Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Sophia Rd cafe cashes in on island dispute #Singapore #Diaoyu #Senkaku [AsiaOne]

AsiaOne: Cafe in Singapore rides the wave of the East Asian island dispute by reaching out through a true-blue Singaporean, if not their primary past-time – food.

Singapore is multicultural by legacy, design and device, and expressed largely through the collective love of diverse foods – the more diverse the better – anyone who visits Singapore can attest to this – it is a global epicentre for cuisine in both high and low places. Peace Centre where this cafe is located is somewhat in the city, but nowhere near the central business district.

There is limited space in Singapore – we are all of 42km wide with barely 20km running north-south. It is the second smallest country in Asia and urban density stands about 12,000/sqkm. 40% of the island is thankfully zoned as a green belt because we cannot do without the rain catchment areas, for now. That also means more than 5+ million (3m citizens, 1m Permanent Residents, the rest imported workers) share a living space of around 400+sqkm. Of course that means if everyone had to stretch out their arms all at once it would be a problem. Most live high-rise, so at any one time the reality of that density is not apparent. Helps that it is a 24-hour city too, makes movement a little bit more spaced out.

Having spent the past three years on travelling cycles of – Australia – Singapore – China documenting and getting a first hand view of China I can almost acutely feel the clear impact population density makes. Australia is at 4/sqkm (in June 2010 it was 2.9), China at 116/sqkm, Singapore – as I mentioned, about 12,000. The difference is clear.

I’ve mentioned a few times over the course of the past two years that population density through a decade of opening floodgates, is becoming a serious problem but I digress. I think the reality that the authorities had no qualms allowing this name to be used for the business as positive. They banned Ministry of Sound from setting up a dance club in Singapore because they felt the Ministry name would resonate negatively with officialdom. They eventually relented after years of deliberation, but case in point.

And that there is a large body of Japanese and Taiwanese working and living in Singapore for decades, I know many of them frequent the area – with no qualms, I think here is where Singapore can be a useful model. Despite the ongoing online vitriol for the past two years, they qualify as growing pains – any host nation can attest to that, as you add more layers to your identity, some meet, other’s don’t, and some just need a bit more fine-tuning, talked over a meal perhaps!

This is a great read by Professor Brenda Yeoh from the National University of Singapore –
Rapid Growth in Singapore’s Immigrant Population Brings Policy Challenge (Migration Information Source, April, 2012) if you’d like a pulse of Singapore’s challenge towards this aspect of globalisation – convergence of movement and with divergence needing attention of consensus, felt made more apparent in confined space.

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Sophia Rd cafe cashes in on island dispute
By Adrian Lim, for myPaper
Source – AsiaOne, published November 6, 2012

Source – AsiaOne, 2012. Photo from myPaper

SINGAPORE – The decor is nostalgically Singaporean while the affordable food served includes casual Chinese-Hong Kong fare like bolo buns.

But this street-facing cafe at Peace Centre in Sophia Road, which opened two weeks ago, bears a moniker which might raise a few eyebrows.

It is called Diao Yu Dao, named after the group of disputed islands in the East China Sea, hotly contested by China and Japan for sovereignty. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: AsiaOne, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese overseas, Culture, Democracy, East China Sea, Government & Policy, Greater China, History, Hong Kong, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Nationalism, Overseas Chinese, Peaceful Development, Politics, Social, Taiwan, Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, , , , , , , , , ,

China’s growing military strength means more chances for peace #China [Global Times]

In the global headspace of ideologies already saturated with 24-7 reports on the significant leadership transitions of the world’s most important bilateral relationship, China publishes this editorial.

First it attempts to shape its 1.7m print readership and beyond in the online world into a cohesive unit – one based on real strength, a greater public awareness of what soft power means to them collectively, thus regulating their behaviour. It might significant that the Global Times has a strong overseas Chinese readership too.

The overarching point perhaps is that they had no reason to be intimidated anymore, and perhaps more importantly –  it also calls for cohesiveness, restraint, and mindfulness as they now have the means to shape their vision of peace and stability.

Nevertheless, we should not be afraid to resolutely fight back against others’ provocations. We should also be capable of distinguishing pure provocations from conflicts over core interests that can’t be resolved, and be able to calculate how much of a winning chance we have.

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China’s growing military strength means more chances for peace
Global Times Editorial
Source – Global Times, published November 4, 2012

Illustration by Liu Rui. Source – Global Times, 2012

Recently, there have been a lot of discussions in overseas media about the successful first test flight of China’s second kind of fifth generation stealth fighter, the J-31. If the reports are correct, it means that China is developing two kinds of fifth generation stealth fighters at the same time. Only the US has ever owned two kinds of fifth generation stealth fighters.

In recent years, China has continued to develop its aerospace industry, so as to catch up with the most advanced in the world. It is possible that China will make some new breakthroughs. With new high technology being developed, the gap between the Chinese air force and world-class level air forces will continue to narrow.

However, China should remain clear-headed about this. Currently, we have made some concrete progress. But much remains to be done to bring the whole defense equipment system to the same advanced level. China still has a long, tough road to undergo in this regard. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Collectivism, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, global times, Government & Policy, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Russia, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, U.S., , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

‘On China:’ Experts discuss new generation of leaders [CNN]

A snippet from CNN’s new series that started airing October 17th – On China, ahead of the 18th National Congress in November.

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‘On China:’ Experts discuss new generation of leaders
By Hilary Whiteman, CNN
Source – CNN, published October 17, 2012

Victor Gao: A former member of the Chinese Foreign Service and translator for the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.
Source – CNN, 2012

Editor’s note: Each month, CNN’s Kristie Lu Stout will sit down with three China experts to discuss what’s really driving this world power and economic giant. “On China” premieres on CNN International on Wednesday, October 17 at 5.30 p.m. HKT (5.30 a.m. ET.) This month’s guests include former Chinese Foreign Service member Victor Gao, well-known Chinese author and blogger Hung Huang, and American journalist and author John Pomfret.

Hong Kong (CNN) — A long way from the big-spending, flag-waving spectacle of competing U.S. presidential campaigns, a momentous leadership change is quietly unfolding in the world’s second largest economy.

In November, thousands of specially chosen members of China’s Communist Party will converge on Beijing for the 18th National Congress. There, they’ll announce who’ll fill the soon-to-be-vacant roles of president, vice president, premier and assorted chiefs of important government departments.

Ahead of the congress, CNN’s Kristie Lu Stout sat down with three prominent China watchers — Victor Gao, Hung Huang and John Pomfret — to discuss the leadership change and their views on the fate of the country and its ruling Communist Party. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, CNN, Communications, Domestic Growth, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Media, New Leadership, Overseas Chinese, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S., , , , , , , ,

In Singapore, Vitriol Against Chinese Newcomers [New York Times]

The New York Times takes a look at the paradox of rising ant-Chinese sentiment in Singapore with words like xenophobia being bandied about in the press. More than a third of residents in the globalised port-of-call Singapore are born outside its already population-dense shores while it ranks the third most sort after immigration destination for the affluent Chinese after Canada and the US (final page, see PDF report here) in 2012.

“Mainlanders may look like us, but they aren’t like us… Singaporeans look down on mainlanders as country bumpkins, and they look down on us because we can’t speak proper Chinese… ”quote by Alvin Tan, the artistic director of a local community theater company.

Certainly, cautious steps ahead. See Prickly points of a New York Times article (The Online Citizen, July 30, 2012)

for a glimpse of what one Singaporean Chinese feels about the newcomers.

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In Singapore, Vitriol Against Chinese Newcomers
by Andrew Jacobs
Source – New York Times, published July 26, 2012

Construction workers from mainland China at Renewal Christian Church in Singapore, which offers meals and English lessons to those far from home. Photo – New York Times

SINGAPORE — It was bad enough that Ma Chi was driving well above the speed limit on a downtown boulevard when he blew through a red light and struck a taxi, killing its two occupants and himself. It didn’t help, either, that he was at the wheel of a $1.4 million Ferrari that early morning in May, or that the woman in the passenger seat was not his wife.

But what really set off a wave of outrage across this normally decorous island-state is the fact that Mr. Ma, a 31-year-old financial investor, carried a Chinese passport, having arrived in Singapore four years earlier.

The accident, captured by the dashboard camera of another taxi, has uncorked long-stewing fury against the surge of new arrivals from China, part of a government-engineered immigration push that has almost doubled Singapore’s population to 5.2 million since 1990. About a million of those newcomers arrived in the past decade, drawn by financial incentives and a liberal visa policy aimed at counteracting Singapore’s famously low birthrate. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Chinese overseas, Culture, Education, Government & Policy, Greater China, Nationalism, New York Times, Overseas Chinese, Peaceful Development, Public Diplomacy, Singapore, Social, Soft Power, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, ,

What Asean wants: Powerful, peaceful, rich China [Straits Times]

The hard and simple truth – will will prefer to deal with a weak and disgruntled China? Professor Tommy Koh Is a Singaporean diplomat and scholar who has an East-West bridge of first hand knowledge on China and the world. written originally for the Global Times it reflects sensibilities addressing a Chinese audience with a subtext perhaps alluding that the Chinese should remember the old ways in dealing with its current territorial disputes with the South China Sea.

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What Asean wants: Powerful, peaceful, rich China
By Tommy Koh, For The Straits Times
Source – Straits Times, published July 4, 2012

MOST of the Asean countries have a benign view of China. This is based in part on their reading of Chinese history and, in part, on the behaviour of China in the past 20 years.

Our understanding of Chinese history leads us to conclude that, except for the two periods when China was ruled by the Mongols in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and the Manchus under the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), it was not an aggressive or expansionist state. On the contrary, China was frequently invaded by foreigners. Its preoccupation has been to defend its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

China’s relations with South- east Asia go back many centuries. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the kings and sultans of South-east Asia acknowledged China as the superior power and civilisation. They sought China’s protection and rendered tribute to the Chinese emperors. A sultan of Sulu and a sultan of Brunei, for example, died while they were in China. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: ASEAN, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Domestic Growth, Economics, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Soft Power, Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, , , ,

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