While we all make merry at the antics of Chinese scrap metal merchant Chen Guangbiao, who has come to America to buy a major national newspaper, we would do well to remember that of such characters history is made. Georges Danton, the great French revolutionary, once said, “il nous faut de l’audace, et encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace” (“we need audacity, and yet more audacity, and always audacity.”) Or, as my grandmother said, “you gotta have chutzpah.” He is the harbinger of more such Chinese personalities who will seek to own the great media outlets of the west, and many of them are likely to be better funded and more subtle in approach.
Strategic Studies Quarterly, volume 7, number 4. The Air Force is, unsurprisingly, increasingly fascinated with China, and we reap the benefits again in the Winter 2013 installment of the journal. The lead article asks whether China and the US are looking at an inevitable conflict, or greater cooperation. An op/ed by a retired Air Force lieutenant general delves into whether and how China can join the world’s nuclear arms control regime. Finally, the University of Michigan’s Philip Potter delves into the roots of terrorism in China, and how it is changing China’s approach to security.
Asian Development Review, volume 30, number 2, has a number of great articles, including a superb paper about China’s indigenous innovation program and the role that foreign firms play in driving innovation in China, and another on on valuing firms in the region based on their political connections.
One of the most thoughtful posts I have yet read on politics in China.
Originally posted on Patrick Chovanec:
A surprising number of people in China have been writing and talking about “revolution”. First came word, in November, that China’s new leaders have been advising their colleagues to read Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic book on the French Revolution, L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution (The Old Regime and the Revolution), which subsequently has shot to the top of China’s best seller lists. Just this past week, Chinese scholar Zhao Dinxing, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago, felt the need to publish an article (in Chinese) laying out the reasons China won’t have a revolution (you can read an English summary here). Minxin Pei, on the other hand, thinks it will.
In the midst of this debate, I happened across an interesting set of passages in retired Harvard professor Richard Pipes’ slender volume Three “Whys” of the Russian Revolution. The first “why” he asks is “Why did Tsarism fall?”, an event that few saw coming:
If you read the Russian and foreign press before 1917, or memoirs of the time, you find that hardly anyone expected the downfall of tsarism either. On the contrary, people believed that tsarism would survive for a long time to come … For had not tsarism weathered all onslaughts and all crises [including the 1905 uprising], and emerged from them intact?
As a part of our Eighteenth Party Congress series, we will be offering some of the more thoughtful examinations of China’s changing leadership. In this first article, The Hoover Institution’s Alice Miller explains why splits among the Politburo Standing Committee‘s leaders are likely to remain manageable and behind closed doors.
I am inclined to agree with her analysis, simply because the interests that hold the nation’s leaders together are – with the exception of cases like that of Bo Xilai – far stronger than the disagreements which might sunder them. The real fault lines in the Chinese polity lay elsewhere.
- Grabs for Power Behind Plan to Shrink Elite Circle (nytimes.com)
- Exclusive: China Communists consider internal democratic reform – sources (news.yahoo.com)
- Chinese whispers (nzherald.co.nz)
Liu and Chen make a strong argument that China’s government and institutions will have little choice but to become increasingly participatory over time. At the same time, they warn that “democracy with Chinese characteristics” may not be recognizable to, or necessarily satisfy, those in the west who harbor the dream that the world’s largest nation will become its largest participatory state.
China is on the cusp of change, and the two scholars suggest that the Party is losing the support of a the “middle class.” Once the moneyed, educated urban elite goes sour on the CCP, the authors imply, the Party will have no choice but to reform. And sour they will go, the authors note, because the government lacks the wherewithal to continue delivering the economic performance that the people have come to believe are its entitlement. They echo an argument that is becoming increasingly common: the Chinese social contract is broken, and the Party will have to produce reform to establish a new one.
None of the arguments are particularly novel, but the reason it is worth reading is the provenance of the authors. Liu is a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Chen teaches at the University of Macau. For two Chinese scholars to put forth these arguments would have been unlikely if not unthinkable a decade ago. Clearly something interesting is happening in Chinese academia, an indicator that support on the mainland for major change may run deeper than many of us suspect.
The Political Mapping of China’s Tobacco Industry and Anti-Smoking Campaign
October 25, 2012
Arguably the most important policy direction laid out in China’s Twelfth Five-Year Plan is health care. Given China’s rising standards of living and the challenges that rising medical costs present even to the developed economies of the west, this came as no surprise.
What gives this focus an edge of urgency are a cluster of looming public health crises that threaten to dwarf anything China’s medical establishment has faced in decades, perhaps ever. Atop that list of impending challenges is China’s smoking problem. Over 300 million Chinese smoke cigarettes every day (versus under 60 million Americans) and the average Chinese daily smoker has a two-pack-a-day habit. Experts estimate that tobacco-related diseases kill 1.2 million people a year in China, and that will increase to 2 million by 2020.
One of the few upsides of oligarchy is the relative ease with which you can legislate such problems away, and Beijing has done so often enough in the past that when a problem arises (like air pollution,) Chinese and foreigners alike wonder why the government isn’t doing anything. So it is with smoking. Here is a problem that the government could fix easily, following a path well-trodden in the west: why doesn’t it?
In his highly-readable but awkwardly-titled monography, Cheng Li lays out the institutional framework that feeds this national habit. The critical importance of tobacco to China’s tax revenues, potential resentment from poor smokers, and an intricate web of shared interests that tie China’s leadership with the industry all stand in the way of far-reaching anti-smoking campaigns.
All of this would make stimulating reading at any time, but given the report’s release on the verge of a major change in leadership in Beijing, the tale is particularly juicy. Among the report’s revelations are ties between Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, who holds the State Council‘s public health portfolio, and the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration. The revelations here are startling, yet one can only wonder about what Li knows but cannot put to paper.
- China Leader’s Job at Odds With Tobacco Ties: Brookings (bloomberg.com)
“China and the Politics of Oil”
Jacqueline N. Deal
Foreign Policy Research Institute
An essay based on a speech by FPRI Senior Fellow Deal, this paper explains the basis of China’s mild paranoia about access to energy supplies. A superb primer to the problem.
Beijing’s “Starter Carrier” and Future Steps: Alternatives and Implications – Andrew S. Erickson, Abraham M. Denmark, and Gabriel Collins
In this excellent review essay the Naval War College’s excellent team of China Watchers give offer a balanced view of the significance of China’s new aircraft carrier and, more important, what it portends.
- Getting Navies to Work Together (pekingreview.com)
- Asia’s military spending likely to overtake Europe this year (guardian.co.uk)
- Satellite Spots China’s First Aircraft Carrier (tech.slashdot.org)
An excellent list for someone looking to build core knowledge about what is happening in Africa.
Originally posted on U.S. Africa Command Blog:
Maintaining up-to-date information and deep knowledge about Africa is critical to the team at the U.S. Africa Command. To that end, a reading list was compiled to provide suggestions. Here are some top picks. Check the blog next week for the full list.
Thanks to the AFRICOM Research Library for providing us with this list. Look for an upcoming story on the library, new to Kelley Barracks.
1. ”The Fate of Africa or The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence,” Martin Meredith (2005). A narrative history of Africa over the last fifty years, with a focus on people and key events. This is a great start point for those becoming acquainted with the African continent.
2. “Things Fall Apart,” Chinua Achebe (1958). An African literary classic that captures the cultural intrusions represented by colonialism. This book is one of the most well-known African novels, and as such should be required reading for individuals interacting in Africa.
3. ”The Road to Hell,” Michael Maren (1989). An overview of the unintended consequences of U.S. humanitarian aid. This book provides good insight into events that led to the violent end of U.S. involvement in Somalia.
4. “This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President,” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2009). This is a compelling tale of the President of Liberia’s early childhood, rise to power, and experiences with abuse, imprisonment, exile, and fight for democracy and social justice.
5. ”Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust,” Immaculée Ilibagiza (2006). This is an inspiring story about a young Rwandan woman’s genocide survival. Her story gives us hope in overcoming the divisions deliberately created by those with self-serving agendas and no thought for humanity.
6. ”Understanding Contemporary Africa,” April Gordon (2007). An academic overview of the issues and challenges surrounding contemporary Africa. Topics include African cultures, politics, religion, economies, gender relations, and literature.
7. ”Long Walk to Freedom,” Nelson Mandela (1995). This book should be required reading if for no other reason than it recognizes and provides insight into one of Africa’s greatest Statesmen.
8. ”The State in Africa: Politics of the Belly,” Jean-Francois Bayart (1989). A translation of the book: L’etat en Afrique: Politique du Ventre, the term “politics of the belly” is a metaphor for a nepotistic, corrupt African State in which government and business elite use their influence to enrich themselves, their families or ethnic kinsmen. Similar in concept to neopatrimonialism, in which private sector support is bought by the state, this book addresses the form of governance that arose across much of Africa following independence. Nigeria’s postcolonial experience is perhaps the most apt example of the “politics of the belly”.
9. ”More Than Humanitarianism: A Strategic U.S. Approach Toward Africa,” Anthony Lake (2007). This Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Independent Task Force Report argues that Africa is becoming steadily more central to the United States and to the rest of the world in ways that transcend humanitarian interests. Africa now plays an increasingly significant role in supplying energy, preventing the spread of terrorism, and halting the devastation of HIV/AIDS. Africa’s growing importance is reflected in the intensifying competition with China and other countries for both access to African resources and influence in this region. A more comprehensive U.S. policy toward Africa is needed, the report states, and it lays out recommendations for policymakers to craft that policy.
10. “World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe,” Gerard Prunier (2009). The Rwandan genocide sparked a horrific bloodbath that swept across sub-Saharan Africa, ultimately leading to the deaths of some four million people. This book offers a gripping account of how one grisly episode laid the groundwork for a sweeping and disastrous upheaval. The heart of the book documents how the whole core of the African continent became engulfed in an intractable and bloody conflict after 1998, a devastating war that only wound down following the assassination of Kabila in 2001. The author indicts the international community for its lack of interest in what was then the largest conflict in the world.
11. “The African Union: Challenges of Globalization, Security, and Governance,” Samuel Makinda (2007). This book is a comprehensive examination of the work of the African Union (AU), with special emphasis on its capacity to meet the challenges of building and sustaining governance institutions and security mechanisms. It articulates how Africa and, in particular, the AU can effectively address the challenges of building and sustaining governance institutions and security mechanisms only if they have strategic leadership. Current debates on, and criticisms of, leadership in Africa are also analyzed as well as key options for overcoming the constraints that African leaders face.
12. ”African Security Governance,” Gavin Cawthra (2010). A result of research carried out over several years by the Southern African Defence and Security Management Network (SADSEM), in co-operation with the Danish Institute for International Studies and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, this book covers many of Africa’s new and emerging security issu
es. The broad focus is on security governance – the role of state and a wide range of social actors in the areas of both human and state security. It deals with a range of sectors, themes and national case studies and makes an important contribution to debates on security sector reform. The topics covered include policing transformation, intelligence governance, regulation of private security actors, challenges of nuclear proliferation, regional security, peace diplomacy and peace missions, the relationship between development and security, and new challenges in governance of the military.
Have you read one of these books? Let us know what you’d recommend in the comments below.
Read this superb introduction to one of the first literary movements to emerge in China in the wake of the Cultural Revolution.
Originally posted on Seeing Red in China:
This great guest post comes from a friend. Over the next few days she’ll be introducing her research on the Misty Poets. If you are a grad student working on a China related topic please contact Tom about the possibility of introducing here.
“Misty”is the title conferred upon a group of poets known during the Democracy Movement （1976-1980）for their unique style. Some, such as Ai Qing, Ai Weiwei’s father, called their work “obscure” (古怪), even poisonous. At the very least, it was certainly daring.
So daring, in fact, that three of the leading Misty poets were exiled for inspiring the Tiananmen youth. Misty poet Bei Dao was not even in China when the demonstrations occurred, but he was nonetheless not allowed back for twenty years, since his poems appeared on banners at Tiananmen Square. Other well-known poets include Gu Cheng, Mang Ke, Shu Ting, and Duo Duo, all of whom were self-educated during the Cultural Revolution and thus considered themselves members of the Lost Generation. They became well-known amongst educated reading circles in 1978 through the publication Today《今天》.
Forecasting the future is a tricky business, but it is not an altogether unrewarding one. Get it right, and you can remind people forever. Get it wrong, and most people will forget. Less fraught, however, is the habit of making business and policy decisions based on such prognoses: bet the farm on somebody else’s forecast, and your posterior is on the chopping block, not theirs.
It was with that slightly cynical thought in mind that we undertook to review China and India, 2025: A Comparative Assessment. Comparisons between China and India and their prospects are almost as common as all other forms of future gazing. At the very least, we are told, these will be two of the powers who will determine the course of the 21st century. The only question is which country has the economic model and political resilience necessary to take and hold the lead.
But the authors of this particular study place little stock in such predictions of global dominance. They recognize that there are too many uncertainties to make a prediction either way: what they are interested in discovering is which of these countries seems most likely to beat the other?
Spoiler alert: they are betting on India.
Since I’ve let that little tidbit out of the bag, I will not explain why, because that’s the fun of reading this report: understanding not just the rhetoric but the math behind their reasoning that makes India such a good bet over the next 15 years.
There are a ton of qualifications along the way, and the authors all but tell the reader “hey, don’t make any bets based on this conclusion, because, you know, anything could happen.” All of which sort of undermines the point of reading through it. But push these disclaimers out of your head and follow along with the reasoning, because the framework they use to analyze the two countries is worth considering at length.
- Population / Growth / India / China : Will the 1st overtake de 2nd ? (skillsinfo.wordpress.com)
- India denies sea skirmish with China (91live.wordpress.com)
- Report: Workers in China and India Most Likely to Play Hooky (blogs.wsj.com)
- India Vs China (aalin1.wordpress.com)
- Asia’s Great Naval Rivalry (Wall Street Journal) (thuytinhvo.wordpress.com)
- Asia’s Great Naval Rivalry: Are these the beginnings of a 21st century cold war? (gcaptain.com)
We are probably some time away from being able to assess fully any battle of the Vietnam War. Indeed, we are still learning more about major engagements of World War Two some sixty years after the fact.
The urgency around learning (or relearning) the lessons of Vietnam, though, is enough to reopen the books on many engagements that have gone ignored, forgotten, or unreviewed for some time. Near the top of that list must be the Battle for and the Siege of the U.S. Marine Corps firebase at Khe Sanh.
While nothing approaches Michael Herr’s Dispatches for an account of the battle from inside the wire at
Khe Sanh, Herr offers a memoir rather than history. And while he told with wit and empathy the stories of the men on the ground, the effort in the air to stave off a massive force of North Vietnamese regulars begs for review.
Here, in the words of the U.S. Air Force, is that story. While certainly told from the service’s point of view, no other source gives quite the same appreciation of the scope and magnitude of the critical role that air support, resupply by air, aeromedical evacuation, and airmobility played in keeping Khe Sanh from turning into a replay of the French debacle at Dien Bien Phu thirteen years before.
If nothing else, this account is a critical starting point for any examination of air power and the ground war in Vietnam.
Also available from Amazon here.
This book offers a brief but gripping account celebrating the role air power played in the successful evacuation of 1,500 U.S. and Vietnamese servicemen from a trap laid by the North Vietnamese Army in Vietnam in 1968.
While crediting the personal heroism of U.S. aviators in the effort, historian Alan Gropman (a Tufts Ph.D. and Air Force colonel) does not whitewash the “severe” losses suffered in crews and aircraft the Air Force suffered, and calls commanders for task for poor coordination and control of the effort.
Despite the temptation to condemn the veracity of this publication because it originated from the Bush White House, in Dubya’s defense, I have a hard time trusting any economic work coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania regardless of who is sitting in the Big Chair. There are other arms of government, such as the Congressional Budget Office, that tend to do more rigorous, less politically tainted analysis.
Nonetheless, this document is of historic interest because it describes a perspective that can be retroactively balanced against the facts. Just how much did the Bush Administration understand – or admit to understanding – about the nature of the economy in the wake of the financial crisis?
A quick read.
This PDF book compiles some important primary sources on the evolution of the relationship between China and ASEAN over the past two decades. China has attempted to interpose itself into ASEAN, and the effectiveness of that ongoing effort, will determine whether Southeast Asia becomes a regional power in its own right, or whether it simply becomes another sphere of influence wherein China, India, Europe, Japan, and the U.S. play an updated version of The Great Game.
Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!