China Complains After President-Elect Trump Speaks to Taiwan Leader Tsai Ing-wen

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Beijing (AFP) – China protested to Washington Saturday after US President-elect Donald Trump broke with decades of foreign policy and spoke with the president of Taiwan.

“It was not immediately clear whether Trump’s telephone call with Tsai Ing-wen marked a deliberate pivot away from Washington’s official ‘One China’ stance, but it fuelled fears he is improvising on international affairs.”

It was not immediately clear whether Trump’s telephone call with Tsai Ing-wen marked a deliberate pivot away from Washington’s official “One China” stance, but it fuelled fears he is improvising on international affairs.

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Xiamen University

Zhang Wensheng, of Xiamen University, was more circumspect, dismissing Trump’s use of the term ‘president’ as ‘personal greetings’ that ‘do not reflect a political position whatsoever’.

China regards self-ruling Taiwan as part of its own territory awaiting reunification under Beijing’s rule, and any US move that would imply support for independence would likely trigger fury.

[ALSO SEE – Commentary: Trump, Taiwan and China – punditfromanotherplanet]

During Friday’s discussion, Trump and Tsai noted “the close economic, political and security ties” between Taiwan and the United States, according to the president-elect’s office.

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Even before the call with Taiwan, Trump’s unorthodox diplomatic outreach had raised eyebrows, and, for some critics, in extending his hand to Taiwan, Trump crossed a dangerous line.

“President-elect Trump also congratulated President Tsai on becoming President of Taiwan earlier this year,” it said.

Beijing on Saturday offered a robust response.

“We have already made solemn representations about it to the relevant US side,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.

“There is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues. We remain firmly committed to our ‘One China’ policy,” she added. “Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations.”

— National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne

“It must be pointed out that there is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,”ObaMao

China also urged “relevant parties in the US… to handle Taiwan-related issues with caution and care to avoid unnecessarily interfering with the overall situation of Sino-US relations.”

Trump, who had come under fire for the telephone call, hit back — on Twitter.

“Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call,” Trump tweeted.

– ‘How wars start’ –

President Barack Obama’s White House said the outgoing US administration had not changed its stance on China-Taiwan issues.

“There is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne told reporters. Read the rest of this entry »


Xi’an, China: The Great Tower of Textbooks

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A café in the central Chinese city of Xi’an has become a place of pilgrimage for students after its owner installed a giant artwork made of books as a symbol of the crushing workload that many of China’s schools impose on youngsters. At 7.5 meters tall with a diameter of 1.5 meters, the hollow edifice is made of over four tons of unwanted textbooks bought by Li from a nearby university. Read the rest of this entry »


Socialist Self-Deception: Einstein and the USSR to Bernie Sanders and Venezuela 

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Even socialists who traveled to the Soviet Union and saw its immense poverty with their own eyes could not be shaken from their faith.

To explain our insane fascination with socialism, I have pointed to a growing body of academic research, which suggests that we are, by nature, envious of and resentful toward people who amass “disproportionate” wealth and power.

Moreover, research suggests that we find it difficult to comprehend, let alone appreciate, what Friedrich Hayek called extended order — or the use of specialization and trade to create “an information gathering process, able to call up, and put to use, widely dispersed information that no central planning agency, let alone any individual, could know as a whole, possess or control.”

Our minds have evolved to deal with issues faced by our hunting and gathering ancestors (e.g., an exchange of meat for favors), not to deal with issues facing us today (e.g., outsourcing the assembly of the iPhone to China to make it more affordable in America). The extended order, in other words, has evolved in spite of, not because of, our best efforts.

Today, I want to address another reason behind the persistent appeal of socialism: the power of self-delusion, or our ability and willingness to go on believing in things that are patently not true.

Soviet Five-Year Plan propaganda poster.

Soviet Five-Year Plan propaganda poster.

Consider the following two examples. In 1985, my Czechoslovak aunt Kate visited the USSR. She was a committed Communist Party member all of her adult life, and, as a reward, she was given a chance to spend a couple of weeks in the workers’ paradise. When she returned, I impetuously asked her if she had brought me anything. “Nothing,” she replied much to my disappointment, “the USSR is a very poor country.” Yet Kate never wavered in her commitment to the principles of communism and remained a party member until 1989, when her entire value system came crumbling down along with the Berlin Wall.

[Read the full story here, at Foundation for Economic Education]

Some ten years later, an American college professor of mine recalled his own visit to the USSR. In 1970, he and his wife spent two weeks in Leningrad, Moscow, and Kiev. During their stay in the communist country, he was shocked by the poverty and inefficiency he saw. (From Kiev, he wrote a letter to his parents in New York, which I have transcribed, with his permission, below.) All the other tourists that he met expressed similar sentiments.

When he returned to the United States, however, he kept on reading reports in mainstream publications, including Time magazine and The New York Times, which maintained that the Soviet economy was working. These reports were written by people who lived in the USSR, spoke Russian and had Soviet friends. As such, he concluded that the impressions he had made during his stay in the USSR were not valid.

If the above two examples failed to convince you of the power of self-delusion, consider our Nobel Prize-winning physicist from Ulm.

Einstein was a self-declared socialist. In 1949, he even published an essay titled “Why Socialism?” In it, Einstein wrote, “The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil [of human suffering]… I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate… [this evil], namely through the establishment of a socialist economy.”

It is striking that the most brilliant scientist of the 20th century, who escaped from national socialist Germany (Hitler called his party “socialist” for a reason) and moved to the capitalist United States, published an essay castigating capitalism and calling for socialism — while Stalin was still alive and busy butchering millions of Soviet citizens. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan Prepares for Nuclear War with North Korea by Warning Citizens to Shelter in Event of Kim Jong-Un Bomb Attack

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Japanese people are bracing themselves for nuclear attack with chilling advise on what to do if Kim Jong-un presses the red button

For the first time since North Korea began a series of nuke tests, people in Japan are being issued with terrifying instruction on how to deal with nuclear war.

A downloadable pamphlet is now available on the island nation’s civil defence website.

Called “Protecting Ourselves against Armed Attacks and Terrorism,” it outlines emergency measures in the event North Korean missiles are fired at the country.

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It bears similarities to the creepy Protect and Survive documents issued in Britain and Northern Ireland during the early 1980s following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.

Like the UK’s booklet it give top-tips on how to avoid being fried and radiated. Read the rest of this entry »


Debt Under Obama Up $9,000,000,000,000

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As of the close of business, on Wednesday, Oct. 5—the latest day for which the Treasury has reported—the total federal debt was $19,663,411,497,797.40. That means that so far in Obama’s presidency, the federal debt has increased $9,036,534,448,884.32.

Terence P. Jeffrey reports: The federal government passed a fiscal milestone on the first business day of fiscal 2017—which was Monday, Oct. 3—when the total federal debt accumulated during the presidency of Barack Obama topped $9,000,000,000,000 for the first time.

On Jan. 20, 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, the total debt of the federal government was $10,626,877,048,913.08, according to data published by the U.S. Treasury.

As of the close of business on Friday, Sept, 30, the last day of fiscal 2016, the total federal debt was $19,573,444,713,936.79. At that point, the total federal debt had increased under Obama by $8,946,567,665,023.71.

On Monday, Oct. 3, the first business day of fiscal 2017, the total federal debt closed at $19,642,949,742,561.51. At that point, the debt had increased under Obama by $9,016,072,693,648.43 from the $10,626,877,048,913.08 it stood at on the day of Obama’s inauguration.

[Read the full story here, at cnsnews.com]

As of the close of business, on Wednesday, Oct. 5—the latest day for which the Treasury has reported—the total federal debt was $19,663,411,497,797.40. That means that so far in Obama’s presidency, the federal debt has increased $9,036,534,448,884.32. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Guardian Lions’ Stone Sculptures Covered with Plastic Bags Protect from Extreme Weather

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Winter can be brutal – so brutal that even stone sculptures need protection. In Anyang, central China’s Henan Province, the Chinese guardian lions’ stone sculptures were covered with plastic bags to guard it from extreme weather. The meteorological department had forecasted 10-14mm of snowfall in the province, and the “red scarf” was used as a protective measure to safeguard the cultural relics.

Source: CCTVNews


Barack ‘Lead From Behind’ Obama Says Goodbye to World Stage After 8 Years 

U.S. President Barack Obama holds a press conference at the conclusion of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit in Lima, Peru November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

LIMA (AFP-Jiji) — U.S. President Barack Obama bid farewell to the world stage Sunday, pondering his legacy and offering advice to his successor at the end of his final foreign tour.

His historic presidency and charisma have made Obama a rock star on the international scene, even at times when the daily grind of politics dimmed the glow around his election as the United States’ first black president in 2008.

Obama spoke to both the American people and the world as he gave his final foreign press conference in Lima. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Internet Boom

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Online experimentation doesn’t have to be limited to tech companies.

Edward Jung It’s tempting to portray the rapid growth of the Chinese Internet as just one more example of China’s efforts to catch up with the West: Alibaba is the eBay of China, Baidu is the Google of China, Didi is the Uber of China, and so on. But China is actually conducting some fascinating experiments with the Internet (see “The Best and Worst Internet Experience in the World“). You just need to look outside the tech sector to notice them.

The most significant innovation is happening not among Chinese Internet companies but in the country’s so-called “real” economy. Corporations in old-school sectors like construction, agriculture, transportation, and banking are pursuing new business models based on big data, social media, and the Internet of things.

These are some of the largest firms of their kind in the world, yet many are young enough to be helmed by their original owner/founders. They’re like ­Rockefeller, Ford, or Carnegie with access to smartphones.

So it’s China’s largest residential-­property developer—not a tech company—that is pioneering the integration of Internet-based technology and services into fully wired communities. Vanke wants to create urban hubs that supply residents with gardens, safe food, travel, entertainment, and medical and educational services, all enabled by the Internet. Read the rest of this entry »


China Blocks Hong Kong Lawmakers in a Reminder of Who is In Charge

Cheng Chung-tai speaks to supporters in Hong Kong elections

Hong Kong is reminded that the freedoms it enjoys are ultimately at the whim of Beijing.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” is an 18th Century trumpet call for free speech, one often repeated by parliamentarians around the world… but never in China.

The message from Beijing to its unruly territory 2,000km (1,350 miles) south is, by contrast, “we disapprove of what you say and we hereby decree that you have no right to say it”.

China has now spoken on the question of whether elected members of Hong Kong’s legislature can use that public platform to campaign for ideas offensive to China and the answer is a resounding no. In a unanimous decision by a panel of the Communist Party-controlled national parliament, Hong Kong has been reminded that the freedoms it enjoys are ultimately at the whim of Beijing.

Today’s “interpretation” of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution is one of the most significant interventions in Hong Kong’s legal system in two decades of Chinese rule. It is the first time China’s parliament, without the request of either the Hong Kong government or Court of Final Appeal, has interpreted the mini-constitution at a time when the issue is under active consideration in a Hong Kong court.

Newly elected lawmaker Yau Wai-ching displays a banner before taking oath at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China October 12, 2016.

Newly elected lawmaker Yau Wai-ching displays a banner before taking oath at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China October 12, 2016. Yau Wai-Ching had used her oath-taking attempts to insult China. – Reuters

Why didn’t China’s politicians wait till after a court ruling on whether two legislators might be allowed to retake their oaths? Li Fei, the chairman of the Basic Law Committee of China’s parliament, made the logic clear when he said the Chinese government “is determined to firmly confront the pro-independence forces without any ambiguity”.

The interpretation is a highly confrontational move which plunges Hong Kong into a new phase of its long running political and constitutional crisis. But Beijing’s move comes in response to an equally confrontational move from the other side.

[Read the full story here, at BBC News]

The two lawmakers, Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching, who used their swearing-in ceremony to insult China and talk of a “Hong Kong nation” should have known that a Chinese government so sensitive to questions of national pride and dignity would feel it had no choice but to act.

Legislative Councillors-elect Yau Wai-ching (L) and Sixtus Leung (R) are seen as thousands of people march through the streets of Hong Kong to protest against the Legislative Council oath-taking interpretation of the city's Basic Law, or mini-constitution, by the Chinese authorities in Beijing, Hong Kong, China, 6 November 2016

Ms Yau (left) and Sixtus Leung (right) have refused to pledge allegiance to Beijing

It was no surprise when China’s parliament said their words and actions had “posed a grave threat to national sovereignty and security”, with Li Fei adding: “The central government’s attitude is absolute. There will be no leniency.”

A price worth paying

The scope of Monday’s interpretation will raise inevitable questions about whether China is interpreting Hong Kong law, which is allowed, or re-writing it, which is not. And apart from disqualifying the two young legislators at the heart of the crisis, it will raise a raft of questions about the way in which some of the other newly elected young democracy activists took their oaths.

A man yells during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong

The democracy activists could now capitalise on anger in Hong Kong – AFP

For example, does reciting the oath in slow motion or using eccentric intonation contravene the interpretation’s insistence on “genuine” sincerity and solemnity? Who will decide? And if Beijing doesn’t like the decision of a Hong Kong court, what will it do next? For that matter, where does Beijing’s intervention leave the ongoing review of the oath taking question in Hong Kong’s courts? Read the rest of this entry »


Shunde City, Guangdong Province: Ever Wondered What Being in Space Feels Like?

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Ever wondered what being in space feels like? Well, in the wake of October’s launch of China’s Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, a theme park in Shunde City, Guangdong Province has given visitors the chance to experience the sensation of weightlessness. Tourists put on spacesuits before riding a capsule attached to cables. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Protesters Clash With Police as China Plans Political Intervention 

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Officers use pepper spray on protesters angry that Beijing will issue an interpretation of the semiautonomous city’s Basic Law.

Police used pepper spray on protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday evening as thousands rallied against Beijing’s plans to intervene in a political standoff over two local lawmakers who insulted China in the city’s legislature.

Ese Erheriene and Chester Yung in Hong Kong and Chun Han Wong in Beijing report: The conflict was the latest sign of a deepening rift between Beijing and many in Hong Kong over how much autonomy the territory should have. Hong Kong is allowed to govern itself under a miniconstitution—the Basic Law—and has an independent judiciary. But Saturday, China’s top legislative body said it is prepared to override Hong Kong’s legal authority over how to handle the local lawmakers’ actions, which Beijing denounced as a threat to national security. The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress said Saturday it would issue its own interpretation of the Basic Law as Beijing “cannot afford to sit idle” when faced with challenges to its authority over Hong Kong, according to the government-run Xinhua News Agency.

Police face off against protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016.

“The police was using very brutal violence to depress us. We were very angry because we think that for such an important issue, we at least have our right to protest.”

— Nathan Law Kwun-chung, the 23-year-old newly elected ‘localist’ who has advocated for greater autonomy from China.

On Sunday, thousands marched in central Hong Kong to protest against China’s looming intervention. In scenes reminiscent of the city’s mass pro-democracy protests of 2014, video taken by local press showed police spraying the crowd and protesters protecting themselves with umbrellas.

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“We were trying to occupy Connaught Road…but there were too many police and there were some conflicts between us. They used pepper spray. We tried to step back and fight again, but they kept on spraying.”

— Hayley Lee, 27, an airline cabin-crew member

Hong Kong Police Force senior superintendent Lewis Tse confirmed officers used pepper spray during a “chaotic” confrontation with some protesters late Sunday. He said two men—aged 39 years and 57 years—had been arrested.

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Hundreds of protesters gathered near Western Street, in the city’s Sai Ying Pun district, as the march against China’s reinterpretation of the Basic Law turned into a standoff with the police. People held umbrellas aloft and wore face masks to protect themselves from the pepper spray.

“We were trying to occupy Connaught Road…but there were too many police and there were some conflicts between us,” said Hayley Lee, 27, an airline cabin-crew member. “They used pepper spray. We tried to step back and fight again, but they kept on spraying.”

[Read the full story here, at  WSJ]

In the crowd, familiar faces from the so-called Umbrella movement two years ago were present.

“The police was using very brutal violence to depress us,” said Nathan Law Kwun-chung, the 23-year-old newly elected “localist” who has advocated for greater autonomy from China. “We were very angry because we think that for such an important issue, we at least have our right to protest,” he said of police attempts to move the crowd near China’s official Liaison Office on Connaught Road.

Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching during a protest march in Hong Kong on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016.

Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching during a protest march in Hong Kong on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

As the night wore on, rows of police held their lines, while others looked on from the steps of the Western Police Station. Officers stood with shields, warning protesters to keep maintain control and stay calm.

Protesters continued to mill around, disorganized, and many were unsure about whether they would stay out for whole night. Still, they agreed they wanted to take a stand with Beijing’s decision expected to be made Monday. Read the rest of this entry »


Beijing’s Draft Ruling on Oath-Taking for Hong Kong Legislators ‘So Detailed it Amounts to a New Law’ 

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Constitutional expert says interpretation sets dangerous precedent for Beijing to interfere when it does not like a law, but Bar Association chairwoman believes it will have limited impact.

joyce-ng-250Joyce Ng reports: The Beijing draft ruling on how lawmakers should take their oath appears so elaborate that it amounts to making a new law for Hong Kong, lawyers say, though they differ on how much the intervention will affect the judicial system.

One professor says the ruling could set a dangerous precedent for Beijing to issue its own interpretation if it does not like a Hong Kong law or does not trust local judges in dealing with a sensitive issue. The Bar Association chief says the decision could provide clarity for lawmakers about oath-taking.

The draft interpretation, set to be voted on Monday, is likely to prescribe the format and conduct for legislators taking the oath and the consequences of non-compliance, as well as defining words like “allegiance” in Article 104 of the Basic Law, according to Basic Law Committee members who have been consulted by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.

But Johannes Chan Man-mun, an expert in constitutional law at the University of Hong Kong, said such details should not exist in or be added to a document like the Basic Law.

Former lawmaker Ronny Tong does not think the ruling will clash with Hong Kong‘s legislation on oaths and elections. Photo: David Wong

“It is acceptable Beijing wants to define words like ‘allegiance’ and ‘uphold’, but to add in so much other detail is not interpreting the law but making a new law, which the Standing Committee cannot do,” he said.

The controversy erupted when two localist lawmakers used derogatory language about China when taking their oaths. The chief executive and secretary for justice then launched a court bid to disqualify the two, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, from taking their Legco seats.

[Read the full story here, at South China Morning Post]

Under Article 18 of the Basic Law, if the Standing Committee wishes to apply a mainland law to Hong Kong, it must first consult the Hong Kong government and add it to annex 3 of the Basic Law. Chan said the Standing Committee arguably bypassed this procedure by way of interpretation.

Lawmaker Lau Siu-lai paused for six seconds between each word when she originally took her oath. Photo: David Wong

Another possible point of the interpretation is to confirm that the Legislative Council’s secretary-general, who is in charge of administration issues, has the power to invalidate oaths.

Chan said it would be ridiculous to elevate the status of the secretary-general and put him in the constitutional document, giving him too much power. Read the rest of this entry »


Changsha, Hunan Province, China: Monkey Chooses Trump

A monkey kisses the cardboard cutout of US Presidential candidate Donald Trump during a selection intended to predict the result of the US election, at a park in Changsha, in China’s Hunan province on November 3, 2016. The monkey chose Republican candidate Donald Trump.

 

 

 


Beijing Could Weigh In on Hong Kong Pro-Independence Lawmakers’ Oaths Row

Beijing could throw its weight behind attempts by the Hong Kong government to bar two democratically elected independence activists from taking up their seats in the city’s Legislative Council (LegCo), the city’s leader has indicated.

Chief executive Leung Chun-ying said on Tuesday that he may ask Beijing to “interpret” the city’s miniconstitution, the Basic Law, if a court review of the lawmakers’ status doesn’t go the government’s way.

Sixtus “Baggio” Leung and Yau Wai-ching of the localist group Youngspiration, who were elected to LegCo in last September’s elections, used their swearing-in ceremony last month to pledge to represent the “Hong Kong nation,” inserting swear-words, slurs, and pro-independence slogans into their oaths.

They were unable to take up their seats, as their oaths were deemed invalid by LegCo chairman Andrew Leung, and the government sought their removal from office with a judicial review in the High Court, which will be decided on Thursday.

Sixtus Leung, 30, and Yau, 25, later attempted to re-take their oaths, but were thwarted by a mass walkout of pro-Beijing LegCo members, rendering the ceremony invalid.

Leung told reporters on Tuesday that he could ask China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), to use its ultimate power to interpret the Basic Law.

“We hope to do our utmost to resolve it within Hong Kong, but we cannot rule out this possibility,” Leung said.

“Apart from the case in court….there is a high possibility that other things might be triggered by their oaths and their words and actions afterwards,” Leung said, who recently postponed a trip to Beijing pending the court’s decision. Read the rest of this entry »


BEAST MODE: China Debuts J-20 Stealth Jet in Show of Strength

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ZHUHAI, China (Reuters) –Tim Hepher and Brenda Goh report: China showed its Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter in public for the first time on Tuesday, opening the country’s biggest meeting of aircraft makers and buyers with a show of its military clout.

“It’s a change of tactics for the Chinese to publicly show off weapons that aren’t in full squadron service yet, and demonstrates a lot of confidence in the capability, and also a lot of pride.”

— Sam Roggeveen, a senior fellow at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute

Airshow China, in the southern city of Zhuhai, offers Beijing an opportunity to demonstrate its ambitions in civil aerospace and to underline its growing capability in defense. China is set to overtake the U.S. as the world’s top aviation market in the next decade.

Two J-20 jets, Zhuhai’s headline act, swept over dignitaries, hundreds of spectators and industry executives gathered at the show’s opening ceremony in a flypast that barely exceeded a minute, generating a deafening roar that was met with gasps and applause and set off car alarms in a parking lot.

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“I think we learned very little. We learned it is very loud. But we can’t tell what type of engine it has, or very much about the mobility. Most importantly, we didn’t learn much about its radar cross-section.”

— Greg Waldron, Asia Managing Editor of FlightGlobal

Experts say China has been refining designs for the J-20, first glimpsed by planespotters in 2010, in the hope of narrowing a military technology gap with the United States. President Xi Jinping has pushed to toughen the armed forces as China takes a more assertive stance in Asia, particularly in the South China and East China seas.

“It is clearly a big step forward in Chinese combat capability,” said Bradley Perrett of Aviation Week, a veteran China watcher.

State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) was also bullish on China’s appetite for new civilian planes, estimating the market would need 6,865 new aircraft worth $930 billion over the next 20 years.

The COMAC forecast – similar to long-term outlooks from well-established rivals Boeing Co and Airbus Group – said China would make up almost a fifth of global demand for close to 40,000 planes over the next two decades. Read the rest of this entry »


Mark Zuckerberg’s Long March to China

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The Chinese government likes to control social media and what people do with it—but Facebook looks willing to launch in China anyway.

Emily Parker writes: For U.S. Internet businesses, China is the land of moral defeat. Many people hoped that Western technology companies would loosen China’s control over information. Instead, those companies have willingly participated in efforts to censor citizens’ speech. Yahoo gave Chinese authorities information about democracy activists, landing them in jail. Microsoft shut down the blog of prominent media-freedom activist Michael Anti. Google censored search results that were politically sensitive in China. In 2006, those three companies came before Congress and were accused by a subcommittee chairman of “sickening collaboration” with the Chinese government. Google shut down its mainland Chinese search engine in 2010, publicly complaining about censorship and cybersecurity.

“The number of Chinese Internet users has surged to some 700 million, and they represent a valuable untapped resource for American companies with saturated, highly competitive home markets. But the Communist Party’s attempts to control information have also grown more intense.”

Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009, and its Instagram photo-sharing service was blocked in 2014. I once thought that it would be disastrous or impossible for the social network to try a Chinese adventure of its own, and some China experts still believe that to be true. But a Facebook launch in China now looks probable.

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Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has signaled to Beijing that he’s willing to do what it takes to get into the country. People who know the company well think it will happen. “It’s not an if, it’s a when,” says Tim Sparapani, who was Facebook’s first director of public policy and is now principal at SPQR Strategies, a consulting firm. Facebook declined to comment for this article, but Zuckerberg said last year: “You can’t have a mission to want to connect everyone in the world and leave out the biggest country.”

[Read the full story here, at MIT – technologyreview.com]

A decade after Google’s hopeful but ill-fated entry into China, U.S. Internet companies may see the Chinese market as even more tantalizing—yet impenetrable. The number of Chinese Internet users has surged to some 700 million, and they represent a valuable untapped resource for American companies with saturated, highly competitive home markets. But the Communist Party’s attempts to control information have also grown more intense. In addition to the “Great Firewall” that blocks access to foreign websites, legions of human censors, many employed at Internet companies, police domestic blogs and social networks. And a U.S. company would now have to compete with China’s own Internet giants. WeChat, a messaging app from the behemoth Tencent, has hundreds of millions of users.

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Zuckerberg clearly thinks China is worth the trouble, even if that means leaving some “Western values” at the door. Earlier this year, he traveled to Beijing and had a high-profile meeting with China’s propaganda chief, Liu Yunshan. Chinese state media reported that Facebook’s founder praised China’s Internet progress and pledged to work with the government to create a better cyberspace. Liu highlighted the notion of Internet governance “with Chinese characteristics.” The translation was clear: a Chinese version of Facebook would definitely be censored. This year’s trip was something of a sequel. In 2014, he hosted Lu Wei, minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, at Facebook’s offices. President Xi Jinping’s book The Governance of China just happened to be on ­Zuckerberg’s desk.

[Read the full text here, at MIT – technologyreview.com]

This courtship hasn’t been without some awkward moments. When ­Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself cheerfully jogging through the polluted haze of Tiananmen Squarethis year, he was mocked on Chinese social media. But overall he has made the right moves, says Cheng Li, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution. “Chinese leaders pay a lot of attention to personal relationships,” he says. “They think Mark ­Zuckerberg is a friend of China. He’s successful. He’s very China-friendly. He has a Chinese wife. He speaks Chinese. So what else do you want?”

At your service

Facebook will still have to overcome Beijing’s suspicions that American Internet companies could destabilize the Communist Party’s rule. Media outlets that described the Arab Spring as the “Facebook Revolution” didn’t do the company any favors. And documents leaked by the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden fueled Chinese suspicions that American technology companies had “back doors” for U.S. government surveillance. Read the rest of this entry »


One-Third of Millennials Believe That More People Were Killed Under George W. Bush than Under Joseph Stalin

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Results from a new survey are not pretty. 

Jamie Gregora reports: The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation released its first “Annual Report on U.S. Attitudes Towards Socialism” Monday. The survey showed a distinct generation gap regarding beliefs about socialism and communism between older and younger Americans. For example, 80 percent of baby boomers and 91 percent of elderly Americans believe that communism was and still is a problem in the world today, while just 55 percent of millennials say the same.

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[Just how many people did Joseph Stalin kill?]

Just 37 percent of millennials had a “very unfavorable” view of communism, compared to 57 percent of Americans overall. Close to half (45 percent) of Americans aged 16 to 20 said they would vote for a socialist, and 21 percent would vote for a communist.

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[Mass killings under Communist regimes]

[Katyn Forest Massacre – Soviet Union –  Joseph Stalin]

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[ALSO SEE – 40 years after death, Mao’s mixed legacy looms over China]

From left: LM Kaganovich, Chairman Mao Tse-tung, NA Bulganin, Joseph Stalin, Walter Ulbricht, J cedenbal, NS Khrushchev and I Koplenig (Getty)

[MORE – The Russian Communist Party Is Rebranding Itself To Attract Young Supporters]

When asked their opinion of capitalism, 64 percent of Americans over the age of 65 said they viewed it favorably, compared to just 42 percent of millennials.

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[Read the full text here, at dailysignal.com]

The survey also revealed a general lack of historical knowledge, especially among young adults. According to the report, one-third (32 percent) of millennials believed that more people were killed under George W. Bush than under Joseph Stalin. Read the rest of this entry »


Victor Davis Hanson: America’s Civilizational Paralysis

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Our nation faces many existential challenges that our politicians refuse to address.

Victor Davis Hansonvictor-davis-H writes: The Greek city-states in the fourth-century BC, fifth-century AD Rome, and the Western European democracies after World War I all knew they could not continue as usual with their fiscal, social, political, and economic behavior. But all these states and societies feared far more the self-imposed sacrifices that might have saved them.

“We seem to be reaching that point of stasis in postmodern America. Once simple and logical solutions to our fiscal and social problems are now seen as too radical even to discuss.”

Mid-fifteenth-century Byzantium was facing endemic corruption, a radically declining birthrate and shrinking population, and the end of civic militarism—all the last-gasp symptoms of an irreversible decline. Its affluent ruling and religious orders and expansive government services could no longer be supported by disappearing agrarians and the overtaxed mercantile middle class.

[Read the full story here, at Hoover Institution]

Returning to the values of the Emperor Justinian’s sixth-century empire that had once ensured a vibrant Byzantine culture of stability and prosperity throughout the old Roman east remained a nostalgic daydream. Given the hardship and sacrifice that would have been required to change the late Byzantine mindset, most residents of Constantinople plodded on to their rendezvous with oblivion in 1453.

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We seem to be reaching that point of stasis in postmodern America. Once simple and logical solutions to our fiscal and social problems are now seen as too radical even to discuss. Consider the $20-trillion national debt. Most Americans accept that current annual $500 billion budget deficits are not sustainable—but they also see them as less extreme than the recently more normal $1 trillion in annual red ink.

Riot police clear demonstrators from a street in Ferguson

“Race relations pose comparable paradoxes. Inner-city Chicago has turned into a war zone with over 500 murders so far this year alone.”

Americans also accept that the Obama administration doubled the national debt on the expectation of permanent near-zero interest rates, which cannot continue. When interest rates return to more normal historical levels of 4-5% per annum, the costs of servicing the debt—along with unsustainable Social Security and Medicare entitlement costs—will begin to undermine the entire budget.

Doors Are Opened To Migrants At Budapest Railway Station

“Illegal immigration, like the deficits, must cease, but stopping it would be too politically incorrect and painful even to ponder. The mess in Europe—millions of indigent and illegal immigrants who have fled their own failed states to become dependent on the largess of their generous adopted countries, but without any desire to embrace their hosts’ culture—is apparently America’s future.”

Count up current local, state and federal income taxes, payroll taxes, property and sales taxes, and new health care taxes, and it will be hard to find the necessary additional revenue from a strapped and overtaxed middle class, much less from the forty-seven percent of Americans who currently pay no federal income taxes.

[Read the full text here, at Hoover Institution]

The Obama administration has tried to reduce the budget by issuing defense cuts and tax hikes—but it has refused to touch entitlement spending, where the real gains could be made. The result is more debt, even as, paradoxically, our military was weakened, taxes rose, revenue increased, and economic growth remained anemic at well below 2% per annum.

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“…there are few multiracial societies of the past that have avoided descending into destructive ethnic chauvinism and tribalism once assimilation and integration were replaced by salad-bowl identity politics. Common words and phrases such as ‘illegal alien’ or ‘deportation’ are now considered taboo, while ‘sanctuary city’ is a euphemism for a neo-Confederate nullification of federal immigration laws by renegade states and municipalities.”

Illegal immigration poses a similar dilemma. No nation can remain stable when 10-20 million foreign nationals have crashed through what has become an open border and reside unlawfully in the United States—any more than a homeowner can have neighbors traipsing through and camping in his unfenced yard. Read the rest of this entry »