Mini-Hiatus, and a Few Good Reads

Not being overextended in the least, I’m taking the next two or three days off from blogging about East Asia to catch up on some reading, write some grants, practice some cello, correspond with about sixty students, attend a couple of lectures, hammer out some new publishable prose, and get some rest.

In the meantime, Seattle area readers are encouraged to come to a performance of the Brahms Requiem in which I’m participating for Haiti orphan relief at St. Mark’s Cathedral this Saturday at 7:30 pm; also, be advised that a performance of the Schumann Cello Concerto (with yours truly behind the axe) is in store for mid-April in the Emerald City.  More details to follow on the Schummanian aufschwung!

In the meantime, regular readers of the blog seeking relief from the sweltering storms of German romanticism (and non-Sichuan related earthquakes) are encouraged to enjoy the following East Asia stories and bite-sized analysis!

1. A giant newspage on the PRC men’s soccer team reports an unprecedented 3-0 victory over the South Korean team, eliminating decades of “Terrified-of-Korea-Sickness (恐韩症).”

2. Recognize that trouble is brewing in a Tokyo neighborhood where a handful of Chinese shop owners are being harassed over Spring Festival practices by strident (and small, but covered by Xinhua nevertheless) Japanese groups.  However, note the emphasis on harmony in the headline: “All areas in Japan celebrate Spring Festival together with Chinese; A Small Number of Japanese Right Wingers Hope to Cause an Incident (日本各地与华人共度春节少数右翼分子还欲闹事).”   And in the geopolitical universe, Chinese netizens are huffing and puffing about another small island claimed by Japan — “Start a war!” says one anonymously, and courageously, from a keyboard in some place like Taiyuan!

3. Check out this fascinating BBS post that has been making the rounds entitled “It is impossible for Japan to become a militarist country (日本不可能成为军国主义国家).”   The CCP is quite evidently allowing and encouraging a shift in the public rhetoric on Japan.  When does the pushback start on university campuses and places like Harbin?  Did Grandpa magically forget about the war?  Of course, state-sanctioned scholars (e.g., China Academy of Social Sciences) is going to continue to churn out huge monographs of data about the Japanese invasions of China, and the CCP outlets like Beijing Qingnian Ribao certainly haven’t lost their extensive files of testimonies from old timers who were around to watch the atrocities and experience the occupation.  Anti-Japanese nationalism is a really complex set of factors and experiences of which propaganda is just one of the more significant/obvious expressions in the PRC.

4. Behold the admiration of Chinese netizens for this gigantic cannon found by American soldiers in Iraq which the DPRK had sold to Saddam Hussein in, I believe, 1979.  These photos are of interest, and testimony to North Korea’s active role and actual success in that period in the global arms trade.  Axis of something!

5. A Tiexue BBS post speculates about “America’s three big war plans” for fighting China, North Korea, and Iran.  Gee, do you think the Chinese people are going to get behind Hillary on the Iran issue?

6. See this excellent review in Slate (not by Christopher Hitchens) of Barbara Demick’s book on North Korea, Nothing to Envy.   (Hat tip to world-famous crab movement biologist James Murphy of Seattle for pointing me to this source.)

7.  Huanqiu carries an affecting photo gallery of North Korea over the years.

Pyongyang, 2008 - via Huanqiu

8.  Ending the cycle on this decidedly lucky number, the Parisian journal Liberation ranks the the recent Google affair with — get this — the 1999 U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, the detention of an American spy plane crew in Hainan after the mid-air collision in 2001, and the furor over the Dalai Lama’s continental visits in that heated spring of 2008.  This is going to be some decade!

See you in a few days.

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