No Way Out from the Middle Kingdom

You remember the movie, with Kevin Kostner as the exemplary US Navy officer-special assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Gene Hackman).  The plot twists around search for a purported Russian spy in the US, codenamed Yuri, who has been able to infiltrate the Navy at the highest levels.  Following several plot twists, Kostner is ultimately left with no way out – he cannot be seen in public, as he will be implicated in a murder; and he does not want to return to his homeland, which he has not seen for at least twenty years.  He has no safe place to go, and no way out of his predicament.

Performative declamation        people talking without speaking …

 

note: I am reminded that this needs more than a little editing and a bit of shortening.  Ok.  You may skim rather than read.  Editing to come in a couple of weeks after 10-01-18

At Gettysburg,  the featured speaker Edward Everett talked for two hours, and Lincoln for three minutes.  Some thought Lincoln’s remarks were foolish and inappropriate.  Chinese leaders never want to look foolish.  I have sat through the one and two hour speeches that might have been delivered  in ten minutes - if content were what mattered, rather than performance. 

Was Democracy Just A Moment?

This is the title of a 1997(!) Atlantic piece by Robert Kaplan, the foreign correspondent and advisor to various elements of US defense and foreign affairs institutions.   I have long recommended the piece as a warning against American complacency about the health of our own democracy, and the futility of promoting democracy in places without the cultural means to sustain it - Russia and China being  prime examples.  Again, strongly recommended -

Robert Kaplan.  Was Democracy Just A Moment?  Atlantic Magazine, December, 1997.

The global triumph of democracy was to be the glorious climax of the American Century. But democracy may not be the system that will best serve the world—or even the one that will prevail in places that now consider themselves bastions of freedom.

This is the executive summary of a report prepared by students in my Modern Chinese Economic History course in spring 2014.

At that time, every Chinese university was competing to admit foreign students, mostly from Africa and the middle east.  University programs got put together on very short timeframes, with no training for staff and procedures more or less made up on the spot.  The pawns in this process were the foreign students themselves, who often arrived unprepared for college work, unfamiliar with China, lacking any Chinese language, their first time out of the home country, and certainly unprepared for Chinese university norms.   This work was an attempt to bring some efficacy, functionality (rather than efficiency) to the international student program.  Although this report is from 2014, there is no doubt that international programs in China still require upgrading to bring them to a minimal acceptable standard of responsiveness and care.

 Any student looking to attend school in China should read this, at least to get the jist of the boots-on-the-ground feel among foreign students.  This is not to say, do not attend school in China.  But forewarned is forearmed.   The full report is available by emailing me. 

This is the executive summary of a group research project conducted by students in my Modern Chinese Economic History course in spring of 2014.

This work could only have been conducted under my direction - no Chinese faculty member would dare to investigate the rampant cheating in the civil engineering department.   In addition to the widespread academic dishonesty, the investigation found that there seems to be no civil engineering program in China - with the possible exception of a program at Tsinghua - that meets international accreditation standards - meaning that no graduate from a school in China will be eligible to take the PE exam for most countries without significant additional training or experience. 

The full report is available.  Contact me if interested.

Intimidation Knows No Boundaries

This direct threat to a New Zealand academic - her office and home invaded -  is part of the intimidation pattern – transition from hard power to soft power to sharp power.  CCP is always watching.  In this case, Anne Marie Brady has studied Chinese politics, and recently wrote a report describing Chinese government infiltration in New Zealand politics, education, and media.

News Comments

  • Crash-out

    Crash-out.  Or D-Day - Disaster Day - minus 7

    The original D-Day was salvation for Britain and Europe - even, in its way, for Germany.  This one seems less promising.

    Not much to say anymore.   Cue the violins and watch the China moves.

    Read more ...  
  • Huawei - Taking a Fall, Hoping for a Call

    Huawei - Taking a Fall, Hoping for a Call

     

    Pardon the soccer reference.  But to my mind, that is the Huawei move.  But Huawei has the support of the fans, at least in China, and they are vocal.

    Don Clarke, professor of law at George Washington University, has penned this response to the declaration of the Zhong Lun law firm in Beijing, in support of Huawei as an innocent private company caught in a nasty trade spat.  According to the declaration, no company in China is ever required to comply with demands from the central government to install spyware or backdoors in any communication equipment.   Clarke points out that this is misleading and inaccurate.  Chinese law says nothing about what provincial and local governments might demand from a company, and in any case, law is not a constraint. 

    “There’s a whole variety of pressures that the government can bring to bear on a company or individual, and they are not at all limited to criminal prosecution Clarke says.  “China is a Leninist state that does not recognize any limits to government power.”

    Read more ...  
  • What Chinese are talking about ... fake news

     
    What Chinese are talking about ... real fake news

    You know that China is increasing pressure on every state it can bully.  The bullying is easiest when the victim state has a substantial share of its GDP connected to China, whether as exports or as Chinese FDI coming in.  Now come fake news stories published in China, quoting New Zealand politicians approving of Chinese policies on the Belt and Road initiative.  New Zealand is in a tough spot.  Read more ...  

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