2008:Chinese oil consumption (most of
it imported) continues to rise, to 7.4 million barrels a day (global demand is
over 80 million barrels a day, the U.S. accounts for a quarter of that). The government controls fuel prices, and raised
them over the Summer. This did not reduce demand as much as expected. Oil use
has largely kept pace with annual increases in economic activity (10 percent a
year for nearly two decades), and that has been a major factor in the world price
of oil more than tripling in the last decade. But this has made China more
dependent on sea routes to the Persian Gulf and Africa (where China gets most
of its oil). Thus the growing interest in expanding the size of the fleet.
China is no longer a self-sufficient "continental" power, as it had
been for thousands of years. Now China is dependent on international trade to
keep its economy going.
As the U.S. has
cracked down on terrorists using the international banking system. In response,
the terrorists have sought out countries that would allow their banks to deal
with terrorists, and are immune to pressure from the United States. Chinese
banks have thus become the favorite of international terrorist organizations,
at least those that do not operate in China, or are hostile to China.
pressuring Pakistan to crack down on Islamic radicals. Not because China is
particularly down on Islamic radicals, but because two more Chinese workers
(engineers) have been kidnapped in Pakistan. The Islamic radicals there
(Taliban and al Qaeda) are opposed to change in general, and foreign investment
in particular. China is a major ally and arms supplier for Pakistan. In the
past, Pakistan has gone to great lengths to rescue Chinese citizens kidnapped
by Islamic radicals.
2008:The Chinese government believes
online games are a threat. Some 40 million Chinese teenagers play these games,
often for more than eight hours a day. The government believes that at least
four million of these players have suffered long term damage. The games are
believed to have a bad effect on education and job performance. The government
also believes that the content in some of the games leads to anti-social
activity. So the government is setting up a censor board for online games, and
will try to impose limits on long teenagers (mostly males) can play the games.
2008:China's "underground mass
media" (cell phones and the Internet) are buzzing about the trial of a Shanghai
man (Jia Yang) who knifed six policemen to death. The government trial was
supposed to just find this "deranged mass murder" guilty and execute
him. But the story coming out from citizen investigators has seized the public
imagination. The killer was apparently the victim of police corruption, and he
killed the six cops in revenge. That's something most Chinese can identify
with, as there is widespread police corruption. The government is trying to
suppress discussions of the Yang case on the Internet, but that just encourages
more people to find out what is going on. The government fears large scale
demonstrations, and maybe even violence, against the police.
2008:In Taiwan, pro-independence groups
are staging large (over 40,000 people) demonstrations to protest the newly
elected Taiwanese presidents push for closer relations with China.
2008:Unrest continues in western China,
where local Moslem Turks (Uighurs) clashed with police. Some two dozen Uighurs
were arrested, and to policemen were killed.
2008:China succeeded in preventing the
Olympics from becoming a source of embarrassing political demonstrations.
Dissent was suppressed and foreign journalists were kept from producing a large
amounts of anti-government reporting.