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Assorted China and (1) Taiwan reads

There’s been an epidemic of public shootings in the US recently, with the latest being a gunman who was shot dead in the middle of New York City by police (who also shot 8 bystanders by accident) after having killed a former colleague (not to mention a rash of murder-butcheries in Canada recently). So does this really mean that the United States is full of guncrazy lunatics who love to buy and use weapons without any shred of responsibility or accountability, and idiots who fully support these rights even if it means crimes like the one above and the Colorado Batman cinema massacre are easier to commit? Probably there are quite a lot of people in the US like that, but it still wouldn’t be just to accuse all Americans of being gun nuts. The US is a nation of 300 million, the fourth biggest in the world, and it’s kind of pointless to paint it with simple stereotypes.
This goes the same for China, a nation of one point three billion (1,300,000,000), and the world’s third largest nation, and with subregions and subidentities. A lot of media coverage and public perceptions of China portray it as a giant, monolithic entity with articles proclaiming bold statements like China’s in trouble, China is booming, China is a land of great opportunity, China is a ticking time bomb, foreigners are all leaving China,  and so on. Foreign Policy magazine has a new article on China in which Minxin Pei declares that “everything you know about China is wrong.” What if China isn’t rising, but is falling, Pei states and warns about the danger to the US of overestimating China. The article might be interesting to some people (so do take a look at it), but one problem with this is that it’s not just the US government who might be overestimating China, but the media, who often hype anything about China and in the process paint China as a single broad monochrome canvas.

On slightly more upbeat news about China’s global relations, here’s Der Spiegel about China’s positive relationship with Germany. Trade is booming between these two economic giants, though not everything is rosy. Still, the Germans seem to have a pragmatic approach that bodes well for future relations. Germany’s leader Angela Merkel knows that it’s essential to have a strong economic relationship with China, who is Europe’s main trading partner and vice versa. Also to avoid a unipolar US-dominated or a bipolar US-China world, it’s necessary to have China on board, who would be a much more reliable partner than Russia as Merkel seems to realize, from what the article says. Conversely for China, it’s smart to boost relations with Europe’s top power and ensure this relationship grows stronger.

On to football, while Japan’s Shinji Kagawa has played very well for Manchester United as the new season begins, it’s sad to remember at one point United had signed a young Chinese star. It’s quite obvious that Dong Fangzhuo wasn’t quite ready for the opportunity and that he was mainly signed to give United a presence in the Chinese market, in other words, to sell shirts and win fans.

Finally, if there’s one really charming historical place in Taiwan, that would be the old capital of Tainan. I only went there once but the southern city has a number of interesting and well-preserved historical sights and still has a laidback atmosphere to it. One could liken it to Nanjing, China’s southern former capital city, which also has a nice charm and peaceful atmosphere. Of course Nanjing is not as sleepy and its historical sights have a more rugged and damaged condition due to the wars it’s suffered.

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