Thursday, June 30, 2005

Where are you from?

It's great to see so many cultures, nations and languages are represented and reading this blog. In that vain, let's share with everyone where we are from and what we think is the BEST THING about East Asia.


I'll start: I'm from Denmark and the best thing about East Asia is the region's economic and political development over the past 30 or so years. This has pulled millions of people out of poverty. Something other regions (especially Africa) could learn from.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Popularity: China 1 - USA 0

Did you hear? According to an opinion poll in 16 different countries, China is more popular than the US!

The Pew Research Center published the poll today, to the great revelation of most people.
Or is it surprising?

After the War in Iraq, it seems that the US is no more popular as Vanuatu. But does it matter?

Anti-Americanism has been an issue in East Asia for quite some time. Will it get worse? Hard to say, but perhaps we'll start to see the political repurcussions, as the children who grew up with anti-american sentiments are now at the wheel in various Asian governments.
Or is it just a media/general hype?

What is the role of the US in East Asia? - Lemme hear your say:::

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Teaching in Asia

Often left without a clue on what path to take after graduating from collage, teaching in Asia is a widely popular adventure many a native English speaker embark upon. I can personally testify that although it may not teach one the work skills you would want to use in a corporate career, it definitely opens your eyes to a whole new culture (or in some cases, the horrors thereof) and gives you the memories of a lifetime.

Cookiesap has taught English in South Korea and China, where he had a stupendous time. Indeed. One of the best ways for him to maintain the positive recollection; however, was through his ability to "move on." By returning to grad school and commencing on something new, he was not be trapped in the world of ESL and ABCs for the rest of his days.

I would like to hear about your teaching experiences in Asia, whether it was in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, or wherever, tell us all about it. I want to hear your take on this popular undertaking. Also - which country is best..and even better, what place should be avoided?


Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Quiet Birthday for 'The Lady'

What's going on in Burma right now? Do you really know?

Once again, Cookiesap is looking through the maze of media reports about the secretive junta-ruled state in South East Asia. It is one of my favorite issues, but also one of the most depressing ones. Today is Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday. Let's all sing "Happy Birthday" for her - or perhaps we should all falter...and cry...

On this important day, President Bush had the graciousness to issue a statement on this day that included:
"Her strength, courage, and personal sacrifice in standing up for the oppressed people of Burma have inspired those who stand for freedom".

But are we really standing up for freedom, or carelessly looking at the events in Burma with our saturated eyes with all the evil of the world. There is 24-hour newscasts with death, disaster and disease on a plethora of TV channels and of course the Internet, have we not seen enough? One might argue: Is there not too much grief in the world to also worry about Burma! The answer is NO - at least on her birthday, let's send Aung San Suu Kyi our thoughts, meditations, and prayers. Respect is often gained through knowledge. Learn something about a person or idea, and the road towards its respect has begun.

Are we standing in the way of Burma, acknowledging China's buddy-buddy partnership with the SPDC (former SLORC) junta? I love asking questions - don't you want to answer them?

Although a military invasion of Yangon, a-la the US in Baghdad, might not be the most successful way of bringing liberty and freedom to Aung San Suu Kyi and her people; there are so many other things we can do. First of all, why are we not demanding for our own politicians to take a more creative stance vis-à-vis Burma? Why are we not asking more questions about what companies are working in partnership with the SPDC? Why are we not more aware of the plight of the NLD? Is there a local "free Burma" campaign where you live? If the answer is no: Have you thought about starting one? It's a great place to meet new people, I reckon.

Now is the time to spread awareness about Burma. Ask your colleague in the cubicle next to you if s/he knows what is going on and then build your own database of atrocities conducted by the junta (although most are not made official, similar to North Korea). Please add your comments to this post of past events that point out the heinous acts of the military SPDC Junta.

Cookiesap is kow-towing (ke tou) and begging the Burmese leadership to release Aung San Suu Kyi and commence on a slow, but steady transition towards freedom (or democracy) in Burma. Albeit it may have Asian Values, but with a sense of justice where people can freely live, feel, love, write and speak.

May all the religions of the world bless 'The Lady’?

Link to : Free Burma Campaign

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Down the Drain: The Current Approach to the North Korean Nuclear Crisis

North Korea
has never been potentially more dangerous than it is today, except for perhaps in 1951 on the eve of the Korean War. While mainstream media and cultural sources of expression (e.g. the movie Team America) have focused on this peril, no progress has been achieved since the first news of North Korea's renewed nuclear program in 2001. While Bush boasted about his diplomatic success with the 6-party talks (honoring the idea of multilateralism) in the 2004 Presidential campaign, his administration is reaching out with one hand, and giving the finger with the other; by issuing and uttering statements, which insult the North Korean leadership--a faux pas in diplomacy no matter how cruel or 'evil' the opponent might appear. Is it not a waste of energy to cooperate with your worst foe, if simultaneously offending it through intermediary channels?

It is therefore time to readjust the US policy and approach to this problem, as the current course seems to be steering us directly into a wall, or worse, to the edge of a gigantic waterfall. President Bush - your North Korea strategy is failing.

I have a theory behind this. It can be assumed that the current Bush administration (and his republican cohorts) sees little purpose in solving the situation, as it simply could lead to a bigger mess. The regional order, strategically, is de facto controlled by the United States. For the US to assume any changes in its posture vis-à-vis the North Korean regime, it could potentially backlash and lead to a domino effect in its position in East Asia. If the North Korean problem is optimally solved (from a Korean perspective) it would lead to the complete departure of US troops from South Korea and possibly even Japan. That would not fall well with the hawks in the pentagon/Foggy Bottom. The Bush administration would see a complete reshaping in the East Asian "hub and spokes" system in East Asia, if the Korean peninsula would become a "peaceful place" and with China as another unsolved strategic problem, the Bush administration would benefit from keeping the status quo, and not give China or Japan the upper hand in terms of power projections. That is why Bush has been to reluctant from engaging Kim Jong Il in a manner similar to Bill Clinton. Not only are Bush, Cheney and Rummy guided by strong moral codes (which ironically includes his alliance with countries like Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan), but they also like to see a US supremacy in the East Asian region.

Imagine if North Korea seizes to exists-would China not feel threatened by the powerful US military presence in East Asia? ...You see what I mean????

Now it's your turn::

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Japan, South Korea and Iran Qualifies for 2006 World Cup

Congratulations to Iran, Japan and South Korea.

These are the first teams to qualify for the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany.

In the past, it has mostly been South American and European teams that have dominated the global soccer scene. With today's rumors of Korean's Park considering a move to Man U., is this a sign that Asian soccer is on the rise and that their very organized and strong team-player efforts are paying off? The soccer-fuss definitely sky-rocketed after the last world cup in Korea/Japan, and it was facinating to see how patriotic and deeply emotional the Korean fans were after their victories against Italy and Spain. I certainly would love to see any of the newly qualified teams from Asia win their first World Cup.

Is there a chance Japan, Iran or South Korea could win then next world cup, or is it just wishful thinking?

Monday, June 06, 2005

China: What's next?---Milton's commentary

Brace yourselves for the next civil war in China!

Western influence was indirectly responsible for the first Tiananmen Square incident. At the time, China's government rejected the outside world while Chinese academia embraced new ideas of democracy and capitalism.

Over the past 16 years, the Chinese government has become more hands off and has allowed a semi-capitalistic (yet still very controlled) approach rule mainland China, more so in the model "posterboyesque" cities of Beijing & Shanghai.

I believe that there will be another Tiananmen incident, or should I say revolution, and when this occurs the tables will be reversed. Poor Chinese peasants/farmers/laborers from outside the city-centers (comprising the majority of the country's population) will be sick and tired of the oppressive, exploitative Chinese ruling class. They will attempt to rise against and rebel the contradictory Chinese government. Whereas in the past China's communistic approach aimed at helping other countries overthrow democratic world leaders, its own new-founded "democratic/communistic" ruling party will ironically have to fight to maintain their stronghold on the nation.

What will be interesting is to see is if other nations attempt to intervene. If the war in Iraq was a sign of the UN's cohesiveness, strength, and political clout, this upcoming clash of power will need be completely resolved within the confines of the "Great Wall."

Sunday, June 05, 2005

16 Years later on the Square of Heavenly Peace and beyond

A Cookiesap commentary:

Every morning the Chinese flag is raised with pride and nationalism on China’s most famous plaza, the Tian An Men Square (天安门广场). It is rumored to be a marvelous sight. Anyone who has visited this gigantic place usually finds themselves in awe and fascination for at least a minute or two. The significance and symbolism of this intriguing square varies tremendously between those looking out through the windows of the Great Wall and for those taking a peek at (or writing blogs about) the world’s most populous country.

Sixteen years ago, on this day, the Chinese government authorized its military to solve the on-going student protest-crisis on Beijing's central square. Although reports vary, we can be certain that several hundred people lost their lives. That is all common knowledge, but what is interesting to this day—140160 hours later—is the extent to which China’s government has matured in the meantime. Economically, there has been a tremendous proliferation in “China-fuss”. It is hard to open a newspaper without spotting at least one china-related article. The Middle Kingdom is no longer merely a vestige of the old communist bloc; but a vibrant market-like economy with opportunities a plenty for friends and foe alike with the dream of earning a fortune. Politically, however, much remains the same. Jiang Zemin was seen as a very cooperating figure in the EU-US circles and helped pave the way for Chinese multilateral involvement in arrangements such as the World Trade Organization, APEC, and ASEAN+3; however, China’s new leader, Hu Jin Tao, has steadily been reconciling power without an apparent effort to follow a similar trend towards political reform and democratization.

With the Tian An Men incident’s status as a major milestone in modern history of China, it has meant very different things for China and the rest of the world. To this day, many ‘Mainlanders’ strongly believe the student protests were more akin to a terrorist/rebel insurgency than the emergence of a civil society. Others speak of the protesters as if they were criminals disguised as students. Conversely, in the ‘outside’, Tian An Men has given organizations such as Amnesty and the Human Right’s Watch more fuel for criticism of the communist country. Americans and Europeans alike would easily agree that the incident was a step backwards for democracy. Who does not remember the CNN images of a lonely soul trying to block the access of monstrous tanks on this day, 16 years ago?

The underlying question now concerns what the past 16 years can teach us of what is to come in the next 16. The answer: very little! As you may recall, Taiwan and South Korea were also authoritarian regimes that prioritized national economic growth over sowing seeds of democracy. Can we expect the same of China? I believe the answer is both yes and no! Sure, people in the PRC are learning more about the benefits of liberal democracies in the rest of the world and how democracy in South Korea has not impeded their national economic goals. However, Korea and Taiwan received much less attention and outside pressure (on every possible front), which established a much less defensive posture vis-à-vis the rest of the world. Remember, it is much easier to change the mind of a calm person than a subject with a blatant defensive (and aggressive) position. We must therefore give China a chance to develop a regime of their own choice and not scare the emerging super-power into something that has to come from the blood, sweat and tears of its own people. As we saw in Lebanon and Ukraine, the next Tian An Men will be more successful if it is initiated by people within the confines of the Great Wall.

What do you think China will look like in 16 years from now?
(Thanks to Milton's editing skills)

Changes to Asia East Blog

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Tell us how we can improve the blog for the purpose of sparking social and economic development in East Asia.

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