本帖由 农夫 于 2006-04-07 发布。版面名称：基督教会
something less serious than god
Pentagon wins gold for Games stupidity
By Augustine Tan
HONG KONG - The US Defense Department's annual report to Congress on the Chinese military contains a curious statement: "If Beijing chooses to use force against Taiwan prior to the 2008 Olympics, China would almost certainly face a boycott or loss of the games."
If the Chinese Communist Party's politburo members in their enclave in Zhongnanhai are screaming for doctors to treat their laughter-induced bellyaches, it is entirely understandable. This pious declaration from Pentagon hawks is too priceless for words.
To compare the Olympics to Taiwan shows a mind-boggling lack of understanding of China, its people and the whole mainland-Taiwan issue altogether. How can one compare Taiwan, a self-governing island of 22 million people, to two weeks of running, jumping and shooting?
One is priceless, the other a mere US$1.6 billion worth of infrastructure: sports venues, hostels and roads. That doesn't include the time and money spent persuading Beijingers to abandon their pajamas for street-wear for their evening strolls when the foreigners flood into town.
Restoring Taiwan to the motherland, even over the very long run, is neither an empty slogan nor a political ploy by the Communist Party politburo to keep the masses in line. Feelings about Taiwan across the country are as strong as the sentiments against the Japanese, if not stronger.
In short, China can afford to lose the Olympics, but not Taiwan. As Chinese officials have repeatedly said, China would spare no cost to prevent Taiwan from splitting from the motherland. It is true that the Chinese nation sees the success of the Beijing Summer Olympic Games as a source of national pride, but this does not mean it will give up on matters of principle.
If China could give up Taiwan just to keep Olympics, then Washington might as well simply tell Beijing now, "You'd better let the yuan float, or we'll boycott the Games." Fortunately for the Americans and for China, there are at least some people in Washington who really understand what the problem across the Taiwan Strait is all about.
US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick set out the issue very succinctly in these words: "The balance is that we want to be supportive of Taiwan, while not encouraging those [who] try to move toward independence. Because let me be very clear: independence means war. And that means casualties of American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines."
Beijing has long appreciated Washington's understanding and acceptance of the one-China policy, especially the earnest intent behind the formulation of the Anti-Secession Law just over a year ago. For historical reasons, however, the US had to continue standing behind Taipei. The United States would inevitably be drawn into any war between mainland China and Taiwan.
Implicit in Zoellick's words is the US view that it does not want to go to war with China for the sake of Taiwanese independence, particularly if such a war is provoked by Taipei. This is also implicit in the way Washington recently treated Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian's request to stop over in the United States during his journey to Costa Rica and Paraguay, dubbed "the journey to nowhere" by the Taiwanese media.
The Olympics may be an occasion for Beijing to showcase its emergence as an economic power, but it is still a mere sideshow. Beijing has no reason to be ashamed of its quest to be the world's No 1 economic power. It is still a long way from this goal even though it is now universally regarded as the world's economic engine.
Before it gets to be No 1 it will have to resolve the countless social problems that threaten to tear the country apart. President Hu Jintao and the politburo give themselves about 20-30 years to resolve them. That was the message from the National People's Congress in March.
The secondary message: No war, please - not for the next 20-30 years at least. For that time the US can remain the world's superpower, global cop or whatever it wants to be, so long as it does not go out of its way to step on China's toes.
Within these parameters there can obviously be a lot of give and take. China's domestic savings totaled 15.863 trillion yuan ($1.98 trillion) at the end of April, according to the People's Bank of China. That's unimaginable wealth. Buying Boeing airplanes by the hundreds is no problem. With many other high-tech purchases China can keep many, many Americans in high-end jobs.
It is mainly the low-end jobs that are migrating from the US to China and elsewhere. There, too, China can eventually work together with US industries to keep some jobs in the United States. But to threaten China with loss of the Olympics over Taiwan?
It would appear the Pentagon hawks have heard neither of former treasury secretary Lawrence Summers nor of his views on the precarious position of the US economy or even its military power when the dollar is at the mercy of China and other Asian countries. China alone will be holding more than $1 trillion in US dollar assets a full year before the Olympics.
When China and the other holders of US debts decide to abandon them, the dollar will go down the drain. That was the essence of Summers' "balance of financial terror" pronouncement. The Pentagon hawks obviously are not economists. Nor were they paying attention to Summers; perhaps not even to Zoellick.
Chen Shui-bian is counting on such ignorance or lack of attention on the part of the Pentagon hawks. He wants American blood spilled.
When it comes to that, the Olympics be damned.
On this, at least, Beijing and Ah-bian, as the Taiwanese leader is nicknamed on the island, share the same view.
Augustine Tan is a freelance journalist based in Hong Kong.
Run out of gas?
President Bush, speaking in a packed Chicago convention center on Monday, called the formation of a new government in Iraq "a turning point in the struggle between freedom and terror." The words had a familiar ring. Since 2003, the Bush Administration has described event after event in Iraq as milestones, turning points, moments that would dial back the chaos and bloodshed that has consumed the country. There was the capture of Saddam in December 2003; the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqis in June 2004; the writing of the Constitution in September; the successful referendum on the Constitution in October; and December's parliamentary elections.
None of those milestones really delivered on the promises that preceded them. But there was always another event on the horizon to look ahead to. Until now. There are no more upcoming elections, or ceremonies, or looming deadlines ― just the messy task of building up the country's nascent government and anemic security forces. And that's an effort that has no neatly painted goal lines.
Gone is the ability to fall back on the familiar, sunny formulations like the one offered earlier this month by Major General Rick Lynch, spokesman for the coalition forces in Baghdad: "When a government is formed and truly reaches out to the people, we believe you'll see a great decline in violent activities in Iraq." Obviously, that hasn't happened yet. Even Bush himself seems to concede that the milestones he once lauded were mere chimera. "Terrorists did not lay down their arms after three elections in Iraq, and they will continue to fight this new government," Bush noted on Monday, without acknowledging that each of those moments had been previously hailed by the Administration as a turning point.
An MBA President who prides himself on setting clear goals for his staff has missed a basic point about metrics and war. The only real measure of defeating the insurgency is a reduction in their attacks and numbers ― not ancillary questions like how many Iraqi units are fit to fight without U.S. assistance. A functioning Parliament could provide a release valve for rising sectarian tensions, but the fact is both disaffected Sunnis and Shi'ites are still using the threat of violence to gain political leverage. It is wrong to assume that each new step toward democracy, however laudable, will persuade jihadists to lay down their arms; those who disdain Western-style democracy aren't likely to be persuaded by its implementation.
Other Presidents have made similar miscalculations. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson both pointed to democratization in South Vietnam as a hopeful sign that the North might be sapped of its support. Perhaps now that the last milestone has been reached, the Bush Administration can get back to reality.
democracy yokel love it
something less hostile
bigsoccer.com has a countdown for world cup. has china made it to world cup games? haven't seen soccer games for 10 plus years.
Standley Cup will be decided btx Oilers and Sabres. If Sabres wins, US wins in Iraq. If oilers wins, US will put out by the end of year.
If Hurricanes and Oilers decide the cup, US is dragged down in Iraq for years to come.
on my way back home, the radio host boasted US soccer team is number 5 in the world. how come? the world cup team is practicing in the park 40 min from my home. no one seems to be excited about it.
The Chinese are coming ... to Russia
By Bertil Lintner
BLAGOVESHCHENSK, KHABAROVSK and VLADIVOSTOK - The Chinese are coming! They are invading the Far East! If headlines in the new and free - but often sensational and irresponsible - Russian press are to be believed, a massive influx of Chinese into Siberia and the Russian Far East is turning the area "yellow" and Russia is about to lose its easternmost provinces.
But in cities such as Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Blagoveshchensk the Chinese are not very much in evidence. They are there, but seldom seen outside their hotels and restaurants - and the region's ubiquitous casinos and Chinese markets. It is true, however, that Chinese merchants now
dominate the region's trade and commerce. Economically, the Russian Far East is becoming separated from European Russia.
Before the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, the Far East supplied European Russia and the other western republics with fish and crabs from the Sea of Okhotsk. The area's heavy industry produced steel, aircraft and even ships, and few foreign consumer goods were for sale.
Today, Chinese consumer goods - which are cheaper and better than those produced far away in European Russia - and even food are flooding the markets, while timber and raw materials are going south. Entire factories are being dismantled and sold as scrap metal to China. And the seafood is almost exclusively sold to South Korea and Japan.
In the long run this could also lead to demographic changes. There is a floating population of tens of thousands Chinese traders and seasonal workers who move back and forth across the border, and one day they may want to stay.
Russia's Far Eastern Federal District - a huge area covering 6,215,900 square kilometers - has only 7 million inhabitants, and that is down from 9 million in 1991. The population is declining rapidly as factories are closing down and military installations have been withdrawn.
Across the border, China's three northeastern provinces - Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning - are home to 100 million people, and the area has even by Chinese standards an unusually high unemployment rate. Or, as one Western analyst put it: "If the Russians continue to move out, the Chinese are ready to fill the resultant population vacuum in the area." And that could lead to more than just a change of the demographic balance in what still is the Russian Far East.
Officially, 40,000 Chinese live more or less permanently in the Russian Far East - which stretches from the Lena River basin to the Bering Sea - but the actual figure is believed to be much higher. The largest concentrations are in the three main cities in the area, and their economic dominance is the strongest in Blagoveshchensk, the economy of which is less developed and diversified than those of Khabarovsk and Vladivostok.
Blagoveshchensk is also on the banks of the Amur River - with the Chinese city of Heihe on the other side. Hydrofoils full of Chinese traders bringing in goods ply between the two cities every 30 minutes. There are some Russian merchants too - but they are also carrying household utensils, shoes and tools from China.
And it is not only the trade in consumer goods that is in the hands of the Chinese. The construction sector in Blagoveshchensk is dominated by a Chinese-owned company, Hua Fu, which has just began working on what will be the tallest building in the Russian Far East. Chinese New Year is not an official holiday, but it is celebrated in style with fireworks, drums and lion dances.
Even the mayor of the city and the governor of the area, Amursky oblast, usually participate as guests of honor. Amursky oblast may also be the most vulnerable for what many Russians call a "creeping occupation" by the Chinese. It is huge - 363,700 square kilometers, the same area as Japan - but with a population of only 900,000. More than 35 million live in Heilongjiang across the Amur River.
Local Russians say the land is not suitable for farming, the weather being too cold most of the year, but the Chinese who have settled there have managed to cultivate the land. According to Lyudmila Erokhina, a researcher at Vladivostok State University, Chinese businessmen have bribed local officials to acquire land from Russian farmers, and then brought in agricultural workers from China to till the fields. A major problem, she says, is that Russia has no law that regulates private ownership of land. All land still belong to the state, and individual farmers can only get the right to use it.
But more food - vegetables, fruit, pork and even eggs - are brought in from China, which has led to serious concerns about food security in the Russian Far East. "The Chinese now dominate the agricultural sector and food supplies," said Erokhina. "We are totally dependent on them."
And as much as 80% of all goods - consumer goods as well as food - are smuggled in, with no taxes or duties paid to local or central coffers. Most of the timber that is exported to China - millions of cubic meters every year - leaves the country unrecorded as well.
The government is also losing billions of rubles every year in unpaid taxes by the fishing fleets in the Sea of Okhotsk - but that, local researchers say - is mainly the fault of the government. If a fishing boat unloads its catch in a Russian port, the owner has to pay 20% in value-added tax if it is sold locally, and a 5-7% export tax if it is meant for markets in other countries. Taxes and tariffs and much lower in South Korea and Japan. So the companies fish in Russian waters, sell their catch in Busan or Niigata - and deposit the proceeds from the sales in Japanese and South Korean banks.
According to researchers at the Center for the Study of Organized Crime in Vladivostok, an estimated 15,000-17,000 tons of seafood worth US$83 million is exported every year to South Korea and Japan, and 70% of it goes to foreign ports illegally. The owner of one of the biggest fishing fleets is Sergei Darkin - the 43-year-old governor of the Primoriye krai, the region around Vladivostok - which underlines the dimensions of the problem Moscow has to deal with it its "Wild East".
Seafood smuggling may not be directly connected with Chinese economic expansion into the area, but it reflects the close ties that the Russian Far East now has with the Asia-Pacific region - and how much it has become separated from European Russia. The crews on the ships are usually a mix of Russians, Koreans, Chinese, and even Thais and Filipinos.
But the question still remains: Why are there so few Chinese, or other Asian faces, in the streets of Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Blagoveshchensk?
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Russian immigration officer specializing in illegal migration from China explained that most of them live in secluded communities and seldom venture out, perhaps out of fear of being victimized by xenophobic youth gangs, which are not as many and not as violent in the Far East as in, for instance, Moscow, but still exist.
Chinese workers live in dormitories inside factory compounds, where the only Russians are the guards. Agricultural workers also live on the farms, which are often surrounded by walls and fences. And once their contracts are up, most of them return to China with the money they have saved.
to be continued at asiatimes.com
continued with a diferent twist
Fast-forward to 2006, and President Bush is telling us, thank you very much, that we're addicted to oil. I heard [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi on the radio over the weekend saying that the Democrats now have a plan to make us energy-independent by 2020. She's lying through her teeth. There's no way anybody can make us energy-independent by then. We needed to start back in 1979, if not before. Even to achieve independence from Persian Gulf oil will be an enormously costly, painful process that none of the politicians in either party are willing to undertake. [Gasoline] is now roughly US$3 a gallon [nearly 80 cents a liter]. I heard some guy on a talk show the other day say: "Whaddya think we should do? I think we should all park our cars on the Interstate [highway] and stop traffic until the government does something." What does he actually want the government to do, I wondered? Conquer another country?
We Americans are in deep denial, unwilling to accept that we're going to have to change the way we live for our own good. Empire does not offer the recipe for preserving our freedom. Learning to live within our means just might. Jimmy Carter was the one guy, back in July of '79, who really had the guts to say that. Unfortunately, he didn't have the guts to stick with it.