Bibliotheque Blast Out #4: United Nations Library, Geneva

With but nine minutes to go and up against a French keyboard in the UN Library and Archives in Geneva, Switzerland, a few thoughts:

Yosuke Matsuoka is a tough guy even though it took Japan (and Germany) another two years to completely withdraw from League of Nations (reams of film footage here); at the same time it’s possible that Matsuoka got schooled by his trilingual Chinese counterpart at the League of Nation’s Manchukuo debates.  Staring at some of the Lytton Commission reports, it becomes so clear how Dalian (and secondarily Korea, moving into Dandong) was an anchor for Japan as it moved North and into Manchuria in 1931, but also how this was not, as is often asserted, totally ignored by the world community.  China’s internationalization began long before 1931, and we, least of all those of us who sometimes call Seattle’s Japantown-which-post-internment-became-Chinatown, should forget it.

– Environmental protection and public awareness of oil spills was already big in the 1930s, so what excuses do we have not to be discussing Dalian in the same breath as Fukushima?

– In terms of acres of reforestation from 2005-2010, China was by far #1; of course with my own eyes I have seen them importing timber from two of the delinquents on that list, Myanmar and North Korea.  Green Totalitarianism, here we come!

– If Kim Jong Eun really soaked up the Swiss atmosphere, it is hard to imagine him becoming a copy of his father, much less his grandfather.

– The first major anthology of translations of Liu Xiaobo’s writings just came out.  Of course, they are in French, confirming that the United States is better at creating military officers (an important process in which I myself participate) than Chinese human rights translators.

– Sarkozy was bathing in relevance and decisiveness with the Libyan episode but one third of all workers (the old reliable socialist voting bloc) are already committed to Ms. Le Pen of the right wing.  As the Suddeutsche Zeitung wrote: “She is young and blond and extreme-right…”  The French Sarah Palin?

– There is an immense (well, moderate by German prose standards) spread today in Suddeutsche Zeitung on the subject of “The Biggest Museum in the World,” which is apparently the National Museum in Beijing.  There is a big, big Enlightenment painting exhibition there from three big German museums.

Finally, I would add that there is something just a bit magical about this place.  I would recommend the experience to any human: arrive in Geneva, marvel at its polyglot everything while the newspapers prevaricate against minarets, walk past the Red Cross as if you too were Tessa Morris-Suzuki, go to the archives (prearranged appointments are preferred, but a university ID along with a passport will do), and stand in a massive sunbeam reflecting off of the sandstone, a lake filling up your mind just as surely as Korea remains divided and the texts are there in your hands to prove it.


  1. Re: Guardian article and the attempt to reorient the economy in the new five year plan.

    New banking measures designed to reign in r/e developers, and hence restrict the revenue creating avenues open to provincial officials is doomed to fail, due to the {1} large amount of grey income sloshing thru the economy and the {2} development of a wide range of new and very creative financial entities, some of which involve Hong Kong.

    Financial Times 31 March China Finance: A shadowy presence. A very detailed account of 1 and 2.

    I hope this article link works> Rotten FTs attempt to sign me up after reaching my access limits.

    The Party will continue to live or die in the eyes of its citizens, according to its success in strangling inflation, job creation for new grads and general economic management. Salt and soap buying sprees are definite indicators of very fragile public confidence in that management at present.

    LX and similar activists are of little consequence within the context of the big economic picture and household purchasing power of daily staples. Said this so many times.

    [ I do not include Yang Hengjin in this group of activists as he is basically an opportunist and windbag, whose attempt to promote himself during his recent visit to the Mainland backfired badly. Talk about the gullibility of Australia’s media and its Dept of Foreign Affairs. My CMP and other posts.]

    On a lighter note, shouldn’t you be hazing new recruits in your capacity as an Officer and Gentleman and/or sorting out plagiarising students, instead of enjoying the pleasures of Europe and sabbatical travel.

    1. Oh, I’m in the middle of much hazing, KT! The academic drill never really ceases, we’re just at a short cease-fire/spring break which allows me to get some other types of work done…

      thanks for the note on Liu Xiaobo and economic management!

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