Friday, May 30, 2008

French tours operators in China are concern about a drop in business

By China Watcher

Following the pro-Tibet demonstrations in Paris, there were calls to Chinese citizens to boycott visits to France. And the outcome of the small survey which I conducted from this blog, was also of the consensus view that the people of Chinese origin should boycott Paris, the capital of France.

French tour operators especially those operating to bring tourists from China are worried of an unofficial order that provides advices discouraging visits to France. It has not been officially confirmed but if it is true, then the plunge in business could be real and “catastrophic”. Since the protest in Paris, many potential tourists have cancelled their trips and travel agents in Beijing are being silently advised to remove France from their destinations from this week onwards

France is the most popular European holiday destination for Chinese tourists and some 700,000 flocked to the country last year, with Paris, the Cote d'Azur and the Loire chateau region the most popular destinations.

A tour operator warned of serious economic consequences for the sector if the order is seriously carried out.

Among those who cancelled were a group of 35 Chinese couples which have intentions to celebrate their matrimonies in a French chateau.

AFP new sources revealed that the French authorities are trying to confirm that "the Beijing tourism administration apparently issued a recommendation" to travel agents to stop selling trips to France.

Paul Roll, the director of the Paris Tourism Office, added that the flows of tourist from China will most likely drop in the months to come if such an order is confirmed given by the Beijing Tourism Office.

Maybe the Paris Mayor can get the Dalai Lama, his honorary citizen, to encourage his Tibetan exiles and the many followers to sell tour packages to sympathizers to replace those visitations that would be lost as a result of his fervor support of the Tibetan spiritual leader.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Oh Sharon, Just Shut Up!

By China Watcher

I was fascinated by a piece of news this morning in which a past and faded Hollywood actress, Sharon Stone, has suggested that the Chinese earthquake could be due to “karma” which resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives in China.

She continues to make insinuations in an interview that the disaster may be a “revenge” for the Chinese government policy towards the Tibetans. She expressed that she was unhappy in the way the Chinese had treated the Tibetans and that it could be a way the “unseen forces” work if you do not do good things to each other.

First, in what authority does the faded star has in making such rash comments that the Chinese had ill treated the Tibetans. Her shallow interpretations of the government restoration of order after the riots reflect the many Westerners views that the Chinese government was suppressing the Tibetans since 1959. Was she aware that the Chinese had continuously allowed the Tibetans to practice its cultures and traditions during the few annual Tibetan celebrations in the Tibetan capital since the Dalai Lama was exiled from his homeland? And Tibetans and other minorities do have a much easier passage to seek for government economic assistance and universities entrance compared to the Han Chinese? Where is the ill treatment?

Second, the quake struck in Sichuan province very near to the Tibetan plateau, the homes of the Tibetans. And the victims could be the Tibetans themselves.

Third, this is a natural tragedy of a colossal scale in modern times in which thousands had loss their lives and the Chinese people are still mourning their loved ones. Does she really have a compassion for these sorrowful people? Or only for the Tibetan people.

Many Chinese netizens are upset over the actress opinion on the Chinese people and wanted her to apologize for the unwarranted comment.

As the Chinese saying goes, “If you speak nothing, nobody would know that you are deaf and dumb”.

Friday, May 23, 2008

China and Russia move closer

By China Watcher

In a sign of the close strategic partnership forged by the two great and powerful nations, the Presidents of China and Russia signed a statement condemning the planned US initiated missile shield in Eastern Europe that the US thinks can protect its allies from missiles fired by rogue nations, particularly from Iran and remotely North Korea.

In brief, the joint statement stated that, "Both sides believe that creating a global missile defense system, including deploying such systems in certain regions of the world, or plans for such cooperation, do not help support strategic balance and stability, and harm international efforts to control arms and the non-proliferation process. It harms the strengthening of trust between states and regional stability. In this respect our two countries express concern."

In another portion of the joint statement, "Both sides are also concerned about the universal nature of the principle of respecting human rights, but believe that every state has a right to encourage and protect them based on its own specific features and characters". "On the same issue of human rights both countries agreed to oppose politicizing the issue and using double standards, and should oppose using human rights to interfere with other countries' affairs."

The signing of the agreement was in conjunction with the Russian’s President two-day trip to China, the first to a non Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), to promote and strengthen the partnership between the two nations. This signifies the importance stressed by Russia on its genuine strategic partnership with China over that with Western European nations.

The joint statement seeks to create a strong bond and build a common front against Western initiated moves to impose their brand of democratic values on them. The US should take heed that if they continue to push the two countries to a corner, it may not be just a joint statement but more of a military alliance of the NATO kind in the near future. Coming under intense pressure from the existing international political and social order influenced by the US and its allies, the two countries will continue to play a constructive role and cooperate to resolve international and regional issues, providing another alternative other than the viewpoints mainly from the Western dominated world led by the US.

From an analytical point of view, I can deduce that the joint statement made by China and Russia was the result of years of frustrations and annoyance created by the US and its allies in trying to control and dictate how the world order should be shaped and developed. The US has been trying very hard to “contain” China but due to the latter global international economic and political strength, it has integrated its China’s policy with a bit of “engagement” strategies. The US has also stubbornly refused to listen to Russia objections and concerns to the US crafted missile defense shield which will be located dangerously at its doorstep.

Both Presidents also witnessed the signing of a US$1billion deal for Russia to build a nuclear fuel plant in China and supply semi-enriched uranium.

On the Sichuan quake disaster, the Russia President sent a letter of condolence on the same day to the Chinese President, followed by four batches of aid materials and rescue teams. The fast reaction and generous assistance showed not only its care and humanitarian spirit, but also reflected the understanding and friendship between the Russian and Chinese peoples. In a clear support of the Olympic Games, the Russian government has also committed to send a "high-level" delegation to the opening ceremony.

It is certainly comforting to note that China and Russia can put aside its historical rivalries and work together to provide another viable alternative system or order other than the one we know so well – the Western liberal societies which I believe is not an ideal model especially for one which is still at the stage of developing.

For the peaceful development of mankind, I am all for a multi-polar world, one which is less dominated by the US.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Building structure standards must be strictly supervised

By China Watcher

The Chinese government reactions and openness to the relief and rescue effort were commendable and earned international praises. This is in contrast to its earlier poor handling of natural calamities (the snowstorm in Southern China) and diseases threatening issues (SARS) at the national level.

The quake has to a certain extent unified the Chinese people to a single cause – to save lives and to alleviate the sufferings of the victims. Thousands of police and military personnel were sent to the quake zone to conduct rescue efforts within 24-36 hours of the incident. Long human queues were seen at the many put-up booths to mobilize blood donations on the streets in big cities along the Eastern Front. The responses from the Chinese public were overwhelming. Celebrities and sports personalities were also actively campaigning or participated in efforts to raise funds for the victims of the quake.

However, the disaster also exposed the inadequacy of past Chinese construction standards in building structure. There were a lot of questions from the netizens concerning the many residential dwellings which were easily flattened from the devastating quake due to the poor quality of building structure. In one particular published photo, I noticed that the surrounding low rise buildings were reduced to rubbles whereas the bigger and taller structures remained intact or standing upright. I could only deduce that the residential houses, schools, factories were constructed without any steel supportive structures while the standing high structures may have been supported by steel supported beams. Corruption could have been a factor in allowing shoddily building materials and standards to be certified for human occupancy even though the minimum threshold had not been achieved.

The Chinese government (both at the central and provincial level) must now stringently re-visit all past approvals especially in quake prone areas to ensure that the minimum standards of building strength and tenacity in the structures are complied with. Building standards in disaster areas should not be any lower than areas where there is no danger of such natural catastrophe. Earthquake-proof buildings should be an acceptable feature in the reconstruction of new shelters for the homeless victims of the quake.

Corruption, which is prevalent even in advanced societies, must be reduced if it cannot be eliminated and there should be no compromise when it concerns human lives. Only if firm decisions are made with a strong commitment will there be a clear minimization of human lives in the event of a natural tragedy.

Local provincial governments, county and district administrators are to be reminded that severe penalties will be taken against them if there are involved in corruptions and that they must be transparent in its reporting especially on those issues that are of national interests like earthquake, flood and food safety, in order to gain the trusts of its citizens. In another promising development, the Chinese government has warned the relevant authorities and volunteered bodies that the source, destination and quantity of relief supplies should be made public and any corruption linked to relief work and fraudulent collections of funds will be severely reprimanded.

It is sad to note that the number of death keeps rising. At the latest count, there were about 40,000 deaths and 35,000 missing.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to send 250,000 temporary housing units to the region by the end of June, and one million within three months at a media conference on Tuesday, 20 May 2008. Engineers and dam experts were on standby to constantly monitor the weakened dam structure due to the bad weather. According to the State Council, China’s Cabinet, the state agencies were told to cut planned spending by 5 percent this year, in order to create a $10 billion reconstruction fund for the homeless in Sichuan.

The Chinese government has done all that could be expected at this time around and I hope that they will continue to raise the bar on its responsive relief efforts to a higher level.

An important lesson that can be drawn from this major disaster is that the minimum quality construction standards for all future human dwellings, complexes and infrastructures should not be compromised. In times of a powerful quake, a good structure actually determines whether a person survives or not.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Badminton Sports: Slaying of the Chinese Dragon is not that easy

By China Watcher

Two days ago before the finals of the badminton “World Cup” for Women – The Uber and the Men – Thomas Cup, the press in Malaysia were supporting the theory that the Dragon can be slaughtered due to the slight hope created by the other teams in the earlier rounds in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Chinese invincible shield can be penetrated, another press exclaimed.

Another false hope initiated by the influential media. Luckily I have my own views. It was never easy for the teams to live up to the tag of “Dragon Slayers” and as such, the results proved, once again, China dominance in this particular sports event.

China’s women team trooped out easy winners against Indonesia at 3-0 and the China’s men’s team yesterday shattered the South Korean dream of claiming a first Thomas Cup team championship with a 3-1 victory.

I was of the opinion that the other people – journalists, officials, some commentators - in the sports are just too unhappy that the Chinese had dominated this sport for the past one decade, more so, in the women event. But I also noticed that some of the teams and its players are closing the gap in standard between the Chinese and themselves. Even the Chinese coach has commented that Chinese dominance in the sports is not healthy for badminton. The rest of the teams must work extra hard, develop the sports at the grassroots and should not blame it squarely on the Chinese who has a bigger pool of talents to draw from. Anyway, I believe that a team cannot be at the peak forever and there will be lull period when another stronger team or player takes over.

China should note the development of the other countries to try to deter them from winning Olympic gold medals in the individual events especially with all the teams’ single and concerted mind to defeat the Chinese. Some of them have already made it their personal objective and a benchmark to beat any one of the top Chinese players. Getting a good result against them is a sure sign of a winning place on the podium.

Two such badminton players who may have the potential to destroy China’s hopes which the Chinese should take caution are Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei (who defeated China’s number 1, Lin Dan, in the semi-final) and Denmark’s Tine Rasmussen who always have a well planned winning strategy against the Chinese women players.

Now, let us wait for the Olympics and see what happen in the sports of badminton.

Thomas Cup final

China 3 South Korea 1

Lin Dan (CHN) bt Park Sung-Hwan (KOR) 10-21, 21-18, 21-8
Jung Jae-Sung/Lee Yong-Dae (KOR) bt Cai Yun/Fu Haifeng (CHN) 25-23, 21-16
Bao Chunlai (CHN) bt Lee Hyun-Il (KOR) 28-26, 21-11
Xie Zhongbo/Guo Zhendong (CHN) bt Lee Jae-Jin/Hwang Ji-Man (KOR) 21-12, 19-21, 21-12

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

China acts swiftly to coordinate rescue in Sichuan Province

By China Watcher

So far, the Chinese government handlings of the earthquake rescue efforts were nothing but amazing. This is remarkable for a country, with a traditional custom of not being able to be truthful and slow in dispensing bad news, which had actually moved quite fast in mobilizing rescue and relief effort to the earthquake stricken areas in Sichuan.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was on a plane within hours on news of the earthquake that has hit south western China. On the plane, he was seen directing rescue effort to try to save lives and coordinating plans to bring relief promptly to the affected people. He has been seen constantly on CCTV, with a grim-faced posture, comforting the injured and assuring the victims that search and rescue efforts are being made to the other members of their families. He gave the assurance that rescuing lives is the top priority of the central government. I think Mr. Wen appears really concern about the sufferings of these people and his sincerity has my fullest support compared to the artificial smiles of sympathy coming from some leaders during a tragedy.

It was also a delighting sight to behold when thousands of soldiers and police were dispatched aggressively to the quake zones to perform rescue work. Some were seen disappointed because they could not find the equipments available to move the heavy boulders and cement slabs brought down by the quake in its quest to rescue victims trapped underneath. Emergency medical teams were also mobilized from the coastal big cities to the quake areas as seen on the tube.

Heavy rains, severed communications, and blocked roads have hampered rescue efforts. The overall death toll from this earthquake – with tremors reaching as far away as Pakistan, Vietnam and Thailand – is expected to hit at least 20,000 based on the latest reports coming from military teams parachuted into the heart of the disaster zone that was previously cut off. Planes and helicopters were also used to air-dropped emergency supplies to inaccessible areas.

According to Xue Lan, a professor of public administration at the prestigious, Beijing’s Tsinghua University, the Chinese government has learned from past mistakes, especially over the slow response of the blizzards that struck Southern China in January this year, at managing natural calamities and has built an efficient disaster relief and rescue structure. The structure comprises a network of emergency management offices that emphasizes on the saving of lives to try to offset the high number of deaths in the event of a major natural disaster. Under category 1 disaster as it is called for this earthquake, the local officials are given the authority to bypass provincial chain of command and report directly to federal level to hasten relief effort.

The enactment of a special law on emergency management last year, setting out the government's officials responsibilities and another one in the dissemination of information to the news media promptly during natural disasters have created a somewhat “openness” in news reporting in China. The vigor of the state media in updating the news on the quake is a significant improvement and I believe the Olympics have to a certain degree played a part in this “openness”. Coverage of the earthquake seemed unrestricted and scores of foreign reporters were able to broadcast live from the quake zones. Who said the Olympics have no effects on the creation of a more open society? Obviously, I do not expect China to adopt the “open society” associated with a Western styled democracy, but China will change gradually and it will do so at its own pace and on the wishes of the majority of its people and, definitely not from the many demands of the foreign activists or Western governments.

Another point I noted from this incident was the scaling back of the domestic leg of the Olympic torch relay after there were numerous calls from the Chinese netizens that the celebrated event in another province will be seen to be insensitive to the plight of the victims of the quake. This decision to tone down the celebration is an encouraging sign that the officials are willing to listen and they are not deaf to public sentiment – another first in the Chinese government under one-party rule.

Being more open and frank in dealing with issues and tragedies are important accountability attributes which will help to garner respect of its people and thus, will additionally prove that China can also deliver on services aside from growth regardless of the type of political leanings in its administration.

The Chinese government has certainly lived up to its “openness” and responsiveness in times of disaster and I hope that this will set the trend and adoption of more internationally accepted reforms, however, slow it is, as China begin to transverse its journey towards becoming a more developed and advanced society in the future.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

China takes up the challenging task to build jumbo commercial jetliner

By China Watcher

China has recently announced the establishment of a company, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (CACC), to build jumbo jet, competing with big and established commercial jet makers like Boeing and Airbus. The company will start off with an initial capital of US$2.7 billion, of which the State owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission will take up about US$852 million as the biggest shareholder. Shanghai City government will take up another US$700 million in the equity of the company, making it the second largest shareholder.

The company will be entrusted with the responsibilities to perform research, conduct development, manufacturing and marketing of large passenger aircrafts.

According to the Chinese Premier at the launch, Chinese made-planes should encompass activities to design and assembly of aircraft, the research and development of engines and the production of airborne equipments and high-tech light materials for the plane’s body. For this to happen, China must be able to strive to lift its technological competence through research on mechanism innovation and cooperation with foreign business partners on the art of maintenance and delivery of after sales services. I am of the opinion that the development of aircraft manufacturing will also help to promote the making of advanced components use in the final assembling process, thus creating more jobs and enhancing the competencies of its people.

One particular advantage is the huge domestic demand for commercial passenger jets. According to Business Week, the Chinese aviation industry, alone, is estimated to require up to 2,800 new passenger airplanes worth $329 billion and about 1200 cargo planes, over the next 20 years to keep up with the country’s impressive air travel growth. China is now the second largest aviation market after the US. Although aircraft manufacturer must also rely on foreign demand to be profitable, the sizeable local demand (with special tax relief for made-in china planes) will allow the company to serve the local needs properly – tying up the “loose ends” - before embarking on the more competitive overseas market by taking on the big players in the industry.

It will not be so easy to challenge the dominance of Boeing and Airbus in the large passenger category and hence, China is focusing on the planes with a seating capacity of 150, at least up to 2020. Boeing and Airbus are now manufacturing planes that have 400 seats or more. The success of another small Chinese aircraft manufacturer, AVIC, in building the 80 seats capacity plane, ARJ-21, last year has given the Chinese the necessary confidence to build large aircraft with a capacity of 150 and above.

I salute China’s effort and determination to reduce reliance on Western planes in its aviation industry in its route to becoming a potential superpower. The plan is also part of China's wider drive to develop more sophisticated products, such as ships, cars and computers, to cut its reliance on overseas suppliers.

This time around with its given economic strength, the larger industrial base, and better planning facilities, there is less likelihood the Chinese government will repeat the same mistake 25 years ago, in building large aircraft.

Poll Results

By China Watcher

Following the announcement by the Paris's Mayor to award the Dalai Lama an honorary resident, I have taken the liberty to conduct a website poll to ascertain whether people of Chinese origin should boycott Paris as a travel destination. At the closed of the survey after 2 weeks, there is an overwhelming vote of 13 over 16 or 81% supporting the idea of a boycott of Paris.

The detailed results are:

Boycott – 16 (81%)

No Boycott – 2 (12%)

Wait & See – 1 (6%)

Thank you for voting.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Even a nice positive gesture can be politicized

By China Watcher

The announcement by the Chinese government to lease two pandas to Japan, to fulfill a personal request from the Japanese Premier during the Sino-Japan summit in Tokyo, was not even spared the negative political leanings by certain Western and Japanese media.

Western media reported that the Tokyo's Ueno Zoo has been flooded with calls to refuse the offer by the Chinese President fearing that the money from the lease would fund Beijing's clampdown in Tibet. The rental rate, though undecided, but based on previous dealings is about US$1.0 million a year per animal.

The anti-China Tokyo Governor’s is not in favor of the acquisition of the two popular animals, a replacement for Ling Ling which died of a heart attack two weeks ago. Chinese and Japanese officials will hold talks to sort out the arrangements.

A few Japanese nationalists claimed that Japan is kowtowing to China by making themselves so low as though they need the Pandas for survival. They even put posters against the transfer on walls at the zoo.

Earlier in the week, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), a non government organization based in the West, appealed to Japan not to accept the animals on grounds that it would be miserable as it is confined within walls. Further, the animals are endangered and should not be traded as commodities.

First, I observed that the few groups of Japanese objections were bordering on hysterical level and also, very narrow minded in their reasoning. The payment of the money will go to a special fund to preserve the natural habitat of the panda in Sichuan (plus surrounding areas) and for research activities to boost the population of these animals. Anyway, US$2.0 million per year cannot do much to quell the rebellion in Tibet. It is not even enough to educate the many Tibetans who are still backward. The Chinese government does not need this meager sum if they wanted to suppress the Tibetan people, as claimed. For the ignorant complainant, the Chinese government has almost US$1.5 trillion in reserves.

Second, the offer of the pandas is a symbolic and sincere gesture of friendship on the part of the Chinese government to the Japanese people. The mere offer was made at the request of the Japanese Premier for a replacement of one such popular animal which has died. If the Japanese choose not to read this simple message as a hand of friendship, then it is sad that they do not want to be a friend. First-tier countries friendly to China like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia have indicated that they also wanted the cute and lovable animals in their zoo but so far the Chinese government has not given it due consideration. Maybe the Chinese government should consider offering to such friendly countries which I think would be appreciated much more.

Finally, I do not see the reason for PETA objections. There are many animals in captivity – even endangered and critical species – kept in more deplorable conditions whereby PETA was silent. Pandas are also kept in the zoos in the US and other places but PETA choose to make its noise in this particular lease arrangement. Perhaps PETA volunteers would be better off and, most effective, by not wearing anything parading on the streets of New York, Paris or Sydney supporting a “No Fur” campaign.

It is simply amazing to hear such political and anti-China intonations from a simple gesture promoting friendship which can even be twisted to serve a hidden political agenda whenever it hinges on matters touching China. With a well coordinated campaign by the many anti-Chinese activists, readers must be prepared and ready to hear more negative remarks concerning China in the future especially those coming from the West.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

China's Olympic Torch was lit on Mt. Qomolangma (Mt.Everest) on 8 May 2008

By China Watcher

Up on the highest peak (29,032 ft) minus all the political elements of the Games, a team of Chinese climbers including Tibetans achieved a historical feat not only for China but also for the Olympic Games. Go China go!

Courtesy of CCTV and Xinhua News Agency, let us sample the historic moments:

Sino-Russia relations will strengthen under Medvedev

By China Watcher

Russia has inaugurated a new President, Dmitry Medvedev, on 7 May 2008, and according to political analysts, he would most likely continue the grand foreign policy initiated by his predecessor Vladimir Putin.

Medvedev has earlier stated that he will prioritize Moscow's ties with Beijing. In a latest Russia news interview, he reaffirmed his personal preference that he will conduct a state visit to China via Kazakhstan, as one of the first few destinations abroad when he becomes Russia President. By giving priority to his China visit’s over that of the capitals of other Western powers, it is a clear indication that he will continue the genuine strategic partnership established by Putin in 2001.

During the tenure of Putin, it was Medvedev who was involved in the planning and building of confidence and trust between the two countries. We may call him as the executor of Putin’s China strategy.

In a period of 10 years, I have seen Russia getting stronger and more confident in its foreign policy and most important in its independent stand against the US which was a result of its improved State’s coffers due to spiraling increase in the price of crude oil (of which Russia has abundant) and the success in the management of its various food programs.

Russia close tie-up with China will create more anxiety, uncertainty and fear over in the West led by the US and its allies. But elsewhere, it is viewed as a healthy development towards promoting a multi-polar world’s order.

Congratulations to Medvedev!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sino-Japan relations is at the threshold, to either remains stagnant or becomes warmer

By China Watcher

On Tuesday afternoon, Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived for a five-day visit to Japan, the first in nearly a decade, with the earnest hope to solidify relations between the two economic powers from Asia.

Outstanding disputes

Rare high level visits between heads of government of two countries in 10 years speak volume of the fragile, rocky and the topsy-turvy nature of the bilateral relationship. Ties became frosty when the then Japanese Premier, Junichiro Koizumi took over in 2001 and stubbornly ignored neighboring countries objections to his annual pilgrimage to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine, which many Chinese believes glorifies Japan’s militaristic pasts, until his departure from the Japanese government in 2006.

Areas of discontentment are the unresolved contaminated Chinese-made dumplings, the diplomatic clashes over disputed territory with likely gas fields in the East China Sea and the thorny historical legacy.

Regional Rivalry

Looking deeper into the above issues, the actual foundation of such disputes lies in the historical rivalry between the two countries. Japan has always regarded itself as the champion of Asia and it is proud and prideful that it was never invaded by any Chinese dynasties from the Middle Kingdom; the closest period was during the Mongol era when Chinese vessels were sunk by the so-called Japanese warriors in the 11th century. The rivalry can be translated into the present-day Japanese right wing groups and the nationalists who openly scorned at the rise of China and would do anything to deter or offset this particular eventuality, more so because China is a communist state though I would call it a one-party state. The majority of the Japanese has found this difficult to truthfully accommodate, and as long as this situation continues, the anti-China feelings and resentments will always be present.

On the other side, there is a huge majority of patriotic Chinese residents who felt that the Japanese had not repented adequately for its past military atrocities during the Second World War that have caused untold sufferings to the Chinese people. I believe that apology is one thing but the sincere actions that followed the words said were much more important and meaningful. The unresolved comfort women issue, the effects of the biological experiments in North-East China and the revision to Japanese historical textbooks to justify the Japanese Imperial Army actions during the War clearly contradict the sincere apology, which were totally unacceptable to the Chinese public. With all this outstanding historical issues, the Japanese government is really foolish to expect China’s support of its bid for a United Nations Security Council seat a few years ago. Anti-Japanese feelings are still very strong among the Chinese – about 60% of the Chinese residents generally have a dislike for Japanese from a survey conducted a year ago.

Over the past 20 years, the Chinese has become more confident and has shed the “sick man” of Asia tag, given by the Japanese during the War. The country has made inroads in its economy and demonstrated commendable achievements in sports, literary works, science and technology, cultures, political influence and education. The progress gap is slowly but surely closing in on the Japanese. Chinese population is growing (even with the one-child policy) whereas Japanese numbers are dwindling. Not a really encouraging outlook and every Japanese realizes that eventually they will be ranked much lower in terms of development in Asia – after China and India or even Indonesia in the years to come. The fear is further compounded because China is still not a democratic society. The resurgent Japanese nationalism with an aggressive foreign and defensive policy also does not help to bring the two countries closer together. The inert threat felt by the Japanese is very real and obvious if you are able to sample numerous comments from the mainly Japanese participants in forums and bulletins on those topics related to China in Japan.

Mending fences

So it’s hardly surprising that both sides are keen to mend fences. Trade between the two countries hit a high of US$253 billion, last year. China has overtaken the US as Japan’s most important trading partner. China wants Japanese technology and investment to help develop its economy further, while Japan wants to sell more of its products to the Chinese, particularly as demand in other important markets like the United States started to slow.

Tokyo said it hopes to repair what it calls fragile sentiments in both countries and Beijing hopes to promote people to people relations with emphasis on youth exchange programs. China also wishes to enhance what it calls current common interests and avoid contentious issues like the territorial disputes, which may need more time to resolve.

The Tibetan issue, of which the Japanese public has taken an interest since last month riots in the autonomous region, would likely not feature prominently in talks between the two nations.

Improve mutual trust and communication

The willingness of the two leaders to hold a summit is testimony to the fact that a strong Sino-Japan relation is in the mutual interest of both countries and also for world’s peace. This particular trip may bring about increase mutual trust and political communication between the senior leaders in each other government and, possibly lay the framework for platforms and avenues to resolve conflicts in the near future.

On the table, there will be an accord on the expansion of environment and energy conservation aid to China. As part of this agreement, China will agree to consider ways to help halve global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Both countries will also commit to actively participate in U.N.-led talks that would produce a new international agreement on climate change. In addition, China will also stress the importance of a sector-based approach to reducing emissions in the country.

Japan also hopes that it could discuss security and cooperation issues with China during the Summit.


According to a latest statistical survey, urban Chinese residents in bigger cities are willing to discard historical feuds for a forward looking Sino-Japan ties but the positive development unfortunately did not transcend to the many Japanese nationalists whose main agenda is to prevent China from taking its rightful place in Asia and the world. China should be cautious of these group of anti-Chinese activists, and its numbers are increasing.

Playing ping pong, offering a personal Olympic invitation’s to the Emperor and sending another panda to Japan are nice reciprocating gestures but the fact remains that the two governments must be able to view the relations from a bigger perspective, to seriously accept and address each other needs and willingness to make sacrifices, to chart a bright future for the many generations of Chinese and Japanese who have no choice but to live and work together in a globally competitive environment, more so if it they lived so close together separated by just a narrow sea.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Should China be part of the international political health system?

By China Watcher

Over the weekend, I read an article from the USA’s CIA chief who said that China’s behavior in the international arena is narrowly focused on its own objectives without giving any concern about the health of the international system. And China which is a potential power must accept its fair share of responsibility that commensurate with its growing status. Otherwise, the world will look at it more as an adversarial rather than a “peaceful” nation on the rise.

China needs time

China’s real economic growth is confined to within the last 20 years (1989-2008) and its actual military modernization commenced in mid-1990s. So the time frame is relatively short as compared to the time taken by the few Western nations (European’s industrialization age started about 200 years ago) to what it has become today – economically strong, politically influential and militarily powerful – with high-tech homemade armed and strategic weapons. China’s economic growth and transformation from a society which was agricultural based to an industrialized society over the last 20 years was a spectacular achievement. Some economists even termed it an “economic miracle”. I believe every factor of productions and its elements were in place combining well with the correct economic strategies implemented. I personally feel that the one-party rule has made it easier and faster for projects to be implemented as against another layered bureaucratic system normally associated with a democracy. Take a look at both China and India and you would be able to see the differences – though India has also enjoyed encouraging growth especially over the last 7-8 years, the income gap is still widening till to this day.

If I could recall clearly, there were some western economists, critics and experts who predicted that the Chinese economy will crash in the mid-1990s as a capitalist economic system cannot work well with a political system which is still administered by an “authoritarian” government. Shanghai was a place which has the most construction tower cranes at one time and there were so many buildings and office spaces for rental that certain Western critics called that a real estate “bubble” waiting to explode. That was 10 years ago and it has not happened? Was that a real economic judgment or just another Western ploy to create “panic” in the system or just plain jealousy?

China needs time to fully develop its society given that its hinterland and its Western provinces are still relatively backward. There are places in China that are dependable on “foot doctors” or mobile doctors and medical assistants because accessibility is difficult and the region is poor. Even in the bigger coastal cities, the health care system, if any, still has much room for improvement. This is just one area that needs to be systematically monitored and implemented if China wishes to move into “developed” status and it will, of course, require a huge allocation of funds. Though the economy size has surpassed the US$3 trillion mark, but on a per capita basis, it is hardly impressive due to the huge population of 1.35 billion to date.

China is no threat

China’s military modernization is still ongoing and there are many aspects of hardware and warfare strategies which have yet reached the standards of the US or European powers or even Japan. So how could this be a threat? China is still under an arms embargo by the European Community and as such, it cannot purchase advanced military hardware from any European producers for its army modernization. Ironically, it is grouped together with Myammar, Iran, Zimbabwe and North Korea in its terms of engagement for purchase of military weapons from Europe. So, without high-tech dual use technologies from advanced industrialized nations like France, Great Britain, US and Germany, how do you expect China to be a threat?

Fortunately, China is quite resourceful. It had acquired some advanced weaponry from Russia particularly the 4th generation fighter planes (SU-30K), destroyers and sophisticated diesel submarines over the last 10 years. Recently, I observed the volume of military transactions between China and Russia has declined, more significantly in 2006 and 2007. One reason for this is that the Chinese, through reverse engineering, has acquired the technologies to do so. Two obvious examples are the indigenous J-10 fighter jets and the Jin-class nuclear ballistic submarines (Type 094). Chinese-made jet turbine engines with poor thrust response and the loud sound from its submarines motors are two areas that would require a bit of fine tuning. I am very confident the Chinese will close the gap in the next 10 years. Maybe, the European arms embargo is a blessing in disguise – it makes the Chinese more determine to do it themselves.

An advanced military force is an essential element of great power status and nobody has the right to question this.

New Player

The Chinese is deemed a new player in the procurement of oil and mineral resources for its burgeoning economy. As a new player, it is expected to offer something “extra” from what the established Western nations has firmly cemented. The West has over many decades created a network of oil and commodities buyers and sellers which has been well integrated into its own financial systems that any newcomer would find it difficult to break into. Hence, China has no choice but to deal with oil rich nations which the West does not want to deal with as these countries do not conform to their Western standards of civil liberties. Such prominent countries that come to the forefront are Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Myammar. Are the Western countries willing to include China, a country with a different political system, into its exclusive system and networks when it comes to oil trades?

Two additional questions I seek to ask, “Where do you think are the many oil traders located and which countries have the most advanced secondary hedging commodities instruments? I have a strong feeling that the current high oil price level is due specifically to speculative trades rather than the increased oil demand from China and India.

Legacy Issue

Taiwan is a legacy of the Chinese civil war and thus, whatever designs of the Chinese are, it is an internal Chinese problem of which the West has no right to interfere. Most of China’s military upgrades are essentially to ensure that the US does not intervene in the event of an outbreak of hostilities across the Taiwan Straits. The Chinese has no intentions other than to ensure that Taiwan does not make a declaration of independence.

My friends from US told me that many residents talked about China but they had so little knowledge of the country, its people and culture. Surprisingly, most of their perceptions were drawn from the many articles and news they gathered from the news and televisions media. If the Western media continue to play on human emotions, stick to its Western supremacy ideals and failed miserably, to inform and educate the US societies, then the repercussions will continue to be felt in the next 20 years.


China is not an “enemy” as the West would like to portray but it would like to be integrated in the world’s system, which the West must play a part to gradually assist it to do so. China’s stability is important for the international health system and I believe the West must not impose its own standards of civil liberties in its quest to do so. China needs to be integrated into the world’s political system but it must be given time to do so.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Nosy US needs to be told to mind own business

By China Watcher

I just could not understand how those thick-skin US Congressmen, about 54 of them, have the heart to write to the Chinese President to urge Beijing to end its policy of repatriating North Korean refugees, of which they claimed, was leading to execution and torture of those refugees on their return home.

Just two weeks ago, these same group of Congressmen together with its other lawmakers, were up in “arms” to condemn China treatment of its own people – the Tibetan rebels. On one hand, they need Chinese assistance to resolve the North Korea refugee issue and the nuclear disarmament matter but on the other hand they will go all the way by joining with those so-called “adversaries” (human rights and certain Western media) of China to pass resolution condemning China’s human rights record. These US lawmakers also urged the US President to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics, in Beijing this summer, which they thought would have an effect on China. Well, they are wrong. I am telling these narrow minded US representatives, once again, the Chinese people throughout the world are supporting it. With Bush or without Bush, the Summer Olympics will be a success.

Bilateral relationship cuts both ways and there must be mutual benefits unless it is lop-sided. A country must at least be on a working and “friendly” manner before you could ask another for a favor. I do not see any of these when you deals with the US. The politicians on Capitol Hill are a butch of ungrateful and insincere people who could not care less about others – but only to preserve its dominant single power status in the world. The US claimed that they speak for the people of the world and they conveniently nominate themselves as the authority of human rights and protection of the “conscience of the world”. Who give them the power to do so? Not the UN. And what moral rights do they have when its human rights practices in Iraq are being questioned?

China by the way is not any small country which can easily be bullied and coerced into accepting their resolution. I do not think China should be swayed by such resolution. After all, it is only a resolution for the ears of the 300 million US residents. Yes, 300 million people against a world population of 6.5 billion. The US is not the only center of influence – it is only propagating Western culture which I think is not all that healthy.

No doubt the US is the only superpower at the present moment which has a strong influence in the political and economic sphere in this world but I believe its power is on the way down.

The majority of the Latin America countries is now presently run by its left-centered elected governments and, had implicitly told the US that they had enough of US intervention through CIA over the past 50 years, which brought them more misery than good. If I am not wrong, only Columbia is deemed an ally of the US in Latin America at present. Iran and Myammar have shown that whatever economic sanctions the US has initiated, it has no impact on the well being of its people. When a particular country is already at a very low standard of living, what difference does it makes? Poor does not makes you much poorer. It is only the people who had enjoyed a standard of living like the US that will be afraid to go poor. Nothing in the world remains the same forever. If you are at the top, there is only one way – DOWN. Let us see how the impending US recession will have its effect on the US living standards and the effects on its people.

In Africa, most of the people in the region are of the opinion that the Chinese have more influence on its governments than the US. In ASEAN and Australia, the current governments had already told the US government to develop good relations with China and they do not want to pick sides in the event of an outbreak of hostilities between the two countries. Maybe only in Europe through NATO that the US really had a hold over the direction of these countries but even then, we do note divergence in direction especially over the Iraq invasion and the expansion of NATO to the former Soviet bloc countries.

In another sign that the Chinese people are supporting the staging of the Olympics free from politics, a Hong Kong resident commented that the protestors who were taken away were “troublemakers” and the torch run in the former British colony held just a few hours ago were a proud moment for the people of Hong Kong and China. The Chinese crowd was seen cheering for the police who loaded the 10 pro-Tibet sympathizers into the van.

If the US truly believed in democracy, they should respect the majority of the Chinese. An Olympic Games must be free from politics.

Personally, I do not have an iota of respect for these US Congressmen and the Chinese government should just tell the nosy US especially their lawmakers to look at its own backyard and clean it up before they go shouting at others. Respect must be earned not force onto others.