Stories

comment 1
American Foreign Policy / China / Chinese communist party / French / Sino-French Relations / U.S.-China Relations / Yanbian

Everybody loves stories, facts mixed in with dangerous interpretive tinctures.  But today is a day of no comment, of comet-less commas, of post-somatic traumas which embalm us with twisted tatoos of Sarah Palin’s soft-from-unemployment-yet-ready-for-stigmata palms.

What a wicked few days its been among the commentariat — probably the only thing really worth reading stems from Alabama, and the mind of one Qiang Zhai.  Nothing has been more central to me of late than this idea == that of continuity of U.S.-China relations stemming primarily from the 1950s.  The notion of “peaceful evolution” into a dissolved revolution seems contemporary, and I’ll be damned if the idea of “sugar coated bullets” has  not found its way back into the Chinese press with regard to the Western-style internet.

If Hillary Clinton had spent five years in graduate school understanding Chairman Mao instead of trying to figure out the Arkansas education system or how to practice law, we might be only slightly better off for it.  But our Secretary of State has of late become irate with Persian lock-step, and now her denizens seek to storm over metaphorical Embassy walls and clamber up Iranian flagpoles, teeth bristling with matchsticks to be struck against brick.  Blood rolls in the mouths of rollback berzerkers, sensing that the “three red flags” behind party walls in Beijing are next, necessitating wild alliances between Washingon and Epoch Times.  And although no shout-outs have been issued, you’ve got to be certain that China noticed an uptick in SecState budgetary discretion, that American manifest destiny to transform the world was only in abeyance in the ’08 campaign, that “strategic communications” to encourage democracy (in other hemispheres, that is) have seen growth…

Thus to blast-off with stories would ruin the emporiums of wisdom accepted which I’ve taken by default, the John Galt of whosits and whatsthats deafened by chants of “Who Dat?” as if somehow vocal cords could rebuild a seawall and make China democratic.

Wo ist Tan Zuoren?” indeed.

Therefore suggest a White House trifecta of Golden Robes: Obama, and Merkel, and the Dalai Lama all sniffing for the cloven feet of the wrongful chosen one, smashing down a coup de poing on the dark maple desk and toppling decorative plates to suggest that false Lamas in Lhasa will tumble out once Tibet’s borders are decided upon.  Raking up oil spills named after ex-secretaries, something gets recorded, reordered, a not-so-nimble resurgence of orderliness amid the scrum for a ticket to the future.

Thus endeth the prelude, and with no comment I offer these works rendered by scribes lesser than Hemingway’s war reportage, but more nimble than Xinhua’s sticks swizzling lugubrious in RMB and tar sands:

1. Tiger populations are falling in Northeast China.

2. China opposes the decision of the Swiss government to accept two Uighur detainees from the American military prison on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

3. Having been badly burned by Chinese anger over visits by the Dalai Lama to Paris, the French press is watching Sino-US relations intently in the light of the upcoming visit of the Dalai Lama to the White House.

4. The city government in Harbin appears to be leading a push to get Unit 731’s research facility at Pingfang listed on the UN World Heritage site list.  Strangely, the Chinese headline for this story sources it to the Chosun Ilbo in Seoul rather than Xinhua, perhaps because an explicit parallel is drawn between Pingfang and Hiroshima’s dome (the latter was listed as a UN World Heritage site in 1996, apparently.)  What is going on here?

Unit 731 Museum in Pingfang, suburban Harbin -- this facility represents just a fraction of the immense former compound for Japanese biological weapons research -- via Huanqiu

5. Yanbian News has put out a truly excellent article on beggars of all varieties in Yanji city.  Some refuse help from social agencies, making up to 5000 yuan per month.  But others, as the paper reports, are 11-year old boys trafficked to Yanji.  I haven’t the time to do a detailed translation of this piece, but it is one of the best articles I have seen on a segment of Chinese society that, absent recollections of its prevalence during the Guomindang period, has been reported upon less that it deserves:

Another day in Yanji city; photo by Xu Dongxu/徐东旭

6. For no apparent reason, Huanqiu is posting photo galleries of Soviet-era fashion models and a ton of scans from Life magazine relating to American combat losses in the winter campaign through Belgium, 1944.

7.  Regarding the Chinese internet, 27 websites are now allowed in Xinjiang, and a court in the south just sentenced one pornographic website-creator to 13 years in prison.

8. Finally, if you’re looking for a metaphor to capture Sino-American relations at the moment, look no further than the Washington, D.C. zoo, where Tai Shan, a giant panda, is being returned to Sichuan:

Tai Shan has a 14 hour flight ahead, and, according to the article, 75 kg of bamboo as airplane food -- courtesty Aujourd'hui en Chine

The Author

Lecturer of Chinese history at University of Leeds, and Editor-in-Chief of SinoNK.com.

1 Comment

  1. Whatsonthemenu says

    I am surprised to read that Yanbian has a beggar problem because the absence of beggars in Yanbian is something I noticed while visiting several winters ago.

    Never saw Unit 731 but think its historical significance merits recognition as as World Heritage site.

    Sonagi

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