Category Archive 'China'
08 Aug 2020

Chinese Artist Makes Costumes from Antique Porcelain Shards

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My Modern Met:

Chinese contemporary artist Li Xiaofang uses porcelain to make wearable art that pays homage to China’s past while looking toward the future. Xiaofang takes hundreds of shards of porcelain, some dating back to the Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties, and puzzles them together into magnificent porcelain dresses. His wearable art acts as both a coat of armor and a sculptural masterpiece.

Xiaofang sews together the shards using thin metal wire, and each is lined with a leather undergarment. Looking at the artist’s work, it’s impossible not to marvel at the precision and care taken, not only to find the exact shapes to form the curves of the dresses, but also how the pattern and color of the porcelain are used to create new shades and silhouettes. But Xiaofang doesn’t only limit himself to porcelain dresses, he’s also experimented with creating suit jackets, pants, blouses, and even a military hat.

The Beijing-based artist has seen his work exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has engaged in collaborations with fashion giants like Lacoste and Alexander McQueen. A visionary in his field, his work was by the rapid development engulfing Beijing. “These blue shards, bathed in the sunny skies of socialism and caressed by the contemporary cool breezes blowing from the west throughout the capital, assume a bewildering array of postures as fashion items entering the new century,” the artist once stated. “These are the blue-and-white costumes! These emanate the splendor once crushed! These are the illusions flowing with sorrow!”

RTWT

06 Aug 2020

China’s Maritime Silk Road

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Francis Pike, in the Spectator, warns that China is well on the way to adding strategic domination of the Bay of Bengal and the sea lanes to the Middle East to its ruthless appropriation of the South China Sea. Only the superior power of the US Navy stands in China’s way, but China is planning a massive naval expansion, and the US is not.

The forthcoming geopolitical struggle for supremacy between China and India will not be on land. It will be on water and a much larger body of water than Pangong Lake. The Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea will become the defining-battleground.

Xi Jinping’s ‘Maritime Silk Road’ policy is less talked about in the western press than ‘One Belt One Road’. The economic and military strategy is to dominate the sea lanes between China and the Middle East. As in the ancient Chinese board game of territorial control, Go, which inspired the great military theorist, Sun Tzu, Xi’s China is in the process of placing ‘stones’ (Go’s playing pieces) on Asia’s maritime seaboard that will enable it to achieve this dominance.

China’s first offshore naval port in Djibouti, adjacent to the Suez Canal, is already built. Pakistan’s Chinese-financed port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea, guarding the approaches to the Strait of Hormuz, is another one of the stones. Closer to home, China, by its placement of airfields and naval facilities on reclaimed reefs in the Spratly Islands, has now gained probably irreversible control of the South China Sea.

From China’s viewpoint this is not enough. A third of global shipping and most of China’s oil imports pass through the Strait of Malacca between Singapore and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. As a Portuguese envoy noted in the 16th century, ‘whoever is lord of Malacca has his hands on the throat’. With the US navy embedded in Singapore’s Changi naval base, China sees the Malacca Strait as the weakest link in its maritime strategy. Thus, the digging of a $30 billion, 80-mile canal across the Kra Isthmus in southern Thailand is being mooted. The canal would bypass the US-controlled Malacca Strait and give China unimpeded access to the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Reputedly, Chinese companies are already buying up land around the projected route of the canal. Importantly, over the past 20 years, Thailand, once a staunch US ally, has become a quasi-satellite of China.

Further inroads into the Bay of Bengal are being established by Chinese financing of the new port at Chittagong in Bangladesh, a country whose relationship to India, if not hostile, is nevertheless equivocal. It is somewhat overlooked that Bangladesh, a country of 165 million people, is now one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies.

Myanmar is even more in thrall to China. As the old Burmese saying goes: ‘When China spits, Burma swims.’ Here too China is financing a major port development on the coast of Rakhine state, home of the Rohingyas. In January, during Xi’s state visit to Myanmar, there was a joint announcement that they would push ahead with the construction of a new port in the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone. It is planned to link both this and the port in Chittagong by rail and road to Kunming, the capital of western China’s Yunnan Province. An oil pipeline is also planned. Meanwhile in the southern reaches of the Bay of Bengal, the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka have been close allies since the 1950s.

Although India is fully alive to China’s ‘string of pearls’ strategy, the West appears to be asleep. …

With 11 aircraft carriers to China’s two, America still commands maritime Asia. However, the balance is changing rapidly. As the US congressional report on Chinese naval modernisation concluded in May, by year end the US will have 297 naval vessels, the same number as 15 years ago; China will have 360, up more than 50 per cent over the same period. A third Chinese aircraft carrier is under construction and the hull of a fourth is expected to be laid down next year.

The direction of travel is clear. The US navy could find itself in China’s wake if current trends continue. ‘There is no doubt that they’ve been investing hugely in this,’ says Nick Childs of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. ‘They’ve been outbuilding everybody.’ Unless the West wakes up to the challenge, it is likely to be outgunned within 15 to 20 years by the People’s Liberation Army navy. The European Union, of course, unwilling even to pay for its own strategic defence, is an embarrassing irrelevance. The risk for India and the West is not armed conflict with China. It is that the struggle for supremacy in Asia will be lost with hardly a shot being fired. Sun Tzu would be proud.

RTWT

13 Jul 2020

Perhaps They Will Be Unable to Shop at Walmart

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BBC

China has announced sanctions on top Republicans after the US imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for alleged human rights abuses against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province.

Among those targeted are senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both outspoken critics of China.

The nature of the sanctions is unclear.

China is accused of detaining more than a million Uighurs and others in Xinjiang but China denies abuses in the far-western region.

Ted Cruz is a senator for Texas while Marco Rubio represents Florida. The pair competed with Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

China also imposed sanctions on Republican congressman Chris Smith; Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback; and a government agency, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

The foreign ministry said the move was in response to America’s “wrong actions”.

“We urge the US to immediately withdraw its wrong decision, and stop any words and actions that interfere in China’s internal affairs and harm China’s interests,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

She gave no details what the sanctions entailed. …

RTWT

06 Jul 2020

Wave Good-bye to Hong Kong

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Elizabeth Flux denies that her essay is a eulogy for Hong Kong, but it is.

[I]n 1997 Hong Kong was handed back to China as agreed. From there the clock started—a 50-year countdown. Hong Kong would be a part of China but remain independent, with its own government and laws and economy. ‘One Country, Two Systems’.

Except that’s not what is happening. What will happen after 2047 has never been clear, but in the interim Hong Kong is supposed to retain control and autonomy. Instead things have gone from a gentle background hum of uncertainty and unease, to a low dread, then to a sudden and accelerated horror that feels difficult to believe.

RTWT

19 May 2020

Time for Western Countries to Decouple Their Economies From China

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Chinese Navy amphibious transport ship Changbai Shan (989) leaving the Port of Rotterdam.

Brian Stewart argues in favor of Cold War now in order to avoid Hot War later.

The fatal mistake of yesterday was to believe (or at least to pretend) that China’s rise could be safely accommodated without exposing the liberal order to immense risk. The fatal mistake of today, it would appear, is to imagine that America can prevail without a vigorous strategy and capable allies over such a dynamic and formidable revisionist power. The last time liberal civilization faced such a determined adversary it was the Soviet Union. It is common to regard the peaceful end of the Cold War as inevitable, but in truth its outcome was shaped by a series of decisions and policies that were by no means predetermined. Many of the global institutions of the liberal order played their part in the struggle against various forms of communist totalitarianism, but it was the strategic foresight of Washington and the global deployment of American power that made the difference.

Despite the profound differences with Soviet communism, the challenge posed by the authoritarian ideology of the People’s Republic of China is redolent of the long twilight struggle that marked the second half of the 20th century. Nonetheless, prominent voices today allege that a cold war with China would be “unnecessary” and “destructive.” But compared to what? The prospect of a shooting war, or even intense competition, is invoked to incapacitate prudent measures to contain Chinese power and deter Chinese aggression. For those who believe in liberal ideals and principles, it is the prospect of Chinese hegemony under the writ of the CCP that presents a more truly unnecessary and destructive scenario.

In the years ahead, the potential for armed conflict between the United States and the People’s Republic is by no means trivial. But as the first cold war largely demonstrated, great power conflict is not inevitable. Beyond capitulation to the CCP’s strategic imperatives—allowing Beijing to quash the freedom of Hong Kong, annex Taiwan, and bully other free peoples into submission—the surest way to avoid war is by adopting a robust strategy to counter China’s expansionism. This would entail acting in concert with like-minded nations to divest and decouple from China’s economy while deploying and, if necessary, wielding military force to establish what Dean Acheson once referred to as “situations of strength” in the Far East.

Such a strategy would be premised on observing a distinction once made by Michael Ignatieff—that adversaries whose designs “you want to defeat” are not necessarily enemies whose existence “you have to destroy.” It can no longer be credibly denied that China is an adversary of the United States. If it is not treated accordingly, it may prove impossible to prevent it from becoming a full-fledged enemy.

RTWT

I think his postion is inarguable. The Free World Democracies cannot keep enriching China as a trading partner if China remains determined upon combining domestic tyranny and brutality with adversarial foreign aggression.

18 May 2020

Sounds Right

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16 May 2020

YouTube Working for Beijing

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Taiwan News:

Chinese netizens on Wednesday (May 13) discovered that YouTube is automatically blocking the Chinese term “communist bandit” within 15 seconds.

On Wednesday, human rights activist Jennifer Zeng posted a video of a person entering the epithet “communist bandit” (共匪) in the comment box beneath a YouTube video. Within 15 seconds after posting the comment, it mysteriously and inexplicably disappears.

The term is an anti-communist insult which was first coined by the Kuomintang in the early 20th Century and was used extensively by the Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) government during the martial law era in Taiwan. The Chinese character “共” (gong), is short for 共產主義 (gongchan zhuyi, communism), while the character “匪” (fei) means “bandit,” and was used extensively during China’s Warlord Era.

Taiwan News typed the term in Chinese characters in the comment box in a few different YouTube videos and indeed within 15 seconds, the comment had been automatically excised. It is not clear why YouTube is automatically censoring this word.

YouTube has recently started to demonetize content that is critical of the Chinese Communist Party and China’s handling of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

21 Apr 2020

Words of Wisdom

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HT: Vanderleun.

20 Apr 2020

China’s Outlook and Strategy

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H.R. McMaster warns, in the Atlantic, that China’s leaders are not friendly and have no intention of playing fair.

On November 8, 2017, Air Force One touched down in Beijing, marking the start of a state visit hosted by China’s president and Communist Party chairman, Xi Jinping. From my first day on the job as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, China had been a top priority. …

Our last meeting of the state visit, in the Great Hall of the People, was with Li Keqiang, the premier of the State Council and the titular head of China’s government. If anyone in the American group had any doubts about China’s view of its relationship with the United States, Li’s monologue would have removed them. He began with the observation that China, having already developed its industrial and technological base, no longer needed the United States. He dismissed U.S. concerns over unfair trade and economic practices, indicating that the U.S. role in the future global economy would merely be to provide China with raw materials, agricultural products, and energy to fuel its production of the world’s cutting-edge industrial and consumer products.

Leaving China, I was even more convinced than I had been before that a dramatic shift in U.S. policy was overdue. The Forbidden City was supposed to convey confidence in China’s national rejuvenation and its return to the world stage as the proud Middle Kingdom. But for me it exposed the fears as well as the ambitions that drive the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to extend China’s influence along its frontiers and beyond, and to regain the honor lost during the century of humiliation. The fears and ambitions are inseparable. They explain why the Chinese Communist Party is obsessed with control—both internally and externally.

The party’s leaders believe they have a narrow window of strategic opportunity to strengthen their rule and revise the international order in their favor—before China’s economy sours, before the population grows old, before other countries realize that the party is pursuing national rejuvenation at their expense, and before unanticipated events such as the coronavirus pandemic expose the vulnerabilities the party created in the race to surpass the United States and realize the China dream. The party has no intention of playing by the rules associated with international law, trade, or commerce. China’s overall strategy relies on co-option and coercion at home and abroad, as well as on concealing the nature of China’s true intentions. What makes this strategy potent and dangerous is the integrated nature of the party’s efforts across government, industry, academia, and the military.

And, on balance, the Chinese Communist Party’s goals run counter to American ideals and American interests.

RTWT

15 Apr 2020

Separating From China Comes Next

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Andrew A. Michta contends that the principles of Liberalism and Free Trade are philosophically fine, but have unacceptable drawbacks in a real world in which your trading partner is also your adversary and has no respect for human life.

By striving to “flatten” the world (in Thomas Friedman’s memorable phrase) into a single, borderless entity in pursuit of nothing but profit and prosperity, this worldview has created huge blind spots. For example, it was powerless to predict that China would build on its early advantage in sheer numbers of low-skilled workers to lock in a dominant and increasingly powerful position for itself in global supply chains. Economies of scale played their part, as did the complementarity of the various manufacturing sectors the country strategically developed, not to mention China’s bullying and corrupting practices. The end result was that the costs of shifting to poorer countries would be unappetizing to corporate supply chain managers. Worse still, such thinking could not account for the fact that behind the scores of successful companies lay a monolithic, totalitarian, nationalist entity with a vision for restoring China’s role in the world: the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

When bereft of redundancies, networks devolve to hierarchies, which in turn create winners and losers. Hierarchies do not diminish the key importance of state power in international relations. On the contrary, they enable it. As China has grown to become the seemingly irreplaceable core of a globalized economy, the CCP has pursued predatory mercantilism in its commercial relations with the West, in the process tilting the hard power balance in its favor. In an economic system that allows for the flow of technology and capital across national borders, redundancies in the supply chain are essential to the preservation of state sovereignty and government capacity to act in a crisis. The Wuhan Virus pandemic is proving so devastating because the radical centralization of market networks has allowed for failure at a single point in our supply chain to leave the system with no capacity to off-load demand onto redundant networks.

In short, globalization, as preached and practiced over the past four decades, has been shown for what it has always been: profiteering off of a vast pool of centrally controlled labor. While many vast fortunes have been made in the West as a result, and as American consumers binged on low-cost goods, the biggest winner has naturally been the Chinese Communist Party elite. And though even before the 2016 U.S. election there was a growing realization among Western captains of industry that something was not quite right with China’s role in the system, few were willing to ask big enough questions about the system as a whole.

The fundamental question is one of values: Is this kind of globalization compatible with liberty and democratic governance? My simple answer is no. By ignoring the role of nations in the international system—or, if not ignoring, indeed prophesying the nation’s demise—globalization’s boosters have implicitly, if perhaps unwittingly, lessened the accountability of elites and downgraded the voice of voters in these matters. No citizenry, if asked, would vote for the status quo—their working-class communities gutted, their security endangered, and their country made dependent on an adversarial foreign power.

RTWT

In the end, cheaper running shoes and smart phones are just not worth it.

09 Apr 2020

Instapundit Down Since Yesterday!

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All web sites occasionally have technical issues, but Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit blog is the absolute top of the heap in Conservative commentary, and it is well-supported by skilled professionals. I’ve seen it down before for a few hours, but never overnight.

My guess is that the site was taken down by a deliberate and very technically sophisticated attack in response to some posting or other criticizing the government of China and attributing to it responsibility for the COVID-19 international pandemic.

Cross Fu Manchu and the nefarious Si Fan, and the next thing you know, there’s a hamadryad in your bed.

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UPDATE, 4/10:

Late yesterday, I was able to connect to Instapundit with Chrome & Explorer. Firefox still produces the same “Error establishing a database connection” message.

I have changed nothing in Firefox. Of course, an update may have.

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UPDATE, 4/11:

Vanderleun suggests that clearing your cache may solve the problem. I would not be surprised if he was right.

NEW UPDATE, later 4/11:

It’s fixed. Glenn Reynolds stepped in and got it done.

08 Apr 2020

China and the USA: Culture Clash

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Vanderleun linked the top video of a Chinese woman filming herself gleefully buying up face masks in Florida, and juxtaposed it with Bill Whittle’s response.

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