Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Obama Now, China Later (Link Round-Up 11/7/12)

[via Wonkette]

Inside look at the Chinese Communist Party's 18th Congress
After the congress closes on Nov. 14, the 200 or so full members of the newly established Central Committee -- which also includes 150-odd alternate, or second-tier and nonvoting, members -- will select from among themselves 25 members of the ruling Politburo, as well as a more elite group for China's supreme ruling council, the Politburo Standing Committee.

That's what the law says, anyway.

In reality, current and former Central Committee members choose their successors and the members of the CCDI. So when the deputies meet this Thursday, much of their work will have already been done for them. They will likely be handed an all-but-final list of candidates for the 18th Central Committee, with a "margin of elimination" of 15 percent. In other words, all the delegates need do is throw out 15 percent of the least popular candidates.
China's new leaders face foreign policy problems
Scholars sometimes argue that China’s leaders excel at foreign affairs strategy because they take the long view, while Western politicians can’t do so because they are encumbered by elections and legislatures.

This view of the Chinese leadership -- advocated in the past by Henry Kissinger -- doesn’t hold up today. The last generation of Chinese leaders has been generally shortsighted and ill-informed about international affairs. They don’t much like going abroad or having much to do with foreigners in China. They find international affairs difficult to understand and worry about embarrassing themselves in front of a foreign audience.

Moreover, China lacks an effective foreign policy apparatus to advise the leadership and carry out initiatives. A “small leading group” on foreign affairs is supposed to coordinate policies for the Central Politburo’s Standing Committee, the most powerful decision-making body in the country. It appears to do very little if any coordination, however. The Foreign Ministry is constantly at odds with various party departments and agencies with a hand in foreign affairs. And the military, at times, seems to have its own foreign policy, entirely uncoordinated with what goes on within the party or government. 
Syrian opposition talks collapse
The new leadership proposal included representatives from opposition groups outside the Syrian National Council, which was once seen as the most likely core of an interim government but has gradually lost favour both with the west and with rebels fighting inside the country.

On Wednesday night it seemed that representatives from the National Coordinating Committee, the Syrian Democratic Platform, and the Kurdish ethnic minority had rejected the plan.

“The components that were not in the SNC are not coming. The idea of a bigger coalition initiative has failed,” said Jamal al-Wa'ard, a military representative on the SNC.
Burmese opposition leaders call for end to ethnic violence
Ms Suu Kyi has emphasized the necessity of restoring the rule of law in the region and dealing with the root causes of the tensions.

Many of her foreign supporters have been disappointed that she has not taken a stand condemning discrimination toward the Rohingya, who have suffered many of the casualties and losses.

Yesterday’s statement also said that a 1982 Citizenship Law that lays out conditions for treating the Rohingya as Burmese nationals should be reviewed. It is highly restrictive and leaves the huge majority of an estimated population of 800,000 Rohingya effectively stateless.
Egyptian Islamists become more assertive in every day life
Since a group of youths killed a young man while he was out with his fiancée in the port city of Suez in July, there have been a steady stream of reports in a similar vein.

This week, a Suez grocer filed a legal complaint against a group of Salafis, or ultra-orthodox Muslims, who had threatened to enact religious justice against his son by cutting out his tongue. The Salafis accused the boy of insulting religion, according to Gharib Mahmoud, the grocer.

Self-appointed "committees for the propagation of virtue and elimination of vice" have surfaced elsewhere. The name evokes the religious police of Saudi Arabia, whose strict brand of Wahhabi Islam has inspired Salafis in Egypt in recent decades.
Millions of unreported Dengue Fever cases in India
The great danger of having hundreds of millions of people in India with undiagnosed and unacknowledged primary infections is that a sudden shift in the circulating dengue strain could cause a widespread increase in life-threatening illnesses.

“We have been fortunate so far,” said Dr. Kakkar of the Indian public health group. “But if, God forbid, we come across that situation we probably need far better health-care management and inpatient care facilities.”

Trucks spewing pesticides against mosquitoes are now a regular presence in New Delhi neighborhoods, but rapid and disorderly urbanization — a hallmark of India’s development — increases the risks of dengue proliferation, so few believe the government here can do much to halt its spread.
Chinese education is erasing the Uyghur identity
A common fear among Uyghur students is that the government is weakening and eroding the bilingual language policy currently in place. Although the government is eager to showcase its policy as evidence that it respects minority rights, in fact the bilingual schools are anything but bilingual. A Xinjiang high school teacher stated that although her students attend nine class periods per day, the only class conducted in Uyghur is the actual Uyghur language class. Teachers are not supposed to instruct students in other classes in Uyghur, even if the teacher and students are all native speakers and feel more comfortable speaking in Uyghur. Students revealed to me their concern that the ultimate goal of the government is assimilation. "They don't want us to be Uyghur," they complained, "they want us to be Chinese."

Students and teachers in Xinjiang are prohibited from attending any religious activities. They are not allowed to pray at a mosque or fast during Ramadan. One teacher noted that in Kashgar, students are kept on campus during the early afternoon so that they cannot attend midday prayers. College students also lose college credit if they are caught attending religious activities on campus. Moreover, if teachers or students in Xinjiang fill out any official government form that asks for a religious identification, they must write "none." They are explicitly told that they can believe in nothing more than Marxism, despite China's constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.

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