by baldilocks

China in Africa.

Chinese corporations are all over Africa.  In June 2017 a McKinsey & Company report estimated that there are more than 10,000 Chinese-owned firms operating in Africa.

What are Chinese corporations doing in Africa? That’s a highly controversial issue.

The reason Chinese corporations are in Africa is simple; to exploit the people and take their resources. It’s the same thing European colonists did during mercantile times, except worse. The Chinese corporations are trying to turn Africa into another Chinese continent. They are squeezing Africa for everything it is worth.

This is the view several African politicians have. The Zambian politician Michael Sata was one of them. At least he was before being elected President of Zambia in 2011. He wrote a paper presented to Harvard University in 2007 that said “European colonial exploitation in comparison to Chinese exploitation appears benign, because even though the commercial exploitation was just as bad, the colonial agents also invested in social and economic infrastructure services Chinese investment, on the other hand, is focused on taking out of Africa as much as can be taken out, without any regard to the welfare of the local people.” (quoted in Scott D. Taylor’s “The Nature of Chinese Capital in Africa, Current History, May 2018, p. 197)

This is something on which I need to do a great deal more research.

I plan on asking my bio father — Philip Ochieng — about this. He edited the rather well-known book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney. He and I think differently about a great many things, so that should be an interesting conversation or three.

Consider this post a place-holder and, possibly, a Part One.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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After four, lengthy visits to China, I have some suggestions for people who want to travel there.

I would recommend that you skip Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong unless you want to do a quick tour upon arrival into the country before heading to the exciting part of the Middle Kingdom.

Keep in mind that China has created an English-sensitive touring experience with guides, transportation, and other aspects to make it easier for Americans to travel there. Make sure that you take advantage of the high-speed trains, which are fast and comfortable. Also, it’s fairly easy to find someone who speaks English except in small villages.

I think the best tour should focus on The Silk Road, the ancient trading route made famous by Marco Polo.

Xi’an was the beginning and the end of the route and offers a place to start. Everyone should see the Terracotta Warriors, the massive fighting force from the Third Century B.C. You should go directly there without any shopping stops or side trips.

I find the mausoleum of Empress Wu Zetian a fascinating place, mainly because I find China’s only female ruler an interesting subtext of the country. One of the country’s most effective leaders, she was an emperor’s mistress and ruled after his death in 690 A.D. For more information, see https://www.ancient.eu/Wu_Zetian/

A trip to nearby Luoyang gives you even more insight into her empire, primarily because the city has embraced her rule after she got made at Xi’an and moved her capital. In Luoyang, you can see a museum dedicated to her. Also, the magnificent Longmen Grottoes, which are filled with Buddhist caves, showcases a Buddha that is said to have her facial figures. Many people go to the famous Shaolin Temple of Kung Fu fame. As a longtime martial artist, I found the performances more like gymnastics and was disappointed.

Other wonderful stops along The Silk Road include Chengdu and Dunhuang. Chengdu is the home of the pandas and Sichuan hotpot. The Chengdu Panda Base is my choice over the Breeding Center, where the babies are kept.

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Chengdu is considered the most laidback city in China, with an excellent subway system that makes it easy to get around. The Dazu Carvings exist about two hours from Chengdu almost halfway to Chongqing. These superb carvings come from the ninth to 13th centuries of Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian beliefs. For more, see https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/912

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Dazu

I had resisted going on a cruise of the Yangzte River because I thought it would be too touristy. I had a great time, taking the three-day trip from Chongqing to Yichang.

Note: It’s fairly easy to fly from Chengdu or Chongqing to Tibet. I have taken the eight-day trip to the Mount Everest Base Camp. It is possible to go on to the other side of the mountain to Nepal. The Tibet trip includes some wonderful views of nature, but it is really almost the journey to Mount Everest. The tents are comfortable. Altitude sickness tends to affect the old less than the young. Moreover, the cost is relatively cheap. I spent $500 for the tour in moderately priced but well-kept hotels. Don’t go the full way via car or bus, which takes 20 hours each way from Lhasa to the base camp. Instead, make half of the journey by train.

The prize of The Silk Road journey is Dunhuang, the final, major stop inside China along the route. The city boasts some beautiful Buddhist caves—the Mogao Caves—from the fifth to the 14th centuries. Moreover, two deserts sweep around the city, the Gobi and Taklamakan. Two other sets of caves exist, which can be expensive to get to, but they are well worth the trip. For more, see https://en.unesco.org/silkroad/content/dunhuang

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Dunhuang

If you’re willing to splurge for a hotel at $100 a night, The Silk Road Hotel is simply magnificent. See http://www.the-silk-road.com/index.php?route=culturehoteldet/culturehoteldet&culturehoteldet_id=3

This itinerary is far from complete, but most people don’t have two months to explore China—as I have during my trips. Other interesting cities include Kunming, which is the home to the Stone Forest; Lijiang, which is the home of Snow Mountain; Hangzhou, which is a wonderful summer stay on a tourist lake; and many others.

I’ve had the opportunity to explore more than 60 countries, and I would rate China among the top five. Happy touring!

Almost everyone loves a good crime story or murder mystery, and the Chinese are no exception.

Zhou Haohui, a 41-year-old school teacher, has written a series of potboilers called “Death Notice.” In fact, American readers can get a taste of the books when Doubleday publishes the first of three of the novels later this year.

Set in Chengdu, which is known as the home of the Chinese pandas, “Death Notice” follows Capt. Pei Tao as he and other detectives attempt to track down a shadowy vigilante who sends letters, or death notices, to people he believes have gotten away with crimes.

One of those is a wealthy woman who ran over a roadside vendor with her BMW, killing him. But she escapes punishment because of her husband’s political connections.

The vigilante sends her a death notice and kills her.
The novel has some Chinese twists. For example, Pei seems to be a lone wolf in the early chapters of the book but falls into line when his maverick behavior is criticized by his commanding officer. Also, the investigative task force lives together in the same dormitory, a common practice for Chinese police on an important case.

But there are some real-life crime mysteries that have confounded police in China.

In 1995, a 19-year-old chemistry major at one of China’s top universities in Beijing was poisoned, leaving her blind and mentally impaired. Investigators determined that he was poisoned with thallium, a heavy metal used in Chinese rat poison. A culprit was never charged, although the chief suspect was her roommate, a student from a well-connected family. A few years later, Chinese suspected the roommate had secretly moved to the United States. An online petition demanded that President Obama have her arrested and sent back to China to face prosecution.

www.supchina.com, a favorite website among China watchers, have pieced together some of the most famous cases.

Among the most notorious was The Black Dahlia of Nanjing, a former capital of China.

Nanjing University student Diao Aiqing, 19, was cut up into more than 2,000 pieces, which were deposited in plastic bags around the campus. Diao had been just three months into her freshman year at the Adult Education College of Nanjing University when she’d gone missing.

As supchina put it: “Police were at a loss about what had happened after Diao had angrily left her dorm, saying she was going for a walk. She’d argued with her roommates over a petty infraction that university administrators had chosen to collectively punish the dorm for, but Diao’s fellow students had no serious motive nor explanation for how or why she would meet such a gruesome demise. And the remains, such were their piecemeal state, offered few clues.”

If you’re looking for some summer reading, see more at https://supchina.com/2018/05/30/china-unsolved-the-black-dahlia-of-nanjing/
https://supchina.com/2018/05/30/china-unsolved-the-black-dahlia-of-nanjing/

There is one aspect of the North Korea talks that needs to be brought up.

While the US congress is asking for consultation on any deal President Trump makes the real question is going to be on the North Korean side.

One of the problems with running a death camp the size of a small state is the even as a dictator or a family of dictators you can’t do it alone.  There is a large infrastructure involved of people from the guards who actually beat, murder and rape those you wish to oppress, to their commanding officers to order and supervise this being done to THEIR commanding officers who make sure these orders are carried out all the way up to Kim.

Even more important is the need for an infrastructure to eliminate anyone who doesn’t carry out said order, or who would rebel.  You might think for example that Kim had a bunch of bodyguards because of external threats but I suspect it was the job of a lot of those guards to keep an eye on each other.

And that the real danger here.

All the way down the line from the very top general to the guard at the gulags are people who make their living or get their kicks and power from the Kim regime.  The moment that North Korea beings to open up and do things differently a potential threat arises to that power.

If they can be convinced that the gravy train will continue unabated then there will be very little to worry about

But If enough of those people decide that any nuclear concessions are a threat to that continued power they might decide they would be better off with a different member of the Kim clan in charge and if they find a member of said clan who agrees and is willing to go along with a purge to make sure that their stranglehold on the country continues then all bets are off.

Of course this scenario also depends on them avoiding raising the suspicion of all those people watching them whose job it is to purge any person thinking of launching a purge but don’t think for one minute that this dynamic isn’t going on and don’t think for one second that the Chinese would not use this method to exercise their veto if they find they don’t like where Kim and Trump are going long term.

Claire Chennault, someone whom few people in the United States know but should,  may be the most beloved American in China.

During World War II, Chennault headed a secret operation in Kunming called the First American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers.

By December 1941, Kunming, a vital capital of a southwest China province that borders what is now Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam, had suffered attacks by Japanese bombers for almost three years. The punishing raids were part of an assault on China that the Roosevelt administration interpreted as a threat to American interests in the region.

The president, bound by the 1939 Neutrality Act, responded with a covert operation. Months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor pulled the United States into war, a group of almost 100 pilots recruited from the U.S. Army Air Corps, Navy, and Marines resigned from their services and volunteered to defend China against Japan.

Chennault, a retired U.S. Army Air Corps pilot who had become an adviser to the Chinese air force, dispatched two squadrons to Kunming, which became the group’s permanent base. When the American Volunteer Group landed, the city was still smoldering. Japanese bombers had hit Kunming that morning, and about 400 Chinese had been killed.

For the next seven months, the Flying Tigers destroyed almost 300 Japanese attacking airplanes in what was considered a miracle in China and still remembered today.

Time hailed the American pilots as “Flying Tigers.” The nickname stemmed from the flying tiger emblem that Walt Disney Studios had created for the volunteer airmen two months earlier, and it is how they have been known ever since.

In his memoir Way of a Fighter, Chennault wrote: “Japanese airmen never again tried to bomb Kunming while the AVG defended it. For many months afterwards, they sniffed about the edges of the warning net, but never ventured near Kunming.”

During a recent trip to the city, my friend Jay and I journeyed to the Flying Tigers Museum, which took a taxi ride, a bus ride, and an adventure with a gypsy cab.

There we met the curator of the museum, a 70-something woman, Mrs. Jungbo, who expressed her gratitude to us as Americans for what Chennault and his airmen accomplished so many years ago.

She opened the doors of the various rooms that housed historical documents and photographs. She insisted that we take two books about the air group and wouldn’t take a contribution.

Then she escorted us back to our hotel, which was more than an hour away and paid the gypsy taxi for the trip.

All of this because she and her family remembered the heroic deeds of Americans so long ago.

At a time when many countries don’t recall how much the United States did for them, it was a good feeling to know that some people in Kunming still remember.

Getting to see a doctor in China isn’t easy.

After I had a persistent cough, however, I had to see a physician.

Almost everyone goes to a hospital to see a doctor. That’s the way the system works.

What is interesting is how the healthcare system forces Chinese to do something they abhor: standing in lines in an orderly manner.

The Chinese are good at a lot of things but waiting in a line is not one of them. But everyone seems to accept the burden, with few people trying to skirt the queue.

After getting a number and an hour of waiting, I saw a young physician who analyzed my problems and ordered several tests, including blood work and an EKG.

Unfortunately, the hospital closes for more than two hours for lunch, and you have to wait until 2:30 p.m. to take the tests.

The EKG took a few minutes, and the results were returned immediately.

The blood tests were a different matter. They took about two hours to get the results.

After you get the results, you stand in line for another number to see another doctor.

The physician diagnosed my problem as an upper-respiratory infection and provided me with a prescription for a variety of antibiotics and cough medicine.

Unfortunately, you have to stand in another line to pay for the drugs. In fact, almost everyone has to pay up front for any procedures.

The total cost for the various procedures was about $70, which by U.S. standards is excellent. For many Chinese, however, insurance covers only about 70 percent of the total cost, and residents have to wait for reimbursement, which can be a significant hardship for many.

Although I got good care, I had two beefs. First, I couldn’t see a specific physician. Everyone sees who’s up next. Second, it took six hours from entering the hospital for me to get the medicine I needed. That’s about the same as in the United States, but I don’t have to spend all that time in the physician’s office waiting for the tests and the prescriptions in the United States.

Note: It would have been impossible to navigate the Chinese healthcare system without a translator. The same probably would be true if someone from China entered a hospital in the United States.

The adage goes that you don’t want to see sausage or laws being made.

The same can be said about reading or watching news. If you know something about a subject, you likely will be dismayed by the news.

For me, that is the case when it comes to U.S. coverage of China.

For the past three years, I have studied the language, history, economics, and politics of China. I’ve traveled throughout the country, spending months in four separate trips.

Now I have to endure sophomoric accounts about China.

Axios.com, a prominent website for Washingtonians, has been shouting from the rooftops for the past week.

Here is an excerpt: “Trump showed you can turn China into a villain on trade. But a smart politician could turn China into a unifying villain on virtually every topic — a reason to move fast and together on infrastructure, immigration, regulations, space, robotics, 5G, and next-gen education.”

Turning China into a unifying villain? That sounds like something straight out of Ronald Reagan’s playbook–not the left–when dealing with the former Soviet Union. More important, China’s politicians are a lot smarter than the Kremlin geriatric ward of the 1970s and 1980s.

Axios and other media outlets often miss the point.

What China has most of all is patience.

For example, the country has committed itself to a massive public transportation system. In a recent visit to Luoyang, a “small” city of two million people, I saw the project of building four subway lines at a cost of billions of dollars. The roads of the city have come to a virtual standstill during rush hours because every major road is a building site. The project began in 2016 and won’t be finished for another year at the earliest. In the past decade, China has built nearly 2,000 miles of subway lines–more than the systems in the United States and Great Britain combined.

Drivers may honk their horns in occasional frustration, but nearly everyone I talked to understands that the public transportation system will cut traffic and lure many tourists to this attractive town, which boasts a number of top-flight locales, such as the Longmen Grottoes and the Shaolin Temple. Simply put, the locals are proud! Here is some background information about the city’s building plans: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-09/19/c_136621169.htm

Remember the massive infrastructure program President Trump touted during the campaign? It remains mired in Congress because the Democrats apparently don’t want to give Trump a win before the midterm elections.

Moreover, just imagine what would happen in a major U.S. city if there was a plan to build a massive transit system. Protesters would claim the digging was creating a major environmental hazard or desecrating some forgotten trove of bones. Road rage would soar. Cost overruns and corruption would be rampant.

One of the major differences between the populations of the United States and China is patience. At the end of a major endeavor, most Chinese realize that something better will happen.

That’s one of the major weapons China has over the United States—one that most journalists don’t understand.

In a rather neck-snapping series of pronouncements, Marxism has moved to center stage in China.

On the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a high-profile campaign lauding the importance of the German philosopher.

Communist Party newspapers hailed Das Kapital, Marx’s critique of capitalism, as “holy scripture.” State television aired a prime-time documentary and a talk show to celebrate the “greatest thinker of modern times.”

DaTech3.jpgIn a country that has used capitalism in theory to create an economic juggernaut, China was thought in recent years to have become socialist in name only, with little thought given to Marx.

The Wall Street Journal argued that the pro-Marx campaign may be an attempt “to persuade Chinese to keep faith with a Communist government that he [President Xi] says has employed Marx’s ideas to make China prosperous and powerful.”

Marx “lived honestly and simply, and valued affection and comradeship,” Xi said recently in a speech at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. He ordered party members to master Marxist theory as a “way of life” and “spiritual pursuit.”

“The posthumous cult of Marx these days serves to legitimize the present leadership and whatever it claims Marxism to be,” Daniel Leese, a China historian at Germany’s University of Freiburg, told The Journal. “And only Xi Jinping is said to be capable of synthesizing classical doctrine with present realities.”

At the party congress in October Xi declared a “new era” in Chinese socialism, a move seen as his bid to reshape the development model laid down 40 years ago by reformist leader Deng Xiaoping.

Chinese officials have long grappled with the contradictions of their state capitalism and professed Marxism. In the early 1990s, party officials and academics debated alternative political models and contemplated renaming the Communist Party to better reflect its tilt toward state-led capitalism.

The party didn’t change its name but has welcomed capitalists to join its ranks, experimented with political reforms to professionalize the civil service and allowed an expansion of civil society.

But President Xi seems determined to bring the party and the country back to its Communist roots. The campaign started in late April when Xi led his party’s governing Politburo in a study session focused on The Communist Manifesto, the 1848 political pamphlet written by Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels.

A propaganda blitz ensued. State media played up Marx’s purported contributions to China’s present-day prosperity. While the West descended into “a new era of uncertainty and instability,” China’s experience “eloquently proved that Marxism…has opened a pathway to the truth,” the party’s flagship newspaper, People’s Daily, said in a front-page commentary.

Peking University hosted a “World Congress on Marxism,” gathering more than 120 scholars from some 30 countries to discuss “Marxism and the Human Community of Shared Destiny”—a reference to Xi’s signature diplomatic slogan.

To reach younger Chinese, propaganda officials produced videos and comics that focused on Marx’s personality and appearance.

The party’s flagship theoretical journal, Seeking Truth, produced a short video titled “10 Little-Known Facts About Marx.” The video highlighted Marx’s Jewish background and his zodiac sign, Taurus, and explained that his iconic beard was fashionable for his time.

It’s unclear whether this fascination will have a lasting impact on China, but President Xi’s interest in reviving Marx seems more than a passing fancy.

The Most Dangerous thing in the world is an excuse

DaTechGuy

There is no question that radical Islam is a global threat, that the Jihad is an oppression that must be fought, that the only thing worse than Islam’s targeting of critics of Islam from Pam Geller and Robert Spencer and the Murder of folks such as Theo Van Gogh is the west’s indifference to this targeting our willingness to collaborate in our own destruction. All of these things I stipulate and assert.

None of these fact justify this:

At least 120,000 Uighurs have been imprisoned in so-called “re-education camps” in the last two years, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia. Other reports put that number as high as one million, which a group of U.S. Congress members last month described as the largest current mass incarceration of a minority population anywhere. Any foreign contact is suspect, with those sent to camps reportedly including a leading footballer as well as the Uighur wives of Pakistani merchants trading across the border.

The Chinese government has refused to comment on reports of mass detention. And it denies repression of the Turkic-speaking Uighurs, some of whom have been engaged in a low-level separatist movement for years. Beijing says it faces Islamist insurgency in Xinjiang, and blames Uighur militants for a number of knife and bomb attacks across the country. It has labeled a group of Uighur leaders as terrorists.

emphasis mine.

Don’t let this fool you, this isn’t China cracking down on their Islamic population to stop Islamic Terror this is using the excuse of Islamic terror to justify the “re-education” of the Uighurs and while they have been the primary target of their new cultural revolution China has no intention of stopping with Islam:

A government crackdown that watchdog groups are calling a “purge against Christians” is reportedly underway in Zhejiang province in Eastern China, with all religious meetings banned, and parents told to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.

ChinaAid said the local governments of Wenzhou and Shaoxing have banned all religious gatherings, but they are doing so under the guise of fire safety inspections.

“The police often show up and say that they want to conduct a fire safety inspection. They wander around in the church and arbitrarily point out that some facilities do not meet the standards,” shared a Hangzhou Christian by the name of Li.

“Then, they require you to reform in two weeks. Even if you do exactly as they said, they would still deem you ‘unqualified’ in the next inspection. You are helpless.”

The oppression of Christians in China has been going on under the radar and gotten little press outside of Christian sites, but even so it hasn’t reached the level of re-education camps like Islam.

I don’t doubt for one moment that radical Islamists would like to hit China, they are just as much “infidels” as the west and it’s likely that some in the Uighur community support and with this crackdown it’s very probable that eventually the Uighurs might embrace the Islamists in order to resist.

But make no mistake, if radical Islamists hits targets in China and the Chinese government oppresses followers of Islam it isn’t because either has wronged the other it’s because it’s in the nature of each of them. That’s why I object to the title of this piece of at Axios:

Shocking details emerge from China’s re-education camps for Muslims

Nothing in the details of the oppression of the Uighurs should be shocking to any student of history or Communism any more than the details of the actions of radical Islamists around the world should surprise anyone. They both act in within their nature and if there was not one excuse for them to strike or oppress they would find or make up a different one.

None of it makes the actions of the other just or right and the oppression of the Uighurs should be loudly condemned by any person who claims to believe in freedom.

It’s difficult to find anyone in Chengdu, a laidback city in central China known for its pandas and spicy food, who doesn’t know where they were at 2:28 p.m. on May 12, 2008.

That’s when a massive earthquake, one of the worst ever in China, left 87,000 people dead, 370,000 injured, and five million people homeless in the Sichuan Province around Chengdu.

DaTech3.jpg

The earthquake happened during the school day. Substandard construction of the buildings resulted in thousands of children dying in what become known as “tofu schools” because they were so unstable and toppled during the earthquake.

The mountains around Sichuan rise more than three miles above the neighboring plains and about 40 miles from Chengdu. They form a wrinkle in the earth’s crust caused by the Indian and Eurasian plates pushing against each other. They’re the same forces that formed the Himalayas.

The towns most affected by 2008’s magnitude-8 earthquake—such as Beichuan, Wenchuan, and Mianzhu—were built near the Longmenshan Fault, a tear in the earth’s crust and a hotspot for quakes. The 2008 event shook buildings nearby for nearly two minutes and was felt 800 miles away in Beijing.

The disaster happened just as China was ready to host the Summer Olympics, a sort of coming-out party for the country.

Over the past decade, China worked to rebuild the homes and lives of those affected. Shiny new roads and sturdy buildings replaced the rubble. Displaced families found new homes. Bereaved parents gave birth to thousands of so-called “replacement children.” Earthquake warning systems were put in place throughout the country.

A nationwide initiative was launched to ensure safe primary and middle schools, injecting about $60 billion toward the goal of making schools safe.

Nevertheless, critics say the Chinese government, which they believe should be held accountable for the inferior buildings, have rejected fair compensation for those affected by the tragedy.

The misuse of money also created a huge credibility problem for the government. At one point, a Chinese celebrity’s photos flaunting her lavish lifestyle on social media became the catalyst for exposing the Red Cross Society’s mismanagement of the Sichuan relief funds.

The woman claimed to be working for a Red Cross subsidiary even as she regularly shared pictures of herself posing with luxury cars at upscale resorts and restaurants. After angry online readers dug into her personal life, it emerged that her boyfriend was a shareholder of an investment-holding group affiliated with the Red Cross.

Ultimately, a variety of people were convicted of embezzling funds. As a result of this scandal and others, Chinese remain reluctant to donate funds to charities.

Ten years later, the memories of what happened still loom large. A government desire to declare “thanksgiving” for what happened after the earthquake created a stir on the internet. Many wanted the victims to be remembered rather than what the government did after the earthquake. See DaTimes at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/10/world/asia/china-sichuan-earthquake-thanksgiving.html

For better and worse, the earthquake changed the region and the country and continues to do so even today.