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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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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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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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We are already controlled by the digital giants, but Huawei’s expansion will usher in China-style surveillance

The media bombards us with news about the threats to our security: will China invade Taiwan as a punishment for the US trade war? Will the US attack Iran? Will the EU descend into chaos after the Brexit mess? But I think there is one topic which – in the long view, at least – dwarfs all others: the effort of the US to contain the expansion of Huawei. Why?

Today’s digital network controls and regulates our lives: most of our activities (and passivities) are now registered in some digital cloud that also permanently evaluates us, tracing not only our acts but also our emotional states. When we experience ourselves as free to the utmost (surfing in the web where everything is available), we are totally “externalised” and subtly manipulated. The digital network gives new meaning to the old slogan “the personal is political”.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/huawei-5g-china-surveillance-social-credit-google-facebook-assange-a8912891.html

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Asia, Uncategorized

 

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China’s Path Not Taken

China’s tragic modern political history has led some, inside and outside China, to believe that the Chinese are not ready for liberal democracy, or are even unsuited to it. But the more liberal strands of the May Fourth Movement in 1919 – and of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests that May 4 inspired – should never be forgotten.

NEW YORK – This month marks the centenary of one of the most important cultural and political episodes in modern Chinese history: the May Fourth Movement. On May 4, 1919, Chinese students and intellectuals launched a massive protest in Beijing, demanding the end of “feudalism” and more political freedom. A century later, it is officially celebrated by a Communist dictatorship that allows no protest, let alone one led by students. May 4 inspired another revolt, in Tiananmen Square from April to June 1989, which is not even allowed to be mentioned in public.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/china-may-fourth-movement-democratic-potential-by-ian-buruma-2019-05

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Asia

 

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The Eagle, the Bear and the Dragon

Once upon a time, deep into the night in selected campfires across the deserts of Southwest Asia, I used to tell a fable about the eagle, the bear and the dragon — much to the amusement of my Arab and Persian interlocutors.

It was about how, in the young 21st century, the eagle, the bear and the dragon had taken their (furry) gloves off and engaged in what turned out to be Cold War 2.0.

As we approach the end of the second decade of this already incandescent century, perhaps it’s fruitful to upgrade the fable. With all due respect to Jean de la Fontaine, excuse me while I kiss the (desert) sky again. – Advertisement –

Long gone are the days when a frustrated bear repeatedly offered to cooperate with the eagle and its minions on a burning question: nuclear missiles.

The bear repeatedly argued that the deployment of interceptor missiles and radars in that land of the blind leading the blind — Europe — was a threat. The eagle repeatedly argued that this is to protect us from those rogue Persians.

Now the eagle — claiming the dragon is getting an easy ride — has torn down every treaty in sight and is bent on deploying nuclear missiles in selected eastern parts of the land of the blind leading the blind, essentially targeting the bear.

All That Glitters is Silk

Roughly two decades after what top bear Putin defined as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century,” he proposed a form of USSR light; a political/economic body called the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/The-Eagle-the-Bear-and-th-by-Pepe-Escobar-Aircraft_America_Bear_Carrier-190507-197.html

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Asia, Europe, North America

 

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The New Silk Roads reach the next level

The Belt and Road Forum in Beijing was a graphic demonstration of how tactical adjustments are essential to enhance the appeal of a complex overall strategy. Talk about a turbo-charged 4.0 version of the legendary Deng Xiaoping maxim “crossing the river while feeling the stones.” – Advertisement –

For all the somewhat straitjacket approach of Chinese official pronouncements, President Xi Jinping stressed a sort of “three musts” for the advance of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) debt sustainability, protection of the environment (or “green growth”), and no tolerance for corruption.

Add to that a growing battle against trade protectionism, more bilateral free-trade deals, more financing or investments, cooperation on third-party markets, and even a plan to sell Silk Road bonds.

In his keynote speech, Xi stressed how multilateral cooperation on “six corridors and six channels serving multiple countries and ports” is all go. He was referring to BRI’s six major connectivity corridors spanning Eurasia and the fact that BRI is still in its planning stage; implementation actually starts in 2021.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/The-New-Silk-Roads-reach-t-by-Pepe-Escobar-China-New-Silk-Roads_Economic_Putin_Russia-china-190429-872.html

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Asia

 

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