove back”. From my reading, there still needs to be more work done on privatizing and simplifying the legal structure, still they are making good progress. I would say that Vietnam needs to continue to focus on niche industries in order to be competitive with China due to their lower level of infrastructure and smaller economy of scale, which is the direction they seem to be headed; quite impressive.
–UN report analyzes FDI in Vietnam
Secretary-General Supachai Panichpakdi of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) quoted his agency’s recent survey on Tuesday, saying that Vietnam was the sixth most attractive location for foreign direct investment (FDI) over the 2007-2009 period.
This is an interesting story concerning how China’s new openness has given ethnic Koreans (Chaoxian Ren) opportunities to work with North and South Koreans. I knew a Chaoxian girl when I was in Shanghai. She was trying to marry anyone she could to get out of China. I never found out what her father’s business was, but he was wealthy and she promised he would pay anyone who would marry her. I think it was a way for all of them to get eventually get new citizenship. As far as I know, she asked almost all the S.Korean male students, a couple of Japanese, and myself (the only American that was not married at the school).
Some interesting notes, Chaoxian ren is used in China for N.Koreans and ethnic Koreans in China, but in Japan the same characters 朝鮮 pronounced Chosen, are consider discriminatory. Before reading this article I was not aware that N.Korea had a significant business presence in China. I met some N.Koreans, while I lived in Shanghai, who owed a restaurant I frequented with the S.Korean students at my school. Very nice and humble people.
The picture below is of a crazy S.Korean nationalist who eats flags (Chinese, American, Japanese). I always found him funny and I couldn’t find anything better.
BY KIM HAN IL, STAFF WRITER
This is part of a series on ethnic Koreans living in northeast China.
A North Korean restaurant lit up in neon stands alongside a South Korean eatery in Xida, in Shenyang, Liaoning province. (KIM HAN IL/ STAFF WRITER)
BEIJING–When China and South Korea established diplomatic relations in 1992, it transformed the lives of ethnic Koreans living in this country.
With South Korean investment pouring into China, ethnic Koreans found themselves serving as a bridge between the two countries.
That, in turn, provided a jumping board for them to escape from rural communities in northeastern China, mainly in Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces, for the bright lights of Beijing, Seoul and other cities.
Li Yingshu, 52, was managing a small Korean restaurant in Hunchun, near the border with Russia, at the time.
The new chapter in relations with South Korea prompted her to move her business to the Chinese capital.