Thinking of serving in America? Why not join the Swedish army instead?
via. And here’s a comparison between Swedish and American recruitment adverts. The Swedes are obviously going for strategic corporal potential.
I’m not a fan of the way that the term Confucian seems to be applied to everyone east of the Himalayas who helps granny over the road, but there are times when it sticks. Here’s more on Kim Jong Il’s visit to China, where he met Hu Jintao as well as Xi Jinping:
On 30 August, Chinese and North Korean media confirmed Kim's visit to China and carried limited details about it. As is the custom, the communist media confirmed the visit only after Kim was back safely in Pyongyang.
In a dinner speech for Chinese President Hu, Kim described his visit in terms of a pilgrimage that his late father, President Forever Kim Il Sung, always intended to make but never did. Kim said, in part, "Permeated in Jilin and Heilongjiang Provinces (of China) are immortal footprints of the bloody anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle President Comrade Kim Il Sung waged with Chinese comrades from early on. As such, they are unforgettable lands of history which are cherished dearly in the hearts of our people; they are also witnesses of the North Korea-China friendship...
... All in all, the visit looks like a Confucian farewell, performing last rites for unfinished family business.
No word about the Morningstar general. But I think this calls it right. KJI spent most of his time on a nostalgia tour of scenes from Korean revolutionary history and didn’t seem interested in going to Beijing, which puts the formal agenda – nukes, economic aid, etc into perspective. This is confirmation that he’s dying. And the lesson for Jong Un?
Tseng Tzu said, 'Conduct the funeral of your parents with meticulous care and let not sacrifices to your remote ancestors be forgotten, and the virtue of the common people will incline towards fullness.'
Analects, 1:9 I’ve read in various places that the Kims really believe this stuff. In the light of that, the Confucian assertion that filial behaviour and strict performance of the rites more or less guarantees public virtue probably needs a rethink.
I think what we also have here is confirmation that he’s put China on overwatch for the succession. The imperial moment approaches.
Interesting piece on a family in western China whose main source of income is as freelance corpse extractors from the Yellow River, recovering bodies and – basically – selling them back to their relatives. They’re not the only people who follow that trade, but the odd thing is here that it appears to be a full time job. This is in Gansu, one of China’s most sparsely populated provinces, and on the upper reaches of the river as well.
The other slightly remarkable thing is the apparent official indifference to the Li family business:
Usually, unidentifiable bodies are tied by ropes in the water with one end of the rope attached to the shore. If nobody comes to claim the body after a few days, Li and his family members have no choice but to return the body to the river.
"Many people come here to look for bodies," Li Heshan said in the documentary. "Most of them are grateful. We do not have the right to burn or bury bodies, but I do wish there was a place that those leftover bodies belonged to."
The gold-plated statue of Turkmenistan's late leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, has been removed from its giant plinth in the capital, Ashgabat.
President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who took power after the strongman's death in 2006, gave the order to remove the monument in January.
The rotation of the statue, which always faced the sun, was stopped several weeks ago.
On Wednesday it was removed and workers are now tackling the huge tripod base.
Via. There’s an interesting conflict here. You’d obviously have to be a monstrous tyrant to cause a giant rotating golden statue of yourself to be erected, but at the same time you’d also have to be an utterly ridiculous man. Think Bruce Forsyth as Stalin.
But maybe Niyazov was thinking long term. I think the point about the rotation was that if it was left to continue for long enough people would eventually assume that it caused the movement of the sun, rather than following it: that is, assuming the closed system that Niyazov made of Turkmenistan was maintained.
Anyway, good for President Berdymukhamedov, manifestation of the thunder god upon whom all Turkmen rely for rain to water their crops.
“Use of Party newspapers and magazines as toilet paper is strictly forbidden.”
Victor Mair notes that in old China it was considered disrespectful to literacy to use any paper that had been written on for a purpose other than that for which it was intended.
Judging by the photo, I guess this is a holdover from the days when there wasn’t much of either a) toilet paper or b) anything published apart from Party newspapers or magazines, and certainly not conveniently sized junk mail, flyers and so on. Which would have presented something of a problem.
There’s a fellow called Selig Harrison who used to work for the Washington Post, and who now apparently spends his time reading a lot of Buchan, Hopkirk, et al.
While the world focuses on the flood-ravaged Indus River valley, a quiet geopolitical crisis is unfolding in the Himalayan borderlands of northern Pakistan, where Islamabad is handing over de facto control of the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in the northwest corner of disputed Kashmir to China.
The entire Pakistan-occupied western portion of Kashmir stretching from Gilgit in the north to Azad (Free) Kashmir in the south is closed to the world, in contrast to the media access that India permits in the eastern part, where it is combating a Pakistan-backed insurgency.
But reports from a variety of foreign intelligence sources, Pakistani journalists and Pakistani human rights workers reveal two important new developments in Gilgit-Baltistan: a simmering rebellion against Pakistani rule and the influx of an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army.
All very threatening.
I suppose the point about mysterious places is that you can say anything about them. But Baltistan isn’t closed to journalists and the Karakoram Highway, which connects Pakistan to China through Baltistan was opened in 1959. And I can’t find any sign at all of the simmering rebellion he talks about, though there is disagreement about whether the region should become part of Pakistan or part of some future autonomous Kashmir confederation.
20 Kilometres of the highway were inundated by landslide and floods this January, blocking Pakistan’s major trade route with Western China. Before the landslides, you could get a bus to Kashgar from Gilgit and back. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the Chinese are rebuilding it. There is an al Qaedist style campaign of violence against local Shi'a and other such heretics so the presence of PLA units guarding local Chinese workers also wouldn't be a surprise. Having said that, the PLA has got a long history of using its people in disaster areas. See also, for instance, the US Army Corps of Engineers. This seems to me to be a very thin basis for arguing that the Chinese are staging a takeover, though it does play into a popular meme right now.
It’s also true that both China and Pakistan want to develop the highway to connect with Chinese built port facilities at Gwadior, to which the answer is: so what?
There is some New Great Game diplomacy going on here: though Harrison is participating in it rather than describing it. he refers to GB as part of wider Kashmir. That’s the Indian government position. Islamabad maintains that it is an entirely separate district, though one that was once controlled by Kashmir’s Dogra rulers, who ceded their territory to India in 1947 (for more, see here). What the Indians want here, and what Harrison seems to want to help them get, is locus standi rights over Pakistan’s main border connection to China.