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Daily Archives: August 1, 2009

Franco-Japanese-Shanghai mash-up

Agence France Presse reports, via the website Aujourd’hui la Chine, how Chinese youth under great stress are turning to the ostensibly Japanese medium of “cosplay” to blow off steam.  What does this say about perceptions of Japan, or Japan’s soft power, in China today?

ABC News in Seoul

This is a quirky report about a Kim Jong Il doppelgänger in Seoul, but the piece somehow results in a fuller understanding of how quickly the health of Kim Jong Il is deteriorating.  And ABC’s foreign correspondents yet report from distant ort!  Thank goodness that Uncle Disney keeps the deadly serious North Asia bureau open and running:

Things I was going to explain before July finished [I]

I was going to explain how the CCP is launching a new English-language magazine called Qiushi to bolster its theoretical marketability and soft power among the mild left of North America, and further to explain that the Party will spend 45 billion yuan this year on overseas Xinhua expansion which is quite possibly a sum more worthy than this year’s entire budget for Voice of America [Woods Lee, South China Morning Post 24 July 2009];

and I was going to explain before July finished that Barbara Demick of the Los Angeles Times is breathing the air and pounding the subways in Beijing reporting valiantly on the Xinjiang trials but is seemingly without an intrepid war photographer to probe West thus denying any opening for a modern Cartier-Bresson;  

and I further had reason to aspire to note a very pensive Op-Ed in Japanese by the stylist Issey Miyake translated into French by Michael Temman [“Hiroshima, Obama, et le flash de la mémoire,” Liberation, 20 July 2009] which needed some attention even though it won’t make the rolls at immortal but by no means exhaustive Japan Focus;

and I had wished to think aloud about the likening by the portentious Jonah Goldberg on the scrunchy scroll of the LA Times op-ed page of our indifference to North Korean food shortages (indeed, bondage and gulags) to these failings to the Holocaust of the European Jews, and the prick of conscience which occurs when someone calls up Yodok and then goes all black-and-white with little film flecks by asking “What if you could have Google Earthed Auschwitz?” and that this would further call to mind the Chinese scholarship on the Holocaust as if to spark the question what Holocaust guilt could possibly motivate the northeastern Chinese to act in order to save young Moses before the boy starts to gather up dirt and stones to throw at imperialists across the river with his little hungry fists [“Never Again and North Korea,” 21 July 2009]; 

and I had plans to explain, before July was out, the workings of Le Figaro among Chinese populations in north Africa, and the relation of how an article infests itself into a mind and the site of its initial exposure, and to ruminate on why the Ring-Bahn that circumscribes Berlin’s immensity or the outdoor S-Bahn, like the batty shuttle at JFK, arcs in a way that when combined with bicyclists shouting in French into their wet cell phones and then dissecting a relationship with a close friend, that as one reads about dry Algeria on a train full of soaked and genial Germans, that context is both abandoned and conceived of more fully, and that there were certain statistics in said article which was previously cited on this blog in a blast the Maghreb which a person can search on their own accord within files hinged herein;

and then I wished to remind myself of a joyful cartoon which marked the “Forum de Lyon” which will consecrate a huge 3 day conference on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, or as they say “Vingt ans apres la chute du Mur! 1989-2009; 3 jours de detabs, d’expression et d’echanges: Le mur doit disparaitre!” and then to make some obvious comparisons to China’s giant commemorative lacuna of what happened in 1989 way beyond just one day, that the pendulum is still swinging and that the North Koreans are also retrospecting on it, and to wonder why the Europeans again (even the youth!) are so hung up on yesterday while police from various Chinese localities will smash rags into the mouths of people who sing countermelodies to the regime-based slow karaoke coated in Mao faces which Mao never made, where Mao rides the yuan like a Warring States hostage in my pocket until the loan comes home;  

and what’s more I had hoped to talk about serious topics seriously, such as when Le Figaro reported from Italian ports with sensual headlines like “Deux yachts de luxe desinés àPyongyang saisis en Italie” [“Two luxury yachts made for Pyongyang are seized in Italy,” 24 July] and one realizes that thanks to Sarkozy Le Figaro is a publication that knows yachts with a through understanding that I cannot approximate this afternoon in Orange County, an understanding that likely exceeds that of the landlocked editors of the Yanbian Morning Post or the teenaged classified ads salespeople for the Chengdu Ribao, and further to state that Le Figaro doesn’t get enough credit for stumping through to Kim Jong Il’s French heart surgeon and otherwise ferreting out little facts without resorting to interviews with Professor Shimomura of Mainichi Shimbun fame whose anonymous sources “in Kim’s family” seem to have been predicting his death for over a year

and then there was this funny little dense and droll construction, sort of like a good-natured tank defense of prose which Helmut Schumann had mortared up across the bottom fold of the front page of Der Tagesspiel in Berlin (“Nordkoreanischer Kindergarten: Atomwaffenstreit [North Korean Kindergarten: Atomic Weapons Dispute]”24 July 2009 which has all kinds of little comments about our Secretary of State and scolds her ever so gently that it would all make sense if North Korea weren’t so “boesartig und gefaehrlich” but that its two and half paragraphs proved too much for me to overcome  which is a salient lesson for a student who seeks to overwhelm the mind of a tired and grade-dispensing academic with a coiled effort of something that is far to short rather than windy in order to complete an assignment which no longer holds any capacity for joy, that one might take pleasure in building defensive works out of word-blocks as in days of yore;

and then there was this really mainstream yet still uncovered and detailed somehow in the Huffington Post by this dude Andy Worthington who appears to be a totally interesting and Guantanamoobsessed person which can come in handy when you learn as I did today on a little bit on LA Channel 7 newsbrief by someone who seemed so perky before stating that we the U.S. had apprehended a twelve-year-old six years ago as a terror suspect and brought him to Camp X-Ray in Cuba and then it was time to learn that swingman Lamar Odom had resigned with the Lakers and that the Grizzlies had not dealt to the Cavs and that therefore if Mr. Worthington were successful in his quest that the juvenile Guantanamo inmate would be sprung (so  much like Mr. Pu Yi’s entourage from the black gates of Fushun in 1961) and then Mr. Odom might have another eighteen-year old fan since the NBA is reaching out globally anyway;

and then I wanted to find an opportunity to state that the old socialist organ Junge Welt is still breathing in Berlin and had the most kick-ass and detailed article by its own correspondent and didn’t need the AP or the AFP or CCTV or BBC or Deutsche Welle to report about China’s booming wind industry, an article which I once had hopes to translate verbatim just for all the delicious tech-talk and then to link the whole thing to a surreal experience over Shaanxi and discussion of a certain lecture I attended in Hamburg earlier this month [Wolfgang Pomrehn, “China lüftet durch: Peking verstärkt Engagement fur erneuerbare Energien. Zwolf Windparks mit ingesamt 120 Gigawatt Leistung koennten 2020 knapp ein Zehntel des Bedarfs decken,”  17 July 2009, p. 9]; 

and what is more there was this amazing Liberation fold-out section about 1989…

Paris-Pekin: Supplice chinois

Commentary: Note how in knots the Chinese have the French.  Setting aside the standard discount for French self-flagellation, the following article very much indicates that after forty-five years of relations, the relationship between the two republics, while profitable to each, is very much driven by Chinese imperatives.   



Marc Epstein, “Paris-Pekin: Supplice chinois: pour mettre fin a la brouille entre les deux pays au sujet du Tibet, la France semble prete a tout.  Quitte a s’asseoir sur ses principes ?

[Paris-Beijing: In Order to Put an End to the Row between the two states regarding Tibet, France appears ready to do anything.  Does it plan to abandon its principles?]”

Two of the values associated with traditional China, serenity and sagacity, seem to be lacking in the relations between Paris and Beijing.  After a row lasting a year mostly over the Tibet question, Presidents Sarkozy and Hu managed to finally to meet privately on the 1st of April, in London, during the G 20 summit.   But this normalization has a bitter flavor.  

Apres une brouille d’un an ou presque autour de la question du Tibet, les presidents Nicolas Sarkozy et Hu Jintao se sont enfin retrouves pendant une quarantaine de minutes, le 1er avril, a Londres, en marge du sommet du G 20.  Mais cette normalisation a un gout amer.


Dalai Lama with Mayor Delanoe in Paris, 2008

Dalai Lama with Mayor Delanoe in Paris, 2008

China and the Anti-Colonial

The Chinese youth delegation to the World Congress of (Socialist) Youth in Baghdad in 1960 was exemplary in its organization of newly independent and non-aligned nations around China’s banner as a leading world force for liberation.  

As was reported to the Centralrat of the Free German Youth, this qualified the Chinese as having taken a divergence from peaceful coexistence Soviet line, calling China’s position “radical and basically akin to Trotskyite.”  Yet at Baghdad, marking the Soviets and their friends with discomfort, China was successful in pulling along the following coalition:

“Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, League of Black-Africa Students in France, the west African Student League as well as one similar Latin American organization [Algerien, Tunis, Morocco, Verband der Studenten-Schwartzafrikas in Frankreich, des westafrikan Studentverband sowie einige latinamericansiche Verbaende].”

Isn’t it precisely because the Chinese have evacuated from any such pretenses of opposing (rather than mastering and malignantly augmenting) Western economic methods and systems that some angry voices are now raised against the PRC in the Maghreb?   

When was the last time you heard a Chinese delegate rumbling angrily about French colonial legacies in the Maghreb/northern Africa?  Chinese oil companies are more than happy to fill the discursive void, but the slow extinguishing of the ardent, believing leftist wing over the course of the early 1970s left Chinese people apparently exhausted for having any definite opinions at all about China’s role in Africa, much less the PRC’s model filling the void in terms of, say, rural development for governments and people’s war for revolutionaries.  


“Ueber die Entwicklung der Gegensaetze des chinesischen Studentverbundes mit dem Internaitonaler Studentenband (ISB) [Regarding the Creation of a Dialogue between the Chinese Student League and the International Organization of Students],” Memorandum from G. Sommer to Egon Ehrlich in the International Relations Central Committee of the Free German Youth, 5 September 1963, SAMPO Bundesarchiv, Berlin, Germany, DY 24/ folder 6409.  

See also:

“Bericht der Delegation des Zentralrates der Freie Deutsche Jugend zum Studium der Arbeit des Kommunistische Jugendverbandes Chinas [Report of the Delegation of the Central Committee of the Free Germany Youth in the Study of the Work of the Chinese Communist Youth Organizations],” undated, 1959, 67 pages, SAMPO Bundesarchiv, Berlin, DY 24 / folder 6409.  (incorrect citation for above content! changes TBA) 


Image courtesy Case Western Reserve University (clink link for 8/29 announcement of lecture by Dr. Julia Strauss in Cleveland)

Image courtesy Case Western Reserve University (clink link for 8/29 announcement of lecture by Dr. Julia Strauss in Cleveland)