After the Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel peace prize, China reacted harshly. Mr Liu was jailed for eleven years, and his wife and other activists found themselves persecuted (and in some cases jailed too). China also tried to discourage other countries from sending their ambassadors the Nobel prize ceremony. Previously countries have been wary of upsetting China by discussing human rights, not wanting to disrupt what they see as important trade deals. Surprising though, this time the threats were ignored. Only a handful of countries have decided not to attend the event, and the list, which reads like a George Galloway world tour, contains no countries with a healthy respect for democracy and the rule of law anyway.
I suspect historians will look back one day at the global crash of 2008 and say what idiots western governments were at not having a bit of forward thinking on their minds.
Throughout the crisis, the Chinese economy continued to grow at an amazing pace, in part as a consequence of massive fiscal stimulus. When anyone wants an example of how effective a Keynesian counter-cyclical strategy can be, internationally as well as domestically, they need look no further than China’s four-trillion-renminbi stimulus of 2008-2009.
Apart from a six-month period after the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, in which trade finance stopped and the world did look as if it was close to Great Depression circumstances, China and other emerging markets helped those export-oriented industrial economies to recover.
It was not just Europe that benefited from China’s willingness to take on the mantle of “lender of last resort.” The new-found dynamism of African economies is a consequence of the Chinese drive to build up and secure sources of raw materials.
Unfortunately, the article is underlined by an assumption that the Chinese don’t care for multilateralism in a way the US does. This is rubbish. The US has ignored multilateral institutions when it was in its interest and China will do the same. In fact – it will learn from the US and, once powerful enough, will behave how Americans did.
It’s always been useful for the American right to disparage international institutions like the UN when it suited them. Soon they’ll be in the amusing position of demanding China listen to the UN in a way they never did themselves.
The Economist this week carries an excellent and in-depth look at gendercide, the term coined to describe the impact that the deliberate attempt to favour male babies over female ones has had on the male-female sex ratio throughout the world. It looks at the statistics, and what has caused such a skewing to occur, and what its impacts are and may be.
There is a natural imbalance between boys and girls, with nature ensuring roughly 5% more boys are born than girls in order to compensate for boys being more susceptible to diseases as infants. Yet in many parts of the developing world, there is too much of a numerical gap between the sexes for it to be a natural phenomenon.
The increasingly availability of ultrasound and abortion has played a big part in the skewing of the sex ratio, as it is easier to abort a female foetus then to kill a female baby, especially if you know the sex of the foetus. Indian doctors once advertised the â€˜benefitsâ€™ of ultrasound technology with the slogan:
â€œPay 5,000 rupees today and save 50,000 rupees tomorrowâ€ (the saving was on the cost of a daughterâ€™s dowry).â€
I got a bit annoyed with the ‘it’s all China’s fault‘ rhetoric that came out of the Copenhagen failure for various reasons. It turns out I wasn’t alone, and blogger Madam Miaow posted a message on CIF in response to such an article but had it curiously censored.
Anyway, she says:
The US and the rich nations use up almost all the carbon allowance in the atmosphere over the past 160 years, the US dithers over ten years of Bush, they refuse to ratify Kyoto, the Danish summit chair has to resign when she’s caught fast-tracking the rich nations’ deal, the West fail in their Kyoto pledges, Canada rips up its Kyoto deal and proceeds with exploiting its huge reserves of dirty oil, the US will only reduce emissions by 4% against the 1990 base year and not the 17% you describe as “serious cuts”, while China makes real strides in green technology, and so on.
But it is all China’s fault.
What other country has an entire city using solar powered appliances? Who else has planted such huge tracts of forest while loggers tear down the rest? China aims for 15% of its energy from renewables, it has revolutionised wind-turbines, makes a key component of electric car batteries, and so on. We in the UK can’t even meet our Kyoto promise.
This is spot on and makes the two points I wanted to. Firstly, the US and European stance has been completely hypocritical and China became a whipping boy for their failure.
Secondly, and more importantly, China knows there is serious money to be made from Green technology, renewable energy and ways to reduce pollution. That way lies the real technical innovation of the future. In fact all the big powerhouses from Asia are pouring money into R&D in this area. Meanwhile we’re held back by right-whingers who are still peddling conspiracy theory about global warming from Russia and Saudi Arabia. Amazing. When we fall way back in technical innovation in 20 years time then these people will realise their folly.
For a long time China and South Asia were recording an increasing gap between male and female children, as a result of female feticide. Amartya Sen estimated that in China and India alone, there are 83 million fewer women than there should have been. It seemed like it would only get worse, with the gender imbalance making little difference. Supply and demand seemed irrelevant as females continued to be aborted in record numbers. Some areas short of girls even took to raiding other areas for brides.
However, new information suggests that the tide might be turning. Firstly, reports from China show that girls are becoming a more attractive prospect as a result of increasing urbanisation and rising house prices:
“Sons are seen as more valuable, especially in the countryside, because they have been traditionally responsible for caring for their parents in old age. Many families take advantage of cheap ultrasound tests and abortions to guarantee their one child is male.
However, the traditional roles are now being reversed in urban China. “The reality is that having a son or daughter makes no difference when parents need support. Unlike in rural areas, city residents are covered by social security,” said Chen Youhua, a demography and sociology professor at Nanjing University.
In most marriages, it is the son’s family which is required to buy a house for the couple – a ruinous expense in many cities. Property prices in China’s major cities soared by as much as 60 per cent between 2007 and 2008, and are expected to rise another 10 per cent this year.”
Meanwhile, in Delhi, the number of girls being born has outstripped the number of boys born, for the first time in decades.
Yes, neither report represents a comprehensive change, but it is a sign of progress.
Only about a week ago Andy Newman of the blog Socialist Unity was attacking me for criticising the Respect Party and apparently being racist because I called the party communalist. Then voltaire’s priest pointed me to this post on SU by the same Mr Newman where he defends the Chinese attack on the Uyghurs. Apparently criticising China is ‘sinophobic’. I won’t even bother criticising the article because it’s stupidity is plain to see how. However, I am tickled by the fact that it puts Andy Newman on the same side as a whole bunch of nutjobs who were last week applauding the Chinese for their actions because they hate all Muslims. Politics – don’t you just love it?
Well… just in case you weren’t entirely aware of the economics of world trade, the Chinese government did a damn good job to tell the world they had arrived, through the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies.
Not that they ever went away – the Chinese and Indian civilisations have always been big players on the global scene, except for the period of industrialisation. But now, China is back! (said in an American accent usually used for American film trailers). And you betta recognise foo’!
No, I don’t have anything intelligent to say. I’m still in awe.
Europe and the US must be watching with interest at China and Russia both flexing their respective organisational powers in two very differing ways…
Firstly there was the big dig against the Dalai Lama as a nasty man, then there was the view that the Chinese love their government – Da peepules loves tha guvverment.. LOLZ!!? Stop hatin’, U orientalishts!!
And now Brendan O’ Neill from Spiked Online is saying on CIF that we shouldn’t be so harsh on the Chinese over the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. On Spiked Online he is busy exposing “the mad mix of moral disdain and moral relativism behind China-bashing.”
We shouldn’t be so harsh though, running online magazines is an expensive business. I’m sure Spiked’s funders (I’ve not many appeals for cash donations lately) are in tune with the new editorial line. Brothas gotta do what a brothas gotta do, right? Its also just coincidence, I’m sure, that as the Chinese are building a new coal station every week, that Spiked Online and friends are challenging the assertion that human activity is affecting the environment. Pure coincidence. Just dont hate on the Chinese government – you’ll be guilty of cultural relativism or something like that.
Angela Saini points out that:
Physics World has reported that physics in China is booming. Chinese scientists now publish more papers than the UK and Germany. In fact, at the current rate, by 2012 it will be churning out more physics articles than the entire number of science articles published by US researchers.
Werner Marx, an information scientist from the Max Planck Institute in Germany, said, “Usually scientific development in nations does not show such a strong acceleration as we have seen in China, so it will be interesting to see how it responds and develops in the future.”
Well, it won’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the impact of that strong acceleration will be. By the way, Angela is a friend and a new blogger, writing mostly about science. Go check out her blog.
The Post, a Pakistani newspaper, highlights the number of females dead as a result of gender bias, particularly in Asia. It points out that Amartya Sen estimated that in India and China alone, there are 83 million few women then there should have been, because of a preference for a boy over a girl:
“It is important to understand that these 100 million women should have been alive and living today if not for the fact that they were killed, often directly in the form of abortion, killing after birth and death due to medical negligence and discrimination over food. It is important to understand that unlike in war where state institutions and politics is responsible for the deaths, here parents and close relatives of the unborn girl and the girl child are responsible for the deaths…
I expect further moral outrage over actions like this by the Chinese government. Of course it’s easy to be outraged by the actions of arming a brutal regime when it’s not us not profiting from the weapons sales…
A Chinese cargo ship believed to be carrying 77 tonnes of small arms, including more than 3m rounds of ammunition, AK47 assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, has docked in the South African port of Durban for transportation of the weapons to Zimbabwe, the South African government confirmed yesterday. It claimed it was powerless to intervene as long as the ship’s papers were in order.
Copies of the documentation for the Chinese ship, the An Yue Jiang, show that the weapons were sent from Beijing to the ministry of defence in Harare. Headed “Dangerous goods description and container packing certificate”, the document was issued on April 1, three days after Zimbabwe’s election. It lists the consignment as including 3.5m rounds of ammunition for AK47 assault rifles and for small arms, 1,500 40mm rockets, 2,500 mortar shells of 60mm and 81mm calibre, as well as 93 cases of mortar tubes.
The carrier is listed as the Cosco shipping company in China.
Slowly but surely China is becoming the new official enemy.
Well done those Parisians, for having managed to extinguish that Olympic flame a few times. But I can’t help feel this is like the last gasp before the world learns to shut its mouth in front of China.
But before I get onto that, I have a question. Who still supports that anti-terrorist legislation then?
From Paul Lewis yesterday on CIF:
Several protesters were dragged away. I saw one woman asked to place her anti-Chinese posters in plastic bags. She told me she had been told by two officers that her materials, which complained about China’s treatment of animals, were “inflammatory”.
Demonstrators who did not obey police requests to stand in designated areas were repeatedly threatened with anti-terrorist legislation.
Shame on the Indian government. Its foreign minister has said that the Dalai Lama should not engage in any political activity that would damage its relationship with China. Not long ago the Indian govt willingly supported the Dalai Lama and offered political asylum to him and other Tibetan refugees.Now of course the only thing that matters is trade relations with China.
India has assured China that the Olympic torch will pass safely through the country.
But the country’s football captain has refused to carry the torch.
At least India has other principled people.
This post examines the attitudes different countries have taken towards the protests in Tibet.
David Miliband today announced that Free Tibet protesters will be allowed to demonstrate when the Olympic torch arrives in London on April the 6th. Any other answer would have been unconscionable. 2,000 Metropolitan Police will be deployed along the route, which will pass through many central London tourist spots and end in Greenwich.
The world has metaphorically raised an eyebrow at the recent violently put-down protests in Tibet itself. International news agencies have run stories (though all foreign journalists remain banned) and liberal Westerners have expressed concern, but little has been done. For me, one of the most dramatic developments in the last few weeks has been the Dalai Lama’s promise to step down if there are more violent protests in Tibet. Shades of Gandhi. The Dalai Lama conceded years ago that there is almost no chance of an independent Tibet.
China has officially blamed the Dalai Lama for the fortnight of protesting, in which an estimated 130 have died. It has also alleged the Dalai Lama is working with Islamic militants to disrupt the Olympic. [Link]
Pro-Tibet protester in Greece (the blood is fake)