So, I got quoted in FT on On Chinese alliance formation and militarisation.
Read the whole thing HERE and let me know what you think?
A report on Chinese protests against a fraudulent investment company stealing millions of yuan by B+D editor Mitchell Blatt.
On July 16, law enforcement officers were stationed outside the iapm mall on Huaihai Road in Shanghai and an ambulance was parked in front of the door. Exactly one month ago, the chief financial officer of Jinxing Investments (Shanghai Uprosper Asset Management Co) Ji Jianhua appeared at the firm’s offices and admitted that the firm’s boss was nowhere to be found.
Ever since then investors have been protesting. Inside the mall, which is home to luxury brands like Prada and Givenchy, a line of officers stood at attention in front of the escalators. Mall officials in blazers and ties milled around. A crowd of spectators had gathered at the edge of the second, third, and fourth floors, looking down into the atrium.
A group of retired Chinese people came marching out into the first floor, carrying signs, some with images of Xi Jinping, and waving Chinese flags. A protest. In Chinese, wei quan—“protecting [our] rights.”
”Come out, boss, and return my hard-earned savings!”
”Jinxing committed fraud, the common people suffer; Honest Judge Gongbao, uphold justice.”
[Under a picture of Xi Jinping]: “Weiquan is actually truly maintaining stability.”
Over ¥400 million Chinese yuan (US$60 million) have been stolen from about 2,500 investors who were attracted by street fliers and seminars. When it opened in November 2015, Jinxing/Uprosper Assets promised to be a safe investment option dedicated to “creat[ing] the top service brand in supply chain finance industry in China.” On its website it claimed to have partnerships with Chinese state-owned banks like China Construction Bank and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. Its boss, a 37-year-old man named Wang Jian, held glitzy events at 5 star hotels and invited celebrities like 2008 and ’12 Chinese gold medalist boxer Zou Shiming to his offices. On its opening day it held a flamboyant ribbon-cutting ceremony with a dragon dance and flowers gifted by Shanghai district administrative governments.
The United States Treasury Department announced on April 20 that President Andrew Jackson would be removed from the $20 dollar bill to be replaced by escaped slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The choice, after a year of activism by Women on 20s.org, knocks out two birds with one stone, by relegating a slavery-supporting populist to the back of the bill in favor of a black woman who helped hundreds of slaves run away to freedom.
One of the consequences of American activists’ successful Women on 20s campaign last year, which was ultimately successful in convincing the U.S. Treasury Department to replace controversial seventh president Andrew Jackson with escaped slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman, is that it has given Americans pause to consider the meaning and purpose of the national symbols our government chooses to put on our currency.
At the most simplistic level, it has exercised reactionary conservatives like Donald Trump and Ben Carson to denounce a “politically correct” choice of replacing a white male president with a black woman. Reactionary liberals like Feminista Jones and Danielle Paquette have denounced what they see as the commodification of a black revolutionary on a symbol of capitalism. Ideological conservatives, however, have mostly celebrated Tubman as a god-believing, gun-wielding, freedom-fighting Lincoln-era Republican.
Currency is the national symbol that residents of a country have the closest connection to. They carry it with them everywhere they go, hold it in their hands, and spend most of their waking hours working to earn it. As such it has been the subject of research papers on the construction of national identity. Scholars and columnists have pointed to how the Confederate States of America featured slaves on its currency as a depiction of its national identity.
As John Majewski wrote in Modernizing a Slave Economy: The Economic Vision of the Confederate Nation,
Embodying the new nation’s sense of self, Confederate currency often depicted idealized visions of past heroes, contented slaves, and stately plantations. Confederate notes also featured representations of a modern slaveholding economy. The popular $100 note issued in Richmond in 1862 shows a larger-than-life locomotive that dwarfs the human figures standing beside it (Illustration 5, top). Modern, powerful, and dynamic, the locomotive aptly symbolized how Confederates imagined their economic future.
Since Americans have began thinking more and more about affording greater social prominence, not just legal rights, to minorities and historically oppressed groups, it is fitting that a president, Jackson, who is now infamous for his support for slavery and unconstitutional forced migration (the Trail of Tears) of American Indians from the Southern United States is being replaced by Tubman, an underground railroad conductor who helped lead hundreds of slaves to freedom and served as a spy for the Union army.
When the campaign to replace Jackson got started, I got thinking, too, about China and Chinese currency. It also have a depicts a controversial populist who was responsible for untold deaths on its currency—and one who, for that matter, very well might be offended at seeing his image “commodified” and used to purchase bourgesouie items of luxury from foreign companies.
In Academics, Africa, Asia, British Politics, Chinese Politics, Economics, Europe, European Politics, Foreign Policy, History, Long essays, Middle East, North America, Politics, Publications, Realism, Refugees, Russia, Security, Terrorism, U.S. Politics, War, Weekly Reading List
Big week, as I mentioned before, with a couple of major publications coming, other than my regular columns.
To start with, the biggest one till date, my essay on War on the Rocks, where I write a Neo-Realist critique of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s latest revisionist history lesson. And was then called a Neo-Con for some reason, in the comments. But that’s another issue.
The second big one was my guest post at the official blog of the University of Nottingham, Dept of Politics and IR, where I talk about a foreign policy course for Philippines and how it should balance between China and US.
Other than that, here are my weekly columns.
Going into China’s 2016 National People’s Congress, which concluded earlier this month, one of the issues facing the economy was the slowdown of northeastern China, which has been a leader in coal production and steel production.
Southern Weekend, a nationally-distributed Guangzhou-based newspaper, reported that week on the struggles facing China’s rust belt, which saw among the slowest growth in the country last year. Liaoning province, the southernmost of the three provinces referred to collectively as “Northeastern China” (Dongbei), grew at a rate of 3.0%, the slowest in the country, and fell three places from seventh to tenth in total GDP numbers. Heilongjiang, the northernmost of Dongbei, grew at 5.7%, third worst, and Jilin was fourth worst at 6.5%.
Other steel producing northern provinces didn’t do well either. Hebei, which borders Beijing, grew at 6.8%, just better than Jilin. In January, Hebei’s governor announced plans to cut steel output, which is dominated by state-owned companies, in order “to ease pollution and help curb oversupply.” While China does produce about half the steel in the world and exported a record, 112 million tons, in 2015, Chinese steel companies are generally not very profitable, due to overproduction and heavy competition.
In Academics, Asia, British Politics, Chinese Politics, Economics, Europe, European Politics, Foreign Policy, History, Intelligence, Journalism, Long essays, Middle East, North America, Politics, Publications, Realism, Refugees, Russia, Security, Terrorism, U.S. Politics, War, Weekly Reading List
Hi everyone, been long we had a Weekly Reading List! Not weekly anymore, unfortunately, as I am busy with my work and research, but as Easter break is approaching, and I will be immersed full time in my PhD thesis, here’re a few articles which I want to leave you guys with, which I wrote in the last one month.
My research paper got published, titled “Was Putin Ever Friendly to the West?”: An Expository Study of the First Two Terms of President Vladimir Putin, In Light of the Theories of Realism. (Journal of International Relations, Faculty of International Relations, University of Economics in Bratislava 2016, Volume XIV, Issue 1, Pages 58-92. ISSN 1336-1562 (print), ISSN 1339-2751 (online) Published 15. 3. 2016)
You can download the full paper here.
Secondly, most of you would remember I wrote a comparative piece on how modern Russia is like seventeenth century India under the Mughals? I went a bit further and compared Putin and the medieval Indian emperor Aurangzeb. (Which, incidentally got a nice review here!)
I wrote two articles on Russia-Direct, the first one on how unlikely it is for Russia to actually invade the Baltics, and the second one on the fact that Russia and US is not in any New Cold war, but just a usual Great power rivalry with competition and cooperation happening simultaneously.
I also wrote one long essay for The Interpreter Magazine, on how contrary to popular belief, Obama is not a Realist…infact he doesn’t seem to understand what Realism in foreign policy means.
With regards to my weekly columns, here are they.
Two Sessions 2016: Structural reforms – technology boost and Tax cuts
As the two sessions met, there are concrete signs of policies that are being formalized for the future direction of Chinese economy. The National committee (CPPCC) met to discuss the future of Chinese growth. Some formal goals were outlined at the outset. To communicate the economic future of China was one of them. Wang Guoqing, the spokesperson highlighted the need to raise tough questions, which will give the world an idea about the true economic conditions prevailing, and will help in dispelling myths about Chinese growth. As I wrote previously, it will be a session to underscore policies to highlight growth potentials, as that is the prime concern of Chinese policy makers now. Addressing the 6.9 percent growth, chairman Yu Zhengsheng mentioned that while it is still more than the entire world, except India perhaps, it is imperative that growth is stimulated and President Xi Jinping said that annual growth of at least 6.5 percent would be required to reach China’s goal to double its 2010 GDP and per capita income by 2020.
Some thought provoking proposals were debated and discussed, like using PV on rooftops, as a means to poverty alleviation. The idea was from Hanergy’s chairman Li Hejun, who said that it is the most potent way for areas without stable power supplies, or remote areas, and it is in line with the poverty eradication plan of the 13th five year plan. Another aspect that was focused was the promotion of a green shared development concept. This coordinated approach and green growth has been the focus for a few years now, considering China’s attempt at pollution control and develop clean energy.
However, two concepts struck me as the key of this year’s two sessions.
Why did protesters decide to tear bricks out of the sidewalk in Hong Kong on the night of February 8 and fight with police, risking arrest or abuse, even after police fired shots?
Hong Kong’s Next Magazine (February 16th issue) answers those questions by interviewing three protesters and rioters. Hong Kong democracy supporters are angry after years of being ignored by the government and politicians, having had their demands go unanswered, and having been hit with pepper spray and instances of police brutality during the mostly non-violent Occupy Central protests of 2014.
The three protesters were all given pseudonyms by the magazine, as there have been over 60 people arrested in the first week after the riot. Two were men and one was a women. Two came out after a police officer fired his weapon.
“A Bo”, who joined the protests from the start, a man born in the 1980’s, said he thought society is stuck in a rut and the mainstream democracy movement hasn’t been able to move forward through attempts at compromise. He thought more radical actions were the only answer.
“If you have too many fears, you have no way to protest,” he said, citing Occupy Central as one example of a movement that was paralyzed by anxiety. Benny Tai Yiu-ting, the Hong Kong University law professor who devised and led the Occupy Central campaign, spent much year leading up to the protests thinking about just protest theory and devising a code of conduct, but his strategy was ineffective. He almost chickened out; Tai ended up calling for the occupation to start after HKU students already started a short-term occupation on their own.
A Bo also took issue with pan-democrats who seem too critical of grassroots protesters at times. Various pan-democratic parties, of the nine who hold elected seats in the Legislative Council, have condemned certain protest groups for extreme actions like trying to break into the LegCo. The Democratic Party, which was criticized in 2010 for forging a compromise with the government, also condemned the Mongkok riots. The various pan-democratic parties often fight with each other over tactics and policies.
“No matter what we do, it seems like our fellow-travelers always denounce us in the end,” A Bo said. “The day the pan-democrats decide to finally wake up, we will already have dug our own graves.”
Following Hong Kong’s protest-turned-riot on the night of February 8, that started as an effort by anti-Beijing and anti-government activists to defend hawkers from eviction, some Hong Kong government officials have called for a domestic security law to be reintroduced.
The protests started when localists, reportedly lead by the group Hong Kong Indigenous, surrounded unlicensed snack hawkers to try to prevent authorities from shutting them down. Ongoing controversy has followed government regulation of vendors at night markets over the past few years. Protesters started throwing things around midnight, according to the South China Morning Post‘s timeline, and then police fired warning shots at 2 am, but the riot only intensified, and fires were lit on the street starting at 4 am.
China’s central government labeled the localist protesters “separatists,” using a word they have used to refer to Xinjiang and Tibetan independence activists.
Now some government officials and pro-establishment activists are calling for renewal of an Article 23 domestic security law that was pulled in 2003 after mass protests. The protests led to the proposal, so-named because it is allowed for in Hong Kong’s Basic Law under Article 23, being withdrawn from the Legislative Council and then Secretary for Security Regina Ip resigning.
The Economist (February 13th) reports Syrian dictator Bashir Assad’s forces are making a comeback. The Syrian army encircled Aleppo and took other cities to its northwest. If Assad ends up winning and reestablishing control over Syria, it will be because the opposition was divided.
It is a common problem in movements. Donald Trump leads the Republican primaries early on, despite over 50 percent of the electorate voting against him in each contest, because the Republicans haven’t united behind an opposition candidate. On the night of February 8, the streets of Mongkok, the most crowded neighborhood of Hong Kong, were ablaze with fires and bullet shots from the police rang out. Mongkok had been the site of some of the rowdiest protests during the 2014 Occupy Central pro-democracy movement, and in 2016 it was once again, as localists fought police, ostensibly in the name of unlicensed snack vendors the police tried to ticket.
— Trey Menefee (@trey_menefee) February 8, 2016
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement has long suffered from fissures between various groups and parties about how best to achieve democracy—and what “democracy” should mean in practice. In its fractured political system, the 16 parties represented in the Legislative Council are basically divided in “pan-democratic” and “pro-Beijing” camps rather than being divided by left-right ideology. Thus radical socialist democrats partner with upper-middle class free-market democrats. In 2013, I attended a deliberation day with Left21, where labour organizers talked about organizing around workers’ grievances, a few weeks after observing traders in suits talk about the importance of rule of law for business.
When localists threw bricks and bottles at police on February 8, they raised a question that has and will continued to fracture the democracy movement. How much resistance and violence should they use?
Free speech ≠ forced speech; Facebook can and should control its own platform
April 11, 2018
Read Ralph Peters’ letter disavowing Fox News as a Trump’s propaganda arm
March 21, 2018
A Conservative reading of Pinker’s new book
March 5, 2018
Before anyone sells you a “short war” with North Korea…
March 1, 2018
Does Xi’s constitutional amendment mark the end of the “China Model”?
February 27, 2018
State of the Union highlights: Trump’s unpatriotic appropriation of the flag
January 31, 2018
Trump doesn’t understand why anyone would be an official, because he doesn’t understand serving the public
January 26, 2018
Responding to Daniel Kim: What he gets wrong about Trump and immigration
January 24, 2018
Who’s next? #MeToo concerns women who care about the men in their lives
January 14, 2018
Keep Transgender mania out of schools and changing rooms
January 12, 2018
State of the Union highlights: Trump’s unpatriotic appropriation of the flag – Bombs and Dollars
"[…] Trump doesn’t understand why anyone would be an official, because he doesn’t ..."
Responding to Daniel Kim: What he gets wrong about Trump and immigration – Bombs and Dollars
"[…] starts his article by telling us, “Trump has been called an ‘anti-immigrant’ ..."
The Left’s Moral Kulturkampf Reaps the Whirlwind – American Greatness
"[…] are the liberal left. From Labour members of Parliament to socialist male ..."
Just a reminder: Trump is unhinged – Bombs and Dollars
"[…] Just a reminder: Unhinged attacks are something of a hallmark for Trump. ..."
Just a reminder: Trump is unhinged – Bombs and Dollars
"[…] Halperin, Louie CK, and so many others were fired or forced out. ..."