Monday, April 18, 2005

More noise on the streets in China!

Stumbled in from playing golf with Harumi yesterday evening, to turn on NHK and get the latest tally on the "impassioned student" demonstrations in China. Seems now that there were demonstrations in Tianjin, Shanghai, two northern cities that I cannot make out the names of ( This was based on the front page headline of the Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese paper. Japanese folks use the Chinese kanji for the names, but the pronuciations are different than their Mandarin meanings......I can never keep it straight.) However it seems Shanghai and Tianjin had the biggest demonstrations.

Amazingly enough the planned riot in Bejing was canceled. According to the Washington Post:

"The decision to keep Beijing calm showed Chinese authorities wanted to calibrate the popular rage against Japan that has boiled into angry protests over the last two weeks, lest it slip out of control and further poison the atmosphere. Japanese and Chinese leaders also called for restraint as the Japanese foreign minister, Nobutaka Machimura, scheduled two days of talks here Sunday and Monday aimed at bringing under control what has become a crisis in relations between Beijing and Tokyo. "

I am going to say it again, the masters in Beijing are up to something. The timing of this little rash of noise is highly suspect IMHO. One would have thought that the Chinese would be seeking to tone things down a bit after passing the anti secession law. Nope, not our boys in Beijing, they seem to have a different idea. I am still wondering what they really hope to gain by this series of events. As the Peking Duck points out:

"I just want to pose the simple question(s): Has China derived any benefit from this exercise? Has it improved its standing in the world in any way? Are the world leaders impressed or are they upset by what they see? Is this likely to encourage new investment in China or scare it away? Is this a sign of continued political maturity and wisdom or of a descent into raw emotionalism?"

The Duck then goes on to voice the opinion that the leadership of the Communist Party may be playing with fire, e.g. that they are content with demonstrations that divert attention from the Party and its (mis)rule of China. However as is wont to happen these types of things can take on a life of their own, which would "scare them "s**tless". Maybe, but they know they can simply call out the tanks again if that happens.

My theory is that Beijing is happy if they can keep the heat on Japan, they can keep the heat off of Beijing. Its the old first law of thermodynamics. After all there are some things coming due that will impact China and the US and Japan. For one thing, the Bush administration intends to turn up the heat on China to devalue its currency. Also the G7 meetings are coming up, at which will resurface the irritation of the European members of the G-7, who blame the United States and the Pacific Rim for the magnitude of current global imbalances.

Now add to that the fact that summer is approaching soon, and the Chinese traditionally trot out the Peoples Liberation Army for "exercises". After this years party Congress they are going to want to make a show of how they believe they can kick Taiwan's ass if it came to a military showdown.

And finally China could just be paranoid. Was Willy Lam points out "Having apparently steadied the course in the Middle East, the Bush administration is turning to Asia to tame its long-standing "strategic competitor." I'm not so sure the course in the Middle East has been "steadied", but China and by adjunct N. Korea are still well in the view screen . There is still this annoying little problem of Kim Jong Il, missiles and nukes, all within range of my little domicile in Tokyo.........

The next few months should be interesting to say the least.


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