China: Sharing Is Forbidden

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July 7, 2010: Officially, China will not criticize North Korea for having one of its subs torpedo a South Korean corvette four months ago. China, is, however, very unhappy about this sort of reckless behavior. So China recently allowed a magazine to publish (on paper and the web) an article agreeing with the widely held view that Russia and North Korea were responsible for starting the Korean war (when the north invaded the south) sixty years ago. For decades, it was communist doctrine that South Korea had invaded first. But Russian documents made public in the early 1990s revealed that Russia and North Korea had planned the war (which Russia ordered). As soon as the Chinese article got some media attention, the government officially recalled it, and insisted that this business about Russia and North Korea starting the war was all a lie. But the message to North Korea was clear. China's patience with North Korea's misbehavior was wearing out.

Chinese troops in Tibet are suffering from altitude sickness. Most of Tibet is high enough (3-4,000 meters/2-3 miles) to cause altitude sickness (shortness of breath, inability to sleep), especially for those who physically exert themselves. This includes soldiers. Researchers recently discovered that most Tibetans evolved in the last 3-6,000 years, and have genes that make them resistant to altitude sickness. Most Chinese soldiers lack those genes, and this limits what the troops can do. The military is spending a lot of time, effort and money trying to solve this problem. There are not enough trustworthy Tibetans to replace the sick Han soldiers from the lowlands. Most Tibetans hate the Han Chinese, which is why there are Chinese troops in Tibet. But not a lot of them are stationed there permanently. Instead, China has built more roads, and a railroad, into Tibet, making it easier to quickly move troops in to deal with any unrest.

July 5, 2010: The Chinese navy held live fire exercises in the Yellow Sea (the area between China and North Korea), apparently to protest U.S./South Korean naval exercises in the same general area. The last time China held live fire exercises up here was in 1996.

A Chinese court sentenced a U.S. citizen, geologist Xue Feng, to eight years in jail for selling a database of material on the Chinese oil industry, to an American consulting firm. China insisted the data was a state secret, although the data was freely passed around before Xue Feng was arrested three years ago. The Chinese government, like most communist dictatorships, is very touchy about information, and just about everything about China can be declared a state secret. Sending Xue Feng to jail is meant as a reminder to everyone.

July 4, 2010:  A Chinese destroyer and frigate, moving through international waters,  passed Okinawa,  headed east. This is the second time this year that Chinese warships have been spotted doing this. These two sightings are believed directed more at Vietnam, which has been using fishing boats to confront Chinese patrol boats found in the vicinity of disputed islands. But China is increasing the time its ships spend on the high seas. This can be seen by the use of four month tours on the anti-piracy patrol off Somalia. The sixth batch of ships recent departed. The Chinese considers this patrol duty as an excellent training exercise.

June 26, 2010:  The 2.3 million members of the Chinese military were banned from writing blogs, maintaining personnel web pages, using social media or dealing with anyone they didn't know on the web. This is part of an effort to stem the flow of military information via the web. Over the last decade, the Internet, cell phones (and cell phone cameras) have destroyed the tight secrecy China had long maintained around its military. China wants its secrecy back, but that is probably a futile exercise, and the effort to do so hurts troop morale a lot.

June 25, 2010: After nine years of investigation and prosecution, a court acquitted six former Taiwanese naval officers of bribery charges. This was part of an investigation into the payment of bribes to insure that a French firm got a contract to build six frigates for Taiwan. These were built in the early 1990s, but a navy officer was murdered in 1993, and many believed it was to prevent the exposure of the corruption. The chief suspect fled the country, and remains at large. But $520 million, the bulk of the bribe money, was found in a Swiss bank, and frozen until the missing Mr. Wang can be arrested and tried.

June 24, 2010: In western China, police arrested a dozen or so men they said were responsible for several terror attacks (and at least ten deaths) over the last few years. Three of those arrested were from a group of twenty Turkic Uighurs who had fled China, but were arrested in Cambodia and returned to China recently. Many of the eight million Uighurs in western China are hostile to the Han majority, and the growing number of Han migrants.

June 21, 2010: Despite a $930 reward, the Taiwanese navy has still not recovered a practice torpedo one of its submarines lost during training exercise ten days ago. The torpedo remained attached to the sub, via a cable, after it was fired. But the cable unexpectedly broke. It was hoped that the reward would encourage fishermen, and other mariners, to be on the lookout for the missing torpedo (which is worth a lot more than $930.)

June 20, 2010: After years of pressure from major trading partners, China has agreed to allow its currency (the yuan) to be freely bought and sold. This means that the international value of the yuan will more accurately reflect the state of the Chinese economy (which has been growing nearly ten percent a year for over two decades). By letting the yuan "float", the cost of Chinese exports will go up (reducing demand somewhat), while Chinese will be able to buy foreign goods for less.

 

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