Zheng He May Not Have Been So Adventurous

Zheng He May Not Have Been So AdventurousOne of the many aspects of the current surge in officially-guided Chinese nationalism is a focus on the seafaring achievements during the Ming dynasty. Top of the list are the voyages of the early Ming envoy Zheng He around the Indian Ocean and to the coasts of Arabia and east Africa. Accompanied by a flotilla…

Japan and the South China Sea Conflict

Japan and the South China Sea ConflictImagine this scenario: China decides to erect another offshore oil digging rig this time in waters in the South China Sea claimed by the Philippines. It surrounds the rig with numerous coast guard vessels. Manila calls for help from its good, long-time alliance partner the United States. But it also appeals for help to another…

Income Inequality Rises in Asia

Income Inequality Rises in AsiaAsian governments must spend more if they are to reverse the increasing income inequality that most have been showing for the past decade or more. That is the basic conclusion of an Asian Development Bank (ADB) study contained in its recently released 2014 edition of the Asian Economic Outlook. This by no means the first…

To Urbanize, China Needs More People

To Urbanize, China Needs More PeopleChina is famously making an effort to spur its economy by increasing the rate of urbanization, moving as many as 250 million more people from low productivity work in agriculture to city factories and service industries in what is intended to be one of the biggest social experiments in world history. But although the package…

Huxley vs. Orwell: China Today

Huxley vs. Orwell: China TodayVictor Fic, a veteran freelance journalist in Toronto,  recently interviewed Jeffrey Wasserstrom, professor at the University of California, UC Irvine Department of History and the author of China in the 21st Century: What everyone needs to know. Fic asks: Is China veering towards Orwell or Huxley? Perhaps both at the same time, Wasserstrom says. A…

Chinese Government Caught Flatfooted by Separatist Attack

Chinese Government Caught Flatfooted by Separatist AttackThe horrific knife attack in the city of Kunming on March 2, which took the lives of 29 and left 130 wounded, suggests that the Chinese government’s policies to counter Uyghur unrest are having unforeseen consequences well outside of Xinjiang. And the government is likely increasingly concerned that its post-2009 measures have been unsuccessful, given…

China’s One-Child Nonsense

China’s One-Child NonsenseFor more than three decades the One-Child policy has been among the most discussed, praised and reviled aspects of post-Mao, reform-era China. But the facts of China’s demographics over the past 50 years suggest that the impact of the policy has been vastly exaggerated so easing of it will similarly have a modest medium-term impact…

China’s Great Green Wall

China’s Great Green WallAfter China was hit by devastating floods along the Yangtze River basin in 1998 that drowned more than 4,000 people and made 15 million homeless, government officials put in place what is by far the world’s biggest tree planting operation in an attempt to slow desertification, flooding and other problems. The program came in the…

Chinese New Year without Fireworks?

Chinese New Year without Fireworks?Every year in China, the newspapers can be guaranteed to carry stories of exploding fireworks factories that leave workers dead or reeling around the sites, trying to find their ears. On Feb. 2, last year, a truckful exploded on an elevated expressway in Henan that was powerful enough to actually bring down a section of…

China Eyes Nepal Province as Key to South Asia Control

China Eyes Nepal Province as Key to South Asia ControlNepal's once-forbidden Kingdom of Lo, or Mustang, hidden far from modernity and surrounded by the world’s highest mountains, continues to preserve pure Tibetan Buddhist culture. But the kingdom may be in transition as increasing Chinese influence threatens to dilute the people's distinctiveness amid its impact on geopolitics. The Communist regime in Beijing is seeking not…