Tag Archives: Links

A new blogroll: With focus—without the fat

It’s been years since I completely reviewed the blogroll on Transpacifica. Today, I decided to cut it in size and cut out the fat. Before, I had almost fifty links, all of which were at one time important. But many of these sites don’t make the cut anymore, and I thought it would be more useful to pick the 25 best sites I would recommend checking for up-to-date information and smart commentary on East Asia.

Allow me to bid farewell to some of the former blogrollers.

First, there are the sites that just aren’t sites anymore: The China Beat stopped publishing; Julian Wong’s Green Leap Forward is now apparently offline (and it was long dormant); Rebecca MacKinnon’s excellent RConversation is now dormant while she writes at her book’s blog, but rarely about China. Evgeny Morozov’s Net Effect stopped updating some time ago.

Then, there are the sites that have suffered from the writers’ new projects, or that aren’t as frequently updated as others. Jeremiah Jenne’s Granite Studio gave way to his new collaborative project with others, Rectified.name. Jun Okumura’s fiery Son of a Gadfly on the Wall may be getting some love these days, but it’s long been relatively quiet.

Next, I removed links to non-transpacific-focused sites and sites that I run or work for. The exception is 八八吧 :: 88 Bar, which would deserve a place on this list even if I weren’t a new contributor there.

There are others, that need not be listed, that don’t have the same place in my reading diet they used to.

We’re left with a solid list of 25 sites, though I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

For now, a few of the new additions:

  • ChinaFile, currently in beta, is a project of Asia Society, and it has both original content and solid aggregation, including a non-paywalled tunnel to New York Review of Books articles up to fairly recently.
  • China Real Time and Japan Real Time, from the Wall Street Journal, are category-leading news feeds that follow the news day by day. The China blog especially is about as up-to-date a product as you can get from a mainstream source.
  • Sigma1 takes my friend Tobias Harris (Observing Japan)’s spot for detailed tracking through Japan’s ever-swerving political story. [Toby is welcome back if he starts writing again. -ed.]
  • And Tea Leaf Nation barges onto the scene with its voluminous China social media monitoring.

So what’s changed?

For one thing, this reader and the cast of writers have changed. When this list was last carefully checked, I was just back to the United States from Beijing, where the hurried China blogging community before the Olympics was full of different faces, many of whom have moved on to various other pursuits. And at the time, I was still writing Sinobyte for CNET, which led me to follow too many tech blogs. Now, I watch U.S.–China relations and technology and politics trends, and this means a greater attention to international relations, military affairs, economics, and elite politics. Finally, I read far less about Japan than when this all began in 2006.

Substantively, though, I think the blogosphere on East Asia has shifted from a public square of mostly male soapboxers to a series of more diverse groups collaborating either informally or through an institution. I think this is great, because (Bill Bishop’s Sinocism notwithstanding) it’s usually better to think, produce, and read in groups than all alone. This also opens bigger online platforms—like Tea Leaf Nation, ChinaFile, and even the WSJ Real Time blogs—to people who don’t have the sickness required to blog constantly.

This blog used to have a lot more readers during the period that I had the blogging bug. Perhaps some will come back through collaborative work here or on various platforms, but for now, click those links at the right.

China News Update, July 5, 2012 – U.S.–China ties, South China Sea

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai speaks at the Asia Society in Hong Kong July 5, 2012.

  • Today’s news opens with a speech July 5 in Hong Kong by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, a key figure in Chinese relations with the United States. The speech calls for “building a new type of relationship between major countries here in the Asia-Pacific,” a key Hu Jintao phrase from the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) between the United States and China in May [speech in Chinese / in English]. The Xinhua storyabout the speech also emphasized this new relationship, suggesting that the idea of something like a U.S.–China “special relationship” is gaining traction in Chinese policy circles.

    The remainder of the speech emphasizes the need for expanded mutual trust between the two countries, and the importance of the Asia-Pacific region as a locus for this relationship. None of this is groundbreaking, but I think it’s worth noting that this is one of the highest-level speeches on the United States since the May meetings that coincided with a diplomatic tangle over the fate of Chen Guangcheng, the self-taught lawyer who escaped home detention and entered the U.S. embassy in Beijing, eventually ending up as a special student at New York University Law School. Cui specifically mentions S&ED as a successful development, and calls out U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, who, along with Cui, was reportedly at the center of tense negotiations over Chen.

  • The other big news come from U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration has filed a WTO complaint against China over auto tariffs. The timing had clear political content, as Obama is beginning a campaign trip in the Midwest, where much of the U.S. auto industry makes its home.
  • Meanwhile, the Committee of 100, a group of prominent Chinese Americans, released its 2012 survey of U.S.–China public opinion [pdf] about bilateral ties. The executive summary is worth a skim, as it contains a laundry list of findings.
  • Zhou Yongkang, for one, is not a fan of U.S. opinions on China. According to an AFP story:

    “We will never change in our endeavour to defend the party’s leading role and socialism with Chinese characteristics,” he wrote in the latest edition of a Communist Party publication, “Qiushi”.”We will resolutely resist the attacks of hostile forces on our nation’s political and judicial systems, and we will resolutely resist the influence of mistaken Western political and legal views.”

    Zhou was writing in his position as head of the party’s Politics and Law Commission, which oversees China’s courts, prosecution and police.

  • And the U.S. State Department expressed displeasure with Chinese online censorship after Bloomberg News’ website after its blockbuster story on the family finances of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.

As always, there has been movement in the South China Sea

  • The Philippines may ask for U.S. spy plane assistance in areas disputed with China, Philippine President Benigno Aquino said, reportedly referring to P3C Orion aircraft. (July 2)
  • The People’s Daily that day also accused the Philippines of attempting to stir up trouble in the region ahead of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting July 9. (English of full article.)
  • The Philippine military has “no problem” with Chinese patrols near disputed islands, according to a media report, as long as they stay in the “freedom of navigation area”—i.e. international waters where any ship has a right to be. (July 3)
  • The Philippines issued a new “note verbale,” a type of diplomatic communication, objecting to China’s plans with its newly upgraded administrative distinction for the administration of some of the islands it claims in the South China Sea, a Philippine news site reports. “Sansha city” officially includes both an island disputed with Vietnam and the Scarborough Shoal, which China and the Philippines disagree over. (July 4)
  • Chinese Maritime Surveillance ships are patrolling within 1 nautical mile of the Nansha islands, Xinhua reported.
  • The Chinese government announced it would open a research station in the “Zhongsha” islands, part of the controversial Sansha City. A quick check suggests these “islands” are not even above water all of the time, and they have not been part of the recent dust-ups with Vietnam or Philippines. (July 5)
  • An Economist story comes with a nice map that includes oil claims.

China News Update for July 1, 2012 – U.S.–China relations and South China Sea update

The first set of links are on things other than the South China Sea. The second set are devoted to that ongoing issue. See also my new post on the Global Times referring to the South China Sea as one of China’s “core interest.”

  • The People’s Daily reported that preparations are on track for the fall party congress and leadership transition.
  • In an apparently newly released speech to a track II meeting between the United States and China, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai spoke about common U.S.–China interests, adding:

    Upon his acceptance of Lifetime Achievement Award VDZ Publisher’s Night in November 2011, Dr. Kissinger said that the current international system thus faces a paradox: its prosperity is dependent on the success of globalization, but the process produces a political dialectic that often works counter to its aspirations. Indeed, we need to think carefully about how to go beyond political differences and achieve common prosperity. The United States is the most powerful nation in the world. Does the United States regard globalization as a zero-sum game or a win-win process? Does it view the development of China and other big countries as posing challenges to the position of the US or as offering greater development opportunities with more cooperative partners? These are crucial questions. Whether the United States can make a correct choice will to a large extent influence the development of the world situation in the 21st century.

  • In an interview published on China.org.cn, Peking University Professor Wang Jisi speaks about the persistent differences between the United States and China:

    Q: Will the mutual suspicion be lessened by the increasing number of non-governmental exchanges between the two sides?

    Wang Jisi: Not really. Most people, whether in the U.S. or China, who acquire information via domestic mainstream media, will not get a true picture of the other country. Even getting involved in people-to-people communication does not negate wider existing differences. For instance, say that a person travels in America and becomes genuinely fond of the country and people, this individual experience will not eliminate the political differences and mutual suspicion which exist between the two countries. Simply learning more about a country does not necessarily mean you will trust it more. …

    Q: Some scholars think that the U.S. is behind the South China Sea and Diaoyu Islands disputes. Is that true or is the U.S. simply being opportunistic as far as these disputes are concerned?

    Wang Jisi: From the U.S. point of view, increased tension between China and the Philippines over the disputed Huangyan Islands can only be an advantage because, to some degree, the dispute will contain its biggest opponent. On the other hand, it will make the Philippines more reliant on the U.S. China cannot openly blame the U.S. for provoking or exacerbating the disputes, despite the fact that it will certainly suspect the U.S. of being is behind these disputes. Despite this, the U.S. will definitely not become involved in the dispute.

Now on to the South China Sea

  • Four Chinese Marine Surveillance ships on Sunday reached “Huayang Reef,” a coral formation in the disputed Spratly Islands, Chinese state media reported. The Spratlys are at the core of a China–Vietnam maritime territorial dispute. [China.org.cn] [AFP]
  • Anti-Chinese protests erupted in Vietnam Sunday. Hundreds [Reuters] or about 200 [AP] protested an announcement by the China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) that it is seeking foreign collaborators to develop fuel resources in the disputed Spratly Islands. Vietnam’s government claims the areas up for exploration are within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
  • A Human Rights Watch representative told the Voice of America that some prominent bloggers were prevented from attending the Vietnamese protests.
  • The nationalist-leaning government-controlled Chinese newspaper Global Times issued an editorial on the South China Sea that could be read as a threat against Vietnam and the Philippines:

    As to China, it is not interested in being involved in frequent wrangles with Vietnam and the Philippines over the South China Sea, which is merely one of its core interests.* As a great power, China has strategic concerns all over the Asia-Pacific region and even the world. But if Vietnam and the Philippines continue to provoke and go too far, they must be prepared to face strong countermeasures from China.

  • *The use of the term “core interest” is politically charged, and I’ve devoted an entire post to the issue.
  • Meanwhile, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, spoke with the Global Times for an interview. Not especially ground-breaking, but it’s worth a skim.

Daily Update, June 29, 2012: Rich leading families, NYT China, South China Sea

Today’s links begin with an exhausting-sounding investigation from a team of Bloomberg reporters into relatives of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to become the country’s top leader this fall. Sometimes through assumed names, holding companies, and other tactics, many of Xi’s relations have significant business and real estate holdings. [READ THE STORY]

China’s “outward direct investment” (ODI) is a “game changer,” says Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs. Peking University’s Yiping Huang adds details:

So China is leveraging its ODI to buy natural resources, acquire strategic assets, and set up companies that will facilitate exports. “The single focus of all these activities is to strengthen and improve the competitiveness of [their] factories at home,” he says.

Huang calls this the “Chinese model” of ODI but says it is hardly unique to China. Other rapidly developing economies, such as Korea and Brazil, are pursuing similar strategies, but those countries’ outside initiatives have been overshadowed by China’s massive capital resources, he says. “The difference between China and Korea is that Korea is a small country,” Huang says. [FULL STORY]

There might be a big, non-resource investment coming up: China Development Bank is looking at a $1.7 billion tie-up with a San Francisco real estate developer.

The South China Sea is still keeping things interesting.

  • Philippine officials said their planes spotted Chinese fishing ships back in the area surrounding the disputed Scarborough Shoal on Monday.
  • On Wednesday, a new spat between China and Vietnam over oil exploration in the disputed Paracel Islands added to the recent bilateral dust-up that has seen Vietnam passing a law supporting its claim to the islands and China upgrading the administrative status of three of the islands.

    China National Offshore Oil Corp. said it was offering a new batch of oil-exploration blocks inside the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone granted to Vietnam under the United Nations’ Law of the Sea.

    Vietnam’s government quickly objected, saying the Chinese state oil firm was moving into its territorial waters. On Wednesday, state-run Vietnam Oil & Gas, or PetroVietnam, weighed in, showing how territorial claims in the sea are increasingly being backed up by powerful companies in addition to rival governments, and potentially adding new sources of tension to the conflict. [FULL STORY]

  • On Thursday, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said China is considering setting up a military unit in “Sansha city,” the newly created prefecture-level body that encompasses three islands also claimed by Vietnam. [China Daily report]
  • The official also said China is sending combat-ready patrols to the Spratly Islands.
  • July 2–10, the United States and the Philippines are planning joint military exercises in the South China Sea.

Speaking at a CSIS conference Wednesday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said the United States wants to work with China on the South China Sea, according to a press report. From the video: “We will have areas of difference, we will have areas where we compete… we want to build a strong, durable partnership with China that works for everyone” to build peace in Southeast Asia.

Daily Update, June 26, 2012

  • How to Defuse South China Sea Conflicts –Taylor Fravel in WSJ
    To neutralize such standoffs, the focus should first be on reducing proximate causes. For example, even though it would not address the underlying dispute, a joint or multilateral fishing agreement could remove one major source of friction in the South China Sea. …

    Finally, Scarborough shows us how Washington handles these disputes. The Obama administration walked a fine line between supporting its ally and maintaining neutrality (as it repeatedly emphasized) in the sovereignty debate. The U.S. pledged to honor the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines but didn’t specify whether the treaty covered the shoal. Washington urged the claimants to pursue their claims peacefully while quietly supporting the drafting of a broader and more robust code of conduct for preventing future confrontations.

  • China, U.S. Sign $3.4 Billion in Deals – WSJ.com
    “Companies from China and the U.S. on Saturday signed a total of $3.4 billion in bilateral investment projects.” Present at The U.S.-China Cities Forum on Economic Cooperation and Investment in Nanjing: Chinese finance minister Xie Xuren, Asst. U.S. Treasury Secretary Marisa Lago. “They signed contracts on 42 bilateral investment projects in areas including manufacturing, new energy, property, logistics and entertainment.”
  • China urges Philippines not to exacerbate South China Sea situation
    Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remark at a regular press briefing while commenting on the establishment of a Philippine kindergarten on Zhongye Island in the South China Sea.
  • Aquino says government to support Recto Bank gas exploration
  • North Korea Tests the Patience of Its Ally, China – NYTimes.com
  • China urges ASEAN to be independent – Xinhua | English.news.cn
  • U.S. submarine in Philippines for resupply
    MANILA: The US embassy on Monday reported that another American nuclear-powered fast attack submarine docked in the Philippines amid reports of the ramming by a Chinese vessel of a Filipino fishing boat that killed a crewman at the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
  • China sends patrol ships to South China Sea
    ABOARD HAIJIAN 83, June 26 (Xinhua) — A patrol team consisting of four China Marine Surveillance (CMS) ships on Tuesday sailed from south China’s coastal city of Sanya to the South China Sea to conduct regular patrols.