November 28, 2009:
Chinese and Taiwanese businessmen want closer economic ties between the two countries. But Taiwanese politicians want China to remove some of the weapons (especially over a thousand ballistic missiles aimed at the island) massed on the coast opposite Taiwan. China talks about removing some of these forces, but so far has done nothing. China believes that, if they wait long enough, Taiwan will be theirs.
For the last year, China has maintained a force of two warships (and one or two support ships) off the Somali coast. There primary mission has been to safeguard Chinese owned commercial shipping, but about 30 percent of the ships escorted were foreign. The Chinese crews have gained valuable experience with distant, and lengthy, deployments (which the U.S. has been doing for decades, as have some other Western navies). Chinese commanders have also been able to work with, and meet, many foreign counterparts, providing useful insights into how other navies operate.
Chinese leaders are encouraged by the success of their propaganda campaign, inside and outside China, against India (and increasing support for Indian foe, and Chinese weapons customer, Pakistan). Begun three years ago, when India and the U.S. began getting really cozy, China has found that most U.S. leaders are more concerned out offending police-state China, than worlds-largest-democracy India. So China continues to pressure India, while using diplomatic pressure to prevent the U.S. from aiding India or, for example, exporting certain weapons (like new F-16s) to Taiwan. China is feeling the power.
Chinese now comprise 14.6 percent of the 672,000 foreign students studying in American universities. Many of these students stay and work in the U.S. after they graduate, helping to keep the United States at the forefront of technology and the largest economy on the planet.
Taiwan has the lowest birth rate (1.05 children per woman) in the world. You need 2.1 to maintain your population. Half a century ago, the Taiwanese birth rate was over 6, but in the 1980s, it fell below 2.1, and kept going. This is a side effect of affluence. Wealthier families have fewer children. Its happening in China as well, but in a different pattern. Last year, China passed Germany to become the third largest economy on the planet (after the U.S. and Japan). Currently, the U.S. has a GDP of $13.8 trillion, Japan $4.4 trillion, China, $3.5 trillion and Taiwan $700 billion. The per-capita share of that GDP varies greatly, since the U.S. has 302 million population, China 1,300 million, Japan 127 million and Taiwan 23 million. Thus the average Japanese generates more than ten times the GDP as the average Chinese, and the average Taiwanese, more than six times.
Thirty years of constant, nearly ten percent a year, economic growth have turned China into an economic superpower, at least in terms of national GDP. The problem is that there are two Chinas. About twenty percent of the population are enjoying most of this growth. They mainly live along the coast, where a recent survey found, to no one's surprise, that 80 percent of the coastal waters were polluted by several decades of sharp economic and industrial growth. But the interior is poor, and angry. In other words, you've got about 300 million people doing quite well, and another billion that are not happy with the situation at all. Moreover, the one child policy (that prevented China's population from spiraling out of control over the last few decades) means that there will be too many old people and too few workers in another decade. Both Taiwan and China have population problems.
China is considered to be in the lead when it comes to developing and stockpiling Cyber War weapons (software and knowledge of other nations networks and weaknesses). That's the consensus of Cyber War experts willing to speak publically. Second is believed to be the United States, followed by (in no particular order) France, Israel and Russia.
November 24, 2009: China has executed two business executives most responsible for the tainted milk scandal last year (300,000 children became ill and at least six died.) This was big news (far bigger than the government was comfortable with), and the response was the arrest and prosecution of 21 businessmen and women. Most were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms. The government was more lenient with officials who were supposed to be watching over food safety.
November 21, 2009: In the northeast, a gas explosion in a coal mine killed at least 91 miners. China is a major producer of coal, but its safety standards are low. Last year, over 3,000 miners were killed in accidents. The annual miner deaths have fallen by half in the last seven years, largely because of the big accidents that attract a lot of international media attention. Before the Internet, the government could hide knowledge of these big disasters from most Chinese. But with all those hundreds of millions of cell phone and Internet users, such news management is a thing of the past, never to return. So mine safety has become a national mania. To that end, mine rescue units have been expanded and given better equipment and training. The rescue units are featured prominently in the government controlled media, to provide some positive spin in these tragic situations.
November 18, 2009: The U.S. has agreed to allow closer technical cooperation with Chinese firms manufacturing the new, Chinese designed and built, ARJ21 airliner. This twin jet regional transport carries up to a hundred passengers for up to 3,000 kilometers. About half the ARJ21 components come from American manufacturers. China is eager to master all aspects of manufacturing commercial, and military, aircraft. Assistance from the United States is essential to rapidly achieving these skills.
November 15, 2009: The new Chinese Air Force acrobatic team made its debut, equipped with Chinese designed J-10 jet fighters.