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On the South China Sea troubles

The South China Sea has long been the topic of discontent between the nations surrounding it, mainly  because of their overlapping territorial claims. From the outside the situation can seem a bit kafka-esque, even bizarre given that it pretty much looks like squabling over worthless rocks and reefs in what could otherwise be a very peaceful region. Nothing further from the truth of course. The squabling dates back over centuries and if you want to get a clear pictures on who wants what and why here’s a pretty non-biased accurate account on the issue by the Economist. The truth is it’s all about resources, as usual.

Now the countries in question are attempting to solve the issue, trying out different strategies, either at a bilateral level, ASEAN level or by getting countries, or even companies, from outside the region involved ( the US, India or Chevron and Exxon Mobile). And despite the numerous accounts that try to show China as a ruthless “take it all” resource guided state its diplomats have shown great restrain in presenting the matter as such, despite repeated provocations from most of the other “plaintiffs”; most of which would prefer a long legal battle at international level, not because this would seem the most fair solution but because it would give them plenty of time to start taking on the ground measures which would lay foundation for more substantial claims. The Phillipines and Vietnam have already started doing so by inviting outside investors in the South China Sea.

So why do we care? Well because if things get ugly it will have worldwide reprecussions, from everything as “puny” as prices for goods produced in the region and energy misshaps to things as complicated as military alliances. We don’t need a full blown conflict here anymore than they do. Which is why the West needs to stop treating this as tit for tat game on who owns what and start treating the issue like it’s hell bent on solving it not profiting from it. We did enough of that in Africa and the Middle East if you don’t mind.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

High speed construction

Great technological feat, showing off for the sake of business numbers or just plain engineering? What do you reckon?

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Sloppy journalism

Did you ever listen to your grandmother going on and on about the olden days, using catchphrases, words and most importantly preconceptions typical of that era? Sure you love your dear gran and let her rant whenever she feels like it. I got the same feeling of time wasting, pretentious preconceptions when I started reading this article on DW. Some minor true facts aside it’s full of catchphrases used by cold war journalists talking about the USSR, one man power regimes and empty speeches of communist leaders.

The authors seem to think they live in a time and place where the one-man, one vote rule still applies and that Chinese communism can be compared and confused with Russian Cold War Communism. Wake up and the smell the roses gentlemen, please. The CCP is not a mindless construction based on the whims of a 80 something dictator. It doesn’t follow impossible targets through fairytale policies. And most importantly, especially from a journalistic point of view, neither the General Assembly nor the CCP are the seas of tranquility that you present them to be. There have been numerous reports, official and non-official, that the Party is under serious strain between two rather different tracks (see the Asia Centre report here for a first glimpse at the issue) regarding how the country should be run. Politics in China is equally dynamic (if not more so at times) as Western policy making. It’s just under the same roof and doesn’t spill it’s inner workings for second hand tabloids.

Gentlemen get your facts straight. Just because you work for DW doesn’t mean you can get away with sloppy articles.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Between “it depends” and “deja vu”

In 1420, Johannes Guttenberg used the printing press to give Europe its first printed bible (over 700 years after the Chinese printed the first books and newspapers). In 1440, Roger Bacon talked about gun powder use in his book, Magnum Opus, for the very first time in European literature (500 years after the Chinese perfected the use of firearms). And in 1492 Christopher Columbus set foot on what is the Bahamas today(70 years after the Chinese had sailed around the globe with the aid of a compass). Just a few examples that seem to show Chinese civilisation is one step, or several hundred, ahead of Europe. But this was  hundreds of years ago. Before the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution or the tech boom of the 20st century. Should we really be discussing China’s greatness in the foreseeable future? The answer is … it depends. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Enter sarcastic title bellow

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

China, US, bs

You know, I’m getting sick of everyone focusing on this one duo alone. What does it matter who takes over whom? The US still has the biggest and strongest army and China still has the biggest population (for now). Everyone seems so intent to milk this ‘US vs China’ story for all it’s worth while the real news, like who’s got the most sustainable economy, whose population is faring better, what country boasts with more freedom to choose for its citizens, seem to pass us by. While we’re bickering over who’s better India and Brazil are dealing with the more imporant things in life.

Take this Economist article for example. Oh yay nice indicators to point out how China is getting back to the dominant economic level it held for more than 2000 years. So? Looking at how these indicators have changed over the past few years doesn’t give us an insight on what happened to trigger this, what the underlining trend is or how this affects the rest of the world or the rest of China for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice comparison, nifty creative visualising data but no real substance there. But I do like the fact that they took the trouble to actually do the math on the yuan appreciation against the dollar and not just relied on politically driven data that’s two years old, like others.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Oops…someone did it again

Ten years ago and more the EMU (or the potential EMU as it was then) was hailed as an all mighty example of an optimum currency area at the same time that South East Asian countries were being belittled for their poor lack of judgement and failure to prevent or predict the speculative attacks and the financial crisis that they led to. One can’t help but wonder what their thoughts on the matter are now, especially after the euro-pickle we Europeans have landed ourselves in. It’s all everyone is talking, writing or debating about, without a real solution in sight. And because we’re European it’s obviously a more important problem that the one back in 97-98* and as such it’s treated with the importance it deserves. I can’t help but wonder if it might not even start a Welle-like movement, seeing as the occupy one is so obviously forged. And by forged I mean paid for. Organised at a high level. You know, a fake one. But I think we’re not desperate enough to have a real movement on our hands. Yet.

But getting back to the currency issue. After, and even during, there were lots of voices to be heard on what should have been done and what will be done. Some economists even voiced hopeful opinions such as “In the future, wise governments will devote a greal deal of attention to shoring up their banking systems to minimize moral hazard, in the hope of becoming less vulnerable to financial catastohpes” **. And yet here we are, more than ten years later, muck all around us. It’s a different kind of muck, it’s true, in a different part of the world, and due to different causes but, with the same effect: panic all around, and all that it usually brings to the financial sector. Back then the high and mighty were going on and on about the need for a new financial architecture and how the Asian financial crisis had convinced everyone of the need for a world wide financial overhaul. Exactly who was convinced of what is still a mystery to me. Governments, banks and companies still messed about, half a continent and its currency is in disarray and this might not even be the worst of it. Yup someone definitely did it again. Only better…. I mean worse than last time.

* We’re talking about half a continent or more now. Back then it was just a third of Asia and a bit of Brasil that got affected.

** Paul Krugman in his well established and student despised book on international macroeconomic policy.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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