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A 강성대국 exclusive: Snubbed by the DPRK

April 4, 2010

The Chinese are coming! They are allegedly investing $10 billion to build infrastructure in the DPRK. They leased Rajin port for 10 years. And the Dear Leader was thought to have arrived in Beijing asking for more aid. Some North Korea watchers even went as far as proclaiming that China is turning the DPRK into its “Inner Chaoxian Autonomous Region“. Is the DPRK gradually losing its independence? Are the North Koreans becoming nothing but cronies of the pesky Chinese?

Not so fast. 

In a subtle move that has yet to be read and covered by anyone else (a 강성대국 exclusive) , the DPRK is showing China and the world who the boss is. In the least expected places that you could ever imagine, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa it is! Last year the DPRK men’s national football team made it to the World Cup, dealing a humiliating blow to many Chinese football/soccer fans who lamented on the overall poor performance and the lack of 투혼 of the Chinese team. One group of Chinese were very happy though that the North Koreans got a shot at the most prestigious sporting events in the world (sorry Beijing, the Olympic Games are for grannies. The Super Bowl and the so-called “World Series” are for the mentally and strategically incapacitated): Hongxing Erke, a little-known apparel company based in Fujian, China, signed a $3 million deal with the North Korean sports authorities in 2006 to sponsor North Korean athletes at the national team level.  

Erke and the North Koreans in happier times

Erke and the North Koreans in happier times

Since the DPRK made little splash in Beijing during the 2008 Beijing games, few people noticed that North Korean athletes were wearing Erke. Erke had hoped that the upcoming World Cup would become their coming-out party, officially introducing their brand to viewers and sports fans around the world. And then came the shocking news: 

Cha Jong-Hyok had his eyes on the ball

screw you ERKE, screw you China!

In a pre-WC warm-up/friendly match between the DPRK and Mexico on March 17th, 2010, the North Korean players were seen wearing red Pirma jerseys. According to my exclusive sources, Pirma, the Mexican apparel company is just two weeks away from inking a deal with the DPRK Football Association. People at Hongxing Erke must be pulling their hair out at this moment. 

Usually I am one of those people who accuse certain people of intentionally reading too much out of nothing, but I can’t help thinking that this move, as subtle as it might be, has deeper and greater implications. First it is a statement from the DPRK that it will not tolerate complete economic and financial reliance on China, dropping Erke should be read as a move to veer off from Chinese influence. Secondly, for anyone who has dealt with the North Koreans, especially the Chinese, the decision to drop Erke should serve as a reminder that the DPRK might not necessarily honor a contract/deal. So you think it is safe to conclude that China has the Rajin port under its control for 10 years? Think again. 

A brilliant move by the North Koreans. Anyway, I don’t know about you, but I will be rooting for the new Red Devils this coming summer.  The first game is between them and the football powerhouse Brazil in Johannesburg on Tuesday, June 15th. Must-watch.


Too hot for Asia Times?

April 4, 2010

I have been a regular patron of Asia Times for a long time, it is a nice online paper that prides itself for covering different perspectives, unlike the mainstream western media.  For example, it is one of very few places that have provided Dr. Kim Myong-chol a platform to speak on behalf of the DPRK. Over the years I have actively participated in both the letters and forum section, and I must give Atimes editors credit for their open-mindedness and tolerance (something the censors in Beijing can’t fathom). Unfortunately, my luck with them ran out recently. None of a string of my letters to the editor were published and my e-mail inquiry did not generate a response. I checked Atimes posting rules and guidelines to see if  I may have unwittingly crossed the line.  Now you be the judge:

Dear Editor,

Benjamin Shobert’s frustration over China can clearly be felt throughout his article “Google, a Sino-US Marker“. He bemoans the inability of the Chinese government to accommodate/cave in to Google’s demands and argues that this will create suspicion and distrust among the Americans toward China. Not saying that he is incorrect, but since when have the Americans not viewed China with suspicion and distrust? The Chinese are very well aware of the fact that the Americans see China as an enemy at worst and a competitor at best, a sentiment proven again and again by numerous polls. I don’t want to belittle the likes of Benjamin Shobert and James Mann and their seemingly noble intentions: by doing business with China perhaps China will liberalize and westernize (politically), but to argue the “average lay person” in America is concerned about democratization, liberalization and the direction in which China is heading is a bit of a stretch. And what “political and economic costs” doing business with China burden/exhaust the average American lay person? Among other things, doing business with China has enabled the average American lay person to purchase most consumer items at an affordable price (while American corporations gobbled up the big bucks), it also enabled the average American lay person to buy a home at a relatively low and stable interest rate. I don’t think the vast majority of Americans, as noble and righteous as Shobert wants to believe, are willing to trade in these perks for democratization and political westernization in China. I just don’t believe for a second that the Americans wanted to do business with China to make China a better place. They are here for the cheap labor, untapped market and ultimately, profit. As for those few noble Americans who actually care about steering China in the direction they prefer, may I suggest that perhaps they should simply give up on the idea of imposing their wish on something that’s entirely none of their business in the first place? Shouldn’t these decisions be left to the Chinese, after all it is their country, not yours?


February 16, 2010

這年頭美國人(還有他們的其他西方朋友/崔把們)幾乎天天把“中國民族主義泛濫”放在嘴邊,一會兒說中國政府什麼沒有”合法性”(legitimacy)啊, 隻能靠迎合民族主義,民粹主義來繼續執政, 一會兒又抱怨中國政府對美,對西方態度日趨強硬是因為民族主義使然。“民族主義”在英語裡可以說完全是個貶義詞,一般用在形容像中國這種曾經受帝國主義壓迫,原先是殖民地,半殖民地的非西方,非民主的第三世界/南部/共產主義/社會主義國家,對於西方自己的所謂“民主國家”很少使用。基本上可以說,愛國情緒在西方叫做愛國主義,同樣的東西在上面說到的非西方“反面典型”諸國那就叫民族主義。呵呵,虛偽到家了!

這不,某些美國人吃飽了撐的無聊之極,正在拍一部叫做”Red Dawn 2010″的片子,劇情大概就是英勇無比的美國人民,在邪惡,強大的中國人民解放軍侵略軍面前發揚了喬治。華盛頓總書記的愛國氣節和愛國風范,臨危不懼,奮勇抵抗並擊敗了一股膽敢入侵我永遠偉大,光榮,正確的美利堅合眾國的中國鬼子們。該片是重拍84年那部描寫擊敗蘇軍入侵美國的片子。真是時代不同了,26年后的今天中國人成頭號壞蛋了。呵呵,這也是中國的光榮呀是不?

如果現在中國人拍個類似的片子(比如說美國入侵中國,中國人把美國鬼子打跑了),我保証他們肯定會沒完沒了地做 “… the film showcases the surging Chinese nationalism and xenophobic sentiment amongst its youth” 之類的評論,說不定有人還會再寫本中國民族主義的書呢。可是美國人拍這種無聊,feel-good的片子,他們自己絕不會承認這其實就是民族主義。對於他們來說,這哪裡是美國民族主義(我們偉光正的美國沒有你們中國這種下三濫國家才有的民族主義!),這是”American, patriotic feel“.  呵呵,那句老話兒怎麼說的?“隻許州官放火,不許百姓點燈”。


The Battle over the Chinese (aka Asian Lunar) New Year

February 16, 2010

This political correctness is getting a bit out of hand. “The people of Asia”, “Americans of Asian descent”? Actually most Asian countries do not celebrate the Chinese/Lunar New Year. The wealthiest Asian Americans (actually the wealthiest of all Americans as an ethnic group), Indian Americans certainly do not celebrate it. So how did the Chinese New Year become this funny thing called “Asian Lunar New Year”?


Why can’t the Chinese and the Koreans get along? First it was China’s rejoicing/humiliating win over SK at the East Asian Championship which triggered heated spats on the Internet; then the altercation in Vancouver involving the two short-track  powerhouses, now the battle over the Lunar New Year? For the Nth time I ask, when will these Chinese and South Korean children grow up?

That’s probably what Obama was thinking when he sat down to do this:

CCP at its worst

February 10, 2010

I am speechless. First Wang Xiaobo, now Tan Zuoren. The CCP’s paranoia knows no bounds. Free Tan Zuoren! 還他自由!


Stop bitching, embrace Sun Tzu and Deng Xiaoping instead

February 8, 2010

It was obvious to everyone that the honeymoon between China and the Obama administration is officially over and the two countries are risking going to an all-out trade war.  China certainly has a lot to be unhappy about:  Hillary went on a crusade on Google’s behalf to lambast China. More arms sales to Taiwan Province.  Obama will meet with the Dalai Lama as planned.  Obama vowed to be tough on China with regard to trade issues.  I lost track of how many “protests” the Chinese government has lodged over the past two weeks.  Like what, 10?  It is too painful to watch. The Chinese government is acting like a cry-baby who is desperately seeking attention and letting others know that “I am hurt!”.  Yes they get the point.  What are you going to do? What are you going to do?

It is getting absurd.  Beijing has sunk to a new low with this one.  Apparently what the Chinese leadership doesn’t understand is that this sort of scare tactics don’t work.  Prolonged whining makes one look pathetic and weak.  Instead of relentlessly protesting and bitching which did absolutely nothing in its favor and further propping up people like the Dalai Lama (and Rebiya Kadeer) as anti-authoritarian heroes along the way, the Chinese government should take a step back and start re-embracing Sun Tzu.  Have they not learnt anything from their ancestors?  A war of words rarely works.  Stop talking and start doing.  Hit it where it hurts the most.

The west can talk about China’s so-called “triumphalist attitude” all they want.  The important thing is the Chinese themselves must not be confused and misled to think that the times are really different now.  “Hide your capacities and bide your time” from the late leader Deng Xiaoping rings truer than ever.  중국 아자 아자 파이팅!

Vice Marshal Kim Yong-chun is back

February 8, 2010

After much speculations about his whereabouts since he disappeared from the public scene in late November 2009, Vice Marshal Kim Yong-chun is back with a bang. Well, not exactly. He was giving the outgoing Chinese Ambassador to the DPRK, Liu Xiaoming a send-off on February 2nd. The 74-year-old VM appeared pretty healthy. We still don’t know where he was in those two months and why he stopped accompanying the Dear Leader on those guidance tours though. Welcome back VM Kim!

2/2/2010, courtesy of the Chinese Embassy in the DPRK