Just a bunch of mid-week (mostly Glorious Motherland) links…
China’s thought police go after a Korean boy-band. Never thought I’d like the prancing girly-looking singers, but they have gone up in my esteem. Beijing doesn’t do ‘soft power’, it does ‘sour power’. (‘Sour power’®️ is my latest contribution to China-watching international-relations discourse. It even rhymes. Korea does real soft power – I’m currently binge-watching the second series of Stranger.)
On the subject of ‘sour power’®️, a praiseworthy French museum has postponed an exhibition after a Chinese counterpart insisted on rewriting history to transform Mongols into Han (roughly).
Lowy Interpreter on China’s exceptionalist vision of sovereignty in the new world order. Speaking of which – an interesting graphic representation of the Sino-centric view of the world (think the New Yorker’s ‘View of the World from 9th Avenue’).
DW on how Beijing is mightily miffed with Germany’s sponsorship of a human-rights motion in the UN, and how Chinese diplomats cajole other countries’ representatives into voting the way they want.
The Diplomat looks behind Xi Jinping’s tough exterior and sees a crisis in leadership.
One small example of Xi’s counterproductive policies: Michael Cole explains how Taiwan’s KMT is going off the CCP. Another from Japan Times: Beijing is encouraging the world to see Taiwan as an independent country. And Atlantic looks at Asian young people’s anti-Beijing Milk Tea Alliance. ‘Sour power’®️ strikes again!
VOA reports 5G in China is overhyped and who needs it? (Who could imagine an incremental upgrade in tech isn’t as wonderful as its proponents insist?) And the Wire China offers everything you wanted to know about ZTE.
Meanwhile, Foreign Policy determines that Belt and Road is not a sinister evil plot, but just a big pile of wombat droppings.
Academic James Millward proposes a new approach to Chinese history by rejecting exceptionalist and nationalist narratives. For example, China’s ‘5,000 years of civilization’ covers as wide a range of regimes and cultures as the Graeco-Roman civilization we still see today in Europe. The ‘tributary system’ was domestic propaganda that the other kingdoms and states treated as a charade. The Qing-based claims that Tibet is Chinese are equally valid to Korea, and the insistence that Taiwan belongs to the PRC would logically apply also to Mongolia. And so on.
And you’d have thought HSBC has more pressing concerns, but apparently not. The bank’s economists have published an in-depth report on Modern Monetary Theory – a too-good-to-be-true leftist idea justifying the printing of money by governments. Includes cool diagrams of Ptolemaic and Copernican solar systems.