Xi Jinping’s recent visit to the Czech Republic attracted large numbers of demonstrators carrying Tibetan and other provocative banners. (Hongkongers pining for street action could follow it all here.) The night before, cheeky Czechs chucked ink-filled eggs at the Chinese flags hanging from Prague’s lamp posts.
At least they noticed he was in town. Not all foreign leaders attract attention, let alone protest. It could be seen as a sort of tribute. When Venezuelans spat on Richard Nixon in 1958, the US was the top manufacturer, global cop and envy of the world. Maybe some of the bussed-in Chinese cheerleaders in Prague saw the anti-Xi demo as a form of flattery – like one who told a Czech protester he should be grateful for all the consumer goods the PRC graciously supplies.
The Chinese leadership sees their nation as an emerging replacement-US. Their way of thinking appears to be zero-sum – a setback for one power is a gain for the other (hence the sourness over Obama’s Cuba trip). And they seem to view history as a simple repetitive cycle that requires them to replicate or parallel the past, at least with ‘Chinese characteristics’. So the 21st will be their century (after the UK’s 19th and the US’s 20th). They must have aircraft carriers and distant bases, like their predecessors. China must have big companies owning overseas assets, it must have an international financial institution to play with, it must have a moonshot, it must have contrived (and laughable) soft power. Foreign students defacing your flag are a sign that the country has arrived. The kowtowing of Czech President Zeman is further confirmation, as was the groveling of the UK’s Conservative government a while back.
Meanwhile… The New York Times digs up some more details about China’s crony-elite corporatist structure – this time Anbang’s tale of murk and princelings – and the letter that ‘sounds like coup plotters’. China’s banks try to learn how to ‘follow local regulations’ abroad, while the domestic/Hong Kong side of things emerges as the world’s money laundering hub. Etc. Curious fact of the day: China has a copper glut after the metal was used as collateral by speculators in other bubbled-up assets. Foreign Policy sees Beijing’s (and Russia’s) overseas aggression as a sign of weakness and impending internal turmoil. Otherwise, it’s all going to plan.
Mörike wrote MOZART AUF DER REISE NACH PRAG, one of the great bores of German literature. Although only a Novelle, many readers give up after two pages. This may be saying something about even modern bloggers’ coverage of journeys to Prague.
Kaplan’s article in Foreign Policy has a lot of self-serving agenda making in it (ie: like nearly all of us, he’s a whore, he just puts more hours in on the job and is far less honest about who are his Johns).
Putin is a prat, but so far he’s been a much more clever prat about knowing his limits. It’s a huge stretch to put his defensive posturing over old existing interest in the same league with China’s aggressive expansion.
Haven’t we seen a copper market loser before.
Surely the phrase “Secretary of Defense (and corrupt sleaze bag)” is a tautology, and you could therefore drop one of the two epithets as redundant?
I suggest you skip the most euphemistic of the two — and just keep it to the more honest and succinct “corrupt sleaze bag”.
Not many comments on this.
Do you think we might all be bored?
Xi in Prague is, after all, one of the most boring events ever to have occurred in human history.
The only thing that might pique my interest would be a Zeman on Zeman arse licking contest in the middle of Wenceslas Square.
You see the depth of my ennui?