Jan 02

Xinhua: “China-ASEAN free trade area starts operation”

Written by dewang on Saturday, January 2nd, 2010 at 12:41 am
Filed under:-mini-posts, Asian Union, economy |
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When I started following the China-ASEAN free trade agreement few years ago, I knew they were on an accelerated pace, and I knew this day would come. This is such an awesome start for 2010! I have no doubt ASEAN+China will eventually extend to ASEAN+China+Japan+Korea. Here is Xinhua’s report, “China-ASEAN free trade area starts operation“:

NANNING: China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) kicked off the world’s largest free trade area (FTA) embracing developing countries Friday as businessmen and trucks loaded with vegetables and fruits thronged border markets.

Dozens of trucks, mostly carrying dragonfruit from Vietnam, were waiting to be unloaded Friday morning at the Tianyuan Fruit Trade Market, one of China’s largest market for fruit import, at the Pingxiang Port in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

“The establishment of the free trade area is really good news for me,” said Liu Yuzhen, who has been trading fruits for 16 years. She now sells more than 10 tonnes of apples, pears, oranges and other fruits to southeast Asia every day, and hopes her business will expand as the FTA will facilitate the customs clearance and reduce the logistics cost.

The China-ASEAN FTA covers a population of 1 billion and involves about $450 million of trade volume.

The average tariff on goods from the ASEAN countries is cut down to 0.1 percent from 9.8 percent. The six original ASEAN members, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, will slash the average tariff on Chinese goods from 12.8 percent to 0.6 percent.

By 2015, the policy of zero-tariff rate for 90 percent of traded goods is expected to extend between China and four new ASEAN members, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Vice Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said earlier the establishment of the FTA will promote the regional economic integration, benefiting companies and consumers.

China and the ASEAN launched their cooperation dialogue in 1991 and signed the China-ASEAN Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Cooperation in 2002.

There are currently 2 comments highlighted: 57917, 58111.

65 Responses to “Xinhua: “China-ASEAN free trade area starts operation””

  1. Charles Liu Says:

    Well, is this a good deal for China? China AFAIK is a net importer with it’s ASEAN neighbors. How about political issues relating to economic integration?

    Not sure if any of the pro/con arguments for NAFTA applies here.

  2. dewang Says:

    Hi Charles,

    Fair questions. Just some thoughts in general:

    My view is in the very long run, everyone in every country ought to find some type of meaningful work to add to the over-all equation. The sooner they get there the better. And a completely free trade zone in Asia helps Asia get there quicker. If barriers are unnaturally allowed (i.e. tariffs and taxes at the whim of individual nation politics), that only perpetuates conflicts.

    I think China help pulling other Asian countries along is a great thing. I think the disparity in North America, for example, between U.S. and Mexico is unhealthy.

  3. hzzz Says:

    I remember the new Japanese PM’s first Op-Ed on the NYTimes last year. The idea was to form an Asian Union with China and Japan at the helm like that of the EU to counter the influence of the Western powers. Of course, Hatoyama had to “clarify” his view after people criticized his piece. But this just goes to show that at least some major leaders are okay with this idea.

    I was doing some reading about Taiwan politics (specially Taiwan’s Go South policy) last year and was reading articles about the relationship between China and its SE Asian neighbors. My impression is that the ASEAN nations feel threatened by China not only militarily but also economically. I remember this one article about the decline of the Malaysian metal processing company which makes nails, how they have successfully for years against korean/japanese companies but now are losing to the Chinese industry. ASEAN companies feel that the China is simply too competitive and wants more trade restrictions against China. I think alot of this has to do with the Chinese government’s unwritten 8% GDP Growth policy, which comes with all sorts of currency manipulations and price undercutting.

    But at the end of the day, consumer wins I guess.

  4. Charles Liu Says:

    Dewang, “I think China help pulling other Asian countries along is a great thing.”

    Allow me to play the devil’s advocate for a moment – I seriousely doubt altruism is the driving factor. Is there any concern voiced similiar to NAFTA critics?

    Or perhaps political relationship is part of this economic pact. After all China is entitled to influence its ASEAN neighbors – as much if not more so, than anyone else.

  5. FOARP Says:

    Wow, the vacuousness of Charles Liu exposed in the very first comment:

    1) Talking about the US (the only country he really knows) even when it is irrelevant.

    2) Using a search engine link (why?) to prove . . . . well, something I guess.

    3) Seemingly little point to make apart from this.

  6. dewang Says:

    Hi hzzz, #3,

    The E.U. was formed out of this simple lesson that the Europeans almost destroyed each other two times in the last century. So, it’s not without precedent that the Asians have the same desire. The U.S. would naturally have the same concerns about an Asian Union as they did the E.U.. Nevertheless EU happened, and I think an Asian Union will happen.

    ASEAN was formed mainly to balance a too strong economy either in Japan, China, etc.. Now that they are a block, they are indeed leveraging that. One of the fruits of that is this FTA between ASEAN and China. Like I said, FTA of ASEAN+3 is inevitable.

    On currency manipulations, you are wrong. I think you ought to check out Allen’s recent article:
    “Making Sense of the Dollar and Yuan”

    “ASEAN companies feel that the China is simply too competitive and wants more trade restrictions against China.”

    As a means to protect vulnerable industries in the short term, that’s fine. In the long run, it only perpetuates inefficient industries, and everybody knows that hurts even more.

    Hi Charles, #4

    China wanting to play a responsible leadership role in Asia is very natural, and that’s not being altruistic. You are right there are segments of the Chinese population who oppose the free trade in Asia just as some in the U.S. who oppose NAFTA.

    I think the priority is the economic relationship right now and pragmatic stuff. When the region is more integrated, trust between member countries will increase. That will help tackle other more thorny issues.

    So I think politics can wait. Shortly after the Sichuan earthquake, Japan announced an initiative to help build a regional fund/committee to help coordinate Asian countries during time of crisis to help each other. I thought that’s very pragmatic. That formalizes relationships between the Asian countries. A lot can be done without the politics.

    Hi FOARP, #5
    Can you stop attacking? Why are his comments not valid?

  7. Rhan Says:

    “Our country will be full of China products, China cars, China clothings, China people and we have to speak Chinese. This is a serious threat of our 1 Malaysia spirit.”

    Though a sarcastic remark from a Malaysia blog due to our country unique races composition, it did indicate the wary of some Asean towards China.

  8. Chops Says:

    Excerpt from http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1147099&lang=eng_news

    “The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou is making every effort to promote a planned economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China. The administration claims that if the agreement is not signed, now that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China has been put into effect, Taiwan’s products will lose competitiveness and the nation will be marginalized.

    The ASEAN plus one began Jan. 1. But only a few of the 10 ASEAN members have welcomed the formation of the world’s third-largest free trade block, while most have expressed concern.

    This is because after the tariffs are cut to zero, China stands to benefit most as its cheap commodities will overwhelm ASEAN countries.

    The industrial structures of the nations in ASEAN are similar, and the sectors in which they enjoy an edge are textiles, garments, petrochemicals, steel and electronics. These products, which are low-end and labor-intensive, are easily replaced.

    As China adopts subsidies, provides incentives and manipulates its currency, if the tariffs are reduced to zero, ASEAN countries will have difficulty resisting the dumping of cheap Chinese products.

    While ASEAN plus China is not a boon, then an ECFA with China is definitely a poison for Taiwan. If Taiwan signs the agreement, it will face the same dire consequences as ASEAN. Its sensitive industries will be destroyed and unemployment will soar.”

  9. TonyP4 Says:

    China and S.E. Asians are perfect partners – producing goods each side wants and cannot produce cheaply by themselves. They both benefit. The losers are Japan, Korea, India… who cannot compete with China now due to the tariff.

    When Japan, Korea, India join in, the losers would be EU and USA.

    The world should have no tariff among ALL countries, and let the country produce the best products at the best prices win.

  10. dewang Says:

    Hi Rhan, #7,

    I have been to Penang numerous times, and I have learned about the tension between the Malays, the Indians, and the Chinese. About countries weary of each other – just pick any 2 neighboring countries on this planet. 🙂

    Hi Chops, #8,

    That article is just ignorant.

    The people who are religiously talking about currency manipulation are plainly wrong and ignorant. With respect to ASEAN, recall the late 90’s Asian currency crisis? If China had “manipulated” her currency, she would have devalued the RMB. But she didn’t to help stop the complete collapse of the currencies of the ASEAN countries.

    What do you think happens when a country prints more currency? What do you think happens when a country changes its interest rate? Currency “manipulation” is done by every country as a tool to manage its own economy. Here is a question you should look into answering for yourself: why can’t a country simply secretly print its way out of debt without consequences to its own citizens?

    If the ASEAN+China FTA and later on with Korea and Japan are blocked, how do you expect ASEAN countries to fully participate in the WTO?

    ASEAN countries would prefer to form a FTA just within the ASEAN countries? That’d be absurd. I thought Malaysia and Singapore are weary of each other, even more so than with China – if you follow Rhan’s logic. So no FTA within ASEAN then?

    Should Taiwan be a little island on its own? But this discussion is really moot, isn’t it, because the leaders of ASEAN have indeed made the FTA treaties.

    Btw, the initial ASEAN countries starting this FTA are: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.


    Hi TonyP4, #9,

    That’s right. WTO and EU are examples of where the world is heading – generally zero tariff.

  11. TonyP4 Says:

    IBD on China 2010:

    Mighty China

    9. China’s economic recovery has played a big role in lifting the rest of the world out of the recession. The Middle Kingdom could return to double-digit GDP growth in 2010 while the U.S. and Europe muster meager recoveries that barely make a dent in unemployment. The recent crisis accelerates the looming changing of the guard. While it will be a few decades before China becomes the world’s No. 1 economy, it’s already the No. 1 market for cars. Many of the best-performing U.S.-listed stocks are Chinese firms or depend heavily on Chinese sales.

    Some are concerned that massive government stimulus and state-run bank lending are creating asset bubbles there, especially in real estate. Trouble in China would threaten a fragile global recovery.

    Meanwhile, with that money comes political power. There’s more talk of a bipolar G-2 world of the U.S. and China. China continues to expand its influence in East Asia and globally. Its state-owned companies are quite willing to embrace regimes in Iran, Burma, Sudan and many sub-Saharan nations without those pesky Western concerns about human rights.

    With the U.S. depending on China to continue financing its massive deficit, the Obama administration has muted its concerns about Tibet and political freedom. Instead, China lectures the U.S. on its economic system and budget woes.

    China will play a key role regarding Iran, North Korea and climate talks. Notably, when Obama sought to salvage an agreement from the Copenhagen climate talks, he met with the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa — not Europe.

    I believe China passed Germany as #1 in export and very close or passed Japan as #2 economy. However, the one really counts is living standard of an average citizen – roughly measured by adjusted GDP per capita. It will not catch up with US but they’ve gone a long, long way in last 30 years.

  12. Dragan Says:

    Hi, I’ll join discussion if you do not mind….

    #3 hzzz, #6 dewang

    Yes indeed, there is more and more talk on East Asian Community, with China and Japan playing the roles basically corresponding to Germany and France within EU. But, this can only be very distant future, if at all. It is more likely that economic integration may deepen while political will not be substantially encouraged. The main reason and difference is that ASEAN ( including +3) countries cooperate according to the principles of non-interference and consensus, and that there is not prevailing political concept and culture ( such as democracy in EU) that could facilitate any sort of EU-type coming-together. Second reason is that while EU countries, especially FR and GER, needed each other and other EU countries in order to increase its political independence and importance in international affairs. China certainly does not need that as it is already second only to US. Beijing has no interest in accepting constraints of genuine political union and abiding by rules such an union would have for no gains. Yet fostering good relations with ASEAN, Japan and ROK has multiple benefits for China – more than anything else, it mitigates China threat and woes Asian countries away from US. This is way it is fine with having trade deficit and unilaterally making favorable trading concessions toward ASEAN block.

    In that context we should see Hatoyama’s readiness to join the Asian community. He might have other things on mind too but, more than anything, Japan does not want to lose regional leadership to China. East Asia, as the anticipated political and economic center ( or one of the centers) of the world in the future, is a too big a prize to loose. However the question then is, what then about US-Japan Alliance?

    #11 Tony4

    G2 has been repeatedly refuted by China. It does not fit the bigger framework of Chinese foreign policy strategy based on multi-lateralism and multi-polarity. Some Chinese scholars also see US’ wish to keep China in check through G2 mechanisms as being really behind Washington’s initiative, with the potential to destabilize her relations with third-world/global-south countries and other powerful players such as EU and Russia.
    It is quite interesting that US publicly proposed G2 to China as it annoyed Washington’s long-term allies like Japan and EU, that for decades have been enjoying benefits of being America’s best buddies. To that, when China rejection was most likely outcome, is either an ultimate example of bad judgment, or part of some other grand plan…

  13. Chops Says:

    Re: “ASEAN+China will eventually extend to ASEAN+China+Japan+Korea”

    Even Japan’s Prime Minister Hatoyama, proposed the formation of East Asian Community, when meeting Chinese Premier Wen at the G-20 summit in 2009.


    This could bear an uncanny resemblance to a similar association back in the 1940s, when Japan was the leading power in Asia, it had proposed a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere which “is remembered today largely as a front for the Japanese control of occupied countries during World War II, in which puppet governments manipulated local populations and economies for the benefit of Imperial Japan.”


  14. dewang Says:

    Hi Chops, #13,

    I agree there are still a lot of suspicion towards Japan due to their recent past. So the challenge for Japan is to do things that help the region and become a very responsible member in that community. That is certainly one challenge for them.

  15. dewang Says:

    Hi Dragan, #12,

    Thx for chiming in. Interesting points.

    Regarding the U.S.-Japan relationship – the way I see it is simply Hatoyama shifting Japan’s stance away from the Cold War posture in favor of positioning Japan to be more “normal” both to the U.S. and the Asia region.

    Your G2 idea to TonyP4 – intriguing. Personally, I don’t like to ponder conspiracy theories. Generally I believe the U.S. and China relationship is one that towards normalization. Otherwise a lot of things wouldn’t make sense. For example, the growth in trade and U.S. investment in China. The SED and general expansion of multilateral ties between the two countries.

  16. Dragan Says:

    Hi Dewang #15

    btw, how did my comment get highlighted? is it you who have the magic stick? 🙂

    US-Japan : Probably. But we have to ask what are the interests of Japan in maintaining the close relationship with Washington? Originally, it was to enjoy protection of USA’s nuclear umbrella and increase its security vs its big and communist neighbours China and Russia. As you noticed, cold war is behind us and Russia is passive in far east, yet great power politics also require strong us-japan alliance for both countries to balance against China. Theoretically, If Japan join the “East Asian Community” of substantial type, Tokyo will not need to balance against China. Why alliance of today’s type with US then?

    In addition, just check the name by which imagined Asian block of the future goes: “East Asian Community”: it explicitly excludes non-Asians, as it is geographically and culturally confined to East Asia. Even less so with China being part of it, where geopolitics kicks in as well. Beijing will naturally be a driver behind and leader of any Asian block. That’s where US -alliance becomes burden for Japan in its effort to re-join Asia . While Beijing claims they do not want to push US away from Asian politics, this is hard to believe, and they fear japan might act as Washington’s “proxy”. Ultimately, it has to do with desire of China to maximize her own security by pushing US out of the region.

    So, I’d argue it is a difficult decision for Japan to make re its strategic direction in the future

    Re G2 – I totally agree with you. To develop relations to mutual benefit is of utmost importance to both sides. But disputes arise, and sometimes they are about tyres but sometimes they are about more essential things: maybe territory, or resources. It is then important who has the initiative and power to solve the disputes to own benefit. So US tries to stay ahead in the game by strengthening own position and constraining China. This is then not a conspiracy theory but reality. China, on her behalf, tries to catch-up with US. And it could go on simultaneously with devoted and genuine development of friendly ties.

  17. Dragan Says:

    to supplement discussion:


  18. Steve Says:

    @ Dragan #17: Your comment got caught up in the spam filter so it seems you’re OK sending links via proxy server. If it happens again, one of the editors will find it and approve the comment. Thanks for the link; it’s a good one. My opinion is that Japan and China will move closer to each other while Japan will continue to have strong relations with the United States. I don’t think it’s an “either/or” scenario as media likes to draw up because it makes for a better story. It’s in Japan’s interest to have good relations with both countries, it’s in China’s interest to have good relations with both countries and it’s in the United States’ interest to have good relations with both countries.

    Any editor can highlight a comment in any thread, though they are usually highlighted by the thread author. We do so by using a magic stick. 😉

  19. dewang Says:

    Hi Dragan, #16,

    Admin and us editors all have this magic stick. We do it to bring attention to thoughtful comments.

    Japan of course have to consider a relatively weaker U.S.. Just imagine if the U.S. implodes (it won’t in our life time or never). Japan cannot assume the 50k troops stationed in Japan is a permanent fixture, and that has to be in their calculations.

    Therefore, the most rational thing to do is indeed this Asian Community thing – kind of like the E.U.. That’s a great way to formalize peace for the region. I agree a big shift in strategy is always difficult. It’ll take a lot of leadership on the Japanese government’s part within Japan and within Asia before this community can be formed. China too and other players in the region.

    I said before, the U.S. I am sure had similar reservations about E.U. during its formative years, but nevertheless it happened. Arguably, the Europeans did it against perhaps bigger odds. The E.U. happened even with lots of U.S. troops stationed in Germany as well. 🙂

    I agree with your take “re G2.”

    Hi Steve, #18,

    “I don’t think it’s an “either/or” scenario as media likes to draw up because it makes for a better story.”

    I completely agree here. To me, this is a major failings of capitalistic/free media. It prefers to dumb the population down and polarize them into arbitrary divisions.

  20. Steve Says:

    Hi DeWang~

    I don’t think they do so to dumb down the population, it’s more about getting a more divisive argument which makes for higher ratings. If they debate gun control, they’ll have one person who argues that everyone should be able to have a tank on their front lawn and a bazooka in their garage, while the other person will argue that water pistols should be illegal. (OK, that’s an exaggeration but not by much) So they argue back and forth (or shout at each other if they’re the McLaughlin Group) and believe people actually find this interesting. What’s always surprised me is that more respectable organizations like PBS use this same approach. I think it is intellectually lazy and as you said, it creates a polarized viewpoint. I completely agree with your phrase “arbitrary divisions”. To most in the media, it’s always about the horse race with winners and losers than what is actually being said and done. The latest reporting on health care illustrates this perfectly. No one wants to actually investigate what is in the bill and how it will affect normal people, all they care about is having each political side trash the other and make exaggerated claims that aren’t accurate.

    I’ve also felt that China and the United States are natural allies rather than enemies. I wasn’t impressed with Bush’s neo-con people and their approach but that philosophy seems to be in retreat these days. I think there’s still some animosity and distrust on both sides that’s left over from the bad old days, but I’d expect that to fade over time as both countries come to know and adjust to each other. Right now I think they still talk past each other a lot without really hearing what the other is saying.

    Countries do what is in their best interests, or at least what governments think are in their best interests. It can certainly be in a country’s best interest to get along with its allies as well as with its neighbors. Japan probably feels this approach is best for their country and their future interests.

  21. S.K.Cheung Says:

    “So they argue back and forth (or shout at each other if they’re the McLaughlin Group) and believe people actually find this interesting. What’s always surprised me is that more respectable organizations like PBS use this same approach.” — that’s so true. Maybe Jon Stewart needs to go on tour and visit every one of those shows, and do unto them as he did to Crossfire. That was classic.

    Even shows I enjoyed, like Meet the Press (may Russert RIP) often had the Dems vs GOP angle. However, the part I liked best was Russert asking probing questions that made the talking heads squirm and look foolish, regardless of political stripe. Used to be a good way to start a Sunday.

    “It prefers to dumb the population down and polarize them into arbitrary divisions.” — this would seemingly assume that the population (or the individuals therein) have no opinion of their own, and are malleable to the point of acquiring one of the two polar opposite positions on offer. To me, you watch one of those shows to hear some opinions, but it hardly means you are compelled or obligated to take them as your own. If you’re looking to the media to acquire and duplicate someone else’s opinion, that is less a failing of the media, and more a failing of the individual.

  22. dewang Says:

    Hi Steve, #20, S.K. Cheung, #21,

    The average American does not know about the Opium Wars. They know about the Hong Kong hand-over of 1997. It was a perfect chance for the U.S. media to educate the Americans about that egregious past, yet the polarizing capitalistic/free media focused on Hong Kong’s demise under the hands of the Chinese government.

    That’s a complete dumbing down of the American public.

    On this point, no, the American public wasn’t smart enough to “seek out opinion” elsewhere to get the right picture on their own.

    I’d say, rinse and repeat on this theme with other issues.

  23. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “The average American does not know about the Opium Wars.” — that’s almost certainly true. So too that the average citizen of any given nation probably doesn’t know much about what happened in another country over 99 years ago.

    “It was a perfect chance for the U.S. media to educate the Americans about that egregious past” — if someone deemed such education to be necessary. I guess they didn’t. However, for those Americans who felt so compelled, there was no impediment to them finding out everything they wanted to know about the Opium Wars to their hearts’ content. And they wouldn’t have even needed proxy servers.

    “the American public wasn’t smart enough to “seek out opinion” elsewhere to get the right picture on their own.” — the “right” picture? Hmmm….”right” picture to whom? If they got their fill of the Opium War, you think they would have been pleased about 1997? I’m guessing not so much.

    But if your picture is the “right” picture, and everything else represents varying degrees of “wrong-ness”, I can see how you would think the media has failed you.

  24. dewang Says:

    The “right” picture means the Americans should see the world truthfully so that Americans do not unnecessarily see someone else so badly. The media hiding truth (ok, skipping truth) to help smear another party – that in itself is a grand polarization which is harmful to peace and stability of this world. Don’t you think?

    Btw, I think this is a major source of tension between the U.S. and the world at large – Americans do not see a clear picture of this world – and that’s the failing of the capitalistic/free media.

    I agree with you – if everyone is not lazy and are enlightened to not accept others viewpoints verbatim, then that’d minimize the effects of this polarizing. I’ve just given an example where people don’t do that.

  25. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “The media hiding truth (ok, skipping truth) to help smear another party” — I’m not seeing the connection between “the media” not focusing on the Opium Wars, and some mischaracterization of HK sentiment in the lead-up to 1997 for the effect of “smearing” China. Britain’s “lease” of HK was up. That the “lease” resulted from things that happened in the 19th century doesn’t make the repatriation any worse, nor does it soften the blow. Not to mention that the regime in place at the time of the lease was not the same as the one at the time of expiration. And I think any distaste for 1997 arose because of who HK was going to, and the details about from whom/why/how HK had come to be a British colony in the first place probably wouldn’t have made much difference.

    “Americans do not see a clear picture of this world” – there does seem to be that perception. For some Americans, probably justifiably so.

    “I’ve just given an example where people don’t do that.”— But as I said, “that is less a failing of the media, and more a failing of the individual.”

    I think the cream of the American crop is at least the equal of anything in the world. But it’s a long way down to the bottom of the barrel.

  26. dewang Says:

    “And I think any distaste for 1997 arose because of who HK was going to, and the details about from whom/why/how HK had come to be a British colony in the first place probably wouldn’t have made much difference.”

    This is precisely what I am talking about. For the segment of American population having this “distaste” for the return of Hong Kong to China – their distaste would be lot milder if they knew about the Opium Wars. The polarizing perspective that Hong Kong is going back to China for gloom and doom would be a lot weaker.

    The British are also automatically given a boost in their position (whatever American’s support there were) about the Hong Kong hand-over due to the lack of truth about the Opium Wars.

    S.K. Cheung – make your reply count. No more from me on this. We have diverged far enough down this side-topic in this thread.

  27. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “their distaste would be lot milder if they knew about the Opium Wars.” — yes, I gather that is your “opinion”.

    And this was my “opinion”: (“arose because of who HK was going to, and the details about from whom/why/how HK had come to be a British colony in the first place probably wouldn’t have made much difference.”) In other words, the distaste was from what China was in 1997, and didn’t matter so much what China was in 1898. If China was still some dynasty and not run by the CCP, my guess is there would’ve been less hand-wringing.

    Now, since we’re offering opinions, is it no longer acceptable to offer mine if it contradicts yours? What’s the metric for making a reply count? Incidentally, Britain’s “position” was that HK was going back to China in 1997. I’m not sure how such a position could’ve been “boosted”, by Americans no less.

    As for this being a side-topic, it is one you introduced in #22.

  28. Steve Says:

    @ DeWang & SKC: I think it depends on the person, whether in America, China, Canada, etc. I agree with DeWang that the vast majority of Americans don’t know anything about the Opium Wars but I’d also gather that the vast majority of Chinese don’t know anything about the American Indian wars or their current conditions, as is so often illustrated on this blog. 😛

    People who are interested can learn just about anything they want if they look for it. Of course, that’s much easier if the sources are accurate but that’s not always the case. If a media outlet skewers a story so it is more controversial and gets higher ratings (and thereby more profit), that news outlet will continue to do so. TV news shows were all about prestige in the past; they always lost money so the networks gave them small budgets but, and this is the important thing, they could actually report in depth on real stories. That changed with the introduction of 60 Minutes, the first news show that made big profits, blurred the line between news and entertainment and featured the reporter as celebrity who barely knew who he was interviewing since a team of producers and researchers, rather than the reporter himself, had done all the legwork. After that, news departments had to make money and from there the cheapening of the news began and soon the blurring across all lines of news and entertainment.

    Though the actual viewership at FOX News is rather small, the network is incredibly profitable, more profitable than CNN, MSNBC and CSPAN combined. It’s not news but it makes money. And in that respect I agree with DeWang that it “dumbs down” its audience. Of course, the audience chooses to watch those particular shows, just as the majority of people anywhere in the world prefer the “easy” news rather than taking the time to learn more about the story.

    Everyone sees a picture of the world after they pass the information through their own cultural myths and information sources. The most “objective” people garner their information through many news sources, and not all from one country or culture, though over time many become cynical about the world or about media in general when they do this because the societal myths don’t agree. It’s confusing.

    For instance, if we talk about the Opium Wars, the Chinese myth seems to put 100% of the blame on England. England supplied the opium so for that they are guilty, guilty, guilty. We’re all agreed on that. But what about the development of the internal markets in China? That was all done by Chinese. The importers, the distributors, the creators of opium dens, the opium users, all Chinese. The mandarins demanded and were paid huge bribes to look the other way while opium was distributed. They made fortunes! That part doesn’t fit the myth quite as well. It is not different from the current drug problem in the States. The drugs come from Mexico, Colombia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Bolivia, etc but the importation, distribution and use is all American. To blame the entire problem on foreign sources doesn’t paint an accurate picture.

    The big difference in the Opium Wars was the direct involvement of the British government when the Qing ruler and his able administrator severely restricted the trade. That act was immoral; no other word for it. That part fits the cultural myth so it gets emphasized. All cultures do this but it also makes it difficult for different cultures to understand each other.

    Clarification: I’m not using the word “myth” as something fictional. A myth in the true sense is based on interpretation of certain truths and values that form the backbone of a culture.

    In the final analysis, the people who wanted to learn the truth were able to do so if they made an effort. Most people couldn’t care less what happened over a hundred years ago, whether in another country or their own. They mostly care about what happened last week and what will happen next week. Their thinking beyond that is usually based on the myths that they are bombarded with from their local media and government.

    DeWang, you wrote “BTW, I think this is a major source of tension between the U.S. and the world at large – Americans do not see a clear picture of this world – and that’s the failing of the capitalistic/free media.”

    I agree with you. I also think that it’s not just confined to the U.S. but affects every country in the world. Everyone’s picture of the world is clouded by their own cultural propaganda. It’s just the way people think and relate, and seems to have been that way since time began.

  29. Dragan Says:

    #19, #20

    Hi Steve, Dewang

    Thanks for using magic stick then 🙂

    I agree with both of you that it is not zero-sum game and that friendly China-US-Japan triangle is possible. I would also like to see strong ( but benevolent) Asian block emerging. Some people say the “consultative model” of six-party talks should be adapted and expanded to whole Asia to create a security framework that would guarantee long-term stability and peace in Asia. But that is not the only line of though out there, and likely not the prevailing one in government and foreign policy circles on all three sides ( it is understood that these people are trained in realist fashin of “minimum risks, maximum security” and “kill or be killed”). As long as there are any hawks or realists on any side it will be difficult for other parties to put the guard down.


    it is interesting point you mentioned about US army in Japan. Some might fear in Beijing that Japan moving away from US will result in Japan’s military build up in order to increase her security vs. growing China, which is even more likely should there be no substantial moves toward “East Asian Community”, and that is not likely as I tried to argue above. Ironically, it is Japan’s alliance with US that benefits China as US keeps Japan’s wish to normalize (read: militarize) and regain the “big power” status (which economically deserves and feels it is entitled to)in check. It is a complicated relationship indeed.

  30. Chops Says:

    Jakarta Asks Asean to Seek a Delay in Part of Its Free-Trade Agreement With Beijing Due to Worries About Competition


  31. dewang Says:

    Hi Steve, #28,

    That’s a great comment, and I think you “get” it on this issue.

    That history is relevant, and here is why:

    The 1997 Hong Kong hand-over was a perfect opportunity to have a little bit of this history told, as Hong Kong was then taken by the Brits as a result of the Opium Wars. That history is relevant even though it was 100 years ago because it justifies it is proper that Hong Kong is returned to China. So my gripe has a lot to do with the media wanting to champion for human rights and against oppression, and yet, the 1997 Hong Kong hand-over clearly showed it is actually duplicitous.

  32. Josef Says:

    @Steve 28: That is very good contribution. I nevertheless would encourage everyone, non-native with less profound knowledge to join discussion, as on one hand you can learn, but on the other you might contribute with a different bias and as such add value.
    I want add one controversial remark, which I share: The history is in the first version written by the winner and sometimes it takes very long time that the real facts return to surface. Now, the U.K. (since Washington) and the U.S. were (nearly) always the winner and therefore the “clouding” you quote might be stronger and more efficient. Take for example the official version of the Opium wars 50 years ago – China was isolated and could not correct. I want to add another example, as FOARP blamed me in the other thread about Ireland: until recently the grate fame was regarded as a natural disaster and only recently facts emerged proving that the Island could have fed its people unless the British owners would not have exported food, despite people starving to death. The Philippine wars or even better the boxer uprising are other example: of course as a winner you can find someone inside your rows with good intentions and use that as a protection. So why is my statement above so controversial? The Japanese could not use the good guy inside the row which fought to free Asia from western colonization (I remember the outcry in foolsmountain on that).
    I want to close that I do not want to start discussions on details the historical events I quoted -I used them just to support my remark.

  33. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “it justifies it is proper that Hong Kong is returned to China.” — the only “justification” required is that HK being returned to China in 1997 was in the original agreement. If it is “proper” for a country to fulfill its obligations under any given agreement, then HK being returned to China was the “proper” thing to do. The media bemoaning to whom HK was being returned was probably at least in part motivated by the human rights and oppression track record of the receiving country’s regime. This does not seem to represent a new POV regarding this regime, both before and since 1997.

    To Josef:
    that sounds about right. To the victor go the spoils, and those spoils sometimes include how history is viewed, or written. And just as countries view their history, good and bad, through their own particular lens, so too, it seems, do individuals.

  34. TonyP4 Says:

    Despite how bad the Britons (with the approval of their Parliament) to push drugs to China as a nation, I actually benefited from it being born in Hong Kong. I could be an uneducated guy destroying our heritage/culture in Canton during the Cultural Revolution.

  35. r v Says:

    “Despite how bad the Britons (with the approval of their Parliament) to push drugs to China as a nation, I actually benefited from it being born in Hong Kong. I could be an uneducated guy destroying our heritage/culture in Canton during the Cultural Revolution.”

    There would be no Cultural Revolution in China, if British Imperialism and British Opium had not started the long chain of destructive events that looted and humiliated China.

    But that’s sort of like we plough your neighborhood over, but we give you a house to live in, so you can watch your homeless neighbors fight over scraps.

    And yes, there are always this kind of “benefits” of living in an militaristic expansionist empire.

    But I would not call such a “benefit”. I would call it a small pay-off, or bribe.

    And I would personally consider it insufficient and insulting. and if HK really did have greater Freedom in British hands, there should have been adequate redress.

    But we note, the British didn’t even allow HK to have the text books discussing the History of British imperialism in China.

  36. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “There would be no Cultural Revolution in China, if British Imperialism and British Opium had not started the long chain of destructive events that looted and humiliated China.” — oh that’s great, CR wasn’t Mao’s doing; it was Britain’s fault. Anything else you wanted to blame other people for?

  37. r v Says:

    Since when did I say CR wasn’t Mao’s doing?

    But who created the situation that would allow Mao to rise to power?

    Oh yes, history is indeed very short in some people’s blame game.

  38. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “But who created the situation that would allow Mao to rise to power?” — that would be the Nationalists being corrupt and not being responsive to the peasants’ grievances, and Chiang’s army being unable to deal with Mao’s guerrilla tactics. Now, what part of your revisionist history were you planning to pin on the Brits?

  39. r v Says:

    Nope, go back a little further to how British acquired HK and what that did to China, that created the chaos and the power vacuum and the untold poverty and famine in China.

    Nationalist corrupt? More like they were unable to deal with the problems that were already there.

  40. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “Nope, go back a little further to how British acquired HK and what that did to China,”— the CR happened because of what happened in the late 1800’s? Like I said, your concepts are “interesting”. And as I asked earlier, what else would you like to blame Britain or other folks for?

  41. r v Says:

    Just what Britain should be responsible for.

    History books are full of them.

    Just go to a British Museum, and look at all the stolen artifacts from all over the world.

    As obvious as facts can be.

  42. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “Just what Britain should be responsible for.” — fair enough. Although even then, one would need to stipulate from who’s perspective one makes such determinations. But I must say, blaming the CR on Britain is a new and good one. I don’t think even the true blue Mao worshipers have come up with that one yet.

  43. r v Says:

    “But I must say, blaming the CR on Britain is a new and good one. I don’t think even the true blue Mao worshipers have come up with that one yet.”

    Shows how much you know about recent Chinese history.

    Yeah, I’m sure that whole CR’s “anti-Capitalist” “anti-Western Imperialist” drive was just for the catchy slogans.

    No, really!? I didn’t realize that Mao’s party got into power in China preaching against the evils of Western imperialist and opium! Duh!

  44. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “CR’s “anti-Capitalist” “anti-Western Imperialist” drive was just for the catchy slogans.” — what else would you expect a bunch of communists to say? And even if Mao himself had attributed his glorious CR to Britain doesn’t make it a compelling argument to others, except maybe to you.

  45. r v Says:

    No, really!? I didn’t realize that Mao’s party got into power in China preaching against the evils of Western imperialist and opium! Duh!

  46. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Does repeating it make it better the second time around? To each his own, as I always say.

  47. r v Says:

    I repeat, because you didn’t read it.

  48. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Then try responding to this: “And even if Mao himself had attributed his glorious CR to Britain doesn’t make it a compelling argument to others”.

  49. r v Says:

    Oh, that must have been my entire argument, for you to define it in its entirety.

    Like I said, you didn’t read it.

  50. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “There would be no Cultural Revolution in China, if British Imperialism and British Opium had not started the long chain of destructive events that looted and humiliated China.”
    — listen, if your argument was more exhaustive and comprehensive than that, I must have missed it. My apologies. Perhaps you would be so kind as to direct my attention to where you had made this expansive and all-inclusive argument in its entirety, so that I may have the pleasure of informing myself thereof.

  51. r v Says:

    I didn’t realize that Mao’s party GOT INTO POWER in China preaching against the evils of Western imperialist and opium. #43, repeated in #45.

    I suppose Mao’s words alone were sufficient to get his party into power, and British didn’t bring opium into China, carve up China, and create the situation that the Nationalists could not recover from?

    Mao’s sentiments against Western Imperialism and Opium must have ONLY started during CR? Or it was there based upon, “REALITY”, from the time of British imperialism and British Opium?

  52. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “I didn’t realize that Mao’s party GOT INTO POWER in China preaching against the evils of Western imperialist and opium.” — am I to understand that your argument revolves around that which you did not realize? Please advise.

    “Mao’s sentiments against Western Imperialism and Opium must have ONLY started during CR? Or it was there based upon, “REALITY”, from the time of British imperialism and British Opium?” (#51)
    —- me, in #41 (“And even if Mao himself had attributed his glorious CR to Britain doesn’t make it a compelling argument to others”).

    You were saying?

  53. r v Says:

    are you ignoring “REALITY” again? When did I isolate my argument on Mao’s attribution to the CR?

  54. barny chan Says:

    Hmm, raventhorn lives but Fool’s Mountain drowns in a tsunami of tedium…

  55. TonyP4 Says:

    CR was started to change the focus of that time – disaster and famine. Mao became God and then found it was out of control. Beside Mao, we have to blame his advisers (unfortunately God would not listen to his angels).

    It is nothing to do with the British empire. China’s Qing was out of touch at that time and gave the foreigners a chance to do what they did. The revolution was good for China in the long-run to establish a government not ruled by kings and queens for the first time in the 5,000 or so history.

    HK did not include the the colonization in the high school text under British rule – understandable not to stir unrest in the young minds but the educated can find out the true history. It is similar to Jap not including the truths of Nanjing massacre and paying rest to the war criminals by the highest officials.

    Here is a related article.

  56. Rhan Says:

    No Chinese will blame the West for CR, even CCP will not do that, however from historical perspective, shall we not ask ourselves why Mao and the Chinese at that time could become so extreme, rush and dysphoria? What would happen to Canadian if US move half of their nuclear warhead aiming at Canada along the border? They would sit here writing comments and tell you how beautiful is democracy?

    You can blame Haiti poverty on God, a stupid government, a stupid culture and a stupid people and you will do that again toward Iraq and Afghanistan after many years, however if you move back the timeline a little, can you say the imperialist West had nothing to do with it?

    In the past they push religion, trade and drug and today they push human rights, democracy and freedom of information (Honestly Google statement make me puke) with a similar intention, continue to rule the world. Nothing much change after all this years huh?

  57. TonyP4 Says:

    As I wrote before on Haiti, the problem is due to how the French colonized Haiti, imported slaves to a land that cannot sustain a large population, squeezed every penny from Haiti after the independence… Those young French who protested against China, would you check what you guys did to Haiti.

    The policy of no birth control by the Catholics need to explosive growth of population. When any one go to church today, ask your preacher why birth control is not needed for Haiti.

    Over population leads to poverty, which leads to Illiteracy, which leads to corruption, which needs to….

    I hate Red Cross and Oxfam asked me for the street and phone no. (REQUIRED) when donating money. Do they want to call me during dinner to ask for more? If you donated $10 or so, most likely it will be burned in soliciting cost without benefiting the victims.

  58. Rhan Says:

    One trait that is common among China and Asean is, all their leaders’ son and daughter be it under democracy or communist system have strong business acumen. Research should be held to study the uniqueness of their gene.

    I think if Mao will to get a second life, he will not hesitate to start another CR.


  59. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Rhan,

    I think Mao became “extreme” in part because he wanted to secure his grip on the people, and perhaps felt that the intelligentsia remained a threat.

    If the US ever overran Canada, I think Canadians might begrudge Americans, but not democracy, whose beauty would not necessarily be besmirched by such an act.

    Every single thing since time immemorial culminates in what transpires today. So yes, if CR is the topic in question, sure, stuff that happened in the late 1800’s eventually led up to it. So did stuff that happened in the late 1700’s, etc. But to establish that as a causal link, even as a remote one, seems rather tenuous at best.

  60. Steve Says:

    @ TonyP4 #57: Religion doesn’t seem to play much of a role in population control these days. If you look at the most overpopulated countries in the world from greater to lesser religion percentages:

    Bangladesh: Islam
    India: Hindu, Islam, Buddhist, Christian, Catholic
    China: Atheist, Buddhist, Taoist, Confucist, Christian, Catholic
    Guatemala: Catholic, Protestant, Mayan
    Haiti: Voodoo, Catholic
    United States: Christian, Catholic, Jewish
    Ethiopia: Coptic Christian, Islam
    Madagascar: Indigenous belief, Christian, Islam
    Malawi: Christian, Islam
    Niger: Islam, Indigenous belief
    Nigeria: Muslim, Catholic, Indigenous belief
    Sudan: Muslim, Indigenous belief, Christian
    Uganda: Christian, Indigenous belief, Muslim
    Zimbabwe: Christian, Catholic, Indigenous belief
    Netherlands: Agnostic, Catholic, Christian, Islam
    United Kingdom: Christian, Catholic, Islam

    As you can see, there is no pattern to it and no relationship between Catholicism and overpopulation. Most Catholics simply ignore the ban on birth control. The key factors with overpopulation seem to be education, wealth and development.

  61. TonyP4 Says:

    Steve, it is the chicken and egg concept. The richer countries are more literate, better developed and less populated.

    If you look at the Hispanic population growth here and the religion, it is hard to dispute Catholicism has nothing to do with their population growth. Our generous welfare also encourages their population growth. Why we have so many 30 year old grand mothers in this country with multi generatation of teen ager mothers?

    In your state Calif., no politicians will blame the Hispanics but check the percentage of welfare recipients by race and you will not be surprised Calif is going down.

    So is Haiti.

  62. Steve Says:

    Hi Tony~

    Why is it hard to dispute? You yourself said that richer countries are more literate, better developed and less populated, though population densities in the States, UK and the Netherlands are high. Are you saying that unless China lowers its population drastically, it can never been rich?

    I listed 16 countries, yet only two were predominantly Catholic. (for sake of argument, I’ve included Haiti in the list and ignored the voodoo aspect) Ten of the sixteen countries count Catholics as a tiny minority or virtually non-existent. Countries where Islam is the predominant religion have worse overpopulation problems. The number of Catholics in China and India, the two countries with the greatest populations by far, are minuscule as compared to the general population and in China, they are bound by the one child rule just as much as everyone else.

    Hispanics in the States tend to have less education and lower incomes than most other minorities. Hispanics in Spain, a predominantly Catholic country, don’t have overpopulation problems. Neither do Italy nor France, which are also predominantly Catholic. Why is that so? Could it be that they are more affluent? The highest birth rates in all those countries are non-Catholic minorities, who also happen to be less educated and have lower incomes.

    In the United States, the Catholic birth rate is declining more rapidly than the non-Catholic birth rate per this study.

  63. TonyP4 Says:

    * Two arguments are both valid. 1. The richer countries control their population better. 2, The Catholic’s (and other religions too) rule of birth control makes the problem worse, not better for sure.

    * China and India already have large population 30 years ago. The difference is China control the population better with one-child policy. India does not do a lot.

    I discussed same topic with my high school classmates today:
    > The welfare and other entitlements are getting
    > US down. After paying all those via taxes, US can no longer compete in the
    > world market.
    > In the other hand, China and most other developing countries (if they can
    > control the population growth) are rising fast. Japan and some EU countries
    > have almost zero population growth and they encourage more babies. Japanese
    > are smart not to immigrate to solve the labor shortage as it will bring
    > racial conflict later like some EU suffer now with terrorist acts all over.
    > Uneducated folks bring crime and eating up the welfare… The granting of
    > green cards after TSM actually benefits US with the cream of the top crop of
    > educated Chinese staying and contributing. However, US has also paid a price
    > for the families they bring and some collect entitlements that they’re not
    > entitled to. During this recession, it is great for China to have sea
    > turtles, esp. from finance and automobile sectors.

  64. TonyP4 Says:

    Rhen #58

    do you mean the children can be easier to make money via corruption and connection?

  65. Rhan Says:

    Singapore Lee family member occupied the entire strategic and important portfolio in either government or business. Malaysia minister drawing USD 5,000 per month but their children are multi-millionaire. Looks like China leader is learning fast on this aspect. How you remind the leader’s earlier goal of revolution if there is no CR?

    Cronyism, nepotism, connection and corruption happen everywhere including “west” that boost to have free press and democracy, can Obama do anything to the American bankers? Mao continuous movement may not be a good solution if he can’t solve the economy problem but I can’t think of any better way.

    My view purely from a leftist (左仔) perspective. Turn right (乩童) a bit, everything back to human nature?

    Points well taken.

    My causal link may not limited to a certain event that happen in the past but the overall attitude of the so-called superpower and what is their prefer world order or world model.

    Mao never lost his grip on people even at his low after GLF. He doesn’t need a CR to revive this grip. Most politicians look down intelligentsia

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