Archive for March 4th, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

Princelings and Sideshows: LSE and “Biased Media”

Sir Howard Davies has resigned as director of the London School of Economics (LSE).

He said the decision to accept £300,000 for research from a foundation run by Col Gaddafi’s son Saif had “backfired”. The LSE council has commissioned an independent inquiry into the university’s relationship with Libya,

reports the BBC.

Shoe Me Quick

Kiss Me Quick

Boo! Hiss!

OK. Cracks aside.

Was Sir Howard really wrong to advise the LSE to accept the donation from the Saif Gaddafi’s Foundation and visiting Libya to advise its regime about financial reforms?

It seems he was only wrong because the Gaddafi regime, of which Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was a natural member, is now most probably on  its way out in Libya. No power, no business.

Others may argue that the brutality with which the Libyan regime – reportedly – clings on to power so far – was something that its business friends couldn’t have foreseen, and that we now have a new picture of that regime. Which would be bullshit.

Sir Howard, I believe, shouldn’t have resigned. Not for this reason, or not for this reason alone. If money from a Gaddafi foundation is reason to resign, countless other directors or deans elsewhere would have to resign along with him, for all kinds of connections with illegitimate regimes. The London School of Economics isn’t the only renowned international school which would teach dictators’ children from all over the world, and cultivate fruitful relations with them. The only difference between Libya’s, and most other regimes: Libya’s regime is stumbling. It’s no longer good for business. And that hypocrisy doesn’t backfire on Sir Howard. It backfires on all those of us who believe that you can “make friends” with systematic violators of human rights.

When a student in Cambridge, Martin Jahnke, acted in a pretty natural way – he threw a sneaker at China’s chief state councillor Wen Jiabao and added some unfriendly remarks, during Wen’s visit to Cambridge University in February 2009 -, Britain’s then prime minister Gordon Brown wrote a letter of apology to Wen.

But in the light of the current LSE “scandal”, we should think again. Jahnke’s manners left a lot to be desired, but he had tagged a legitimate question to his shoe, which would have deserved more attention than did his shoe’s trajectory:

How can the University prostitute itself with this dictator here?

Yeah, how could it? How can they do that, if connections with Saif-al Islam Gaddafi are, all of a sudden, a reason for a director to resign?

Let’s not become distracted. The issue about “the Western media being biased” in their coverage on a “Jasmine Revolution” in China was just a side show, and a successful bit of agenda-setting by CCP proxies. The real issue is elsewhere.

The number of people showing up for “Sunday strolls” in China last month was small – single-digit in Beijing’s Wangfujing shopping district, apparently. But as the Telegraph’s correspondent Peter Foster pointed out,

the ruling Party, far from taking encouragement from last weekend’s dismal showing, appears increasingly nervous and heavy-handed. They must feel they have something to fear.  Since last Friday rights groups say that more than 100 assorted activists and lawyers have been arrested or beaten or put under house arrest and the internet is grinding slow under the censorship apparatus.

There’s much reason to believe that demonstrations in Beijing would become uncontrollable for the ruling party, if demonstrators had a snowball’s chance in hell to even go back home unmolested by the security apparatus, after a demonstration of, say, an hour or so. Understandably, they aren’t out for getting themselves tortured, or killed, with zero chance of political success.

That a “Jasmine Revolution” or whatever other kind of revolution may not happen in China any time soon is no reason to think more highly of the CCP and its princelings, than of Colonel Gaddafi, and his offspring.

No reason except that the princelings have more money to spend, and that they are closely connected to those in power, that is.

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Related:
British PM writes to Chinese PM, February 10, 2009

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lawmaker: Taiwan Defense Budget depends on US Arms Sales

Continuous double-digit growth in China’s military budget was mainly in line with its rapid economic growth, but it did cause strong concern among other countries, Taiwan’s defense ministry said today. The ministry told the BBC‘s mandarin website that Taiwan’s current policy was to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait region, and that Taiwan would not enter into an arms race with China (不会与中共进行军备竞赛). While China’s defense budget was increasing year after year, Taiwan’s defense spending was decreasing year by year, with a 297.2 billion New Taiwan Dollars budget for 2011.

With China’s military spending about ten times as high as Taiwan’s, Taiwan would protect its security with a flexible approach, said the ministry.

KMT legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁芳) suggested that Taiwan was only one of China’s targets, and China was mainly competing with America. However, being in the frontline, Taiwan was indeed under severe pressure (但台湾在第一线承受了巨大的压力). Lin called on Washington to sincerely (真心) consider president Ma Ying-jeou‘s repeated requests to sell submarines and F-16 C/D fighting jets to Taiwan. These would pose no threat to China.

Lin said that Taiwan’s rather low budget reflected the uncertainty of US arms sales to Taiwan and said that the budget would provide for arms purchases from the US as soon as Washington cleared the requested arms sales.

DPP legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) suggested China’s growing threat towards Taiwan showed that Beijing wasn’t satisfied with Ma Ying-jeou’s approach to Taiwan-Chinese relations. There was reason to worry about how Taiwan should maintain the status quo in its relations with China. The Chinese increases in military spending, without resolving disparities between rich and poor people at home, didn’t only constitute a threat to Taiwan, but pressure on other neighboring countries, too. This wasn’t helpful for world peace.

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Related
“Realism, not Inhumanity”, Taipei Times, March 4, 2011
NPC Press Conference: No Shadow Military Budget, March 4, 2011
Taipei: Say it through Opinion Polls, December 27, 2010
Taiwan Military: Placing their Orders, July 19, 2010
ECFA: China’s Primacy of Politics, July 3, 2010

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Friday, March 4, 2011

NPC Press Conference: no Shadow Military Budget

China’s rubberstamp parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), reportedly has 38 billionaires who are richer than the richest member of US Congress, according to the India Times’ Economic Times. If true, this was news to former foreign minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星) who took questions on a press conference in Beijing today, as the NPC’s spokesman.*)

[Main Link: http://www.ynet.com/view.jsp?oid=76916397]

A Beijing Youthnet (北青网) article focuses on a Reuters question on the press conference, concerning the PRC’s military budget.

Q: Hello, I’m from Reuters. I’d like to ask you to disclose the PRC’s defense  budget for 2011, and if the budget for 2010 corresponds with the amounts actually spent.

A: Thank you for mentioning this important issue. It is apparently asked every year. China’s position has always been to control the defense budget and to keep it in proportions with building the economy, thus arranging the defense budget in a reasonable way. The [NPC] assembly hasn’t yet officially begun, but if approved by the NPC, the 2011 defense budget will be around  601.1 billion Yuan RMB. This is an increase, when compared with last year, by some 67.6 billion Yuan, or 12.7 per cent. The defense budget is at 6 per cent of the year’s overall budget, and had decreased its share, compared to previous years. ([李肇星]:将比上年预算执行数有所增加,比上年预算执行数约增加约676亿元,大约增长12.7%。国防费预算占当年全国财政支出预算的6%,与前几年相比,所占比重有所下降。)

In 2011, the increase was mainly focusing on appropriate equipment and construction, military training and personnel training, infrastructure on the grassroot level, appropriate living standards among the staff, and allowances and subsidies for the staff, said Li.

We adhere to the path of peaceful development, carrying out a defensive national defense policy (实行防御性的国防政策). Even though China has a population of 1.3 billion, a big national territory, and a long coastline, China’s defense spending is rather low, compared with global defense spending. China’s limited military power is there to maintain the country’s independence, its sovereignty and its territorial integrity, and doesn’t constitute a threat to any other country. China manages its defense spending in accordance with the administrative requirements, the national defense law, budget laws and the other laws and regulations. Every year’s defense budget is included in the national budget draft, is examined and approved by the National People’s Congress, implemented in accordance with the prescribed procedures, and audited by national and military supervisors. China’s defense budget is transparent, and there is no issue of so-called shadow-spending (不存在所谓的隐性军费问题). Thank you!

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Note
*) If correct, the NPC would have more billionaires in absolute numbers, than Congress. But given that an NPC plenary session includes some 2,987 members, the share of billionaires would be around 1.27 per cent. But it would run counter to a Huanqiu Shibao article which suggested that China’s officialdom is also different from America’s or Japan’s, where the shares of members of parliament who “inherit” their positions from their parents amount to 17 per cent, or even almost 50 per cent.

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Related
“Caution and Hesitation”, Telegraph, March 4, 2011
“Realism, not Inhumanity”, Taipei Times, March 4, 2011
Gates, Liang: Communiqué, January 10, 2011
Hermit: Delegates make Big Difference, March 6, 2009
How China is ruled – the NPC, BBC [undated]

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