Barely enough time today for a quick flick-through of the South China Morning Post, but a couple of things jump out.
First is this peculiar report on a paper by a hitherto unheard-of financial think-tanky-thing called OMFIF. Although you wouldn’t know it from its website, OMFIF has – according to the SCMP – just published a report drawing parallels between the founding of the International Monetary Fund over 70 years ago and global affairs today. Specifically, the Chinese expected a major role in the world’s financial system in 1944 (sending a big delegation to Bretton Woods), and they do in 2015 (hence the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, BRICS investment fund, constant Yuan-blather, etc).
A humungous shrug is in order, we might think. However, the SCMP story makes for a very bizarre read. Not once is there any mention of the obvious fact that we are talking about two different ‘Chinas’ here. It was the Republic of China of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang that attended the Bretton Woods talks and other conferences preparing for the post-war world (like the Dumbarton Oaks gathering that led to the United Nations). The People’s Republic of China replaced the ROC in the UN in 1971 and didn’t join the IMF until 1980. But the SCMP report implies a seamless continuum in which a single entity called ‘China’ has been striving all along for a suitably prominent place in the world order.
Of course, no-one pretends that the PRC existed prior to 1949. And the ROC-in-1944/PRC-in-2015 parallels may be real (dare we guess the China-as-victim theme appears somehow?) if you like that kind of thing (good source here). It’s just slightly weird that this item avoids all reference to a core relevant historical fact. With the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender approaching, it will be interesting to see how the SCMP handles the ROC’s unavoidable part in the events of the time, and of course the Communist forces’ apparently/arguably/allegedly rather modest military contribution to the anti-fascist struggle.
(What’s seriously weird is that that this obscure piece of ‘news’ gets lengthy, not to say repetitive, front-page treatment in the first place. We can only guess. To counterbalance Beijing’s latest self-mutilation – the round-up and extraction of forced confessions from lawyers?)
Among modern China’s efforts to exert or at least prove global greatness is the oddly named and unfathomable ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. It seems to be something about how the Chinese government thinks the world needs such hardware as a Kazakhstan-Berlin-via-Africa high-speed rail link, and would like to help finance and build it, all out of the kindness of its heart, and Hong Kong’s young people will enjoy so many opportunities from this that they will be able to afford homes. Behold the Conference from Hell…
Interestingly, there is no mention of who is organizing or sponsoring the thing, nor – to our great distress – any details of how to book a seat.