China: Opium Replaced by Silicon


December 23, 2007: China has noted that nearly ten million of its young men have become "Internet addicts," spending many hours a day on the Internet playing games or just messing around. Similar problems are being encountered in South Korea, which has the world's highest percentage of its population online with fast Internet connections. In China, most of the online activity of teenagers is via Internet Cafes, and the police have been ordered to keep anyone under age 16 out of these places. China sees Internet addiction as similar to drug addiction, in that it destroys the economic productivity of those affected.

December 22, 2007: In southwest China, a hundred Indian counter-terrorism commandos began training with Chinese counterparts. Both nations are keen to eliminate threats from Islamic terrorism, and these training exercises are part of that effort.

December 21, 2007: China and South Korea have set up a military hot line, so that any problems concerning North Korea, or over fishing rights, can be quickly defused. The two countries have long standing disputes over who controls what fishing areas off South Korea's west coast. China is also very concerned with there being a unified Korea, as a democracy, rather than a communist police state. If North Korea collapses, China and South Korea will want to stay in touch, early and often, lest there be any dangerous misunderstandings.

December 19, 2007: The UN announced that it has overestimated the size of China's economy by 40 percent, and that, when adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), China's economy was actually much smaller than it was formerly estimated to be. PPP adjusts the actual GDP (as calculated using the international exchange rates of currencies) for what people can actually buy. Thus Chinese prices for things like food and housing are "increased" to be comparative to what people pay for the same thing in the West. This allows more realistic comparisons of national economies. With PPP, the U.S. goes from having 29 percent of world economic activity, to 23 percent, while China is nine percent with PPP (it used to be 14 percent), and six percent without. The reason for the adjustment was more economic statistics coming out of China, and the realization that there's a lot more poverty in China than previously realized. China is turning into two countries, with a wealthy and booming coastal area, and poverty stricken interior.

December 15, 2007: Next year, another 60,000 Chinese military officers will lose their jobs. This is part of an ongoing downsizing of the military. The government is trying to make sure laid off officers move smoothly into civilian careers. Over the past five years, about 65,000 officers a year have left, only 25 percent of them voluntarily. The government does not want a lot of unemployed and unhappy former officers out there, but many of the former officers cannot adjust, and some become criminals or engage in corrupt practices.

December 10, 2007: China and Iran have become even tighter allies. A Chinese firm has signed a deal to invest over $2 billion to develop a new oil field in southwestern Iran. This field will, within seven years, produce 185,000 barrels a day ($6 billion worth a year, at current prices). The oil will likely be sold to China, which is aggressively looking for deals like this. In the case of Iran, there are military implications, as China is now even more concerned with Iran's security (and ability to keep shipping oil). This new oil field is very important for Iran, as most of Iran's existing oil is near the Iraqi border, on the north end of the Persian Gulf.

December 5, 2007: China denied British accusations of a secret Internet war being waged by China. The British government openly called for British corporations, especially those with lots of technical secrets, to improve their Internet defenses. Britain is one of several Western nations that are accusing China of waging this secret war, and some Western Cyber War experts are calling for a "secret" offensive against China, to counter the Chinese Cyber War operations. Naturally, there won't be any public announcements of any decisions in this area.




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