Montage: Climate Change in China, Cold War Northeast Asia, and Occupy Seattle

Long and uninterrupted arcs of time being so few, why not describe ways in which readers might garner more than two hours of potential edification?

1. U.S.-China Cooperation vs. Climate Change // As this video from the hearing indicates, the U.S. House of Representatives recently had the USAID budget to China under scrutiny, or, more precisely, an appropriation of $3.95 million in foreign aid to engage China in activities intended to slow climate change.  The 2011 USAID budget is, of course, much more massive than all that, and the activity is ably defended by Nisha Deshai Biswal, the agency’s administrator for Asia.  Naturally, this “problem” fits in snugly with two emerging 2012 GOP election memes: 1.) the Obama administration is wasting money on environmental programs and 2.) the Departments of Energy and State are handing China moral victories on various fronts.

For a slightly bigger picture, see Hillary Clinton’s discussions of Chinese transparency on climate change goals:

2. U.S. Aid to Nationalist China/Taiwan // This film from the Eisenhower/Dulles years is another catch from the U.S. National Archives, circa 1956.:

3. Bruce Cumings on North Korean Aid to the Chinese Revolution // Cumings is an undisputed master of the terrain; at about 27′ he starts talking about the cross-border military exchanges between China and North Korea that preceded the Korean War.

4. Occupy Seattle //

Hardly as stirring as the video, or my brave 84-year-old neighbor who stood up to a bunch of police, or the actions by gutsy radicals at UC Davis (I recommend the Bicycle Barricades or Occupy California for a crash course),  are the following notes from an unfinished essay I began back a few days before the events pictured:

Between the acoustic strains of an old man chipping out a Bob Dylan guitar tune and the digital feed of the “General Assembly” occurring uptown, a woman in a black leather jacket emerges out of the darkness and dons a red cross armband.  While bending to tape a long-neglected broken ankle, she speaks in clipped sentences about illegal class sizes in elementary schools where she spends her days.  The task accomplished, she stands and disappears among the tents.

The graduate student who reads Chinese talks to the man whose ankle has now disappeared into socks previously offered to an old black gentleman in sunglasses.  The man in whose chair I am sitting has pledged to take the weekend off to spend some time with his dog, but he will be back with his generator and tents and electronic know-how on Monday….

Police and Students at University of California-Davis, USA, Nov. 18, 2011


  1. @Cloud Xu. The point is that not every post has to have central point.

    Sometimes it is just a question of clearing one’s book marks which don’t always mix and match for the writer, but one or two quite often resonate among individual readers.

    Re: UC pepper spray incident, as I noted elsewhere:

    Ms Katehi should have learnt a lesson from her predecessor Clark Kerr, who also sat on the fence after altercations with the Free Speech Movement in the 60s and ended up being covered in manure.

    1. Thanks, KT! It’s all about the resonance. If readers want more data on the Bruce Cumings assertions about North Korean aid to China, they can keep their eyes open for my book manuscript (co-authored with Chuck Kraus at George Washington U.) on the same theme, which I hope to be promoting more aggressively in the summer of 2012.

      As for the Occupy stuff, just trying to keep up with the Zeitgeist, if not reside wholly within its blustery blue veins.

    2. I keep coming back to this, KT, I very much appreciate the idea that not everything has to be so damn “thesis-driven.” A socialist scholar friend of mine in London has been talking precisely about the idea of things like the Occupy movement not having a centralizing agenda, but rather an impetus toward further fragmentation which can then, after a certain point of breakdown and collapse, be reassembled into completely new configurations. I don’t know if that’s called anarchism or utopian, but I found it intriguing, at least in our present condition.

      1. I also found the Chancellor’s silent walk oddly effecting; easily the most potent protest I have ever witnessed remotely.

  2. Kim Donggil is pretty emphatic that the North Koreans/Kim Chaek did NOT dispatch troops to China in 1947. In fact, he suggests that what U.S. intel groups really saw were Chinese soldiers crossing the border in ’47 back into China, and just assumed they were NoKos. Personally, I have seen nothing in Chinese books about Kim Chaek sending troops into China. Or anything really about “North Koreans” (as opposed to ethnic Koreans) fighting in the Chinese Civil War.

    1. I was hoping you would get eyes and ears on this, Chuck, thanks much for the comment. I am going to drag Cumings’ Volume 2 home with me now and sift through some of the relevant passages again. I think in large measure it is precisely the Cumings point of view on this that, while it has not taken too many hits for inaccuracy, still seems to be standing as the default historiographical status quo, which authors concerned with Sino-NK relations in the late 1940s really need to deal. Had Chae-Jin Lee or Robert Levine concerned themselves with such problems 15 years ago, it might not be necessary, but now it appears that a more explicit engagement with the Cumings assertions and interpretations is going to come to pass.

      And 0_0, glad to see you again from that liminal redoubt of yours. The bar none best source about Cumings and the question of “pro-DPRK” bias (which in comparison to the new generation of anthropologists, gender studies relativist types is rather mild) is the Chicago historian’s own _War and Television_ which describes his soujourns into Pyongyang back in the late 1980s and is a more personal kind of meditation. I have written the question of Cumings coming under attack by BR Myers (and a willing Christopher Hitchens) in an earlier entry about this subject which you might find useful:

      1. (on the extent of Korean support for the Chinese communists) “I think in large measure it is precisely the Cumings point of view on this that, while it has not taken too many hits for inaccuracy, still seems to be standing as the default historiographical status quo, which authors concerned with Sino-NK relations in the late 1940s really need to deal.”

        Are you saying that, at this time, the consensus is that the Koreans indeed supported the Chinese communists not only in making life difficult for the Japanese, but in fighting against Chiang Kai-Shek?

        The way I see China’s support for NK today:

        1) resources
        2) creating a buffer zone between China and the ultra-successful South Korean state (all the other countries that physically touch China suck) lends itself to social stability in China.
        3) Han chauvinism – some sort of Confucian exemplar “We are the example in this region” ideology.

        Is not possible that China supported the North in the war to defeat american aggression as Cumings might put it 😉 for reasons like 2 and 3?

    2. Go to China National Defense Academy, you will find those information.
      Every Chinese knows PLA in North China used to have huge number of North Korean Soilder. Not just in ’47….it is actually dated way back to anti-Jap war.

  3. I’d like to hear your opinion on what Chuck Kraus said. Also, if possible, your take on allegations against Cumings of unfair pro-DPRK bias.

  4. Yes, the willing perp Hitchens….. I read his Hitch 22 and got both a Cooks tour of the British left and the US neo-con manifest destiny crowd.
    Which reminds of Paul Wolfwitz’s great quote, made while decamping Bagdad after getting shaken by a bomb landing on the Gree Zone, to the effect that ‘these people don’t understand what we’re doing for them’. Middle East reality check. I think we are looking at a similar reality check for the NATO/US forces in Afganistan and the Agency areas of Pakistan.
    O/T I know.
    Thanks Adam

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