Saturday, February 18, 2006

Which country's interests would be served by a unified Korea? (submitted to CanKor #237)

Reunification would serve the interests of all six parties except for the United States. With the end of the Korean War that this implies, Korea would likely request that the U.S. withdraw its military presence from Korean soil. China-Korea economic relations would grow stronger fueled by the economic boom engendered by Chinese-style "opening and reform" in the former DPRK region. Russia, China and Korea would develop the Tumen Delta into an important hub for global trade. But reunification would only occur in the context of a weakened US with significantly reduced global influence due to a crisis of confidence in the US economy, comparable to the decline of the former Soviet Union in the 80s and 90s. Japan in this case would have little choice but to fall into place in a China-dominated Asia-Pacific. Without US protection, Taiwan would cease to be able to maintain de facto independence of China and would "return to the embrace of the motherland."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Canada-China Scholarly Exchange Program Alumni Registration

Canada-China Scholarly Exchange Program Alumni Registration

This is the link to the website the Canadian deparment of Foreign Affairs has established to register CCSEP alumni. I hope that it will lead to a reunion. It is harder and harder for me to find anyone interested in hearing me recount my reminiscences of my glorious youth in Shanghai in the 1970s. Maybe I really should take out some of the vivid details and insightful asides, but I am loathe to do so after honing these stories so well after so many repetitions of them. I guess I became old and boring more than ten years ago. Anyway it seems that to Chinese youth today the Cultural Revolution is history as far removed from contemporary realities as the Boxer Rebellion and Heavenly Kingdom of the Taipings. As Marx points out: "Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like a banana" (Groucho Marx).

Monday, February 13, 2006

Comment on news item "Scaling the firewall of digital censorship," published in Globe and Mail February 13, 2006, p. A1

Mr. Deibert and his team show very noble and highly commendable intentions with the development of the Psiphon software designed to defeat the Chinese firewall. But it is unlikely to achieve its purpose of freeing Chinese to surf the web unhindered. Most people in China who want to read censored materials already use services that offer constantly changing proxy server IP addresses. So far there is little evidence that the Chinese police have been pressing charges on the small numbers of people in China who dare to use these services. But Mr. Deibert's method involves establishing a sustaining relationship with someone outside China for the purpose of evading the Chinese Government's official censorship. Collaborating with foreigners in this way would be deemed a very serious crime by the Chinese authorities. The Chinese user would always be leery of assurances that the Psiphon is undetectable by the Chinese internet police. Because it exposes them to the possibility of trumped up charges of espionage, the prospects of the software "taking off" in China at this time are unfortunately very unlikely. I am sorry to be the bearer of this bad news.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Head Tax Redress

When I was a student at the U of T in the 1970s I used to go down to the Chinatown (which was pretty small in those days) for a meal. Usually I would chat in Chinese with the lonely old gentlemen who spent a lot of time in the little restaurants and bakeries there. They would often insist on picking up the cheque for my bowl of noodles or whatever which I found rather embarrassing. These were the Chinese men who had entered Canada before 1923 and who had by this time mostly lost contact with their families in China due to political reasons culminating in the Cultural Revolution. By that time they were too old to work any more, so they sat in restaurants nursing cups of tea for long hours every day. Owing to the discriminatory Canadian immigration policies they were never able to enjoy normal family life --- no grandchildren to bring them joy in their declining years. Anyway they are pretty much all dead now, so the redress has come rather late. But I still think about them in their lonliness.