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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.
–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.
–Komura: Japan not seeking ‘rewards’ – I blogged about the Japan-Africa relationship before. This article reveals that Japan’s government is renewing its commitment to sustainable development aid measures in Africa and heavily implies they are “not after Africa’s resources like China”. This is not all altruistic, aid allocation never is. Japan is seeking a permanent seat on the security council and Africa has 53 nations. Upping aid from its current 10% on the continent might sway more to back Japan.
–S. Korea’s Lee moves to revitalize relations – South Korea’s president elect, Lee Myung Bak, is seeking better relations with Japan. This is somewhat surprising to me since he has a history of being anti-Japanese, but I suppose he is a pragmatist. It is easy to be a anti-Japanese mayor, but not so easy to be an anti-Japanese president in the region. It is positive he is already seeking regional support to deal with the North Korean issue.
–Liberia: Charles Taylor Trial Gets Under Way – Considering what this scum is responsible for in Liberia and the neighboring Sierra Leone, the child soldiers; drugs; rapes; mutilations; corruption; mental trauma of the victims. Taylor is a sub-human monster that should be hung like the war criminals of World War II. Some people are not fit to live, and there is nothing wrong with culling the herd. Here is a site that is monitoring the trial, Charles Taylor Trial.
–Liberia: Market Women Help Revive Economy – There is some good news in Liberia. Not only do they have a woman president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who seems to be respectable; but women are reviving the market! Johson-Sirleaf owed a debt to these women who were instrumental in her election, so she set up a Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund; more about this in the article. While reading the article, I saw similar dynamics in Liberia as in Sudan during the time of conflict. Women would be the ones foraging for goods, because they were least likely to be killed or forced into a militia. In Darfur, the choice was between a man possibly being killed and a woman raped, so often they sent the woman. In any case, I am quite happy with the industriousness and entrepreneurship I see in Liberia.
Qing (Tsing) Hua University is the top science and engineering school in China. A disproportionate number of high ranking CCP members graduated from there. Many of the current graduates go on to MIT and other top level international universities, so this is “nothing to sneeze at”. When I lived in China, I met a few African students who were studying medicine and engineering at Fudan University. All of them were fluent in Mandarin and a couple were also fluent in Shanghai Dialect, very few foreigners ever manage to master a dialect, so that was impressive (as they are not formally taught). African students studying on scholarship in China go back decades to the socialist/communist solidarity movement they were trying to form with other developing nations against “imperialism”.
This article, along with China’s rise in cell phone and internet technology, is quite exciting. I have read a lot in the media about China’s investment in natural resources and infrastructure projects (many for show) but I did know about technology transfers. I do not recall a lot of talk about this in Broadman’s book, Africa’s Silk Road, so I’m assuming this is still a small but growing market segment. In related news, IBM has new investment plans for South Africa.
‘Browning’ the technology of AfricaBy G. Pascal Zachary
Thursday, Dec 27, 2007, Page 8
FORGET THE MASSACHUSETTS institute of Technology. Hello, Tsing Hua University. For Clothilde Tingiri, a hot young programmer at Rwanda’s top software company, dreams of Beijing, not Cambridge, to realize her ambitions. Desperate for more education, this fall she plans to attend graduate school in computer science — in China, not the US.
The Chinese are no strangers to Rwanda. Near Tingiri’s office, Rwanda’s largest telecom company, Rwandatel, is installing new wireless telephony equipment made by Huawei of Shenzen. Africa boasts the world’s fastest-growing market for wireless telephony, and Huawei — with offices in 14 African countries — is running away with the business, sending scores of engineers into the bush to bring a new generation of low-cost technology to some of the planet’s poorest people.
–Japan defense chief mulling action in event of UFO attack – This is pure comedy! Actually I’m almost certain the U.S. has some outline of a contingency plan in the case of extraterrestrial life being discovered as it will likely cause political/social instability as religious fanatics lose their mind that their holy book did not tell them about aliens. Still, a UFO attack? What is worse is he announced it to the media!!!
–New charges menace Jacob Zuma in South Africa – Wow, that was quick. Who wants to bet Mbeki made a few calls and had a few envelopes of info dropped in the mail anonymously to the prosecutors office? Something slick is going on. “A criminal conviction would end his political career, for South Africa’s Constitution bars felons from becoming president.”
–Africa: Continent Must Scale Up Efforts to Reach Millennium Goals, Says Migiro – Damn I said something similar a few weeks ago. I got criticized on one site for not recognizing and praising Africans on their progress. :-O When I was growing up I did not get praised for doing something “half-assed” but that was my family, but it is not just Africa’s fault. As the article rightly points out, the developed nations have not lived up to their end of the bargain either.
Remember back in 2001 when Gordan G. Chang, a popular China based American lawyer, predicted the “Coming Collapse of China“? Whatever happening to that guy? For awhile, he had certain Sinophobes overjoyed and they showed their gratitude by making him a popular talking head on every major news network in the U.S. So much for his 15 minutes of fame. His big claim was some perfect storm of China joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), a run on the banks that would collapses the economy, and in turn causing popular uprisings that would topple the communist party. Like much voodoo laden astrological based futurology it did not come to pass and Mr. Chang has not been seen for a number of years, although he wrote a book about N.Korea nuking Japan in the last year.
Contrary to Mr. Chang’s clairvoyance, China’s banks are showing increasing competitiveness internationally. There investments in Africa are especially interesting.
”Chinese Banks Becoming Powerful Factor in the Global Financial Sector” n October 25, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (I.C.B.C.), the world’s largest bank by market capitalization, announced that it would purchase a 20 percent stake in Standard Bank, South Africa’s largest bank. If the US$5.6 billion deal is approved, it will be the largest foreign direct investment in South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994 and the biggest overseas investment by a mainland Chinese company.