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2008 -- the Loong re-enters center-stage [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2008-1-2 20:17:05 |Display all floors
Since the word "dragon" has a bad connotation in Western folklore, we shall call China "Loong" (pronounced as "lone"), in order to emphasize its positive imagery -- the Loong signifies power, dignity and good fortune -- in Chinese culture.

2008 promises to be the year that the oldest continuous civilization on earth regains primacy in world affairs.

You can view this thread as a collection of articles written by either me or other sources about significant events throughout the Olympic year.

We shall begin this thread with a noted comment by "The Independent," a British paper.

Please be reminded that when foreigners praise us, the comments are usually off the mark, and so euphoria is the last thing we should expect from reading their comments.

The correct attitude should be: if what they say is true, accept it with grace; if not, make a note of it and then forget it.

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2008: The year a new superpower is born
By Cahal Milmo
Published: 01 January 2008

Here comes the world's newest superpower. The rest of the world is gloomily contemplating economic slowdown and even recession. Not in Beijing. China is set to make 2008 the year it asserts its status as a global colossus by flexing frightening economic muscle on international markets, enjoying unprecedented levels of domestic consumption and showcasing itself to a watching world with a glittering £20bn Olympic Games.

The world's most populous nation will mark the next 12 months with a coming-of-age party that will confirm its transformation in three decades from one of the poorest countries of the 20th century into the globe's third-largest economy, its hungriest (and most polluting) consumer and the engine room of economic growth.

Once regarded at best as a sporting also-ran, China is widely tipped to top the medals table in the Beijing Olympics in August, an event in which the country's leadership is investing huge importance and prestige.

It will be a celebration viewed with consternation by many, as China's authoritarian regime shows little sign of relaxing its grip on power and continues to expand its influence overseas from the oil fields and metal mines of Africa to the City of London. Appropriately, 2008 marks the Year of the Rat, an animal considered in Chinese folklore to be a harbinger and protector of material prosperity.

Britain will feel the full power of the new superpower's confidence. This month, for the first time, China's state-controlled banks will begin spending some of its $1.33trn (£670bn) in foreign currency reserves on London's financial markets. Beijing has ruled that Britain should become only the second destination after Hong Kong to be allowed to receive investors' money via so-called "sovereign funds" – the huge state-controlled surpluses built up by cash-rich economies from Qatar to South Korea. Throw in the biggest round of Chinese art exhibitions ever to tour these islands and the oriental bias to 2008 becomes even more pronounced.

The UK has made it clear that Beijing's investment, which could reach as much as £45bn, is welcome and it follows the recent acquisition by Chinese banks of stakes in such blue chip stocks as Barclays and the US private equity firm Blackstone, at a cost of $3bn. The talk in the finance houses is that the label "Made in China" will soon be replaced by one reading "Owned by China". Takeover speculation has provoked concern in some quarters at the wisdom of selling large assets to organs of a democratically unaccountable state where the financial sector remains underdeveloped.

China's trade surplus with the rest of the world will widen from £130bn in 2007 to £145bn this year as it tries to tame its burgeoning economy amid pressure from Washington and Brussels to narrow the trade gap and raise its currency's value.

Stephen Perry, chairman of the 48 Group Club, a Sino-British business network, said: "China has become an international player much more quickly than it would have wanted to do, in part to meet its need for natural resources. But I don't think China has any intention of taking on American power. The West is important to China in this stage of its development as it seeks inward investment. But that is beginning to be much less important and it is looking more to the development of a strong Asia, in which it is one of the strongest players because of its enormous consumer base."

But while some may question Beijing's political motives, there is no doubt that China has arrived as serious power-broker. Last year, it surpassed America as the greatest driver of global economic demand. It is also widely predicted to overtake Germany as the world's third largest economy this year.

While nearly all of its success since Premier Deng Xiaoping began China's economic transformation in 1978 has been driven by producing goods for the outside world, the country has a burgeoning urban middle-class whose insatiable appetite for consumer durables is hoped to put the economy on a more stable footing. One London-based luxury markets analyst said: "The Chinese are waking up to quality brands in a way that is quite exciting. There is a real sense that what the West once kept to itself is now available to them, or at least the urban few who can afford it."

The arrival of conspicuous consumption and entry of Shanghai's sovereign funds into foreign investment markets, with London soon expected to be followed by the US, is symptomatic of a China increasingly willing to assert itself as a political and cultural influence, according to experts.

From global warming to Darfur and North Korea, the views of Beijing and its willingness to act have become prerequisites to any solution to the world's most pressing problems.

The Chinese New Year on 7 February will herald the beginning of the largest-ever festival of China's culture in Britain with an accent on contemporary artists in fields from video art to neon signs. But others warn 2008 has as much potential to be a disaster as a triumph for Beijing's attempts to herald its own arrival on the world stage. The Chinese capital will host 31,000 journalists for the Olympics and any sign of protest or an attempt to quell dissent with violence would be catastrophic.

The drum beat of protectionism is already sounding in America and will only get louder in a presidential election year, putting pressure on both Republican and Democratic candidates to take a "strong" stance on China. In the meantime, Beijing will have to grapple with issues from rising inflation to Taiwan, which holds presidential elections in March, to its status as the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and likely role as the largest consumer of primary energy resources.

Dr Kerry Brown, associate fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, said: "There are good reasons to feel pretty uncomfortable about 2008 for China. The world will be rightly watching China in August for the Olympics. But it will only take one truncheon blow to turn it away from a story about sport to one about repression."

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Post time 2008-1-2 20:32:09 |Display all floors

Newsweek -- rise of fierce yet fragile superpower

For Americans, 2008 is an important election year. But for much of the world, it is likely to be seen as the year that China moved to center stage, with the Olympics serving as the country's long-awaited coming-out party.

The much-heralded advent of China as a global power is no longer a forecast but a reality. On issue after issue, China has become the second most important country on the planet. Consider what's happened already this past year. In 2007 China contributed more to global growth than the United States, the first time another country had done so since at least the 1930s. It also became the world's largest consumer, eclipsing the United States in four of the five basic food, energy and industrial commodities. And a few months ago China surpassed the United States to become the world's leading emitter of CO2. Whether it's trade, global warming, Darfur or North Korea, China has become the new x factor, without which no durable solution is possible.

And yet the Chinese do not quite see themselves this way. Susan Shirk, the author of a recent book about the country, "The Fragile Superpower," tells a revealing tale. Whenever she mentions her title in America, people say to her, "Fragile? China doesn't seem fragile." But in China people say, "Superpower? China isn't a superpower."

In fact it's both, and China's fragility is directly related to its extraordinary rise. Lawrence Summers has recently pointed out that during the Industrial Revolution the average European's living standards rose about 50 percent over the course of his lifetime (then about 40 years). In Asia, principally China, he calculates, the average person's living standards are set to rise by 10,000 percent in one lifetime! The scale and pace of growth in China has been staggering, utterly unprecedented in history—and it has produced equally staggering change. In two decades China has experienced the same degree of industrialization, urbanization and social transformation as Europe did in two centuries.

Recall what China looked like only 30 years ago. It was a devastated country, one of the world's poorest, with a totalitarian state. It was just emerging from Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution, which had destroyed universities, schools and factories, all to revitalize the revolution. Since then 400 million people have been lifted out of poverty in China—about 75 percent of the world's total poverty reduction over the last century. The country has built new cities and towns, roads and ports, and is planning for the future in impressive detail.

So far Beijing has managed to balance economic growth and social stability in a highly fluid environment. Given their challenges, China's political leaders stand out for their governing skills. The regime remains a dictatorship, with a monopoly on power. But it has expanded personal liberty in ways that would be recognizable to John Locke or Thomas Jefferson. People in China can now work, travel, own property and increasingly worship as they please. This is not enough, but it is not insignificant, either.

But whether this forward movement—economic and political—will continue has become the crucial question for China. It is a question that is being asked not just in the West but in China, and for practical reasons. The regime's main problem is not that it's incurably evil but that it is losing control over its own country. Growth has empowered localities and regions to the point that decentralization is now the defining reality of Chinese life. Central tax collection is lower than in most countries, a key indicator of Beijing's weakness. On almost every issue—slowing down lending, curbing greenhouse-gas emissions—the central government issues edicts that are ignored by the provinces. As China moves up the value chain, so the gap between rich and poor grows dramatically. Large sectors of the economy and society are simply outside the grip of the Communist Party, which has become an elite technocracy, sitting above the 1.3 billion people it leads.

Political reform is part of the solution to this problem. China needs a more open, accountable and responsive form of government, one that can exercise control in what has become a more chaotic and empowered society. What such reform would look like remains an open question, but one that is being debated within the seniormost levels of the regime. In the current issue of Foreign Affairs, John Thornton, an investment banker turned China expert, traces how Beijing is taking hesitant but clear steps toward greater rule of law and accountability.

China's sense of its own weakness casts a shadow over its foreign policy. It is unique as a world power, the first in modern history to be at once rich (in aggregate terms) and poor (in per capita terms). It still sees itself as a developing country, with hundreds of millions of peasants to worry about. It views many of the issues on which it is pressed—global warming, human rights—as rich-country problems. (When it comes to pushing regimes to open up, Beijing also worries about the implications for its own undemocratic structure.) But this is changing. From North Korea to Darfur to Iran, China has been slowly showing that it wants to be a responsible "stakeholder" in the international system.

Some scholars and policy intellectuals (and a few generals in the Pentagon) look at the rise of China and see the seeds of inevitable great-power conflict and perhaps even war. Look at history, they say. When a new power rises it inevitably disturbs the balance of power, unsettles the international order and seeks a place in the sun. This makes it bump up against the established great power of the day (that would be us). So, Sino-U.S. conflict is inevitable.

But some great powers have been like Nazi Germany and others like modern-day Germany and Japan. The United States moved up the global totem pole and replaced Britain as the No. 1 country without a war between the two nations. Conflict and competition—particularly in the economic realm—between China and the United States is inevitable. But whether this turns ugly depends largely on policy choices that will be made in Washington and Beijing over the next decade.

In another Foreign Affairs essay, Princeton's John Ikenberry makes the crucially important point that the current world order is extremely conducive to China's peaceful rise. That order, he argues, is integrated, rule-based, with wide and deep foundations—and there are massive economic benefits for China to work within this system. Meanwhile, nuclear weapons make it suicidal to risk a great-power war. "Today's Western order, in short, is hard to overturn and easy to join," writes Ikenberry.

The Chinese show many signs of understanding these conditions. Their chief strategist, Zheng Bijian, coined the term "peaceful rise" to describe just such an effort on Beijing's part to enter into the existing order rather than overturn it. The Chinese government has tried to educate its public on these issues, releasing a 12-part documentary last year, "The Rise of Great Nations," whose central lesson is that markets and not empire determine the long-run success of a great global power.

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See the following Chinese depiction of Loong -- called a "dragon" in the West, a great misnomer.

See how graceful and magnificent the legendary symbol of grace, power and good fortune really is.
Chinese Loong.jpg

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Post time 2008-1-2 20:37:45 |Display all floors
And of course compare it with the image of a Western "dragon" with which the bogeymen scare bed-wetting kids.
Western Dragoin.jpg

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Post time 2008-1-2 20:40:47 |Display all floors

If a war should come

PLA soldiers will be brave like Huang Ji-guang, fighting without looking back...
Fighting to the last man.jpg

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Post time 2008-1-2 20:46:01 |Display all floors
Chen Shuibian will end up like this or even worse (no insult intended for Saddam, whom we respect as a gutsy Arab leader)
What happens to the conquered.jpg

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Post time 2008-1-2 20:54:59 |Display all floors
Weapons are important, but we have more than just guns and missiles.

Strategic submarines 093 and 094 will track the aircraft carriers.

Eventually we shall build nuclear aircraft carriers to protect merchant ships, but not in 2008:
ProjectedChineseNuclearAircraftCarrier.jpg

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Post time 2008-1-2 20:57:16 |Display all floors
This J-10 engine is the pride of the nation because it is a reflection of overall industrial strength and manufacturing prowess.
J10-ChineseEngine.jpg

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