With "Let the Bullets Fly," Jiang Wen has succeeded in creating an officially acceptable yet enthralling film—one in which political subversion exists only in the eye of the beholder.
In the category of the world’s sexiest politicians, China’s dour communist apparatchiks would seem to be far behind America’s legendary ladies’-men presidents and Europe’s bunga-bunga leaders. But a survey released in December by the All-China Women’s Federation found that a Middle Kingdom mandarin is the top pick for an ideal partner among Chinese women.
As China’s economy roars into another year, analysts are keeping a wary eye on the country’s land and housing prices. Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics reported a 7.7 percent rise in those prices over the past year, and many experts believe that the actual increase was far more steep than that.
An apparent affection for Jewishness has led to a surprising trend in publishing over the last few years: books purporting to reveal the business secrets of the Talmud that capitalize on the widespread impression among Chinese that attributes of Judaism lead to success in the financial arts.
Foreign policymakers distracted by recent history—the fallout from the end of the Cold War, the morasses of Iraq and Afghanistan—should shift their gazes from northern landmasses to southern seas. That’s the thrust of Robert Kaplan’s new book, Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power, which argues that the Indian Ocean “will demographically and strategically be a hub of the 21st-century world.”
China has been making a lot of noise lately about the sanctity of its territorial claims, and its bluster is getting louder by the month. The most recent manifestation: the opening ceremony of the Asian Games in early November. The celebration showed off an armada of Chinese ships and a fishing boat protected by hundreds of guards—a rather undiplomatic reference to the recent maritime incident with Japan. Beyond its unwillingness to compromise with Tokyo, Beijing has also been ruffling territorial feathers in India. In October, China released a map on a state-owned Web site labeling an Indian province as Chinese territory—a surprising provocation between two countries presumably on friendly terms.
Beijing knows how to use the thorn in its side. North Korea, reclusive and reckless, poses constant risks. A collapse of the government in Pyongyang would send thousands of starving North Korean refugees pouring over the border into China. Worse, a reunified Korea could let America base troops on China’s border. Both concerns provide good reason for Beijing to keep up the flow of trade and envoys to its isolated ally.
The government’s attitude toward gays resembles the way it treats ethnic minorities. It distrusts any group, whether Tibetans fighting for freedom of worship or gay activists agitating for marriage rights, whose goals ostensibly don’t line up with those of the majority.
China’s recent belligerence toward Japan has worried its neighbors, including Taiwan, which the mainland regards as a prodigal son. China has been drawing Taiwan closer with improved trade links, and the June signing of a breakthrough free-trade agreement between the two entities will bind Taiwan’s economy even tighter to the mainland’s. Yet while both sides speak of improved relations, economic ties haven’t led to substantial political improvements. In fact, military tensions between the two are increasing. Despite Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s vague reassurances that his government will withdraw 1,600-plus missiles pointing at the island, Taiwan’s deputy defense minister has said that the mainland military threat is growing. Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou just announced that the country will keep buying arms internationally, and China’s defense minister, in a recent meeting with his U.S. counterpart, said that Taiwan remains the main point of contention between the two superpowers.
It had all the trappings of a globally significant confab: big-deal appearances (by Google, the BBC), a weighty theme (“the digital age”), and speechifying by international pooh-bahs. Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corp., even delivered a peppery keynote, vowing war on “content kleptomaniacs.”
In August, China’s biggest job-search site released a survey of 200,000 Chinese college students, ranking their -preferences for employment. Only three non-Chinese multinational corporations made the list of the top 50: Google, Microsoft, and Procter & Gamble, all in the top 10. That’s a steep decline from the 21 foreign firms that made the list last year.
Amway China’s chairwoman, Eva Cheng, started at the company as a secretary in the Hong Kong office in 1977 and now oversees the company’s operations in Greater China and Southeast Asia, which was reportedly responsible for more than one third of its $8.4 billion in 2009 revenue.