Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Old cartoon more relevant than ever

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-04-23

A post from 2007-08-14 with a KAL cartoon from "The Economist" is more relevant than ever, the 1.3 trillion Chinese reserve of US dollars then growing to 3 trillion now.

Chinese dragon on top of floodgates for dam, threatening, oh so politely, Uncle Sam

China and the US Talk Money

Wargame this – as soon as Asian consumption (which is paid for) starts to get close to US consumption (put on the credit card), China can release those floodgates and hit the US economy so hard it will find the cost of any military action, even maintaining existing capability, prohibitive.

Watch for more and more long-term international contracts where people want to buy in greenbacks and sell in baskets of other currencies.


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Posted in China, Economics and Business, International | Leave a Comment »

New Year thought from the Master of Kung

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-02-02

"When a country is ill governed, riches and honor are things to be ashamed of."

– Confucius

Collary: A rich person complaining about economic policy admits to being shameful.

Or… Twenty-two million reasons why mining magnates are bastards.

Happy New Year!

Posted in China, Economics and Business, Philosophy, Politics | Leave a Comment »

China and Middle East uncertainty

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-02-01

With pro-democracy protests springing up across the middle east, predicting the overall outcomes is nigh impossible.

There is little talk of how China might view opportunities in the region, despite China’s skill gaining access to resources such as rare earths in Africa, despite the diplomatic opportunities when everything is up in the air.

Those diplomatic opportunities for China are considerable.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in China, International, Middle East, Politics, USA | Leave a Comment »

Rarer than oil

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-10-19

Finally the mainstream press is recognizing the battle for economic supremacy, indeed survival, being waged over not oil, but the more critical rare earths.  To get a feel for how tight the supply of rare earths are, and how they are both necessary for waging wars of both economic and military varities, and the incentive for such wars, review the summary of rare earth reserves and usage in "Climate change might not be our worst problem" (2007-05-27).

China has a better grip on rare earths, essential for any electronics, than OPEC has had on hydrocarbons.  Unlike oil which can be made from hydrogen and carbon by a host of means, you cannot make rare earths except by smashing atoms in an accelerator.

China has already been sabre-rattling, with typical "official plausible deniability", with supplies to Japan threatened using the pretext of a maritime border dispute.

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Posted in China, Economics and Business, International, Science and Tech, USA | Leave a Comment »

Modern Chinese Government – Confucian or Legalist?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-05

The cloak of Confucian authority has been used previously by Lee’s Singapore, and increasingly China, as justification for authoritarianism, promoting misconceptions in Western cultures, and possibly a subtext in the forthcoming movie about Confucius.

Many parts of "The Analects of Confucius" are quietly subversive, as I’ll show by quotes that confound the common charges against Confucius of being an authoritarian superstitious pedant.  Legalism is the true fist in the thin Confucian glove worn by Chinese leaders.  Both schools stress strong government for order in society, but have opposite approaches.

Legalism demands consistent application of harsh criminal sanctions to promote a cohesive society through fear, while Confucius demanded firm yet gentle leadership of a cultivated population, bringing harmony through education in virtue, as shown by the following:

If the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment, but have no sense of shame. 
 
If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of shame, and moreover will become good.


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Posted in China, Civil rights, Ethics, Language Use, Philosophy, Politics, Society | Tagged: | 10 Comments »

Barnaby was right and should have gone further

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-15

Poor Barnaby Joyce!  When he points out an elephant in the room, he cops flak from all sides: the elephant in the room in this case being US indebtedness and the risk of default, and the need for Australia to have contigency plans for either the default or the necessary collapse of US consumer spending.

If he’d followed his chain of reasoning further, noting the commonality of risks and appropriate responses of the economic corrections for both US default and climate change, he’d have had the environmentally responsible wings of both left and right calling him a hero.

Which makes me wonder: why didn’t he follow the chain of logic he started?

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Posted in Australia, China, Economics and Business, Environment, International, USA | 1 Comment »

At least Obama didn’t award HIMSELF a Nobel

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-10-15

Obama got a pat on the back from the Nobel Committee, then wondered (along with the rest of the world) about the justification.

Penny Wong, on the other hand pats herself grandly on the back about her "achievements" from recent talks with China.

Summary of achievements touted in the press release:

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Posted in Australia, China, Economics and Business, Environment, Politics | 1 Comment »

Why would Hu (and possibly DFAT) NOT be into graft and spying?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-07-18

It’s worth taking a step back on the Hu affair (the Australian Rio-Tinto representative behind bars in China for bribery and espionage) to look at some of the larger issues influencing the current melodrama.

Compare China’s means of helping to acquire cheaper essential resources (ore) with the US under Bush (oil).  One country arrests a few people (possibly without appropriate evidence), one invades another country and kills lots of people.  Even if the Chinese are lying, it’s a lot less evil than the lies told to the UN security council by the US.

Does Australia have form for bribery?  Yes – even if Australian government involvement (if only through DFAT) may have dropped significantly since the Howard years with the scandals about the Australian Wheat Board, and a commercial subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

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Posted in Australia, China, Economics and Business, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Remind me, please…

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-01-27

To my fellow humanitarians, whether of lefty or liberal disposition: If I don’t publish a new post in response to this and this (and it may not be long before “Western Heart” chimes in), from authors who obviously detested my two posts on Australia Day (here and here), please remind me in a week or two.

Feel free to add your own comments about those Balneus-haters’ positions.  ("Balneus-haters" is perhaps the kindest way I can describe them, although at least “OzConservative” was civil.)  They certainly, particularly "silver", make me angry, but I think such comments actually lend some weight to my assertions that Australia can do a lot better.

Posted in Australia, China, International, Politics, Society | 4 Comments »

One day, two cultures, one destiny

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-01-26

The conjunction of Australia Day and Chinese New Year has caused me again to reflect on the two cultural traditions, the lessons and the cautionary tales we must offer each other, and accept.

The most obvious and trivial "compare and contrast" between the two celebrations is the food: what would you rather have: barbeque and beer, or a smorgasbord of asian delicacies?  Besides, the urban legend of being hungry half an hour after eating Chinese is another huge advantage in favor of the Chinese celebration.

The other big difference is that Chinese New Year is multinational and joyous: it lacks the jingoism, crass nationalism, the focus on the trivial, and the hints of "displacement guilt" that can so often taint the experience of Australia Day.

But the real lessons are deeper, and never has the adoption by each culture of the lessons from the other been so important, so urgent.

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Posted in Australia, China, International, Politics, Society | 16 Comments »

Oz Day: Use sweet-and-sour, not tomato sauce

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-01-22

I asked a Chinese friend what day New Year festivities started this year, as I’ve known for decades that those Chinese can officially celebrate it for a couple of weeks.  (And you reckon Australians love their holidays!)

"January 26" he replied, not picking up the significant point that Chinese New Year celebrations start on Australia Day!!!

So celebrate two holidays at once … for Australia Day, be green, be patriotic, and cook up some Szechuan Skippy; give your kids red paper bags with chocolate coins; you can either go to the cricket or eat one….

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Posted in Australia, China, Society | Leave a Comment »

Shoe chucking for fun, profit and polling

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-01-06

Hit Dubya with a shoe for 50% discount in a Chinese shop.  No, the bozo-in-chief isn’t there personally: it is just a cardboard cutout, and while the caricature might make the cut in China, it wouldn’t work in a Western country newspaper.

I’d have expected this in the Middle East (apart from one notorious country), but in China?

This suggests a new form of political polling: offering a choice of targets to customers and counting who people choose to chuck shoes at.

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Posted in China, Humor, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Does this bust get burned or cultivated?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-12-06

So, what happens when archaelogists discover a 2700-year-old stash of cannabis?  Do they get busted?  Does the find get confiscated and incinerated?

Three quarters of a kilogram of the stuff isn’t exactly "personal use" even in the most liberal jurisdictions.

Even a small percentage of that, taken as a sample for analysis, is a significant amount.  Will the authorities stand guard over the analysts to make sure they don’t "misbehave", and is a behavioural assay legitimate?

What about when the scientific find crosses borders?

How old does a stash of psychotropic substances have to be before it is considered invaluable scientific material?

Such questions are relevant, because according to the original paper (Journal of Experimental Botany 2008 59(15):4171-4182; doi:10.1093/jxb/ern260, "Phytochemical and genetic analyses of ancient cannabis from Central Asia") it was "perfectly preserved".  Abstract over the fold.

And if perfectly preserved, are the seeds (pictures available in the original paper) viable, like some seeds from Pharoahs’ tombs?  Given they have the genetics down pat (including knowing that it "novel genetic variant with two single nucleotide polymorphisms"), might they even be able to create a cultivar even without viable seeds?  Would growing this stuff at all be legitimate science, or would the investigators be investigated?

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Posted in Biology and Health, China, Law, Science and Tech | Leave a Comment »

Rudd and “The People’s Daily”

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-11-23

Perhaps the Chinese don’t love our Kev as much as he would like.

I was looking through the English edition of the Chinese Government Mouthpiece Chinese People’s Daily, and navigated to WorldAsia/Oceania.

Lots of stories with headlines about New Zealand, one with Australia in the headline… and guess what it was?

"New Zealand PM meets Australian counterpart in Peru"

Snigger, … giggle, … chortle.

Posted in Australia, China, Media | Leave a Comment »

China’s strong decades-long environmental action

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-06-20

The Axis of Evil Emitters (the highest per-capita carbon-producing nations) berate China about carbon emissions, yet China has so far failed to point out that of all nations, China has been taking the necessary hard unpopular decisions on climate change and demand for water and food for decades – to near universal condemnation (apart from the scientific community).

The One-Child Policy is perhaps the most effective weapon against rising carbon emissions.

Just imagine the CO2 stress on the world would already be suffering if China had not implemented this policy so long -almost a generation – ago.

If I was a Chinese leader, I’d certainly be making a lot of this at any climate talks, and certainly chide countries like Australia that has something like a baby bonus.

So, while European dragons are either green or red, perhaps it’s time to color Chinese dragons green!

Posted in China, Environment, International, Politics | 1 Comment »

 
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