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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.

1,968 officials punished for malpractice in local reshuffle – I do not mean to sound pessimistic, but I think these officials were the ones without adequate guanxi.  They were not being punished because they were especially corrupt. It is funny that China was not always so corrupt, in fact most dynasties in ancient China started off strongly Confucianist and prided themselves on the virtue of officials. The corruption usually came toward the end of the dynasty; could it be the CCP is at the end of its life?

US: China not manipulating currency – WOW! This is going to piss off a lot of Republicans and some Democrats on the Hill, but it is the truth.  Most people don’t want to hear the truth though, they want to hear what they want to hear.

China raises interest rates for 6th time this year – China is still fighting the inflation beast. I blogged about this a few times, but the most interesting article on it was here. This one is somewhat ominous though, but I have not seen a serious counterargument.

U.N. death penalty moratorium snubbed – As I said before, the death penalty is rarely used in Japan and when it is; it is generally deserved. Most Japanese believe in the death penalty and no Euro promoted whining from the UN is going to change that.  I do not believe Japan has to change its culture to make the UN happy.  America certainly does not.  I love Hatoyama’s comments on death penalty efficiency, that is very Japanese.

Cop kills self at Tokyo Stn koban – In America we have cop killers. In Japan cops just kill themselves, likely out of boredom.

S. Korean president-elect indicates tougher stance on North – Lee has already started criticizing N.Korea. I’m sure Japan and America are happy, but not so sure about China.  This is a big change of policy for S.Korea, as there has been a liberal government since democracy started; with a policy of engagement (which became the Sunshine Policy).  Well he has a mandate, winning almost 50% of the vote (having ran against 12 opponents).  It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

I blogged on the 10’s of thousands of uprising in China that go unnoticed in the press (Western or Chinese) every year. Much of this is tied to corruption. Hu Jintao commented on the growing income inequality at the recent 17th Party Congress, but part a large chunk of that inequality comes from party officials acting like little emperors in the provinces. The scholar, Pei Minjin, believes that CCP officials acquired money through graft to the tune of 3% of China’s GDP. That is outrageous, and remember that China has the 4th largest economy by gross GDP in the world, and will likely surpass Germany, to become the 3rd largest within a year. Is there a wonder why China has so many billionaires for a nation were the average income per capita is around $3K USD? Even if you break down the number of billionaires per 10,000 people it is quite large given China’s overall level of development. Most of this money is earned, a lot of it is due to the overinflated stock market, but a lot is also due to ill-gotten gains.

Here is a great (short) paper on corruption trends in China:

Corruption Threatens China’s Future