Posts Tagged ‘ China ’

Friday Night Party Music


Yes, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Not that I haven’t been keeping up, but have been pretty busy in the new line of work (freelance ESL) – loving it – and, well, have been trying to get the stress levels down a bit.

Tim Blair may be a funny blogger, Andrew Bolt may be a serious blogger, but lately, whenever I’ve really gotten stuck into it, I just start getting angry.

I’m not convinced that is a good thing.

Nevertheless, as I said, I’ve been keeping an eye on things, mainly via the excellent Michael Smith and Larry Pickering (whose Facebook site seems to be having a better time of things today).

That national debt hit 250 bil today – nice one Julia and Wayne. That’s a bit over 11 grand of government debt every man, woman, and child now has to pay off on top of whatever personal debt one may have.

Julia’s off strutting her stuff at the UN General Assembly. Bit rough when one wakes up, turns on Australia Network, and she’s talking. If you’ll allow one to dream unrealistically for a tic, if we lose our bid for a seat on the (joke of a) UN Security Council, does that mean we’d have a good excuse to stop paying our dues? Whatever grand idea the UN might once have been, it is an inept shadow of it’s former self, packed to the rafters with corruptocrats.

Why do we have to put up with the likes of Iran’s Ahmadinejad ranting away up there? I’m not convinced his idea of “peace” is the same as our idea of peace.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu did an exceptional job, so maybe there’s some value left there.

But I digress. As an Aussie, my focus should be on Gillard’s performance. Go to Michael Smith, have a look around, and you see that it is in fact some international MSM picking up the story of the AWU/Slater&Gordon scandal!

If it were to happen, what a venue for that to blow up in the PM’s face. That said, it might not “blow up” but it might be enough to tilt the balance in Finland or Luxembourg’s favour. That might not be such a bad thing, lol. However, it’s a little embarrassing that international media will cover something that, generally speaking, Australian MSM won’t.

There’s lot’s there at both Larry’s and Michael’s sites; Ashby’s 50K payout, the debt, boat people, Nauru, AWU, Paul Howes… you name it, but I reckon I’ve gone into all that stuff enough for a Friday evening, indeed a Friday evening that is the beginning of a little mini-break over here in Korea.

Chusok. And actually, personally, I’m taking about nine days off, so again, forgive me if I don’t immerse myself in grubby politics during that time.

Besides: China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan; things are heating up just a tad too much over various disputed islands. One lot is between Japan, China, and Taiwan which you may have heard about. The other lot is between Japan and Korea. Apparently these islands/islets are of intense historical importance, so I guess the massive reserves of natural gas having noting to do with it (It’s Friday – no links). Man, China seems really stoked on getting that aircraft carrier (thanks, Russia!) – with another homemade one on the way. Hu Jintao had the Mao suit on and everything! And, well, I guess Korea’s pretty happy upon receiving 3 bil worth of Apache helicopters.

Fun times.

And yes, well noted is that the Persian Gulf is a fun place to be also these days (there is a way perhaps that we could be less dependent and without having to throw billions more taxpayer dollars at bankrupt solar experiments).

Oh, and there’s some kind of US election or something going on? All I say about that is that 4Corners was a bit deceptive when they promoted a doco about Mitt Romney but it turned out to be little more that 45 minutes of why Mormons are so bad with the occasional reminder that Mitt is a Mormon. It was actually a rerun of a BBC doco, but whatevs, and was aired months earlier in Australia but it was on Australia Network this week. The reporter, John Sweeney, has done two anti-Mitt/anti-Mormon docos that I know of (no – not linking).
Meh. Enough.

In much more pleasing news at this moment in time, Deadmau5 released >album title goes here< on Wednesday.

:-)

PS Most western op.eds telling you what “Gangnam Style” is all about are rubbish. But here and here are two good ones.

China, Japan, Korea, and a few chunks of rocks


Korea and Japan are fighting over Dokdo/Takeshima. Japan and China are fighting over a few other chunks.

Both disputed territories just so happen to have huge reserves of hydrocarbons.

One to keep a bit of an eye on.

Where in the world is Carmen, er, Xi Jinping?


No worries. He’s only meant to be the next president of China.

Why on Earth would anyone want to eat dead baby flesh capsules???


It’s hard to be shocked anymore these days, but occaisionally still, a certain story will come along.

SOUTH Korea has seized thousands of smuggled drug capsules filled with powdered human flesh and is strengthening customs inspections, officials said today.

The capsules were made in northeastern China from dead babies whose bodies were chopped into small pieces and dried on stoves before being turned into powder, a statement from the Korea Customs Service said.

Discussion needed on foreign state-owned farm ownership, but perhaps avoid the “hyperbowl”


So the MP With Australia’s Best Interests at Heart, none other than independent Tony Windsor, has thrown his authentic Akubra into the ring and said his two cents about the issue of Chinese state-owned firms buying up Australia’s farms.

“We shouldn’t debate about stopping foreign investment – no one is going to do that – but should foreign governments have freehold ownership over our land?

It’s something we should debate and look at the distinction between state-owned buyers and others.

And a cursory google search finds all sorts of alarming press about the Chinese government investing in and buying huge swathes of our farmland, including the notable ABC special report provocatively entitled, “Selling the Farm to China”.

Foreign interests including state-owned companies from China and the Middle East are increasingly looking to Australia to secure their food production by purchasing key agricultural assets.

The sale of agricultural land is exempt under Foreign Investment Review Board regulations and the FIRB’s attention is usually triggered only by the sale of companies whose assets exceed a $231 million threshold.

And many are right to be concerned about state-run Chinese firms cashing in on Australia’s farms, but is Liberal senator Bill Heffernan (concerned, in the report above) not playing perhaps a bit of politics here?

It would be wise to keep this in a little perspective. Even when investing as little as $1, state-owned enterprises (SOE) have to have approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). Why’s that important? Because most of the investments from China come from SOEs, so that $231 million threshold doesn’t apply, and nor does the exemption for agricultural land.

And this:

ABS released some land ownership data based on a survey of 11,000 agricultural businesses recently and the study found 89pc of the surveyed agricultural land was entirely Australian owned, while 92pc was majority Australian owned.

So not that much land is full or part foreign owned, and most of that has been approved by the FIRB because at least in China’s case, those investments are from the Chinese state so you can’t really go around attacking China on this one.

For sure, we don’t really know exactly how much farmland Chinese SOEs own, and that’s something that should definitely be rectified, but you can be rest assured it’s not that much, most likely nowhere near proportional to the panic generated over it.

If people still want to get worked up, be at some sections of our media, notably one that doesn’t mind the odd bit of exaggeration when it comes to their rural reporting.

Most of us were suckered in to that one for a while.

Let’s hope we’ve learned and don’t get suckered into this one, too.

China to increase military expenditure (thanks Uncle Sam)


Not surprising…

China said Sunday it would boost its defense spending by 11.2% in 2012, slightly less than last year’s increase but still enough to aggravate the concerns that have prompted the U.S. to refocus its defense policy on the Asian-Pacific region.

So how much will that military budget add up to? That’d be $106.4 billion US dollars.

To put that in a little more perspective, China currently holds more than $1.2 trillion of US debt. Interest payments on America’s $15.2 trillion of debt amounted to $454 billion in 2011.

Thus, interest payments to China would have been around $30 billion (454/15) that year. For the same 12 month period, the Chinese military budget was $91.5 billion.

That’s the US effectively financing one third of China’s military in 2011. And remember that’s just with interest payments. The principal on the debt isn’t going down.

With no end in sight to increasing US debt, and the likelyhood China will continue to buy at least some of it – with ever increasing interest rates – no wonder China is so well positioned to continue double-digit increases in its military expenditure… courtesy to a sizeable extent of the US taxpayer.

I’m not sure there has ever been a case in world history whereby one superpower has funded so much of a rival superpower’s military.

PS The idea of US debt interest payments funding the Chinese military has been bandied about before. I decided to have a look at the numbers myself.

Monday 5/3/12 open/twitter thread


Almost back to the regular schedule… tomorrow I’m told.

Anyway, a couple of stories that caught my eye last night on twitter:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is acting pretty ballsy in front of his countrymen. Despite the tubby leader of the starving nation agreeing to stop its nuclear program – yeah, right :roll: – in return for US food aid (this time they’ve designed it in the form of not-so-tasty nutritional bars etc. kind of like the ones distributed to starving Africans in an effort to not have the aid – e.g. rice – merely go to the party elite), he recently strutted his stuff for the first time in the DMZ, specifically Panmunjon which is the Korean name for the JSA, you know, that bit where the North and South guards face off against each other every day. He was literally in range of “enemy” troops. All this, of course, isn’t really sticking it to the South. It’s just so that he doesn’t look like a total ass in front of his fellow Commies and potential usurpers for being a fatty who needs more food.

Also, readers may remember a post from a few months back entitled, “The seige of Wukan”. Basically, a bunch of Chinese villagers got sick and tired of their local officials stealing their farmland and pocketing the proceeds after selling it. So they kicked them out. Predictably, police and what not surrounded the village and a stand-off ensued. Well, good news. The villagers were granted fresh elections, and one of the new officials includes a leader of the protest. Nearby villages are starting to get the same idea, but hey, this is China, so don’t be expecting any precedents – despite what this guy says – or the folk in Beijing to be reading it on the front page. Still, it’s a start. Here’s some piccies.

Oh, and Putin is back in (as if he were ever out). Just don’t be a Russian billionaire and criticise the bloke; it might make him cry (you’ll get that after clicking the link).

Via JM, the Samsung Galaxy S III, a teacher’s new best friend, internet karma, Kumbahyah cancelled, wiki highjinks (language warning, but funny as).

Anything catch your eye today? Bob Carr’s predictable, cringe-worthy backflip on Libya? China’s latest hit TV show?

Let us know.

 

Why the desire to pull the troops out of Iraq in the first place?


In the Australian today:

NO sooner did President Barack Obama welcome home American troops from Iraq and laud that country’s stability and democracy than an unprecedented wave of violence across Baghdad and elsewhere revealed the severity of Iraq’s political crisis.

Unfortunate, yet hardly surprising, even to the most casual of observers.

And whilst I can understand (yet not agree with) the Left’s position not to send troops into Iraq in the first place – an argument, largely moot, for another day – what I don’t understand is their fervish desire to pull the troops out.

It always smacked of idealism, ideology, rather than hard-nosed practicality.

After all, what was so bad with having a US troop presence there to help maintain Iraq’s fragile democratic stability?

One could argue that I am biased because a) I am centre-right politically and b) because I live in South Korea, a nation that has had a US troop presence – some 37,000 28,000 or so currently – since the armistice between North and South Korea and have seen what a permanent US troop presence looks like.

I am happy to accept those labels and can gladly tell you that such a presence ain’t that bad.

By and large,  US bases in Korea – and Japan for that matter – haven’t been a problem.

Sure, issues pop up from time to time, but if one looks at the big picture, then a strong US presence here can only be seen as a good thing, a safe option, a pretty darn good insurance policy against North Korea trying anything major on.

Almost 60 years we’ve had US troops over here without any major problems. In fact, many major problems (a full-scale Nork attack comes to mind) have arguably been averted thanks to this presence.

So, why the rush to leave Iraq essentially free of any US military  before even a decade is up and before, as is clear now, the job is done?

OK, so perhaps it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges. US troops in Korea, aside from those stationed at the DMZ, aren’t on active duty as they were in Iraq.

However, it’s not a completely dissimilar situation. Perhaps a good analogy would be to compare mandarins and oranges.

US troops not only provided safety and stability in the fledgling democracy that is Iraq – a country still steeped with sectarian and tribal rivalries – but surely they also provided a deterrence to anybody or any groups who want to destabilise the nation.

What takes years to build can take mere seconds to destroy, and I fear a lot of hard work is being undone on the whim of a flawed, feel-good, ideology.

So why?

The only practical reason that I can see for Obama pulling his troops out of Iraq is that with an Iranian confrontation looming which includes action needed in Syria, Iraq frankly isn’t important enough any more or at best, an impractical option for a potentially over-stretched military.

Of course, Obama – a man of the progressive Left – can’t actually come out and say that but it is reasonably well-known to those who don’t just get their news from the MSM that Obama is actually more of a war-time president than Bush was, having committed more troops to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and for a longer period of time.

So whilst the MSM might play along with the “bringing the troops home” narrative, the evidence indicates this simply isn’t the case.

Some 20,000 marines, seamen and air crews from half a dozen countries, a US nuclear aircraft carrier strike group and three US Marine gunship carriers are practicing an attack on a fictitious mechanized enemy division which has invaded its neighbor. It is the largest amphibian exercise seen in the West for a decade, staged to simulate a potential Iranian invasion of an allied Persian Gulf country and a marine landing on the Iranian coast. Based largely on US personnel and hardware, French, British, Italian, Dutch, Australian* and New Zealand military elements are integrated in the drill.
Bold Alligator went into its operational phase Monday, Feb. 6, the same day as a large-scale exercise began in southern Iran opposite the Strait of Hormuz. This simultaneity attests to the preparations for a US-Iranian showdown involving Israel behind the words on Feb. 5 of US President Barack Obama (“I don’t think Israel has decided whether to attack Iran”) and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Feb. 3 (“The war itself will be ten times as detrimental to the US.”).

(*BTW, I don’t recall Aussie PM Gillard highlighting that one.)

And this:

As the US and Israel carried on bickering over the right time to strike Iran’s nuclear sites, their war preparations continued apace. debkafile’s military sources report that flight after flight of US warplanes and transports were to be seen this week cutting eastward through the skies of Sinai on their way to Gulf destinations, presumably Saudi Arabia, at a frequency not seen in the Middle East for many years.

Add into this mix reports that China will reportedly help Saudi Arabia build a nuclear bomb, and that both China and India have started paying Iran for its oil in gold thus helping thwart current US/UN sanctions (more of which were recently thwarted by Russia and China), then we see a stage set for a showdown and we see the reality that rhetoric aside, Obama won’t be bringing many troops home at all.

To someone who doesn’t know any better, it’s as if Russia, India, and China – all wannabe first chickens to the trough – are ganging up on America.**

PS Who wouldn’t love to be a fly on the wall listening in to what the US is really saying about China? Their ever-expanding use of soft power is in many ways, stuffing it all up for America. China must surely be becoming an ever-increasing pain in the neck.

This leaves Australia in an interesting position. Our main export partner is China. Our main ally is the US. We send China our goodies to help them get rich and rival America. We practice shooting our guns with America to help keep America on top.

And yet China and America are also so deep in each other’s pockets. America buys China’s goods. China buys America’s debt.

Fun times.

** I highly recommend reading The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom. Part of the book talks about the pecking order of nations.

Carbon war!


Let the games begin…

China has warned the European Union to abandon its controversial carbon tax on airlines or risk provoking a global trade war.

Adding weight to the warning, an industry insider told the Financial Times that the Chinese government was seriously considering measures to hit back at the EU if it insists on charging international airlines for their carbon emissions.

Does the EU, as with the Australian Gillard government, truly want to save the planet?

Or does it just need more money?

The seige of Wukan


Basically, about 20,000 villagers in Wukan, southern China have kicked out all the Party officials because they’re fed up with having their land taken from them and then on-sold to developers for millions.

In response to the villagers’ grievances, Chinese government authorities have surrounded Wukan and are cutting off their food supply.

Naturally, any searches for “Wukan” in Chinese social media turn up zilch: censored.

UPDATE

Tim Blair has more (and JFTR, I didn’t steal his headline, I thought it up independently on the way home when a mate was telling me about the story).

Could this be another Tiananmen Square?

Memo to China: Pakistan fired first


So China’s main state-controlled newspaper The People’s Daily comes out blasting the US for the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers the other day.

An influential state-run Chinese newspaper has accused the United States of violating international law and fanning the flames of terrorism after NATO strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The strongly-worded editorial, which was published on Tuesday in the People’s Daily – mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist party – came after Beijing said it was “deeply shocked” by the strikes, which have exacerbated tensions between Islamabad and Washington.

“The United States and NATO have violated international law and international norms,” the paper said in an editorial condemning the attacks.

“This shows… that at crucial moments, the United States will not show the slightest hesitation to violate the sovereignty of another nation to ensure its ‘absolute security’.”

And on and on it went without the slightest hint of irony (irony considering China sells missile technology to Iran which in turn gives the missiles to terrorist groups such as Hizbollah).

Nice going on the War on Terror there, China.

And besides, it’s likely that the US did not instigate the bungled attack.

Both sides said they believed they were attacking insurgents along the border. A senior Pakistani defense official acknowledged that Pakistani troops fired first, sending a flare, followed by mortar and machine-gun fire, toward what he said was “suspicious activity” in the brush-covered area below their high-altitude outpost barely 500 yards from the border.

And before Pakistan gets its burqa in a knot, it would do well to remember the US is an ally – an ally to the tune of around two billion bucks a year. And that will be $3 billion next year.

And what does the US get in return apart from bleeting demands for an apology?

US senator John McCain:

“Pakistan’s intelligence agency continues to support the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups that are killing US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan, and the vast majority of the material used to make improvised explosive devices originates from two fertilizer factories in Pakistan.”

Charming. And remember it was this ally that let China have a look at the downed SEAL Team 6 helicopter.

Oh, yeah. Thaaaaat helicopter; you know, the one that was used to get the world’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, who had been “hiding out” in a compound just outside Pakistan’s capital for about 10 long years.

All told?

China and Pakistan need to STFU.

UPDATE

More on the strained US-Pakistan relationship. The alternative is worse.

Naked marriages


Sorry, I felt robbed too when the article went on to describe how many Chinese newlyweds are foregoing the usual deal of a house, goods and a car and also tending to have only one child so they can give it the best, get it into the best schools etc. It’s expensive there nowadays.

Not a bad read regardless.

Please, enough of this clean green China crap


Who are our political overloads trying to kid? Please don’t tell me PM Gillard, Brown and Flannery and Co. actually believe their own BS.

Via JM, Tim Blair and Catallaxy

Forget the puff, check the comments


It’s a story about China mocking the US political model, one not too dissimilar to ours.

Lots of spin so read it if you want but the real gold is in the comments.

H/T

At least in the EU, we’re only talking about money


Not so in the Middle East:

Britain’s armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern about Tehran’s nuclear enrichment programme, the Guardian has learned.

The Ministry of Defence believes the US may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.

And reservations from Obama, too, but for different reasons.

[Whitehall] made clear that Barack Obama, has no wish to embark on a new and provocative military venture before next November’s presidential election.

But they warned the calculations could change because of mounting anxiety over intelligence gathered by western agencies, and the more belligerent posture that Iran appears to have been taking.

Meanwhile, Israeli PM Netanyahu is trying to garner support for a pre-emptive strike, and have been doing some missile test-fires recently.

And not content with the prospect of buying Europe, China is possibly still providing military support to Iran that they shouldn’t be.

Big H/T Matt Drudge

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