China: Into Africa

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January 8, 2008: China plans to put seventeen satellites and one space vehicle into orbit this year, using fifteen launches. Meanwhile, China continues to launch thousands of Chinese migrants a month into Africa, which is seen as a land of opportunity for ambitious and adventurous Chinese. Goods from China are cheap, if shoddy, compared to European or American items. But in Africa low prices are king, and the Chinese know how to play that way. The Chinese also don't mind the nasty remarks from the locals. Chinese traders have been going abroad, often into hostile environments, for thousands of years. For the Chinese government, these "overseas Chinese" are an economic, diplomatic, and sometimes military, bridgehead into foreign lands. The "overseas Chinese" can be a source of military intelligence, and local knowledge for espionage and other missions. Most Western nations have pulled their diplomatic and intelligence people out rural areas in Africa, losing touch with what's going on out there. Not so the Chinese, where the Chinese entrepreneurs will go anywhere that appears capable of providing some profit.

China is importing large quantities of security equipment for this year's Olympics. Chinese manufacturers are already copying a lot of the technology and preparing to offer cheaper (and often illegal) clones of the imported stuff. A lot of it is expected to sell to the domestic market, avoiding unpleasant encounters with U.S. lawyers and courts. This is expected to make software controlled security cameras and biometrics much more common in the Chinese police state.

Meanwhile, the Great Firewall of China, the security system that monitors Internet use, is being equipped to monitor videos (as in YouTube and the like) for their content. The Chinese don't want any politically disturbing videos getting into the country.

Taiwan is buying more anti-missile missiles and AH-64 helicopter gunships. But Taiwanese politicians, and voters, are still split over whether China would even risk a military attack on the island. War would cripple the Chinese economy, if only for a short while, and that would hurt the already shaky communist dictatorship.

 

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