December 09, 2005

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Back from Tokyo, where I couldn't help but wonder a couple of things:

  • Jared Diamond lauds Japan's excellent forestry management (albeit while still having a dig at their outsourcing of "resource exploitation"), and yet Japan's the world's third biggest greenhouse gas producer. Does one cancel the other?
  • There has been talk elsewhere that people don't often bother to vote because in economic terms the marginal value of a vote is very close to zero. The best counter to that is what's happening now in Hong Kong - many people are giving up hours of their time to march, or to organise, or to blog, or to write articles, or to lobby for democracy. Assuming pro-democracy campaigners are rational (economically, at least) there must be a value for voting that is significantly non-zero.
  • While on democracy, in a way liberal democracy has basically "won" the ideology war. The proof? Even dictatorships pay lip service to it. North Korea is a "Democratic" republic; China's leadership often talks about it (even if it doesn't happen in practice). Why do they bother with lip service unless even these recalcitrants recognise that democracy is the most stable and most popular (albeit still imperfect) political model?
  • Next week is WTO week here in Hong Kong. While nobody is looking forward to the dreaded chaos, I suspect (or at least hope) that it will not turn out half as bad as we all fear. Judging by the dual-layered shipping container barriers at Tamar, the anti-WTO protests could turn out to be nice cheap entertainment for the non-Disney goers amongst us.

On the subject of WTO, there is to be an anti- anti-WTO march on Sunday at Victoria Park. If you're rational, realise that free trade is a good thing and Hong Kong is a prime example of the good even unilateral zero trade barriers can be, go along. It won't be 250,000 people, but it would be good to prove the rabble-rousers and "peasant leagues" (ie professional protesters) that there are actually people that know they're wrong.

Before I get to the newest Jamestown Foundation China Brief, full service should resume Monday, WTO chaos permitting. OK, China Brief time:

1. China's countering of US influence in Asia - Willy Lam uses alphabet soup to summarise the newest version of the Great Game.
2. The costs of China's modernisation - industrialisation can be dirty, and it's now getting to the point China's environment is becoming a domestic political issue. What do you call a Chinese environmentalist? A red green? A green red?
3. Hu spurs debate on North Korean succession - maybe when Hu's finished with China (and he's come up with his obligatory theory to insert into the constitution) he can take on the Hermit Kingdom?
4. For you military nuts, there's modernising the PLA's logistics. That's the military logistics, not the PLA's corporate logistics. That's much tougher.

posted by Simon on 12.09.05 at 02:02 PM in the China brief category.WTO category.


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Democracy always looks greener from the other side of the fence.

posted by: Argleblaster on 12.10.05 at 01:42 AM [permalink]

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