China in charge

A note from the editor

Chris Richards

I remember the Cold War with no warmth. It was a time of paranoid rantings. In one corner sat the capitalist ‘running-dogs’ (the United States); in the other, those ‘communist bastards’ (the USSR). Ignoring the poor inside and outside their countries, both sides threw ever-increasing fortunes at an arms race doomed to fail. Russia collapsed under the weight of it.

Today – as China’s influence on the world overtakes that of the United States – paranoid rantings are returning to international debate. In my country, Australia, there’s public disagreement between the intelligence and defence forces about whether we need to ramp up our military to defend ourselves from the Chinese. Putting aside the rather awkward reality that the Chinese outnumber Australians 60 to 1, the good news is that China gives no indication of wanting to take up arms and expand beyond the boundaries it already claims. It doesn’t need to. This magazine should help to explain why.

‘Emerging superpower’ is just one of those buttons that, when pressed, provokes extreme reactions in governments. In China, ‘dissenter’ is another. Twenty years ago this month, Chinese tanks rolled over protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The picture of a young man standing alone in front of one of the tanks was – and still is – beamed around the world. It is a potent symbol of the power of protest, celebrating the bravery of individuals who stand up against the full force of government to claim their rights. It is a timely reminder, for it is not just in China where repression rages. This month’s Special Feature, ‘You are being watched’, reports on surveillance tactics being used by police and special forces on picket lines from New York to New Zealand. Tiananmen Square may be closer to home than you think.

Chris Richards for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

The big story

Ruth Kapi points to the devastation created by the Chinese-led Ramu Nickel mine project.

The route of the mine’s pipeline concerns John Yong Botti (top); PNG workers at Basamuk face menial work (middle) with strict camp rules (bottom).

Made in China

Chris Richards meets ‘Capi-communism’ – the Chinese version of capitalism that’s plundering Papua New Guinea.

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The mango tree spreads large and lush. Standing at the centre of this village, it has pride of place. Huts on stilts surround it. Under its branches, protected from the sun, the villagers of Lalok in Papua New Guinea (PNG) collect to talk and make decisions together. Like the tree, their community is strong – democracy is growing.

It looks like paradise here. Children run across the beach laughing to greet our six-metre dinghy after its sea-crossing. Tall palm trees swaying softly on ...




Features

Confucius on display at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. These performers represent the 3,000 disciples of Confucius. While the calligraphy brushes being used for headgear reminded the world of the ancient origins of Chinese script, they also helped write a clear message to all who watched that China’s cultural influence on the world has been deep and lasting.Mike Blake / Reuters

The Cultural Crusades

Throw away the guns. Nick Young reports on the conquering power of Chinese culture.

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On the world’s factory floor

Facts and figures about China’s growth and what it costs.

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The burning of the village of Um Zeifa in Darfur after the Janjaweed looted and attacked it. The Chinese Government has supplied much of the munitions used by the Janjaweed to destroy the non-Arab peoples in the south of Sudan.Photo by Brian Steidle

Breath of the dragon

China’s aid and arms are promoting one-party governments, argues Rebecca Tinsley.

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Hu’s who

A guide to who’s running the show in China.

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Stacking up the yuan: At the end of September 2008, the savings of Chinese people ($2.92 trillion) outstripped their loans almost 6 to 1.Reuters / Stringer in China

The yuan plays the dollar

Egyptian economist Gouda Abdel-Khalek talks with Rowenna Davis about China’s political plays in the Middle East.

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A man in Shanxi province rides past the communist dynasty of leaders (clockwise from top) Mao Zedong, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Deng Xiaoping.Shanghai Stringer / Reuters

The next dynasty

Resource wars? Climate armageddon? What business-as-usual in China will mean for the rest of the world.

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On your bike: Specialist hand-filing of high-end bikes may have to give way to robotic production-line bike manufacturing in North America.Jonathan Maus / BikePortland.org

Wheel back the factories

Chinese investors may bring manufacturing back to the West, discovers Libby Tucker.

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Caught on camera: a police surveillance officer captures Greek and British protesters on film at a London demonstration against police repression, December 2008. Photo by: Marc Vallee

You are being watched

Police surveillance and intimidation of political activists is hitting new heights. Olly Zanetti dodges the long lenses to expose Big Brother’s latest attack on the right to protest.

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Confucius goes to Chile

Confucius goes to Chile

Lezak Shallat discovers why Latin Americans are learning Chinese.

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Blogs

No riff-raff here!

No riff-raff here!

How to go slow between Bristol and the River Thames

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Opinion

From pastures brown

From pastures brown

Back in the country after a two-month trip, Mgcini Nyoni is shocked to see the fear and hunger of his fellow-Zimbabweans.

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Currents

Lock out the poor

Lock out the poor

In Rio, a wall is being built to separate the slums from the city

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Taken for a bride

Taken for a bride

Saudi judge upholds the arranged marriage between an eight-year-old girl and a 47-year-old man.

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A pressing issue

A pressing issue

Belarusian journalists ‘gagged’ by draconian censorship laws

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Cargill exposed

Cargill exposed

Transnational food company found modifying all its rice to evade price controls

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Denial and dismissal

Denial and dismissal

Despite growing evidence, the Kenyan Government evades accountability for murder

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Dirty diplomacy

Dirty diplomacy

Concern over the Canadian Government's handling of Canada’s tar sands

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Regulars

A remarkable failure

A remarkable failure

Drug prohibition doesn’t work. Time to legalize instead, argues Rachel Godfrey Wood.

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Trinidad & Tobago

Facts, figures and statistics of Trinidad & Tobago

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Khaled Hasan

Khaled Hasan captures life working in Bangladesh’s brickfields.

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Shake and sway

Shake and sway

Maria Golia ponders Egypt’s attitude towards sexuality.

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Mohamed Al-Daradji Photo by Ed Stocker

Mohamed Al-Daradji

Ed Stocker talked with the Iraqi filmmaker

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Film, Book & Music Reviews

Gurrumul

Gurrumul

Listeners familiar with the harder sounds of Yothu Yindi are in for a surprise. The 12 songs on Gurrumul display an altogether softer side of their author.

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South African SPECIAL

South African SPECIAL

A selection of post-election South African reading.

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Seya

Seya

Accompanied by a wide range of sound for this latest outing – jazzy horns, strings and the kamele ngoni (harp) played by trusty sidekick Benego Diakite – Seya is an album that simply flows.

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Broken Glass

Broken Glass

A multi-layered tribute to the human spirit – beaten but not broken, and laughing drunkenly in the face of adversity.

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Sugar

Sugar

More than a sports film: Sugar explores the American Dream, competitiveness and simple human values.

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Sounds Like Teen Spirit

Sounds Like Teen Spirit

Directed by Jamie J Johnson, yes, it is about Eurovision, and many of the songs are appalling, but what comes over is the solidarity between the contestants, and how un-egotistical they are.

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