Sinologistical Violoncellist TV

A just-under-ten minute media review of recent news from China (and regarding China’s relations to Japan, North Korea, and France) is now up on my YouTube channel.  Some of the links to the stories referenced are in recent blog posts here, but the rest are easily enough found, like Jonathan Watts’ really first-rate big-picture environmental reportage from Beijing, all of which deserves to be read.  I hope to make this kind of “television program” a regular feature on the blog.  Enjoy!


  1. Adam. Also caught that link. Emergency wells are a very short-term solution, since the wells must go deeper as the aquifers are all but expausted. This is China’s reality check, what with cities like Beijing drawing it water from 100s of kms away to the detriment of local farmers.

    Civil disorder, the collapse of the housing market etc. All so much fairy floss compared to water and hence agricultural issues.

    1. Are you (or anyone else) aware of any really good China environment blogs? My current go-to source on this is Jonathan Watts at Guardian but perhaps there are multiple other reporters/bloggers/activists working on this while we’re still in the era of the pre-demise.

  2. Aplogies. A footnote. With a true engineering mentality, another short term solution is cloud seeding. It’s a zero-sum exercise, because chemically induced precipation in one area simply draws away condensation from an adjoining area. Beijing will probably be the first abondoned mega city of the 21st century.

  3. Never click on youtube things, but made an exception here and enjoyed it. Great to put a voice and face to a web overlord. Should Jim Lehrer start looking over his shoulder and begin buffing his cv. Nah, not yet, but it was fun stuff Adam, and look forward to future tubes on your site.

    All we need now is the same facility for commenters. JustJoking.

    1. Oh, I think all commenters are free to start their own YouTube channels and do videos “in response to…” And I enjoyed that turn of phrase, “web overlord,” not quite!

  4. Are you (or anyone else) aware of any really good China environment blogs?
    Can’t tell if it’s a good one, and the latest post seems to be of summer last year – Responsible China is the only one that comes to my mind. In general, among foreigners anyway, Chinese environment doesn’t seem to feature that prominently.

    1. Nice, thanks JR! It is notable then that for as much foam as the China-environment trope whips up, that the substantive drive to document, report, critique, isn’t anywhere near mature. I mean, J. Watts is a great reporter, but shouldn’t there be people doing similar things in various areas of China? Today there was a piece from Tibetan in exile talking about Chinese mining as “a new genocide” ( which is rhetorically overblown but also brings to mind that the environment story is somewhat absent of parameters or context and can veer off in crazy directions.

  5. With China’s high economic growth over the past ten years, the fact that the GDP of China has surpassed the GDP of Japan, although satisfying to the Chinese government, is not their ultimate goal. The primary goal of the Chinese government is for China to exceed the GDP of the United States.

    1. Precisely! According to Der Spiegel, estimates now range for that occurence to coincide with the year 2027, but the Economist says it could be as early as 2019. Either way, unless China somehow collapses or otherwise unexpected events occur, Der Spiegel reminds us, it is only a matter of time before the PRC surpasses the American economy in terms of sheer size in terms of GDP.

    1. Thanks for the link; quoting from that Reuters story directly:

      Growing cities, overuse of fertilizers, and factories that heedlessly dump wastewater have degraded China’s water supplies to the extent that half the nation’s rivers and lakes are severely polluted.

      China needs to spend up to $20 billion a year to bring its urban water supplies up to standard, according to the World Bank.

      Larger and wealthier cities have already started investing in the sector, but water supplies in smaller cities and the countryside still fall short, leaving about 800 million people without clean drinking water.

      Water infrastructure was given unusual pride of place this year in the government’s first policy document of 2011, with 4 trillion yuan ($606.4 billion) allocated to water clean-up and rural water infrastructure over the next decade.

      “China is facing a grave challenge of water pollution,” said Ma Jun, whose Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs names and shames water polluters.

      “If you travel along the coastal regions, which are the most populated areas in China, you can hardly find much clean water… In the northern part of China you will find many rivers have either dried up or have turned into open sewers.”

      This reminds me of Gerd Boesken’s presentation I heard in Hamburg about “China’s Green Leap Forward” which bears repeating: the core, the foundation of Chinese political power in the ancient/traditional period was centered upon water control, flood management, irrigation, etc. Which is why the word for law/order (fa 法 ) has a water radical on the left side. If water is in danger in the PRC, which obviously it is, then the political power of the regime is also imperiled. Perhaps slightly less attention to Japan’s shipping patterns around a few rocks at the tip of the Ryukyu island chain and a bit more to water would be wise on the part of the CCP. By the same token, given their huge plans and actions in this area, it isn’t that they’re unaware, but attention to a problem and actions are not always the same as effective results.

  6. Adam. Your remarks on the foundations of Chinese political power brought to mind Karl Wittfogels seminal text Oriental Despotism. I have already remarked on this connection on JRs site, and have problems understanding why no Sino pundits have not made reference to him, when discussing water issues and political legitimacy/maintaining the mandate in China. Tons of stuff on google on his thesis about ‘hydraulic civilisations’.

    Overlord. Silly throwaway comment pilfered from Kai Pan.

    1. Good reference, as I’m in a library at the moment it leads me to dash upstairs and grab the classic text for an ever-so-glancing re-read. Hopefully this works.

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