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China supports the world's largest national population on only about 7 percent of the world's arable land, but it is losing that arable land at an annual rate of 0.5 percent to erosion, construction of buildings and roads, and the encroachment of deserts. China now has two thirds of the arable land it had four decades ago, and 2.3 times as many people. Specialists estimate that China's gross domestic product is reduced by about 15 percent annually because of losses caused by environmental damage, and this omits the effects that cannot be measured in money, such as the premature loss of life of people stricken with environmentally induced disease. Zheng Yi, an exiled Chinese writer who is completing a study of the environment in China, calculates that each year China's economic activity causes environmental damage whose reversal would cost at least eight trillion yuan, an amount that exceeds the country's annual gross product.
Liu Binyan and Perry Link on China's hidden economic crisis

A more sinister explanation for Washington's resistance has to do with the centrality of military strategy in contemporary policy-making. Donald Rumsfeld and others like him have apparently calculated that climate change will enhance rather than detract from the country's long-term security. The US, with its flexible economy, temperate location, low population density and access to Canadian water, oil, natural gas and agriculture, would suffer less than other major countries as a result of climate change. "With diverse growing climates, wealth, technology and abundant resources," a report prepared last year for the Pentagon concluded, "the United States could likely survive shortened growing cycles and harsh weather conditions without catastrophic losses . . . even in this continuous state of emergency the US will be positioned well compared to others." (The report is available here) In comparison, China and India would struggle to cope with severe storms, decreasing agricultural production, energy shortfalls and mass population displacements, while the EU is ill prepared for the Siberian climate that would follow the collapse of the Gulf Stream, not to mention the waves of environmental refugees from North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East that would hit European shores. If the weakness of one's opponents is as important as one's own strength, the emissions generated in the US by SUVs and climate-controlled houses could be conceived as an insidious weapon in a ruthless struggle for power.
Michael Byers on the environmental policies of the neo-cons

In choosing to write on the siege of Nanking by the Japanese -- later estimated to have been responsible for more than 260,000 deaths -- Chang selected a subject that had long been buried in Japan and even in the West. At the end of World War II, the Japanese naturally chose to emphasize the suffering they experienced as a result of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and America, then committed to rebuilding Japan as a buffer to communist China, was content to let the war crimes of its new ally against its new enemy fade from sight.

So things stood -- until Chang's book. Published on the 60th anniversary of the Nanking massacre, when she was 29, it both exposed the silence surrounding what happened at Nanking and opened up the question of how history is taught in Japanese schools, where the atrocities Japan committed during World War II are played down and the killing of thousands of Chinese at Nanking remains an "incident."
Nicolaus Mills on Iris Chang

From the Chinese perspective, Tibet has always been a part of China. This is, of course, a simplistic and inaccurate view, but Tibetan history is so muddled that one can see in it what one wishes. The Chinese can ignore some periods and point to others; they can cite the year 1792, when the Qing Emperor sent a Chinese army to help the Tibetans drive out the invading Nepalese, or explain that from 1728 to 1912 there were Qing ambans, imperial administrators, stationed in Lhasa. In fact the authority of these ambans steadily decreased over time, and Tibet enjoyed de facto independence from 1913 to 1951. An unbiased arbiter would find Tibetan arguments for independence more compelling than the Chinese version of history -- but also, perhaps, would find that the Chinese have a stronger historical claim to Tibet than the United States does to much of the American West.
Peter Hessler on Tibet from a Chinese perspective

The real reward for the CIA, however, was an intelligence coup that occurred when 40 Tibetan horsemen overran a small Chinese convoy in what came to be called the "blue satchel raid." A veteran of the raid named Acho described what transpired: "The driver was shot in the eye, his brains splattered behind him and the truck came to a stop. The engine was still running. Then all of us fired at it. There was one woman, a very high-ranking officer, with a blue sack full of documents." When the CIA men in Washington opened it, they were stunned. The bloodstained, bullet-riddled cache of 1,500 documents contained the first hard evidence of the failure of Mao's Great Leap Forward, famine, and discontent within the PLA.
Joe Bageant on the war at the top of the world

The only certainty for China's East Asian neighbors is that as its economy continues to grow, so will Beijing's need for energy. In the final analysis, the best bargaining position for countries affected by the growing Chinese appetite for energy would be to develop an "energy for land" policy, the sooner the better.
John Daly on China's territorial disputes

Had America been an imperial power, Madame Chiang would have been one of a type. The annals of British colonialism are strewn with exotic figures - Indian maharajahs and African princes who would have recognized Madame Chiang's ornately convoluted English, as she denounced the "convulsions and perfervid paroxysms" of the Cultural Revolution or "the dastardly Communist poltroons" who perpetrated the Tiananmen Square massacre. But the United States is not an imperial power, and so Madame Chiang had the field of Americanised exotics all to herself.
Mark Steyn on Madame Chiang Kai-shek

The stakes are high for Beijing. The region contains huge coal and oil reserves -- its oil reserves are believed to be three times those of the United States -- that are only now being exploited. Its size and contiguousness with the new states of Central Asia make Xinjiang a vital strategic arena and a valuable trade passageway. Finally, its sparsely populated expanses are providing lebensraum for the country's burgeoning population; unfortunately, some of these expanses have also served as convenient sites for nuclear testing and prison camps. Xinjiang, in fact, has been called China's Siberia.
Jeffrey Tayler on Xinjiang, the Wild West of China

All this business functions in the absence of what we consider the bedrock rules of a modern economy. No reliable legal system enforces contracts. Theft of intellectual property is routine. Business disputes are often settled by hired thugs; on occasion, those thugs are the local police. But though it can feel like Dodge City, Dongguan works more like 19th-century Manchester, as perhaps the world's most extensive and systematic exploitation of transient labor by mobile capital. And the people who oversee this system and profit
handsomely from it are the officials of the world's largest Communist Party.
Arthur Kroeber on Dongguan, China's Dodge City

For Mao, as for many Marxists, the Other that opposed his movement was Imperialism, seen not as a set of fractious nations with conflicts of their own, but as a conspiracy of monsters in human form that derived its power from the corrupt and unjust world order that had humiliated Mother China. Believing that he had unlocked the secrets of peasant revolution, Mao equated China's security and future prosperity at home with the development of similar anti-imperialist insurgencies and social revolutions abroad. Since the United States, after the victory of 1945 the world's dominant naval, nuclear, economic and therefore cultural power, had (unavailingly) backed Chiang Kai-shek, it was self-evidently the heart of the imperialist conspiracy, the 'Great Shaitan' (the Tempter) in the terminology of later zealots - a thesis confirmed for Mao in the autumn of 1950, when General Douglas MacArthur, at the head of a mostly American army, invaded North Korea, proclaiming his intention of destroying the regime of Mao's friend-in-need, Kim Il Sung.
Murray Sayle on the role of Chairman Mao in the Vietnam War

Too often the complexities of life in China are reduced to what I came to call, during my last five years' reporting from Hong Kong and Shanghai, the "babies-in-ditch" cliche. Yes, babies, especially unwanted female ones, do get abandoned: they also get sold. (The village where I was arrested was a baby-selling centre: the story had already been exposed in the Chinese press.) Yet babies also get rescued from ditches and from the dealers, by passers-by and by dedicated welfare officials and police. Many of them get adopted too - often by couples who "want a girl". In a village outside Beijing, disabled children from a city orphanage were fostered by rich farming families who did not really need the modest subsidy they gained. Once the kids reached 16, they were supposed to go back to the city, but the house mothers had a different idea. "They've become part of the family now: we can't let them go!"
John Gittings and his swan song from China

Like an afterglow that lingers on the screen long after a television set has been turned off, images from its history keep haunting China. Each time another country does something the party finds provocative -- especially in relation to Taiwan, Tibet or sovereignty and human rights issues -- party leaders proclaim the offending nation as having "wounded the feelings of the Chinese people." To a Westerner, such an accusation sounds absurdly childish. But actually it is a carefully chosen figure of speech that resonates among Chinese precisely because it emotionally summons up China's experience of being historically
Orville Schell on China's victimization complex

The Kathmandu phone book currently lists the Nepal Communist Party (United Marxist Leninist) the main opposition in parliament as well as the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist Leninist), the Nepal Communist Party (Democratic), the Nepal Communist Party (Masal), and its rival-by-one-letter the Nepal Communist Party (Mashal). All of them despise the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) for abandoning the electoral process in 1995 to go underground.
Patrick Symmes on those crazy mixed-up Maoists of Nepal

Since the Sars epidemic, ADSL broadband users have hit 40 million, and varying estimates put the total number of internet users at around 100 million at present. A broadband user pays less than 10 a month on average. Only a generation ago, China saw its people melting down their kitchen utensils to create steel in an attempt to catch up with the west in Chairman Mao's ill-advised Great Leap Forward. Nowadays they are more likely to be melting their modems downloading films from sites such as
Chris Gill on the webbed-up Chinese youth

Ahead, on the mountain, the marks of Taoist relics and mausoleums are clearly visible. The pagoda and temple at Shibaozhai, which will require the construction of a small dam to prevent any damage from the rising waters, were also of Taoist origin. One of the fundamental tenets of the philosophy is that the more you try to tamper with the equilibrium of nature, the more you need to continue tampering with it: the audacious, Promethean task of the Three Gorges Dam, designed primarily to resolve the constant threat of flooding in the Yangtze midstream and avoid the devastating human and economic damage that has been caused by the river for thousands of years, has of course brought with it a new set of problems, which continue to test the wits of thousands of government experts and officials.
David Stanway on the Three Gorges


Gou Rou

Beijing-based satirical madness

Blood and Treasure

The musings of Britain's finest intellectual

Simon World

East meets Westerner

Andres Gentry

Thoughtful essays and observations about China


Media And Advertising In The People's Republic Of China

News & Developments on Asia-Pacific Media from UCLA International

Butterflies And Wheels

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