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China wants us to forget the horrors of Tiananmen as it rewrites its history

Remembering the deaths of 4 June 1989 is no neutral task. It is a civic duty, a burden and an act of resistance in countering a state-level lie that risks spreading far beyond China’s borders.

On that day the Communist party sent tanks to clear protesters from Tiananmen Square in the centre of Beijing, killing hundreds of people, maybe more than a thousand. In the intervening years, China has systematically erased the evidence and memory of this violent suppression using its increasingly hi-tech apparatus of censorship and control.

We know this first-hand: one of us was present in Beijing in 1989, while the other wrote a book on Tiananmen’s legacy. Neither of us ever intended to become an activist, yet to broach the subject of 4 June publicly is to challenge the Communist party’s silence and counter Beijing’s attempts at excising this episode from history. Journalists generally shy away from taking political or ideological positions and yet, since China has for 30 years tried to deny its crime, the simple act of writing about it unwittingly tips us into activism.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/19/china-wants-us-to-forget-the-horrors-of-tiananmen-as-it-rewrites-its-history

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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Asia

 

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How Narendra Modi Seduced India With Envy and Hate

Before dawn on Feb. 26, Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist prime minister of India, ordered an aerial attack on the country’s nuclear-armed neighbor, Pakistan. There were thick clouds that morning over the border. But Mr. Modi claimed earlier this month, during his successful campaign for re-election, that he had overruled advisers who worried about them. He is ignorant of science, he admitted, but nevertheless trusted his “raw wisdom,” which told him that the cloud cover would prevent Pakistani radar from detecting Indian fighter jets.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Asia

 

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While the world watches Donald Trump, it’s missing what’s really going on with US foreign policy

Our leaders know how to bang the war drums and, by and large, we go along with them. The US threatens Iran with war – so will Iran close the Strait of Hormuz and attack American warships in the Gulf? Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria after rockets fall on Golan – so does an Arab-Israeli conflict loom closer than at any time since the 1973 conflict? Jared Kushner plans to reveal Trump’s “deal of the century” for peace in the Middle East – but is it dead in the water?

Meanwhile the real stories get pushed down the page – or “to the back of the book”, as we journalists used to say.

Take Donald Trump’s desire to furnish Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with billions of dollars of extra weapons so that they can increase the ferocity of their war in Yemen against the Houthis – whose support from Iran, such as it is, prompts much of the international abuse against the Islamic Republic. French intelligence officers in Washington have apparently discovered that this is no routine request from Riyadh but a desperate appeal to Washington, because so promiscuous has been the Saudis’ use of US munitions against Houthi rebels (and civilians, hospitals, aid centres, schools and wedding parties) that they are running out of bombs, guided and unguided missiles, drone parts and other “precision” arms to be used on one of the poorest countries in the world.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/trump-saudi-arabia-us-air-strikes-jordan-yemen-afghanistan-bolton-a8946726.html

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2019 in Middle East, North America, Asia

 

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Deng Xiaoping’s Victory

What emerged intact from the massacre of defenseless students and other citizens in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was not communism, but a version of authoritarian capitalism on a grand scale. It is a model that appeals to autocrats all over the world, including in countries that succeeded in throwing off communist rule 30 years ago.

NEW YORK – China’s massive protest movement in the spring of 1989, centered in (but not confined to) Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, seems to have been the anti-Communist revolt that failed. As the brutal crackdown on and following June 3-4 played out, political freedom was being won in Central Europe – first in Poland and Hungary, and then, beginning that fall, in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and, albeit violently and rather undemocratically, Romania. Within the next two years, the Soviet Union, cracked open by Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms, finally imploded.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/tiananmen-square-massacre-pioneered-illiberal-democracy-by-ian-buruma-2019-06

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2019 in Asia

 

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Modi does it again

That Narendra Modi’s party would win again was never really in dispute. The only question was whether the BJP (the Bharatiya Janata, or Indian Peoples’ Party), would emerge merely as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha, and thus be forced to seek coalition partners, or whether it would repeat its astonishing success of 2014 and govern alone. In the end it did better than that. The BJP-dominated alliance now has 351 seats, the Congress alternative 95. The size and scale of the victory is breathtaking. In West Bengal, a state run by the Communist Party for forty years (and subsequently by a maverick Congress split-off), the BJP won 18 seats out of 42. The left and other ‘secular forces’ were wiped out without trace. In Uttar Pradesh, the largest state, the BJP won again, and the Congress lost Amethi, a pocket borough of the Nehru family that had voted blindly for the dynasty for almost half a century. Were it not for India’s quaint electoral laws permitting the same candidate to contest seats in a number of constituencies, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress leader, would not even be in the new parliament. As the results started coming in, a veteran Congress leader in Bhopal, Ratan Singh, had a heart attack and dropped dead. A tragedy overlaid with symbolism. There was some resistance to the BJP, especially in the south: in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the BJP didn’t win a single seat. But overall the results showed that, contrary to the predictions of the commentariat, there was no anti-incumbency vote. If anything, the opposite. This has never happened before in Indian politics.

The main opposition, the Congress, turned the campaign into a referendum on Modi. Could the tea-seller’s son, an untutored, uncouth, bigoted, small-town petit bourgeois (who can’t speak English) be trusted again? India’s electorate has now provided the answer. They love their Modi. Another landslide victory for the orchestrator of pogroms against Muslims. The post-independence consensus which some yearn for is dead and cremated. The BJP and its parent organisation, the Hindu nationalist RSS, are now pacemakers, embedded in the heart of a modernising Indian state and using all its facilities and resources to impose their ideological views and punish those who don’t conform. History is a crucial battleground and is being systematically rewritten to chime with the Hindutva ideology. We can only hope they don’t go so far as to burn the books of Romila Thapar (a bête noire of the BJP because of her knowledge of ancient Indian history) and Irfan Habib’, or treat Arundhati Roy as Joan of Arc. What’s not in doubt is that most mainstream publishers will be scared away from publishing critical, scholarly works on the origins and development of Hinduism, the RSS etc. This is already happening and will get much worse. Self-censorship, the result of fear, cowardice and declining profits, eats the soul.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v41/n11/tariq-ali/modi-does-it-again

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2019 in Asia, Uncategorized

 

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Shocked by the rise of the right? Then you weren’t paying attention

The morning after both Donald Trump’s victory and the Brexit referendum, when a mood of paralysing shock and grief overcame progressives and liberals on both sides of the Atlantic, the two most common refrains I heard were: “I don’t recognise my country any more,” and “I feel like I’ve woken up in a different country.” This period of collective disorientation was promptly joined by oppositional activity, if not activism. People who had never marched before took to the streets; those who had not donated before gave; people who had not been paying attention became engaged. Many continue.

Almost three years later the Brexit party, led by Nigel Farage, is predicted to top the poll in European parliament elections in which the far right will make significant advances across the continent; Theresa May’s imminent downfall could hand the premiership to Boris Johnson; Trump’s re-election in 2020 is a distinct possibility, with Democratic strategists this week predicting only a narrow electoral college victory against him. “Democrats do not walk into the 2020 election with the same enthusiasm advantage they had in the 2018 election,” said Guy Cecil, the chairman of Priorities USA, the largest Democratic political action committee.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/24/country-racist-elections-liberals-anti-racism-movement

 
 

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Can the world quench China’s bottomless thirst for milk?

Beijing-based film-maker Jian Yi, now 43, clearly remembers the arrival of fresh milk in his life. It was an image of it, not the real thing. “It was the 1990s, and I first saw it in an advert on TV. The ad said explicitly that drinking milk would save the nation. It would make China stronger and better able to survive competition from other nations.”
Like most ethnic Han, who make up about 95% of the population, Jian was congenitally lactose-intolerant, meaning milk was hard to digest. His parents did not consume dairy at all when they were growing up; China’s economy was closed to the global market and its own production very limited. Throughout the Mao era, milk was in short supply and rationed to those deemed to have a special need: infants and the elderly, athletes and party cadres above a certain grade. Through most of the imperial dynasties until the 20th century, milk was generally shunned as the slightly disgusting food of the barbarian invaders. Foreigners brought cows to the port cities that had been ceded to them by the Chinese in the opium wars of the 19th century, and a few groups such as Mongolian pastoralists used milk that was fermented, but it was not part of the typical Chinese diet.

As China opened up to the market in the 1980s, after Mao’s death, dried milk powder began appearing in small shops where you could buy it with state-issued coupons. Jian’s parents bought it for him because they thought it would make him stronger. “It was expensive, I didn’t like it, I was intolerant, but we persuaded ourselves it was the food of the future,” he said. “You have to understand the psychology here – there is a sense in China that we have been humiliated ever since the opium wars, but that now we are no longer going to be humiliated by foreign powers.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/29/can-the-world-quench-chinas-bottomless-thirst-for-milk

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2019 in Asia, Reportages, Uncategorized

 

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“Clash Of Civilizations” Or Crisis Of Civilization?

Beijing this week hosted the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations.Organized under the direct supervision of President Xi Jinping it took place amid an “Asian Culture Carnival.”  Sure, there were dubious, kitschy and syrupy overtones, but what really mattered was what Xi himself had to say to China and all of Asia.

In his keynote speech, the Chinese leader essentially stressed that one civilization forcing itself upon another is “foolish” and “disastrous.” In Xi’s concept of a dialogue of civilizations, he referred to the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as programs that “have expanded the channels for communication exchanges.”

Xi’s composure and rationality present a stark, contrasting message to US President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-05-20/escobar-clash-civilizations-or-crisis-civilization

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2019 in Asia, Uncategorized

 

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Can China become a scientific superpower?

TO LAND ON the Moon, as China’s Chang’e -4 spacecraft did on January 3rd, is not quite the pinnacle of achievement it once was. Both the Indian government and a well-backed Israeli team of enthusiasts will attempt landings there this year; in 2020 various American companies intend to light out for the lunar provinces, too. But all these non-Chinese efforts will land on the Moon’s Earth-facing near side, and thus within the solicitous sight of Earthbound controllers—just as all previous lunar landings, whether American, Soviet or, since 2013, Chinese, have been.

Chang’e-4’s landing site in Von Kármán crater, though, is on the far side of the Moon, where the spacecraft can no more easily be reached by radio than it can be seen through a telescope. Landing there and getting data back afterwards is possible only with the help of a cunningly pre-positioned relay satellite. Other countries have considered such missions, but none has ever mounted one. China has been carefully building up the capacity to go where they have not; now it has done so.

https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2019/01/12/can-china-become-a-scientific-superpower

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2019 in Asia, Reportages, Uncategorized

 

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China’s brutal Ramzan crackdown on Muslims is of no interest to Pakistan or even US

The month of Ramazan has begun and Muslims all over the world are fasting. From the far-flung near Arctic towns in Norway and Iceland, to the tropical locales of Indonesia and Malaysia, local customs, special foods and spiritual regeneration are all front and centre for fasting Muslims. So, it is nearly everywhere except next door to Pakistan, in Xinjiang, China’s predominantly Muslim province.

One post on the website of the Food and Drug Administration of Xinjiang says “food service places will operate during normal hours in Ramadan”, and more importantly, “During Ramadan do not engage in fasting, vigils and other religious activities”.

According to the Save Uighur website, “China is the only place in the world where Muslims are not allowed to fast. Uighurs and Muslims have been forbidden from fasting for the last three years.” Other reports point out that Ramazan restrictions apply in particular to schools and government offices.

https://theprint.in/opinion/chinas-brutal-ramzan-crackdown-on-muslims-is-of-no-interest-to-pakistan-or-even-us/233618/

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2019 in Asia, Uncategorized

 

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