Archive for September 5th, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

JR’s Weekender: “Terrorism”

Chinese publications and officials have made it a habit: when riots occur in Xinjiang, there must be a link to global terrorism. This explanation has apparently become handier than blaming the CIA. Besides, it might help to win a Western audience, or some of them, over to the Han Chinese position when it comes to Xinjiang – not only concerning Chinese sovereignty in general, but also concerning the legitimacy of Chinese policies on Xinjiang in particular. Whenever Beijing links Uyghur uprisings or undesired activities to Al-Quaeda or similar organizations, it amounts to a plea: We (China) and you (anywhere else) are in the same boat.

One should try to avoid the term terrorism. Not that it would lack meaning. After all, terrorism is about spreading terror. It’s a tool that can work universally – in America, Arabia, China, Europe, or elsewhere. Feelings of terror aren’t confined to certain cultures. That’s why terrorist tools have become so popular among people who have only limited destructive options at their disposal, but who want to reach their goals by violent means anyway.

Fear Nanny

Be Very Afraid

The term terrorist, when used deliberately, is usually most popular among political hardliners. Post 9-11 America is an example, and there are too many politicians to name who climbed the bandwagon. If high-level discussions in China were as public as they are in the U.S., we could probably hear Ma Shouxin‘s voice now. After all, Ma, member of the CPPCC‘s National Committee, told reporters as early as in March this year that the central government was too tolerant with the Xinjiang independence elements. And it goes without saying that he referred to such “elements” as terrorist (恐怖).

While fear might play into the hands of politicians greedy for ever more power in free societies, it hardly does so for Beijing. Continuous open hatred (and consequently violence) between Han Chinese and Uyghurs is the last thing China’s rulers can afford to let happen. Any Han Chinese in Xinjiang who wants to keep the empire together should see that, too.

Neither the current syringe attacks in Xinjiang, nor other occurences referred to as terrorism by many or some, should be given more impact than necessary. There are places on the globe where they have become general, everyday threats indeed. But not in America, China, or Europe. In those places, fear operators can only work as intended if people allow them to frighten them. Realistically, chances to get killed under a truck are much greater than to get attacked, in most places, and in the long run.

People who attack passers-by with syringes are mean, miserable thugs. Nothing less – but nothing more, either.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Urumqi Party Committee’s Secretary sacked

Beijing has reportedly sacked Urumqi’s municipal party committee’s secretary, Li Zhi (栗智), and started adjusting the Xinjiang Public Security Department, after five deaths in recent days, and demonstrations in the city on Saturday, reports Deutsche Welle. The protests had been triggered by syringe attacks, mostly on Han citizens, and China’s police minister Meng Jianzhu (孟建柱) blamed people of Uyghur nationality wanting independence (要求独立的新疆维吾尔少数民族人士) for the attacks. Xinhua News Agency quoted officials saying the perpetrators belonged to the Uyghur nationality. On Thursday, Li Zhi had referred to the syringe stabbing attacks as a grave terrorist crime aiming at creating ethnic division and stirring up ethnic antagonism in a bid to overturn social order, split the motherland and split the Chinese nation.

Similar syringe attacks occured in Tianjin in 2002, according to Deutsche Welle. Reportedly, the needles back then carried the blood of people infected with AIDS. The motives of the perpetrations back then are apparently unknown.

The Telegraph on the other hand reports that to date, rumors of AIDS patients attacking people with infected needles have later been shown to be unfounded. According to Xinhua, victims of the needle stabbings in Urumqi are currently examined for diseases related to radioactive substance, anthrax and toxic chemicals.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hand-Tight Approach

Jürgen Rüttgers, Northrhine Westphalia‘s (NRW) prime minister, is exploring new strategies to engender foreign investment in his federal state. During a local elections campaign appearance, he told an audience in Duisburg on August 26 that

“… if need be, we will meet some Chinese people concerning some affairs in Duisburg’s town hall and then they will be gagged until they find Duisburg beautiful”.

The oppositional Social Democrats’ (SPD) youth organization was there, too, and made a (misleading, Rüttger’s Christian Democrats say) movie of his speech which is now available on youtube.com (it also includes some observations on Romanian workforce).

To be fair, the prime minister also said that once they [“the Chinese”] invested, they’d be Duisburgers and will belong to us, because they’ll have created jobs. JR, known for his impartiality, refers you to minutes 40 to 45 of a more comprehensive take of the scene.

Rüttgers apologized last night. It hadn’t been his intention to insult anyone, but to defend the achievements of jobholders in Northrhine-Westphalia.

Duisburg’s CDU mayor Adolf Sauerland was re-elected in last Sunday’s local elections, but will have to govern without a majority in the city’s parliament.

Rüttgers is scheduled to travel to China in November, to further cooperation.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Australian Foreign Affairs: Rio’s Iron Ore Talks suspended; Kevin Rudd’s Essay Rejected

There may not be an official iron ore contract price settlement with the Chinese steel industry for 2009-10, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, referring to indications by Rio Tinto‘s iron ore business chief executive Sam Walsh.

Walsh is quoted as saying that he expects the talks to be resumed, “but I don’t know when”. A smaller Australian producer, Fortescue Metals Group, agreed to supply iron ore in accordance with an existing benchmark deal, according to Associated Press (AP).

For the time being, Rio and other producers are selling at prices based on an earlier settlement, or on one struck with the Japanese steel industry in May.

AP points out that prices may be changed retroactively to July 1 if Rio and the Chinese steel industry association, which is negotiating for the country’s mills, reach an agreement.

China had reportedly been “riled” by Rio Tinto‘s settlement with Japanese and South Korean steelmakers which was apparently favorable for their favored products, while the cut for China’s products of choice was much more modest in that agreement.

In unrelated business, negotiations between Australia’s prime minister Kevin Rudd and Foreign Affairs about publication of his essay discussing political taxonomies will apparently not be resumed. That said, the Prime Minister’s efforts haven’t been entirely in vain. Australia’s The Age obtained the draft under Freedom of Information laws and has put it up for discussion by its readers (registration required, and apparently no comments yet).

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dogs and the Cities: No Longer Devoid of Care

Jiang Demin (姜德明) is Jiangsu Sheyang County’s Agricultural Technology Promotion Center‘s deputy director. He is also a member of the National People’s Congress, and his bill list (议案目录, proposed law directory) of 2004 would suggest that he’s very active.

But what got him in the headlines – in the cities, anyway -, was dogshit (and, maybe a bit less controversial, dogbites). Jiang said in 2007 that dog-catching in Yunnan and Shandong one year earlier had helped to reduce epidemic diseases, that Nanjing Second Hospital (南京市立第二医院), from January to October 2006, reported 33 deaths resulted from dog bites. He suggested legislation (犬类管理法) which would copy measures taken in Beijing earlier – banning big and pitbull dogs in key areas, and collecting tax in general areas.

Jiang argued that in the end, a more ruly dog administration would benefit dogs and their owners, too, as it helped to hold contagious diseases at bay.

Some 100,000 Shanghai households have registered a dog (or maybe more than one), and four or five times as many households own dogs without registration, suggests Shanghai’s XinMin Net, quoting unspecified other media. Dog catching – for rabies prevention among others – is common in Shanghai, too. The website says that every day, dogs leave more than one hundred tons of shit in Shanghai’s streets, public squares, and parks.

As Shanghai’s People’s Congress is now carrying out a legislative research process of its own, the Dog Ownership Administration Legislation (养犬管理), Xinmin Net will conduct a Round Table discussion on the topic on September 8, and broadcast it live on the internet.

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JR’s conservative calculation: If there are some 400,000 dogs in town (a quarter of which would be registered), and if there is more than one ton (1,000 kilograms) of dogshit every day, this would amount to four kilograms of dogshit per dog, per day, which would be very impressive. Maybe dogs in Shanghai are particularly big, and maybe, straying dogs add to the produce. Or maybe, non-dog shit is counted as dogshit, too.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Mutually Beneficial Perspective

“It’s a common fault of some Australian officials that they don’t think of the mutual beneficial perspective. For instance, on the visit by Kadeer, Howard’s remark reveals a unilateral attitude, which obstructs the development of bilateral ties.”

Zhao Guojun, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, reportedly in an interview with the China Global Times

“Of course we had to give that lady a visa. Heavens above, you don’t allow the Chinese, or any government – whether it’s China or Britain or America – to tell us who we should give visas to.”

John Howard, former Australian Prime Minister


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