Tag Archives: nervous

Growing ‘Occupy’ movement makes China nervous

Mark Mackinnon

Beijing — According to a Chinese joke, there are three parts to any newscast on the official Central China Television station.

The message in the first block of stories on each night’s news is: Your leaders worked hard today. This is proven with eye-glazing footage of President Hu Jintao and other top Communist Party officials meeting foreign dignitaries, ordinary Chinese people and each other.

For those still awake when the second block of stories airs, the theme is: The Chinese people are happy. Great things are happening in the People’s Republic.

The third bit is the counterpoint to the second chunk, and the message is equally simple: The rest of the world is in chaos. Europe is falling apart! The Arab world is on fire! Aren’t you glad you live in China?

When the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations began on Sept. 17, it nicely fit into the third block of that news agenda. American capitalism, China’s great rival, was in crisis (although it does put a few million people here to work), and the masses were taking to the streets against it.

Could Occupy Wall Street be America’s Arab Spring? the China Daily asked gleefully before going on to argue the Arab Spring was in fact “objectively non-existent.” (China’s leaders have opposed the uprisings in the Middle East every step of the way, perhaps seeing a little of themselves in Hosni Mubarak, Moammar Gadhafi and Bashar Assad.)

With no apparent sense of irony at all, the state-controlled Chinese press even joined those accusing the mainstream U.S. media counterparts of imposing a blackout on the Occupy Wall Street protests.

But that was back when the “Occupy” protests were safely an ocean and a bit away in New York City. But the movement’s rapid spread across North America and Europe to Asia – Occupy Tokyo, Occupy Seoul and Occupy Taipei protests began on Oct. 15 – has clearly rattled the Communist Party leadership. There’s even a small but ongoing Occupy Hong Kong protest camp in front of the HSBC headquarters in that separate-but-still-part-of-China city’s financial district.

The chuckling from stability-obsessed Beijing has ceased. On Sina Weibo, China’s popular Twitter-like microblogging service (the real Twitter is blocked here), the search terms “Occupy Beijing,” “Occupy Shanghai,” “Occupy Guangzhou,” “Occupy Lhasa” and so on were blocked, right down the line to “Occupy Haikou” and “Occupy Shijiazhuang,” smaller provincial centres where there’s not much of a financial district to camp in anyway. ….

Read more » THE GLOBE AND MAIL 

Bahrain or Bust?

Pakistan should think twice before meddling in the Middle East.

By Miranda Husain

Excerpt:

Less than three weeks after Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) forces, led by Saudi Arabia, entered Bahrain to aid the anti-democracy crackdown there, dignitaries from both oil-rich kingdoms did their separate rounds in Pakistan. The royal houses of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are nervous, and they need Pakistan’s mercenaries, and—if necessary—military muscle to shore them up.

This is a remarkable turn of events for Asif Ali Zardari, who had been trying since he was elected president in 2008 to secure Saudi oil on sweetheart terms. He had been unsuccessful in his efforts because … Saudis view his leadership with some degree of skepticism. It also doesn’t help that Zardari, … is big on improving relations with … Tehran. Riyadh now appears inclined to export oil on terms that better suit cash-strapped Islamabad. Manama, too, wants to play ball. It wants increased defense cooperation and has pledged to prioritize Pakistan’s hopes for a free-trade agreement with the GCC in return. But Zardari and his Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, should fight the urge to get mired in the Middle East. …

“The U.S. has counted on Pakistan to help control the Arab world and safeguard Arab rulers from their own populations,” says Chomsky. “Pakistan was one of the ‘cops on the beat’ that the Nixon administration had in mind when outlining their doctrine for controlling the Arab world,” he says. Pakistan has such “severe internal problems” that it may not be able to play this role even if asked to. But the real reason that Pakistan should avoid this role is so that it can stand on the right side of history, alongside those who are fighting for democracy.

To read full article : NewsWeekPakistan

Pakistan : A great deal of ruin in a nation

Excerpt:

Why Islam took a violent and intolerant turn in Pakistan, and where it might lead

“TYPICAL Blackwater operative,” says a senior military officer, gesturing towards a muscular Westerner with a shaven head and tattoos, striding through the lobby of Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel. Pakistanis believe their country is thick with Americans working for private security companies contracted to the Central Intelligence Agency; and indeed, the physique of some of the guests at the Marriott hardly suggests desk-bound jobs.

Pakistan is not a country for those of a nervous disposition. Even the Marriott lacks the comforting familiarity of the standard international hotel, for the place was blown up in 2008 by a lorry loaded with explosives. The main entrance is no longer accessible from the road; guards check under the bonnets of approaching cars, and guests are dropped off at a screening centre a long walk away.

Some 30,000 people have been killed in the past four years in terrorism, sectarianism and army attacks on the terrorists. The number of attacks in Pakistan’s heartland is on the rise, and Pakistani terrorists have gone global in their ambitions. This year there have been unprecedented displays of fundamentalist religious and anti-Western feeling. All this might be expected in Somalia or Yemen, but not in a country of great sophistication which boasts an elite educated at Oxbridge and the Ivy League, which produces brilliant novelists, artists and scientists, and is armed with nuclear weapons. …

…. The future would look brighter if there were much resistance to the extremists from political leaders. But, because of either fear or opportunism, there isn’t. The failure of virtually the entire political establishment to stand up for Mr Taseer suggests fear; the electioneering tour that the law minister of Punjab took with a leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba last year suggests opportunism. “The Punjab government is hobnobbing with the terrorists,” says the security officer. “This is part of the problem.” A state increasingly under the influence of extremists is not a pleasant idea.

It may come out all right. After all, Pakistan has been in decline for many years, and has not tumbled into the abyss. But countries tend to crumble slowly. As Adam Smith said, “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation.” The process could be reversed; but for that to happen, somebody in power would have to try.

To read full article : Economist

Are America’s Best Days Behind Us?

By Fareed Zakaria

I am an American, not by accident of birth but by choice. I voted with my feet and became an American because I love this country and think it is exceptional. But when I look at the world today and the strong winds of technological change and global competition, it makes me nervous. Perhaps most unsettling is the fact that while these forces gather strength, Americans seem unable to grasp the magnitude of the challenges that face us. Despite the hyped talk of China’s rise, most Americans operate on the assumption that the U.S. is still No. 1.

But is it? …

Read more: Time.com

U.N. Diplomats Break With Qaddafi

By COLIN MOYNIHAN

Members of Libya’s mission to the United Nations renounced Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi on Monday, calling him a genocidal war criminal responsible for mass shootings of demonstrators protesting against his four decades in power. They called upon him to resign. …

Read more : The New York Times